blog logo image

Greater Business-Government Alignment is a Win-Win for Global Development

July 25th, 2012
Bookmark and Share

See below for a guest post from MFAN Principal Jennifer Potter, CEO of the Initiative for Global Development.


Last October, USAID Administrator Raj Shah delivered a major speech, entitled “Embracing Enlightened Capitalism,” in which he did two important things. First, he described how the agency is implementing many of the big ideas President Obama rolled out in the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development in September 2010, especially related to elevating broad-based economic growth as a top priority and leveraging the private sector as part of a more comprehensive development strategy. Second, he took on squarely some of the challenges that exist for business and government to work together more strategically on development.

As he outlined, much has changed in the evolution of foreign assistance over the past 50 years and much has also changed with the corporate community – something the Initiative for Global Development (IGD) and our network of global business leaders see daily in our work to drive large-scale poverty reduction through vital business growth and investment in the developing world. Both companies and development agencies see the tremendous upside for driving increased business and social impact through greater alignment.

At a CSIS/Chevron Forum event on July 24, Business for Better Development, an IGD project co-chaired by Chevron and IBM, launched a working paper entitled “The Business Case for Development: How Companies Can Drive Sustainable Development – and How Governments and Donors Can Leverage Their Impact.”  The paper outlines a two-sided opportunity that offers a win-win for global development: the opportunity for companies to succeed in frontier markets by incorporating business models that deliver development impact, and the opportunity for donors and governments to leverage the power of business to achieve large-scale, long-term impact.

For example, PepsiCo has partnered with USAID, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ethiopian government to increase the volume and quality of chickpeas produced by local farmers. WFP, in turn, is developing a chickpea-based ready-to-use nutrition supplement that is essential for early childhood development and can be used in WFP feeding programs. Through the Enterprise EthioPEA program, PepsiCo will establish a local source of chickpeas, Ethiopian farmers will gain new markets for their products, USAID will secure a business partner that can help build out a Feed the Future value chain, and WFP will add a new supplemental food to their child nutrition programs.

Donors can increase effectiveness and extend their resources by identifying how to leverage corporate strategies that are well aligned with development priorities. The paper makes the following recommendations to help development agencies tip the balance to induce more business investment with greater development impact.

  • Identify high-potential corporate partners and integrate sustainable outcomes from the outset
  • Provide meaningful opportunities for companies to engage throughout the project lifespan
  • Address investment constraints with targeted tools, such as capacity building, development finance, and procurement
  • Create incentives that encourage and reward engagement with business

The good news is that much of this work is underway. USAID is deploying its first group of Field Investment Officers this year to help drive increased engagement with the private sector in key missions, including several in Africa. And several “next generation” development opportunities – such as the MCC’s second compact with Ghana, which is focused on increasing investment in the power sector, the administration’s Partnership for Growth initiative, which seeks to provide a more coordinated, government-wide approach to addressing growth and investment constraints in four countries, and Feed the Future, with its newly identified priority value chains in Africa – provide the occasion to apply new approaches that acknowledge the potential for governments and businesses to generate the ingredients of sustainable growth together that neither are likely to accomplish alone. We look forward to working with our colleagues in business and in government to further this important evolution and to catalyze increased investment and development impact.

Jennifer Potter is CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). IGD engages global business leaders to reduce poverty through strategic, catalytic investment in the developing world, with a current focus on Africa. The IGD  network is comprised of CEOs and other business leaders from African, South Asian, U.S., and European companies who are recognized sector leaders and share a commitment to poverty reduction.


Moving local organizations into the driver’s seat

July 19th, 2012
Bookmark and Share

See below for a guest post from Carlos Cardenas, Country Director in Guatemala Save the Children. This is the second post in our field feedback series and part of a new blog series launched by Save the Children as part of its commitment to support effective U.S. foreign assistance.  The series documents recent aid reform efforts drawing upon interviews in 2012 with Save the Children staff working in fifteen countries.  By focusing on one change in one country over time, the stories provide insight into how policies intended to modernize U.S. foreign assistance can result in meaningful change on the ground. This post originally appeared on the Save the Children website.


Sometimes the best way to serve families over the long haul is to step back.  Recent policy changes to U.S. foreign assistance programs are putting more local organizations in the lead on development projects around the world.
In Guatemala, chronic malnutrition keeps half the country’s children from developing properly.  That fuels a vicious cycle of poverty that hurts children in rural, indigenous communities the most.   U.S. investments to break this cycle have helped countless children and families, but new reforms mean Guatemalans will play a bigger, more sustainable role in fighting the worst rate of chronic malnutrition in the Western hemisphere.

Save the Children has worked in Guatemala for 14 years with a variety of public and private funding to help poor populations overcome the impact of poverty and three decades of civil conflict.  As an international nonprofit humanitarian and development agency, we work alongside communities to implement integrated programs that improve health, nutrition, economic opportunities, disaster risk reduction, and democracy and governance. We know that improving farmers’ access to markets leads to greater, steadier income through the year and, critically for children, to improved nutrition for their own families.

For the last five years, Save the Children was the prime recipient of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to run a major food security project.  In tandem, a local consortium created by Guatemala’s largest export corporations called AGEXPORT was running small scale projects with USAID funds opening up markets for poor rural farmers.

As a result of USAID’s policy called Implementation and Procurement Reform, AGEXPORT is about to move into the driver’s seat.   In a new Feed the Future project called “Rural Value Chains,” USAID required that a local Guatemalan organization be the prime funding recipient.  AGEXPORT has asked Save the Children to play a supportive role by providing key technical support and institutional capacity.

If the project moves ahead as planned, this local Guatemalan organization will bring its expertise with domestic markets to the partnership, while we will bring our experience improving children’s nutrition and food security.

AGEXPORT’s selection as the prime grantee will give the organization the opportunity to build capacity and institutional expertise to lead increasingly large-scale projects.

That bodes well for the future.

In the next grant cycle, I suspect that AGEXPORT may not need Save the Children or any other international NGO to improve conditions for Guatemalan farmers and their children.   And Save the Children can move on to another area where our technical expertise and services are still truly needed.

Working ourselves out of a job is a development success.



Mark Your Calendars — Week of July 23, 2012

July 19th, 2012
Bookmark and Share

Every Thursday, MFAN will post a list of upcoming events for the following week. For more information about each event and to RSVP, click on the links below. If your organization is hosting an event next week and you don’t see yourself on the list, please email

See below for a list of MFAN Partner events:


Women in Ghana: Are We Helping Them Feed the Future?

July 12th, 2012
Bookmark and Share

See below for a guest post from MFAN Partner Women Thrive Worldwide. This piece is the first in our series that features reporting on how the President’s global development policy is being implemented in the field. Click here to learn more about the series.


More than one in four people worldwide – at least 1.6 billion – are women who live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Women in developing countries grow most of their food on small plots of land and are often responsible for feeding their families. But they also face serious constraints: they are pressed for time, often do not own the land they farm, and have less access to credit, equipment, extension services, and training, just to name a few. Until recently, agriculture and food security programs did not recognize or try to address these gender-specific constraints.

Feed the Future, USAIDs largest program in decades focused on long-term investment in agriculture and food security, has sought to change that. Feed the Future’s program is threefold.  It includes:(1) gender, (2) gender analysis, and (3) a new Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index that seeks to inform all investments by measuring women’s empowerment relative to men in their household. The Index looks at decision-making, access to resources, control over income, community leadership, and time management.

Ghana is one of the countries targeted by Feed the Future.  Agriculture accounts for about 30 percent of Ghana’s GDP and has been a major focus of its government since 2009, when it signed the CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program) compact. Feed the Future seeks to work with the private sector, civil society, and the government in Ghana to reduce poverty and transform the agricultural sector (especially the production of maize, rice, and soy).  Gender is recognized and integrated as a priority in the implementation with a particular focus on Northern Ghana and coastal fishing communities.

Progress has been slow even with all these ingredients in place, according to Ghanaian farmer Lydia Sasu, a Women Thrive partner. In addition to her role as Executive Director of the Accra-based NGO Development Action Association, she sits on several steering committees, has participated in key consultations with USAID, and is active in the local community.

Sasu observed that while some plans do seem to be in motion, the process isn’t as transparent as she and other farmers would like. While she has been consulted on several projects through the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge and Africa Lead, Lydia hears very little feedback after she submits her comments. Lydia recently told Women Thrive that at this point, she’s not even sure where some of the major projects will be located. And after speaking with a colleague who works in another region, Lydia reported to us that in terms of connecting with local women farmers, the U.S. government has been very slow. Essentially, it’s one big waiting game, where information flows to the government, but not back to the farmers who are impacted by new programs.

Local NGOs like the Development Action Association, rooted within the communities they serve, best represent the voices and interests of the women Feed the Future is trying to reach. Getting local input on the front end is a positive step, but whether this is accounted for and translated into planning and implementation is still an open question. Clearly, much more needs to be done to engage communities and ensure that investments planned for agriculture are effective.

For more information on how gender is integrated in Feed the Future please click here. And for more information about Lydia Sasu and her work in Ghana, click here.


Mark Your Calendars — Week of July 16, 2012

July 12th, 2012
Bookmark and Share

Every Thursday, MFAN will post a list of upcoming events for the following week. For more information about each event and to RSVP, click on the links below. If your organization is hosting an event next week and you don’t see yourself on the list, please email

See below for a list of MFAN Partner events: