USAID employees reflect on their experiences working with the Agency. / Morgana Wingard, USAID

USAID employees reflect on their experiences working with the Agency. / Morgana Wingard, USAID

In the last five years, USAID has pioneered a new model of development that harnesses the power of business and innovation to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies.

Today, on Dr. Rajiv Shah’s last day as USAID Administrator, we wanted to share stories from employees around the world. Thank you to the more than 80 members of USAID who took part in this project. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Finding New Ways to Bring Capital to the Developing World. In emerging markets, eight out of 10 small businesses cannot access the loans they need to grow. USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) helps fill this gap, using risk-sharing agreements to mobilize local private capital. Mike Muldoon, DCA Investment Officer, reflects on DCA hitting a new record: reaching 54 transactions in one year and making available $769 million in capital through guarantees. He says, “Our tool can be called on regardless of sector or environment—regardless of whether we are working in an undeveloped market like Cameroon or Sierra Leone or a comparatively more developed market like Nigeria or South Africa.” Read the full interview.
  2. Enshrining New Model Partnerships. Launched in June 2013, Power Africa aims to add more than 30,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity, as well as increase electricity access by adding 60 million new home and business connections throughout Africa. Coordinator for Power Africa and Trade Africa Andrew Herscowitz, who is leading the charge to fight energy poverty throughout the continent, says experiencing sustained power outages in the Dominican Republic when he was a teenage exchange student made an impact on him: “(The power outages) affected everyone—rich or poor. Factories would stop production. Clinics closed. Food spoiled.” Read full interview
  3. Supporting Civil Society. Essential to USAID’s mission is assisting countries in making the transition to resilient, thriving democracies.Urim Ahmeti, team leader for the Democracy and Governance Office in Kosovo, reflects on USAID’s work helping Kosovo’s civil society boost demand for accountability in this new nation after its declaration of independence in 2008. Ahmeti says, “This period—the birth of my country—is very memorable to me and an entire generation. It is a point in history that will never be forgotten.” Read the full interview.
  4. Fighting for a Strong Leadership Voice. A development agency that is strong, empowered, and accountable is necessary for achieving USAID’s mission. Carla Koppell, Chief Strategy Officer, shares her thoughts on the revitalization of the Agency, its brand, and its role in foreign policy. She says, “We are integral to U.S. foreign policy, and we will continue to proactively promote that agenda.” Read the full interview.
  5. Celebrating Our Staff as National Heroes. From Typhoon Haiyan, to the ongoing Ebola crisis, USAID staff are often called upon to lead responses to the world’s greatest challenges. Captain Colleen Gallagher, Navy Liaison to USAID, Office of Civil Military Cooperation, speaks about being deployed to Haiti immediately after the earthquake on a hospital ship—the USNS Comfort. As aftershocks rocked the giant ship, Gallagher persevered each day by meeting with a USAID team to coordinate the avalanche of incoming trauma patients. She says, “By the end of that first day, we went from a census of zero to 80 patients—most of whom had significant trauma.” Read the full interview.


Stephanie Bluma is the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs at USAID. Follow her on Twitter: @stephaniebluma