USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Global Partnerships

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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Embracing Enlightened Capitalism

For decades, strengthening country institutions and developing human capital have been the bread and butter of the development community. Over time, USAID and others have helped countries develop accountable government and civil society services while investing in the health and education of developing country populations. While there is no recipe for reliably delivering sustainable, broad-based economic growth, responsive institutions and strong human capital have always been key ingredients.

But there is another critical ingredient to growth that we have seen in every country that’s grown its way out of poverty: a strong and dynamic private sector.  And while USAID has been focused on private sector engagement for years, the development community does not always embrace the encouragement of private sector activity as part of our core mission.

Last week, I gave a speech at our Agency’s Public-Private Partnership forum highlighting how our community could embrace a new wave of enlightened capitalism to help drive the sustainable, broad-based economic growth called for in the President’s Policy Directive on Development and the Secretary’s Quadrennial Review.

I’m not talking about forming partnerships for partnership’s sake or photo opportunities. I’m not even talking about Corporate Social Responsibility or charity work. I’m talking about helping support the work of markets that can deliver profits and create jobs and deliver economic opportunity for women, minorities and the poor.

In the speech, I announced several new steps that I believe will be key to this effort, among them the formation of our new Innovation and Development Alliances Office, the expansion of our use of the Development Credit Authority to support local private sector growth and significantly increase our commercial leverage, the deployment a new cadre of investment officers to boost our field based transactions expertise and a reevaluation of the way we strengthen enabling environments abroad.

A lot of people are currently giving speeches about the need to move beyond foreign aid—you’ve probably heard a few. But I believe the private sector connectivity we drive with developing countries today will determine how much we can trade and partner with them tomorrow, creating economic opportunity for own country.

If we want to truly get to a world that has moved beyond aid, then we need to invest in exactly the kind of developmental and private sector engagement that will get us there.

Maximizing the Impact of Public and Private Global Health Commitments

Amanda Makulec is a Monitoring and Evaluation Associate, John Snow Inc.

In a time of international economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever for donor agencies to ensure global health dollars are being spent wisely for maximum health impact.  Investing in maternal and reproductive health programs around the world has supported a one-third reduction in maternal mortality since 1990, and saved the lives of millions. Moving forward, donor agencies are committed to maintaining and continuing that success through new mechanisms for providing basic maternal, newborn, and child health services which leverage both public and private resources and through integrated programs to improve service delivery,  like USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP).

One such coordinated effort is the Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal, and Newborn Health (the Alliance), which was born over a year ago to support progress towards MDGs four and five in ten priority countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Together, these countries account for around 68% of unmet need for family planning globally, 54% of maternal deaths, and 56% of all neonatal mortality. The Alliance’s public sector partners include USAID, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and the UK Department for International Development (DfID). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributes its private donor funds and expertise to the core group of partners.

While Alliances and Coalitions seem to spring up often in today’s globally-connected era, this partnership strategically focuses on fostering local country ownership of programs, emphasizing cost-effective spending of donor dollars through improved coordination across agencies, and ensuring it does not create parallel systems for working with countries, providing services, or monitoring and evaluation of its work, instead leveraging existing mechanisms.

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Public Private Partnership Week: A Milestone on our Journey to Change the World

Shelly Esque is Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs Group and Director of Corporate Affairs of Intel Corporation

As part of USAID’s 50th Anniversary, the Agency is celebrating Public-Private Partnership Week October 17-21, 2011 to highlight the mutual benefit that development and business have in establishing public-private partnerships (PPP) and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Development Alliance (GDA) program.

Five years is a milestone. I remember my first five years at Intel and the intense period of learning it entailed—learning a new organizational culture, the language of Intel, and how to get things accomplished in a new environment. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Intel is about to celebrate our 5th year anniversary working together. As I reflect back on what we’ve accomplished since we signed our MOU in 2006—I’m overwhelmed by how much we’ve learned. We’ve successfully built off our differences, leveraged our strengths, developed our relationship, learned a mutual language and accomplished more than we could have imagined when we started.

Intel has a global vision to create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth. When we came together with USAID five years ago, we had extensive discussions recognizing the value of what coordinated joint efforts could achieve for development and our mutual goals of bringing technologies to reach “the next billion.” USAID has significant expertise in development issues like education, agriculture, and health, as well as deep on-the-ground local knowledge through its 80 country offices. This coupled with Intel’s core competencies in innovation and technology solutions enable us both to have far-reaching impacts on economic and social development.

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Public-Private Partnership Week: Strengthening Education in Macedonia

LeAnna Marr, Acting Mission Director, USAID Macedonia

As part of USAID’s 50th Anniversary, the Agency is celebrating Public-Private Partnership Week October 17-21, 2011 to highlight the mutual benefit that development and business have in establishing public-private partnerships (PPP) and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Development Alliance (GDA) program.

USAID Macedonia, through our Primary Education Project (PEP), has established public-private partnerships with three businesses – Microsoft Macedonia, Oracle Education Foundation and Seavus – to further our aim of promoting employability and information technology skills and providing a better education for students in Macedonia.

Seavus, a leading IT company in the region, partnered with USAID/PEP to host the first summer school for 21st century employability skills.  The camp was for secondary school students in the early stage of their career planning.  They focused on developing skills, such as communications, leadership and entrepreneurship.   But don’t forget, this was a summer camp, and those kids had an absolute blast while they were doing it!   SEAVUS also offered an internship to one of the top performers at the summer school.

The Oracle Education Foundation (OEF) collaborated with USAID/PEP to make the portal available to Macedonian teachers.  Thinkquest is an online learning platform that promotes project-based learning, helps students and teachers to develop critical skills such as teamwork and problem solving, and links Macedonian students to peers from around the world.

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Public Private Partnership Week: New Partnership with SwissRe Targets Hunger, Natural Disasters

Nora Ferm is a Presidential Management Fellow in Global Climate Change

While health insurance, life insurance, car insurance and flood insurance are very familiar to people in countries like the United States, poor families in developing countries typically lack access to finance, including loans and insurance. When these families are hit with severe shocks like hurricanes or major droughts, their homes and their crops and livestock may be nearly wiped out, and they may be forced to sell off assets in order to survive another year, leaving them with fewer resources to start the next season. With climate change, many communities will see these kinds of extreme events hit with increasing severity and frequency, leaving the poor with even less time to recover before the next storm or drought hits. With the signing of a new agreement today with Swiss Re, USAID aims to increase access to market-based insurance products, using them as tools to promote food security and climate resiliency, by enabling the poor to better prepare for and cope with the impacts of these climatic disasters.

USAID’s insurance projects are mindful of the fact that insurance is not a stand-alone solution. Not all climate risks are insurable, or most cost-effectively addressed through insurance.  For example, it would be very expensive to buy insurance for a drought that could be expected to occur every other year.  Insurance is most effective when used to complement other adaptation measures like risk reduction.  Risk reduction measures like rainwater harvesting, early warning systems, drought-tolerant seeds, drip irrigation, and soil erosion control measures will help deal with minor shocks that may occur fairly frequently. Those measures may be insufficient, however, in the case of a severe drought or storm – that is where insurance can help, providing cash  to help families recover.

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Public-Private Partnership Week: Measuring Impact of Mais Unidos

Lawrence Hardy II is USAID’s Brazil Mission Director

As part of USAID’s 50th Anniversary, the Agency is celebrating Public-Private Partnership Week October 17-21, 2011 to highlight the mutual benefit that development and business have in establishing public-private partnerships (PPP) and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Development Alliance (GDA) program.

Created in 2006, the Mais Unidos Group is a partnership between the U.S. Mission in Brazil, through its USAID, and nearly 100 American companies established in Brazilian territory. The proposal of Mais Unidos is to benefit the Brazilian society through environmental and socioeconomic-related initiatives, and create shared value to its participants. The objectives of the group are: I) foster partnerships; II) share best practices and success histories and; III) promote visibility to its participants.

In July and September of this year, USAID conducted a survey with the Mais Unidos partners to identify opportunities to development public-private partnerships, to gather evidence on the impact of the US. Companies’ social investments in Brazil, and to understand how USAID and the private sector can work together to improve these outcomes.   The survey demonstrated that thirty-three American companies invested capital, human resources, technology and knowledge in several initiatives in to grow education, protect the environment and advance socioeconomic development in Brazil.  U.S. companies include: 3M Institute, Accenture, ADM, Alcoa, Cargill, Caterpillar, Cisco, Citibank, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Cummins, Dow, Deloitte, General Electric, General Motors, HP, IBM, Intel, International Paper, Ketchum, Kraft Foods, KPMG, Microsoft, Monsanto, MSD, Motorola, Nike, Pfizer, Qualcomm, Rigesa, Visa, Whirlpool, Walmart.

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Public Private Partnership Week: USAID and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. Join Forces to Help Coffee Growing Communities in Latin America and the Caribbean

Michael Dupee is Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

As part of USAID’s 50th Anniversary, the Agency is celebrating Public-Private Partnership Week October 17-21, 2011 to highlight the mutual benefit that development and business have in establishing public-private partnerships (PPP) and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Development Alliance (GDA) program.

Today, the United States Agency for International Development and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding reinforcing a joint commitment to support Latin American and Caribbean coffee farmers at USAID’s Partnership Forum. We are excited about the potential of this alliance to drive positive social, environmental, and economic development within coffee-growing communities, today and in the future.

We’re already collaborating with USAID on two projects within coffee-growing communities. We are working together in the Sustainable Sourcing Partnership Project with Fair Trade USA, which promotes biodiversity, conservation and environmental education among Brazil’s coffee-growing communities. Additionally, we are working with Save the Children, 4th Sector Health and selected communities within coffee-growing regions in Nicaragua and Honduras to improve food security, income generation potential, and health.

This public-private partnership has been and will continue to be an important part of our efforts to encourage ongoing health and prosperity for the coffee-farming families and communities in our supply chain.

Visit for continuous updates and new announcements, and to view a live-stream of the October 20th Partnership Forum: The Strategic Value of Connecting Business & Development

To view a map of USAID public-private partnerships around the globe, visit

Public Private Partnership Week: Passion Fruit, Opening the Path for a Brighter Future

Rural farmers in Paraguay are having great success selling their passion fruit through farming associations to a leading corporate juice brand. This is thanks to USAID’s support through Paraguay Productivo, a program that connects small farmers with private sector buyers.

Lucia Santos and her grandson who have benefited from the cooperative with Frutika. Photo Credit: Laura Rodriguez/USAID

Last week, I had the chance to visit some farmers in Paraguay’s Itapúa province and learn about their experiences with Paraguay Productivo and especially the leading local buyer, Frutika. I was thrilled to see the benefits of the program for myself and hear the testimony of small-scale farmer, Lucia Santos, whose life has been transformed through her production work. In the following video she says that she now has enough money to buy necessary items for her family.

USAID/Paraguay Productivo has GDA (Global Development Alliances) agreements with 20 organizations, mainly small farmer cooperatives & private firms and has generated $9.8 million U.S. dollars  in local sales and exports. Paraguay Productivo is working with Cooperatives and associations that have over 100,000 members some of them in production and many others in savings and credits cooperatives.

The program also provides technical support to farmers, including advising them on how to best produce crops. And it has helped them find buyers like Frutika, one of Paraguay’s most successful food processing and distribution companies, which buys passion fruit and other products from small farmers.

This is a win-win arrangement. The company can count on a reliable source of passion fruit and rural producers now have a reliable buyer. Since the initial agreement in 2009, approximately 300 small farmers have joined the program and started producing passion fruit and another 250 farmers are preparing to cultivate more passion fruit.

Some municipalities are joining the effort because they are investing in nursery production for passion fruit. In rural Paraguay where the poverty rate is as high as 48 %, this assistance is really helping to transform people’s lives.

Beneficiary Norma Riveros, credits her passion fruit sales to her participation in Paraguay Productivo, which ensures her and her family a regular income. They can now afford to buy a machine that helps them clear the field and improve crop yield. I also had a chance to speak to 19 year old passion fruit farmer and business student, Rolando Fretes, one of the cooperatives’ young leaders. In this video he talks about his work and explains why Paraguay Productivo is important to his community:

At the end of the day, I visited the production plant at Frutika and saw first-hand the results of the farmers’ hard labor. Frutika is one of the best-selling companies in Paraguay, and the leading provider of juices such as orange juice, passion fruit, and peach. Here, Engineer Celso Cubilla discusses the importance the company’s partnership with Paraguay Productivo to its business goals.

In short, there is no denying that this public private partnership is beneficial to Paraguay’s economy and all the parties involved: USAID, the rural farmers and Frutika.

Public Private Partnership Week: A Development Innovation Venture that Unleashes the Potential of Small Business

Dr. Maura O’Neill is Senior Counselor and Chief Innovation Officer and leads Innovation & Development Alliances at USAID

As part of USAID’s 50th Anniversary, the Agency is celebrating Public-Private Partnership Week October 17-21, 2011 to highlight the mutual benefit that development and business have in establishing public-private partnerships (PPP) and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Development Alliance (GDA) program.

As an entrepreneur several times over, I am always struck by the constraints that hard-working businessmen and women face across the world.  Whether you have a small enterprise in Indiana or in sub-Saharan Africa many of the problems are the same. Am I selling a product that people want?  Can I find people that will be great reliable employees? Can I buy materials in sufficient qualities that allow me to mark it up and offer the product at a profitable and compelling price to my customers? On that last point, the entrepreneur in a developing country often faces many fewer options to finance their inventory than we have in the U.S.  Imagine for a moment the challenge of a small-scale shopkeeper in Africa. To afford his inventory, he must make small and frequent—and ultimately more expensive—orders to his supplier. He can only afford certain non-perishable goods, and rarely in bulk. If he could get access to trade credit, allowing him to borrow from suppliers and pay back over time, then he could grow his inventory, expand his business, and eventually escape the trap of a great business opportunity that never scales. But most of the time he can’t, because of another dilemma:

Imagine now the challenge of the trade creditor.  To extend credit to small shopkeepers, she needs to be able to get and monitor repayments. She needs to have a way to enforce or find a remedy if the entrepreneur becomes a deadbeat.  However, the costs of doing so outweigh the revenue she would make from providing such small credit. So she often doesn’t.  The result is a missed opportunity, multiplied many times over, for fledgling entrepreneurs and trade creditors to mutually profit and generate economic growth. And the family and community income remains stuck at very low levels.

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