U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) units around the world are increasingly asking for specialized support to mobilize private capital—requests now being met by the agency’s new INVEST program. In less than one year, USAID missions, bureaus, and other operating units have hired the INVEST team to support 17 initiatives to develop market opportunities. These initiatives—to address demand for energy, food, health care, water, and other global needs—are under way or already completed in Afghanistan, Asia, Haiti, India, and North and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The combined commitments of $37 million by USAID units to pursue these initiatives represent 40 percent of the INVEST goal set by USAID. A two-year project with three option years, INVEST’s success has already spurred USAID to green-light a third year.
Based in Washington, D.C., the INVEST team facilitates the expertise in finance and investment, technical subjects, and local knowledge required to generate investment pipelines and mobilize investment capital. INVEST orchestrates a network of specialists—more than 130 firms so far—that fill various niches to help USAID explore these opportunities. This network includes strategy advisory firms such as Tideline and Dalberg, transaction advisory firms including CrossBoundary and Open Capital Advisors, and innovative finance firms such as Kois Invest and Third Sector. These and other partners provide the appropriate mix of financial rigor and technical specialization required to tailor assistance.
“[USAID is] embracing the ingenuity and the entrepreneurship that private enterprise offers and harnessing the efficiencies and effectiveness that private-sector competition and market forces can unlock. And this is something private enterprise is eager to do alongside us.”—USAID Administrator Mark GreenJune 20, 2018
Recent “buy-ins” by USAID units for market assessments and pipeline development, design and structuring support, and transaction advisors exemplify the early demand for INVEST’s services. They include initiatives to:
As Afghanistan transitions toward a market-driven economy and away from one supported by foreign assistance, jobs will inevitably be lost. The Afghan Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyred, and Disabled predicts that 4 million jobs will be needed over the next five years to replace lost jobs and absorb the rising generation of graduates.
Jordan needs to grow its economy. More than 700,000 of its young people—39 percent of the available labor force ages 15 to 24—are without a job. Many have good educations and are holding out for high-quality employment. Jordan is also hosting an enormous influx of Syrian refugees, which has helped swell its population from 7.5 million in 2011 to 10 million today. Many of these newcomers are also seeking work. But Jordan is almost completely reliant on imported oil and gas for its energy, limiting its ability to grow the economy and create jobs.
After more than five years of campaigning for the right of every Pakistani child to receive a quality education, Alif Ailaan ended on August 31. Before we go, we should explain why the campaign is ending, and more importantly, we should thank the people that made this campaign as effective as it was.
As Christine Kanini checks water meters on her weekly rounds, she recalls that 18 months earlier she could not aspire to this job. “We had mainly male meter readers,” Kanini said. “Then I was promoted to this position from gate keeping. I am happy with the work.” Over the past year, the Wote Water and Sewerage Company (WOWASCO), which serves the small city of Wote in south-central Kenya, has opened up opportunities for women such as Kanini in fields that were previously deemed suited for men only.
Despite having the largest economy in Africa, around half of Nigeria’s population still lives in extreme poverty. A few hundred miles east of the new skyscrapers and shopping malls of Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, the Niger Delta—made up of nine oil-producing states and home to more than 31 million people—defines the country’s stark contrast in living conditions. Even though it is a major oil-producing region, much of the Delta’s population lives in remote villages and survives on subsistence farming. Exacerbating this poverty is a lack of modern agricultural equipment and supplies that farmers need to improve crop yields, as well as limited access to markets in which to sell their harvests.
Haiti’s government this year launched a national electronic platform for reporting and tracking tuberculosis (TB), a key step in its efforts to capture, monitor, and report all patient-level data across the country. Information on cases of TB—a contagious and often deadly disease plaguing the Caribbean nation—is being prepared for aggregation into the System d’Information Sanitaire Nationale Unique, or SISNU, which uses the DHIS2 open-source software platform for reporting, analyzing, and disseminating national health data.
This opinion piece was first published in the Jakarta Post on August 15, 2018.
As Indonesia celebrates its 73rd year of independence, most people are aware of the country’s impressive economic development over the past few years. But perhaps fewer are aware that, every hour, across this massive archipelago, two mothers and eight newborns die.
The effects of climate change in the already arid lands of Kenya are particularly tough on its economy. Think: tourism, arable agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, and livestock—all vulnerable to extreme changes in weather.
Thousands of infants and children in rural Zambia suffer or die unnecessarily from malaria each year because they lack access to high-quality medicines and proper medical care. But a recent pilot program shows how trained local volunteers administering crucial medicine can keep a child well enough to be transported to a health care facility for further, potentially lifesaving treatment.
Leasing equipment—instead of finding the cash to buy it—is fundamental to the growth of small and growing businesses, yet small-business owners in Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation have been unable to do so, because the regulatory framework that underpins leasing transactions didn’t exist. Until now.
Imagine if you could pay taxes only by traveling to the capital and paying in person—or, by paying in cash at a tax office to a “middleman.” Until recently, this is how taxes were paid in Liberia. Additionally, due to failures by the internet, power supply, or information technology systems, taxpayers often required four trips on average to tax offices to fulfill their obligations. Even basic transactions such as paying for a birth certificate required making a trip to the capital, Monrovia. As a result, many citizens and businesses simply did not comply, depriving the government of revenues needed for services as well as of valuable data.