USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Cross-Cutting Programs

How USAID is Putting Local Wealth to Work

In the 1960s, during USAID’s founding decade, official development assistance represented 70 percent of all capital flows to developing countries. Today, foreign aid makes up just 13 percent, having been replaced over time by trade, investment, and other sources of private capital.

This changing landscape means our impact can be even greater. Rather than using our development dollars to substitute for missing private capital, we can use them to attract it. Even better, we can unlock existing local wealth and put it to work for development.

That’s what we do at the Development Credit Authority (DCA). In our 12 year history issuing credit guarantees, DCA has worked directly with more than 200 local private financial institutions, reaching more than 100,000 credit-worthy, but underserved borrowers. In 2011 we established 37 guarantees that will mobilize an additional $200 million in commercial capital in 21 countries.

Among the highlights, we supported the first-ever municipal bond offering in Serbia, a historic step in the development of their local capital markets. We finalized a $25 million deal with J.P Morgan Chase and a group of impact investors that will fuel economic growth in East Africa by providing equity financing for small businesses. And we signed a $34 million guarantee in Egypt that will mobilize capital for small businesses that lack access to credit following the turmoil of the Arab Spring.

Aside from these unique deals, DCA created a Strategic Transactions Group in order to develop capital markets alternatives to typical development solutions. At the Agency level, Field Investment Officers are being deployed to our regional missions to originate innovative deals and ensure financing solutions become a critical component of USAID programming.

This is a good start. In the coming year we will further deepen our work across the Agency, helping to incentivize private investment so that development continues long after we exit.

Strengthening the Fight against Modern Slavery: USAID’s Counter-Trafficking in Persons Initiative

Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, Department of State. (Official Photo)

Earlier today, I had the privilege of joining USAID Administrator Raj Shah at the White House to announce the Agency for International Development’s new counter-trafficking in persons (C-TIP) initiative. As the Ambassador who spearheads the United States’ diplomatic efforts on this issue, I’m always happy to see our partners across government strengthening their efforts to combat modern slavery. USAID’s work against trafficking is critical to this struggle, and this new policy shows what a priority it is for the Agency’s top leadership. I’m particularly optimistic about some of the new tools and techniques that this new C-TIP policy will help develop and promote.

Both at the State Department and at USAID, we are supporting programs around the world that fight human trafficking using the 3P Paradigm—preventing trafficking, protecting survivors, and prosecuting those responsible for exploitation. Through rigorous monitoring and evaluation, we know which practices are working, and we’ll continue to support those things that are doing the most good. But the reality remains—every year there are about 4,000 trafficking prosecutions in response to a crime that victimizes as many as 27 million men, women, and children around the world.

That’s why the new C-TIP policy’s focus on innovation is so important. As we move forward with this struggle, we’re going to need to change the way we fight this crime. Whether through new applications of empirical research, harnessing modern technology and social networks, or integrating anti-trafficking initiatives into other development efforts, we need to explore new approaches and cultivate new ideas as we work to eradicate this crime once and for all.

But USAID’s new policy shows a true understanding that before we can make real progress against this crime on a global scale, we need to get our own house in order. In the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), Secretary Clinton made clear that the State Department and USAID would be tasked with stepping up their own internal anti-trafficking efforts. The new C-TIP initiative answers that call, building on the Agency’s Counter-Trafficking Code of Conduct that holds USAID employees and partners to the highest standards of behavior.

As USAID works to implement this new policy, I look forward to collaborating with Administrator Shah and his team as we make new inroads in the fight against modern slavery. Together, we will work to carry out the Obama Administration’s commitment to deliver once and for all on the American promise of freedom.

USAID Training Brings Justice to Victim of Trafficking Attempt

While USAID’s observation of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence ended last week, stories like the one below will continue to occur – and USAID remains committed to working to end human trafficking in Nepal, Asia, and around the world.

“[USAID’s training helped me] take action to protect my own daughter, who was so close to being sold by brokers. I was lucky,” said Sanu Tamang, a resident of Syaule village in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk district.

Tamang had attended a community orientation training session in May that was organized by USAID’s Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) program. Since 2010, the CTIP program has worked with the Government of Nepal and civil society organizations to address the protection, prosecution, and prevention of trafficking. CTIP is a five-year program implemented in six districts of Nepal, identified by Nepal’s government as source, transit, and exit districts.

Earlier in the year, Tamang’s neighbor, Ravi, had lured Tamang’s daughter and her sister-in-law into travelling to India for an attractive job opportunity. The girls met Ravi in Kathmandu, where he had hired a taxi to drive them across the border into India. Suspecting the movement, an NGO vigilante team and border security force trained under a previous USAID program intercepted the taxi.  While the girls were being questioned, Ravi and his friends escaped.

The girls eventually returned to their family.  Upon returning, they and their family came to fully understand how close the girls had been to being trafficked.  A shocked Tamang, now more aware of the laws and systems to punish traffickers, filed a legal case against Ravi and his friends.  He contacted the USAID-supported national Center for Legal Research and Resource Development for legal aid and counseling to strengthen his case and submitted a report to the police.  An investigation ensued, and Ravi was arrested.

Glad that he was able to take action, Tamang shared, “No trafficker should be able to get away without being punished and no victim deprived of justice.  I want to ensure that traffickers like Ravi don’t get an opportunity to exploit other girls.”

Trafficking in persons is a serious problem in Nepal, with an estimated 15,000 Nepali women and girls trafficked annually to India and another 7,500 trafficked domestically for commercial sexual exploitation. In addition, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Nepali women become involuntary domestic workers each year within Nepal. While most attention is focused on the exploitation of women and children, cross-border labor trafficking of men is also a growing concern.  Nepal is on the Tier 2 list in the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report.

For more information on USAID/Nepal’s efforts to prevent trafficking, please visit http://nepal.usaid.gov/our-work/program-area/democracy-and-governance.html.

Climate Change in the Context of Development

I am in Durban, South Africa at the Seventeenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-17).  These annual negotiations address issues of great importance for developed and developing countries (e.g. finance, technology transfer, adaptation, mitigation, reducing deforestation, capacity building) during the two weeks.  On the margins of COP-17, USAID has organized and participated in several side events at the U.S. Center that address climate change issues in the context of development.

Women Farmers in Kenya Holding Tree Seedlings. Photo Credit: Andrea Athanas (AWF)

Developing countries are key partners in achieving success toward climate-resilient, low emissions development.  For this reason, in December 2009 at COP-15 in Copenhagen, President Obama and the leaders of other developed countries agreed to provide up to $30 billion in Fast Start Financing between 2010-2012 to help developing countries address climate change mitigation and adaptation.   The U.S. government is committed to providing our share of the $30 billion.

Last week I joined U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change  Jonathan Pershing and OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield at a side event on Fast Start Financing to discuss how we are meeting this commitment in a transparent manner.  Working across Agencies, the United States has recently released our FY 2011 report on Fast Start Financing which details U.S. assistance in adaptation, clean energy, and sustainable forestry.  The report details U.S. Fast Start Financing in FY 2011 and our contributions toward advancing progress in climate change globally.

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Building a Better Future for Persons with Disabilities

USAID is commemorating International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is observed on December 3rd worldwide. According to the UN, persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 percent of the world’s population. Below is a blog post from Montenegro exemplifying how our agency and partner organizations work to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in developing countries.

The Strength of a Mother’s Love: The Story of How USAID and ORT Are Helping a Mother Build a Better Future for her Son and Other Young Disabled Adults

I feel that I share a special connection with Vesna Odalović because our sons were both born in the same hospital on the same day, but two decades apart. Vesna believes that this means we were destined to meet. But fate can be cruel and random: Vesna’s son, Saša, developed signs of autism when he was one year old.

“He went from being a happy, verbal little boy to a silent, withdrawn one almost overnight,” she says sadly.

By the time Saša was six, he had a store of only 15 words. He struggled to communicate with the outside world, and was very shy. But 15 years later, Saša is a happy, talkative young man who answers the phone to clients, performs complex graphic design tasks, and is considered (by his mother) to be the only responsible one in the four-member Odalović family!

What has made the difference? Simply, the sheer determination of a mother that her son would grow up to be an independent, self-confident young man. It was this that drove Vesna to establish “Our ID Card”, a graphic design and printing house that exclusively employs young adults with disabilities. It is the first social enterprise in Montenegro, a business whose goal is not profit-making but rather the integration of young adults with disabilities into the economic and social life of the community.

World ORT (Obshestvo Remeslenofo zemledelcheskofo Truda in Russian), one of the largest Education and Training NGOs in the world was awarded a grant from USAID’s Democracy and Humanitarian Assistance office  (DCHA) to support the work of this organization through a special program established to increase the participation of people with disabilities in USAID developments efforts. Thanks to this program, Saša works for his mother’s company along with five other people with disabilities. They are able to gain valuable technical and social skills, not to mention self-confidence and increased self-worth.

“Our speech therapist says that the improvement in Saša’s speech since he has started work is nothing short of a miracle”, says Vesna, glowing with pride and happiness. “The other day he dealt with a difficult customer all on his own – something that would have been unthinkable only a year ago.”

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Engaging Universities to Address the Global Food Security Challenge

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a national association of 217 state university systems, land-grant universities, and related organizations across all 50 states. This week, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and several Agency representatives are attending APLU’s Annual Meeting, the premier annual summit for senior leaders of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state universities.

USAID has enjoyed a long and productive history of partnerships with U.S. universities — partnerships that are critical to our success in many areas and dating back to our very founding 50 years ago. These institutions’ education, research, and engagement missions directly align with USAID’s charge to help people overseas struggling to make a better life. USAID partnerships with U.S. universities have focused on research and graduate training for promising young developing country scientists and on strengthening colleges and universities abroad to create the next generation of agricultural leaders. Together, we have made great progress. But there is still so much more to be done.

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Challenges & Approaches to Reducing Gender Gaps

Today, at the Pre-G20 Side Event: “Growing Economies Through Women’s Entrepreneurship,” co-hosted by the United States and the OECD, the US Treasury Department and the IFC, implementing partner to the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), previewed the report “Strengthening Access to Finance for Women SMEs in Developing Countries,” (to be released in at the G20 Summit in Cannes on November 4) and USAID announced a new initiative to expand women’s leadership in the small and medium enterprise sector.  The report and USAID initiative are significant for both laying out the challenges and identifying possible approaches to reducing gender gaps.

Caren Grown is a Senior Gender Advisor at USAID. Photo credit: Caren Grown/USAID

First, across countries, data show a gender gap in venture creation and business ownership, especially as firm size increases.  It is difficult to draw solid conclusions, since the evidence base on women owned businesses is limited.  Yet, based on existing data, the IFC reports that small and medium enterprises with full or partial female ownership represent 31 to 38 percent of formal firms in this sector.  Women’s entrepreneurship is highly concentrated among smaller firms:  they represent between 32-39 percent of the very smallest firms, 30-36 percent of small SMEs and 17-21 percent of medium sized companies.[i]

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Greater Private Sector Diversity Sought on USDA’s Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees

As featured in the USDA Blog

The face of America – and of American agriculture – is changing. The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years, according to results of USDA’s most recent Census of Agriculture.  The 2007 Census counted nearly 30 percent more women as principal farm operators. The count of Hispanic operators grew by 10 percent, and the counts of American Indian, Asian and Black farm operators increased as well.  In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of minority-owned businesses grew more than 45 percent between 2002 and 2007.

To reflect the diversity of our agricultural sector and business community, USDA is stepping up its efforts to continually supplement its seven Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees (ATACs) with new members, especially those who represent minorities, women, or persons with disabilities. We believe that people with different backgrounds and views will make the work of these committees, and thus of USDA, more effective.

Applicants should represent a U.S. entity with an interest in agricultural trade and have expertise and knowledge of agricultural trade as it relates to policy and commodity-specific issues. For example, Robert Anderson of Sustainable Strategies LLC has served at different points in time on both the Fruits and Vegetables ATAC and the Processed Foods ATAC. Of his experience, Anderson said, “I had the opportunity to meet directly with the highest levels of international trade leadership in the United States and globally. Most importantly, the U.S. government actually seeks our input, listens, and responds to the needs and expectations of the U.S. agricultural industry.”

At a time when our economy is trying to rebound from a serious recession, having a voice on one of these committees can make a significant impact on the government decisions that affect our economic future. That’s because agricultural trade plays an extremely important role in the health of our nation’s economy. U.S. agricultural exports have consistently contributed to the positive U.S. trade balance, creating jobs and boosting economic growth. In fiscal 2011, U.S. agricultural exports were forecast to reach a record $137 billion, which supported more than one million jobs in America this year.

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MDG Countdown 2011: Celebrating Success and Innovations

On Wednesday, September 21, USAID and UK development agency DFID co-hosted, “MDG Countdown 2011: Celebrating Successes and Innovations.” The event highlighted several game-changing programs and policies of countries that have made significant progress towards achieving the MDGs.

Along with Secretary Mitchell and Administrator Shah, featured speakers included: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson, The Elders Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Femi Oke, New York Public Radio (moderator). Checkout this highlights video to get more information.

In The Arena: Sports as a Catalyst for International Development

Governments and private organizations have long been using sport as a tool in global development and humanitarian aid because of its ability to transform lives in unique and powerful ways. In fact, there are few areas in development where sport cannot be used as a platform to strengthen communities and improve lives. At the field level, numerous programs have been harnessing the power of sport to advance shared objectives around global health, nutrition, education, peacekeeping and gender equality. The success of these efforts is bringing unprecendented focus, coordination and strategic thinking to the issue.

During the 66th United Nations General Assembly, USAID convened this diverse and notable group of stakeholders to further an on-going conversation on sport as a catalyst to advance our common development goals around the world. Over 200 guests including government officials NGO leaders and notable sports athletes for In the Arena: Sport as a Catalyst for Development. Speakers included Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg, Chief Innovation Officer Maura O’Neill and Senior Advisor, Sport for Development Mori Taheripour. Other officials speaking included Congressman Russ Carnahan, Ambassador Rick Barton and UN Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke.

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