USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Global Partnerships

Road to Impact: A Small Business Journey with USAID

Today USAID hosts its annual Small Business Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. Below are some tips for growing your small business with USAID from Social Impact, recipient of the 2012 USAID Small Business of Year Award.

This week Social Impact (SI) is proud to receive USAID’s inaugural Small Business of the Year Award, based on our growth and service to support USAID in Washington and overseas to accomplish its international development priorities.

It seems like just the other day that SI started as two-person company in 1996 with our same mission and vision—to make international development more effective in improving people’s lives. As the two founders, Pat Hanscom and I started SI with a small virtual team of like-minded individuals—people who cared about development and thought that they could help big international agencies, like USAID and the World Bank, to become more results-oriented and people-centered in their approaches to working with  developing countries. These are really the very same principles central to USAID Forward and USAID’s strategic plan. Yes, earlier versions of this thinking go way back in USAID and the international development community and when we created Social Impact we successfully spotted these needs and saw them as growth areas.

Small business owner Arnoise Clerveaux (in back) sits in her shop in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, on March 24, 2011. Photo credit: Kendra Helmer/USAID

When SI started out there were few opportunities for small businesses to get into the game. We had luck marketing SI and developing smaller contracts directly with USAID missions where we knew people and where we correctly identified opportunities to market SI’s services in project design, strategic planning, organizational capacity building, gender integration, monitoring and evaluation and participatory development. During these earlier years “relational” marketing produced a good result for us though it involved lots of meetings and hoof work. Through some of our earlier work we helped USAID create some of its good practices in participatory approaches to project design and strategy development in the field.

By the late 1990s things really got tough as USAID began to bundle all most all of its work into large Indefinite Quantity Contracts (or “IQCs”). These IQCs were hard barriers for micro and small business to break through and most of the work was reserved for USAID’s big business partners–”the usual suspects.” SI and many other small business saw token participation in USAID projects as small business subcontractors (or “subs”) but few opportunities to gain meaningful work as prime contractors, even with our demonstrated and growing capabilities.

After diverse efforts to work with development banks, UN agencies and other donors, we managed to win our first USAID IQC in 2003 with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives. We got to know them and they to know us through some conferences and strategy sessions that we facilitated as a sub. Our work with OTI in fragile states put us on the map with USAID and give us some additional “street cred”, especially with USAID’s emerging focus on fragile states.

About this time we grew bolder and started to advocate with our colleagues at OSDBU for more small business opportunities. When new RFP’s came out that had no opportunities for small business we’d say, “Hey, we’re here and we have capabilities to do this!” “Why doesn’t USAID follow through on its Congressional requirements to do more with small business?” In some cases we even wrote to the House Small Business Committee and said “USAID needs to be more accountable in meeting it small business goals”. Bottom line is that our advocacy—and that of other small businesses- helped to call more attention to our capabilities and those of the small business community to support USAID. USAID’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) became our trusted ally and advocate during this time.

Things really started really started to change dramatically with the new OSDBU team led by Mauricio Vera, Director and Kimberly Ball, Deputy Director. They had a clear mandate, a strong sense of purpose, a great sense of agency politics and contracting procedures, and top-level support from the Administrator to create additional opportunities for small business at USAID. Through their peaceful and persistent persuasion, Contracts Review Boards were set up, Bureaus and Contracting Officers became more accountable for creating small business opportunities and the pressure was truly on to change things for the better.

Now USAID has an “A-” on the SBA Scorecard and most of the new generation of IQCs contain solid set-aside provisions for small business. And we’re even beginning to see some USAID missions create small business opportunities (in large part due to OSDBU’s “road shows” in the field). What was once a barren landscape for small businesses now looks pretty fertile.  I can’t imagine a better time for small businesses to get started with USAID.

Based on our experiences here are some tips for growing your small business with USAID:

  1. Know your core capabilities and advocate for them through OSDBU. Get to know your OSDBU colleagues and keep them informed about your capabilities and growing successes with USAID.
  2. Get to know USAID as your customer including its current priorities, strategy documents and quality standards in the areas of your work.
  3. Focus on the quality of your work. USAID’s rating of the quality of your work in Customer Performance Reports or “CPRs” is critical to your landing new business.
  4. Find a capable medium or large sized business or two who will subcontract with you so you can get into the game and establish your credentials with USAID. Look for business who are willing to give you a well-defined piece of the action rather than just “blowing kisses” in your direction.
  5. As resources permit, grow your management team to include people who have successful experience working with (or in) USAID in your areas of expertise. This will give you tremendous insight on how to win work and how to perform at the high level of quality that USAID expects.
  6. Don’t grow too quickly. Growing purposefully–while not overextending your capabilities–will  allow you to build your experience  while minimizing the risks for your company and for USAID.
  7. Enjoy and appreciate the value of your work! When you step back from this all, there are few industries that enable you to produce a double or triple bottom line of a financially viable company while contributing to global social wellbeing and a more sustainable environment!

Learn more about USAID’s Small Business partnership opportunities.

Join My Village Lift Women and Girls out of Poverty

During the month of May, IMPACT will be highlighting USAID’s work in Global Health. From May 11-17, we will be featuring the important role of mothers and partnerships in Global Health.

In the last 23 years, global mortality rates have decreased by 47 percent. With funding from international governments and non-governmental organizations, developing countries across the globe have received unprecedented aid in the form of education and healthcare support to decrease mortality rates.

Join My Village (JMV), a program of CARE in partnership with General Mills and Merck, is working to resolve this issue by building awareness online and providing on-the-ground programming that includes support groups for men and women as well as community engagements to reduce misconceptions about pregnancy and maternal health. JMV helps to lift women and girls out of poverty through education while also providing sustainable improvement in maternal and newborn health through effective service delivery and women’s empowerment initiatives. The programs are having a remarkable impact on communities in India by changing the behavior and attitude of whole communities around the treatment of women.

Preventing maternal deaths not only saves women’s lives, it can positively impact families and whole communities. Photo credit: PATH/Evelyn Hockstein

Along with working to uplift women, JMV is has also made a point to engage men in these communities. Men have a larger say in decisions that ultimately affect women’s economic, educational and reproductive health. To ensure that the women have a conducive and supportive environment at home, their husbands are invited to participate in the interactive meetings.

Recently, we heard from a young husband and wife participating in the JMV program in Uttar Pradesh, India. After going through a difficult first pregnancy where the mother did not receive prenatal care, the young woman almost lost her life and her baby. Of the second pregnancy, her husband said, “Though that incident taught me the risks involved in home deliveries, today’s meeting taught me how to be better prepared even before the child arrives. My wife stopped taking her iron tablets as she said they made her nauseous. I didn’t bother much about it until I came here today and learned how important they are for both the child and my wife. Now I will ensure she takes them at the appropriate time to avoid uneasiness. Planning for the future is another critical thing I learned, and I will start saving for the child right away.” The couple, happy to have attended the meeting, feel that they are now better equipped for the birth of their second child.

Preventing maternal deaths not only saves women’s lives, it can positively impact families and whole communities. When a mother dies, her family oftentimes breaks apart and her children are less likely to go to school, receive immunizations against diseases and eat nutritionally sound diets. By equipping women and their partners with lifesaving information, women will bear children at the healthiest times so that mother and child are more likely to survive and stay healthy.

Through these outreach programs, JMV encourages communities to be supportive of the health, education and empowerment of women and girls. To learn more about Join My Village and its partners please visit www.joinmyvillage.com.

Akanksha Nigam is a Media Officer for Join My Village, a program of CARE.

Follow USAID for Global Health (@USAIDGH) on Twitter and use #GHMatters to join in the conversation.

“How to Work with USAID” 101

Today USAID hosts its annual Small Business Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. Below are some tips that a small business partner offer to other organizations interested in working with USAID. 

As the co-owner and co-founder of Sonjara, a woman-owned IT firm that specializes in IT for international development, I am often asked, “How do we get work with USAID?” The reality is — it isn’t easy but it IS possible.

USAID is looking for new, innovative partners who come with great ideas and real experience that can be applied to international development. For example, do you work in rural/underserved environments in the U.S.? Do you do a lot of capacity building and training of local civil society or government institutions? Do you improve the supply chain of existing government workflows? Have you worked with the World Bank, State Department, or the UN? These are all valuable experiences that just need to be shaped for USAID’s needs.

USAID staff take international development SERIOUSLY. To get a job with USAID, you often have to have decades of experience living and working overseas and have advanced degrees in international development topics. They are dedicated to international development and it shows.

And nearly everything at USAID has an international development component. The combination of the humanitarian assistance focus, tiny budgets, and working in some of the more remote/unfamiliar parts of the world means that the challenges and priorities faced by USAID may not often be faced in other government programs.

I have witnessed contractors (especially from defense) not take this passion into account and get into hot water by being ignorant of on the ground reality of working in a developing country or be dismissive of the humanitarian focus.

Conversely, I have seen companies move deftly into USAID by attending sessions on development topics and bringing relevant, non-USAID/non-international development experience to the conversation.

In contracting, USAID is more different than similar to other U.S. Government Agencies. Every expert in government contracting I have ever met has told me “Oh, USAID is different. They have their own way of doing things”. Explaining all the areas where this is true would take a book, so suffice it to say, you will probably need a partner who has experience with contracting at USAID to help you respond to RFPs effectively.

The key to getting in the door with USAID is developing relationships with existing implementing partners. The easiest and fastest way to get into USAID is to get a subcontract with an organization currently being funded by USAID. From there, you can build relationships and past performance, and prove that you understand USAID and international development.

USAID uses implementing partners (private U.S.-based and local firms and universities) to deliver its program work, and contractors to support Washington operations. These partners are both non-profits and for-profits and the work is funded through contracts and cooperative agreements.

To get in front of these folks, join advocacy groups such as SBAIC and PSC/CIDC, as well as Society for International Development (SID). Check out Interaction for a great list of US-based international development non-profits (they sometimes use small business subcontractors to help deliver on their cooperative agreements). Make sure you read www.usaid.gov and peruse the DEC (it is a goldmine of historical data!). Keep an eye out for public events on USAID focus areas where you add value; for example, if you know a ton about IT and Health, the mHealth working group sponsored by the K4Health group may be a good use of your time.

Plug into the community and you will find opportunities for your firm to bid and hopefully win a contract or two!

Learn more about how small businesses can partner with USAID or contact them.

Partnerships Put “Action” into the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control Pneumonia and Diarrhoea

During the month of May, IMPACT will be highlighting USAID’s work in Global Health. From May 11-17, we will be featuring the important role of mothers and partnerships in Global Health.

The global health sector sounds vast – after all, it has the word “global” in it – when in reality, it is a relatively small number of people with a noble mission that requires a ton of work. None of us can do it alone. As a result, government and nonprofit groups of all shapes and sizes emphasize the importance of partnership.

But what does partnership really mean? Like advocacy, integration, and other important yet nebulous buzz words of international development, it is best illustrated by example. For us, one of the most exciting partnership activities was the recent global NGO response to the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD).

As the first-ever action plan to simultaneously tackle the two leading killer diseases of children less than five years old, the plan itself is a blueprint for practical partnership in action (or, to use another one of our favorite words, for integration). After all, child health does not exist in a vacuum; while there are distinct solutions for each illness, there are also overlapping protective interventions, so it makes sense for our community to tackle pneumonia and diarrhea at the same time.

More than 100 NGOs with diverse focus areas and geographies supported this integrated approach by signing onto a community statement and more than 40 global leaders and experts in the field lent their voices to the effort. Partners rallied around the #MindTheGAPPD conversation to make it a success on social media (a special shout out to @USAIDGH, the top user of the hashtag!). Each group’s focus area – WASH, vaccines, indoor air pollution, etc. – brought unique perspectives to the larger conversation without taking away from any one group’s mission. By putting it into the larger context, it strengthened our messages on a scale impossible to achieve on our own and brought the global health sector one step closer toward a common goal: to ensure that every child gets to celebrate a fifth birthday.

For the Global Action Plan to truly be actionable, partnership efforts must cascade to the local level. That’s why PATH and World Vision developed a toolkit to enhance the efforts of our colleagues advocating for change at the national, subnational, and community levels. From conception to implementation, partnerships are taking the movement forward.

Will you join us?

Follow USAID for Global Health (@USAIDGH) on Twitter and use #GHMatters  and #MindTheGAPPD to join in the conversation.

Harnessing the Commitment & Energy of Diaspora Communities to Transform Development

Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator at USAID

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet a Syrian-American trauma surgeon who told me about the multiple trips he had taken to Syria with other doctors to help remove shrapnel from the bodies of children.

As I listened to him share these devastating experiences, I knew that his story reflected the tremendous contributions of Syrian-Americans to the humanitarian response. Every day, at great risk to their own lives, they were caring for the injured, training doctors in triage and medicine, and helping deliver lifesaving medical supplies throughout Syria.

Whether we’re talking about the struggle for freedom in Syria or the fragile–but remarkable–transition happening in Burma, we know the diaspora community has a uniquely important role to play in addressing the challenges of today and shaping a brighter future for tomorrow.

Last year, global remittances topped $534 billion—more than 5 times U.S. official development assistance. So often the result of long hours and sacrifices, these contributions mean so much more than their monetary value. They mean the chance for a child to afford her school uniform. The chance for a young man to take out a loan and open a business. And sometimes, they make the difference between life and death – when they allow a family to buy food in tough times.

We are determined to work together to ensure the each dollar saved and each dollar transferred can make a lasting impact. Through our Development Innovations Fund, we’re partnering with a major Filipino bank, a Filipino education NGO, and a group of researchers from the University of Michigan to pilot a financial innovation called EduPay. The tool allows overseas individuals to pay school fees directly to educational institutions in the Philippines, instead of channeling the funds through an informal trustee. The tool also goes one step further by enabling you to monitor the student’s attendance and performance so you can be sure you’re supporting a quality education.

Whether saving money to send home, building a business from the ground up, or partnering with us in response to a crisis, the commitment and energy of diaspora communities holds the potential of transforming developing countries around the world. Through a partnership with Western Union, we’re helping support diaspora leaders who have a great idea to start a business, but need the resources to get it off the ground. Since 2009, the African Diaspora Marketplace has provided grants to 31 companies, totaling more than $2.2 million.

At USAID, we’re increasingly focusing on providing a platform to connect problem-solvers everywhere to the greatest challenges of our time. We call it “open-source development,” and it reflects our desire to harness the creativity and expertise of a much broader development community. Through our new model of development, we aren’t focused on our solutions. We’re focused on yours.

To learn more about the Global Diaspora Forum or to learn how to partner with USAID, the State Department, and the private sector, please visit: http://diasporaalliance.org/.

Join conversation on Twitter (@USAID) using #2013GDF.

The Power of Mobile Technology to Save Lives

During the month of May, IMPACT will be highlighting USAID’s work in Global Health. From May 1-10, we will be featuring the role that Science, Technology & Innovation plays in Global Health.

The development field has been exploring for years ways to harness the power of technology to benefit those in need, especially mobile technology, which can reach people in remote areas who need food, health, education, and other assistance quickly and well.

A health worker refers to her mobile phone for information while making a house visit. Photo credit: World Vision

Health is an area in which the benefits of mobile technology are obvious. One initiative World Vision is especially proud of is our mobile health (mHealth) projects  in 13 countries. Our mHealth projects leverage the ubiquity of mobile phones to deliver information to, and receive information from, patients and caregivers and can address a broad range of scenarios, including announcements, targeted messages, appointment reminders, medical records for patients, treatment reminders, training and tools for front line health workers and volunteers. Key mHealth principles that have been integrated into current and planned projects include: 1. Align closely with Ministries of Health and their partners; 2. Work in partnership with other funders, developers, and implementers to build on and add to global learning; 3. Design to meet the needs of local users but also provide the basis for maturing the evidence base; 4. Be initially affordable yet based on sustainable costing models and scalable technology; 5. Be respectful of data governance issues; 6. Utilize and strengthen government and partner information systems; 7. Emphasize coherence and quality of approach and program/project management; and 8. Favor open source solutions and emerging global standards.

To support mHealth, World Vision has strategically partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grameen Foundation, and Dimagi to create and deploy a World Vision version of the Gates-funded MOTECH Suite (MTS), a sustainable, scalable, open source mobile solution. MTS provides a set of capabilities encompassing five key functional mHealth areas: Behavior Change & Demand Generation, Managing Patient Data, Improving Worker Performance, Last-Mile Supply Chain, and Patient Adherence. This partnership allows World Vision’s funded mHealth projects to utilize a common, yet customizable, field-tested mHealth tool.

MTS was piloted in World Vision’s Afghanistan mHealth project (USAID-funded Child Survival Health program 2008-2013), and the evaluation results are encouraging:

  • significant improvement between intervention and control groups in any antenatal attendance (20 percent),
  • skilled delivery at a health facility (22.3 percent),
  • having a birth plan that included improved coordination with the health facility (12.6 percent),
  • saved money and arranged transport (12.9 percent)
  • knowledge of two or more pregnancy danger signs (12.9 percent).

A volunteer health worker refers to her mobile phone for information while making a house visit. Photo credit: World Vision

In World Vision’s Mozambique mHealth project (Gates-funded Grand Challenges 2010-2012), MTS research results indicated that pregnant women in the project’s intervention area had a higher likelihood of accessing antenatal care, prepare better for birth, and have their births assisted by a skilled provider. They were also more likely than those in the control group to know about signs of pregnancy complications and to seek care at a facility for that complication.

The advantages of the shared framework of MTS are numerous, from minimizing software development, operations, and support costs, to making available the source code, best practices, learning, and other assets to the global community to avoid duplication, and ultimately, save more lives. As World Vision rolls out MTS in additional countries and regions, we’ll analyze the complexity and economics of this versus other models, the interface with national Ministries of Health systems, impact, and sustainability.

Deployments of WV’s global version of MTS have begun in Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia, with others to follow in Tanzania, Sri Lanka and India by this August. World Vision aims to increase geographical mHealth reach within these countries while enhancing MTS functionality at the community level. The focus is on creation of a solution that is globally deployable, meeting at least 80 percent of functionality needs for each project, and further customizable for each context. A key characteristic of this effort is collaboration with Ministries of Health and intentional efforts to forge public-private partnership agreements with mobile network operators and other potential private sector partners. This model has already effected notable reductions in duplication of effort and overall costs at the global level, as well as for each project.

Initiatives like MTS are the way forward for NGOs to impact the global health field, including reducing incidence of malaria, improving maternal and child health, and improving child nutrition. Read more about World Vision’s mHealth projects.

Follow USAID for Global Health (@USAIDGH) on Twitter and use #GHMatters to join in the conversation.

Adding Vaccines to Intensify the Assault on Malaria

David Kaslow, MD, serves as Director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Photo credit: David Kaslow

During the month of May, IMPACT will be highlighting USAID’s work in Global Health. From May 1-10, we will be featuring the role that Science, Technology & Innovation plays in Global Health.

At the turn of the last century, the call to action to bring to bear tools such as insecticide-treated bed nets, malaria rapid diagnostic tests and artemisinin-based combination therapies, was heard. Governments, foundations, non-profit groups, and the commercial sector mobilized to stem the tide against an ancient scourge—the result has been an estimated 274 million malaria cases and 1.1 million deaths averted between 2001 and 2010.

And yet, the fight against malaria is far from over and new tools will be needed to continue to build on these initial impressive gains.

Given these gains the World Health Organization (WHO) has undertaken an update of the 2006 Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap—a document developed through a consultative process to align the malaria vaccine development community toward common goals. In 2006, the Roadmap set a shorter-term goal—by 2015, develop and license a first-generation malaria vaccine that has a protective efficacy of more than 50% against severe disease and death and lasts longer than one year—which is expected not to change. However, the long-term goal will be updated to better reflect the global health community’s desire to eradicate malaria altogether and targets vaccines that interrupt malaria transmission (VIMTs) and that support the elimination/eradication agenda, including transmission-blocking vaccines (TBV). TBVs are designed to break the cycle of transmission, preventing the malaria parasite from passing from humans to mosquitoes. When used in conjunction with other technologies, a transmission-blocking vaccine could help a country push across the threshold from control to elimination and ultimately help achieve global eradication.

Although there is not an approved malaria vaccine today, several lines of evidence indicate that it is biologically feasible to develop one. A recent update by the WHO of the global malaria vaccine pipeline identified more than two dozen active vaccine candidates in clinical development. This list includes the most clinically advanced candidate, GlaxoSmithKline’s RTS,S, which is in the midst of late-stage Phase 3 trials in Africa. Results to date show that RTS,S cuts cases of malaria in half in toddlers and by one-third in infants, on top of the protection provided by bed nets.

The final set of data from the Phase 3 efficacy trial is expected in 2014, and will provide decision-makers with important information about RTS,S, including vaccine effect in different malaria endemic settings and the impact of a booster dose. And anticipated modeling outputs will illustrate how the vaccine candidate’s efficacy may translate into public health impact—another important input for decisions about the possible role of RTS,S in the future. Experience from vaccines to combat other diseases, such as rotavirus, has shown that the relationship between vaccine efficacy and public health impact is not always straight forward. Rotavirus vaccine efficacy is higher in South Africa than in Malawi (77 percent versus 49 percent – 60 percent greater in South Africa), but the vaccine’s impact in terms of cases averted is actually 60 percent greater in Malawi.

Building on the key learnings from RTS,S, and using unique tools, such as the malaria “human challenge model”, revolutionary new ways to accelerate vaccine development are being used to hunt for additional vaccine targets. The US Government, through multiple cross-sector collaborations, is at the center of much of this research. Initial breakthroughs in malaria vaccine science came from the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health—often with the support of USAID. And key elements of the global malaria vaccine pipeline are supported by USAID’s Malaria Vaccine Development Program, which, along with the President’s Malaria Initiative, has been integral to the successes made to date in the fight against malaria. Indeed, it is only through strong partnerships that the overall battle against this disease will be won.

The international community has made phenomenal progress against malaria, but the gains are fragile. More than 650,000 people still die from malaria each year, almost all of them young African children, and history tells us that when support for control programs wanes, the parasite resurges with a vengeance. Over the years, malaria vaccine development has progressed from a pipe dream to a pipeline, and adding a vaccine to the arsenal is more important than ever to vanquish this parasite. At the turn of the next century, malaria should exist only in the annals of eradicated infectious diseases.

Follow USAID for Global Health (@USAIDGH) on Twitter and use #GHMatters to join in the conversation.

Feeding Africa’s Future

This originally appeared on the World Economic Forum Blog.

Today, we have the tools and knowledge to end extreme poverty and hunger by working together to transform agriculture. This isn’t just a development hypothesis; it’s actually happening.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to see firsthand the dramatic results of an emerging agriculture transformation on a visit to Tanzania. In just one year, rice yields have increased by over 50% and horticulture yields by 44% – early progress being reflected in farms and fields across Africa.

Across the continent, African nations are taking concrete steps to make agricultural development like this a priority, lifting families out of poverty and increasing their participation in the global economy.

A farmer picks coffee beans in Nyeri. Photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer

More than 20 countries in Africa have developed country-owned investment plans and at least seven have increased expenditures in agriculture. African nations have come together under a common vision to make progress like this possible and reduce underinvestment in agriculture to put their continent on a new course towards sustainable, inclusive development.

Grow Africa is helping that vision become reality.

Grow Africa is a partnership of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and the World Economic Forum. After only one year, it is already seeing results by working with eight African countries to engage governments, civil society, and the private sector to advance sustainable agricultural growth. These partnerships have already invested more than US$ 60 million in agriculture and reached more than 800,000 smallholder farmers, connecting them to markets and innovative tools and opportunities.

We are excited to be a part of this progress, supporting Grow Africa and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) through Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative. Feed the Future targets investments in countries that have demonstrated a commitment to their own agricultural development. This past year, we helped more than 7 million farmers around the world apply new technologies and practices, four times the number we reached the previous year.

To expand this progress and reach more people across the continent, President Obama announced the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition at the 2012 G8 Summit. Much like Grow Africa, this global partnership brings together African governments, the private sector, and donors to accelerate investment in agriculture through market-oriented reforms and new private sector commitments.

African nations are leading progress on this effort. Tanzania has removed its export ban on staple commodities, Mozambique eliminated permit requirements for inter-district trade, and Ethiopia no longer imposes export quotas on commercial farm outputs and processed goods. At the same time, more than 60 companies – half of them local African firms – have committed US$ 3.7 billion towards African agriculture, with plans to lift 50 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years.

This week, we will announce with our partners new efforts that will catalyze private sector investments in agricultural infrastructure in Africa and strengthen capacity in African agriculture sectors. These efforts align with our commitments through Feed the Future and the New Alliance to help reduce poverty, hunger and undernutrition.

Earlier this year, during the State of the Union address, President Obama called on the United States to help end extreme poverty in the next two decades. The President spoke from the belief that even in a time of tight budgets around the world, we can still come together to accomplish incredible goals.

We can’t do it without our partners. We look forward to continuing to support country-led efforts like Grow Africa, building momentum towards a future free of extreme poverty and hunger.

Rajiv Shah is Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Follow him on Twitter @RajShah

A New Partnership with South Sudan, A New Way of Promoting Development in Fragile States

Earl Gast serves as assistant administrator for Africa

Last month, USAID helped to spearhead a New Partnership between the government of South Sudan and the international community—including donor nations, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank—based on mutual commitments to focus international assistance and host country resources on strengthening governance, political inclusiveness and sustainable development in South Sudan.

As the world’s newest nation, South Sudan is also one of the least developed countries and therefore, has been highly reliant on donor assistance. Following its independence in July 2011, the international community’s high hopes for the new nation’s future were quickly tempered by an escalation in tensions between South Sudan and Sudan that led to the January 2012 suspension of oil production from South Sudan and transit through Sudan. Given that oil represents 98 percent of Juba’s revenue, the impact of this cessation was immediate and devastating.

The last year of living in austerity and diminishing government services has been a difficult time for the people of South Sudan, who have suffered high food and fuel prices, inflation, displacement from internal conflict and floods. South Sudan also hosts 200,000 refugees from Sudan, who fled fighting and a severe humanitarian crisis in that country.

In early April 2013, Sudan and South Sudan resumed cooperation on oil production, and oil is beginning to flow again. Nonetheless, South Sudan would do well to remember the tough lessons learned over the past year without oil revenues. Despite the hardships, this time of austerity has also been an opportunity to put in place tough, but necessary, economic reforms and fiscal discipline that will help grow the economy and improve transparency.

To help get South Sudan on a sustainable path for development, more than 40 governments and international organizations attended the South Sudan Economic Partners Forum in Washington on April 16. This year, donors have committed to provide approximately $1.3 billion to South Sudan—part of the continuing effort to help the new and underdeveloped nation get on its feet and provide emergency humanitarian assistance where needed. They also indicated a willingness to add new support—up to $300 million—to their existing assistance to South Sudan should the government continue on the right path. The United States is South Sudan’s largest donor. In fiscal year 2012, USAID and the State Department provided $680.4 million in assistance to South Sudan, including emergency (PDF) and development assistance, as well as peacekeeping and security sector programming.

However, donor assistance alone cannot be the solution to South Sudan’s long-term challenges—good governance and private sector growth are equally critical for sustaining the new country’s future. We know, based on decades of hard-earned experience in other parts of the world, that coun­tries with strong economies and sta­ble gov­ern­ments tend to pro­vide more access to ser­vices for cit­i­zens, and oppor­tu­ni­ties for employ­ment. As part of the New Partnership, South Sudan’s partners—including the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, European Union, the World Bank and others —agreed to help the government of South Sudan organize a Private Sector Investment Conference in Juba later this year. As a critical first step, USAID organized a South Sudan Investment Forum in Washington on April 17, 2013 to introduce U.S. companies in South Sudan’s priority sectors (agriculture, petroleum, energy, infrastructure and mining) to government ministers to explore potential investment opportunities. Demonstrating U.S. Government’s commitment to supporting private sector investment in South Sudan, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) signed an Investment Incentive Agreement supporting U.S. private sector investment in South Sudan.

To complement these efforts, USAID has offered its expertise to help the government of South Sudan complete investment agreements based on transparency and responsible stewardship of South Sudan’s public resources, to grow and diversify the economy, and to help the people of South Sudan realize their potential. With this assistance, we believe USAID and other donors’ collaboration in South Sudan in close partnership with the government will put South Sudan on a better path to deliver on its independence promise.

What’s new in USAID’s 2013 GDA Annual Program Statement?

This originally appeared on Devex Impact.

Since it first released the Global Development Alliance mechanism in 2001, the U.S. Agency for International Development has contracted more than 1,600 public-private partnerships. Each year, it releases a new Annual Program Statement (APS) (PDF), which governs the nature of these partnerships.

To understand what’s new and relevant for companies and implementers interested in creating new partnerships with USAID, Devex Impact caught up with Ken Lee, a senior alliance advisor with USAID’s office of global partnerships.

First of all, what is an Annual Program Statement, and how does it relate to public-private partnerships?

USAID uses Annual Program Statements to invite and support creative and innovative solutions to challenging problems in developing countries. Think of it as a global invitation to bring us great ideas and work with us to make the world a better place.

Gabi Zedlmayer, vice president of Hewlett-Packard’s Office of Global Social Innovation, signs the memorandum of understanding with Maura O’Neill, chief innovation officer at USAID. Photo credit: USAID/CC BY-NC-SA

For us, public-private partnerships are projects that advance development outcomes in areas like health, food security, and climate change while addressing core business issues for companies. These partnerships include efforts like working with agribusiness firms to help them source from small-holder farmers or partnering with technology companies to train youth in ICT skills.

The Global Development Alliance Annual Program Statement focuses that invitation on the private sector and others who are interested in building public-private partnerships. We want to work with private sector companies to identify complementary interests and concerns and then figure out ways we can work together to achieve those interests and address those concerns.

We believe that by working together, we can engage markets and market forces in ways that increase the reach, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainable impact of our development investments. As Administrator [Rajiv] Shah has noted, working with private firms is key to encouraging truly sustainable, broad-based economic growth in developing countries. The GDA APS is our invitation to private sector companies – and traditional implementing partners who work with the private sector–to expand the scope and quality of our collaboration.

What is different about this new APS?

Whenever we issue the latest version of the GDA APS, we try to incorporate changes that address various questions, creative suggestions, and lessons learned that emerged in the previous year. Input from our private sector partners, implementing partners, and agency colleagues is critical to improving the APS from one year to the next.

Three of this year’s most important changes are:

  • Improved ease of use for private companies: The 2013 GDA APS allows certain types of “nontraditional partners,” such as private companies, to submit a one-to-two page letter of interest in lieu of the standard five-page concept paper. The APS also showcases a special type of agreement – a “collaboration agreement”–that can be used with these nontraditional partners.
  • Increased information about alliance development: The 2013 APS tries to clarify the alliance development process. For example, we’ve included more information on the timing and types of discussions available to USAID and prospective alliance partners both prior to and after they submit ideas under the GDA APS.
  • Enhanced descriptions of private sector resource mobilization or “leverage”: We’ve provided much more thorough information on what we’re looking for in terms of private sector engagement and private sector resource mobilization (what we call leverage).

In addition, we’re using the 2013 GDA APS to pilot an approach that will allow USAID–under certain limited circumstance–to consider equity and loans as possible sources of leverage.

What do you want private sector companies to know about the new APS?

We’re open for business! We really want to hear from private sector companies. Even if your company doesn’t know whether or how it wants to collaborate with USAID, come talk to us. The first few pages of the APS highlight several value propositions for the private sector. If anything in those pages is even remotely interesting or intriguing, send us an email so we can arrange for a meeting and learn more about your business and the challenges you’re encountering in developing countries. We are eager to find ways in which our collaboration with you can significantly improve the results of our respective efforts and investments.

What do you want nonprofits and implementers to know?

We’re open for business! For more than 50 years, the expertise and talents of our implementing partners have been absolutely essential to the success of USAID’s work. With regard to Global Development Alliances, our implementing partners have identified private companies, developed alliance ideas, and designed and delivered core alliance activities.

If you are a nonprofit or implementer and you are able to effectively engage the private sector as a core partner in the definition of key challenges in developing countries and the development of high-impact solutions to those challenges, please contact us. We are very interested in working with you and your private sector partners to explore alliance opportunities under the GDA APS.

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