When we harness market forces in developing countries, great things can happen—such as countries with surplus food selling to countries that need food. Over the past 15 months, teams from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs together facilitated three regional trade forums—in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Zambia. This convening of sellers and buyers generated impressive results: signed contracts to sell 1.21 million metric tons of staple grains, with an estimated value of $402 million. When delivered, the grains will be enough to feed 14.4 million people for 12 months.
At SwitchPoint, a two-day conference organized by Intrahealth International—a DAI strategic affiliate—400 global health and technology devotees came together in the North Carolina countryside to share ideas and seed partnerships for solving global health challenges, especially by using technology. The seventh annual event, held April 26–27, featured 30-plus stage speakers and 20-plus microlabs.
These talks and microlabs covered a host of topics, from pandemic preparedness and the value of community health workers to how health innovators can best engage with investors—and much more. Here are just a few of the stand-out moments:
Giving Sex a Good Name: Youth in India—home to 229 million people between ages 15–24—are interested in sex, and the internet is their top source of information, notes Vithika Yadav, co-founder and head of Love Matters India. Of India’s youth with internet access, she said, 83 percent of those surveyed have watched pornography, which paints an unreal and irresponsible picture of sex. “We have to invest in young people’s health; we need to use technology to give sex a good name,” Yadav said, adding that it is difficult for India’s young to find information on relationships, abstinence, and contraception. “Young people are looking for information about sex online,” she said. “We need to know what is youth-friendly information on sex, and how to help young people find material that resonates with them.”
Start-Ups—Get Funding, Win Prize Money:Bobby Jefferson, pictured above, Chief Technology Officer for DAI Global Health, broke down the many avenues available for people with ideas to pursue financing. Jefferson told the audience that even well-known brands—brands not normally associated with social investment—are investing in people who show promise for delivering breakthrough ideas and thinking. He warned, though, that social investing to...
Most people living in rural communities in developing countries depend on crops. While donor-funded seed development programs for staple crops have improved the capacity of seed companies, as well as their market connections and distribution systems, high-quality seeds of improved varieties are simply not reaching enough smallholder farmers.
We are proud to announce that DAI has once again been named one of the main implementing partners for the European Commission (EC) 2018–2022 Frameworks contracts for international development assistance.
The Frameworks represent an agile development programming tool that enables the EC to quickly source and execute short-term research and pilot projects around the world. Unlike typical multiyear, donor-funded projects that work in a particular country or region—and can take more than a year to plan, bid, and launch—EC Frameworks contracts are capable of being designed, awarded, and deployed in a matter of weeks and can dispatch project teams to any country receiving development aid from the Commission.
Jordan is a relative bastion of stability in the Middle East but is struggling with an unemployment problem. More than 700,000 of its young people—36 percent of the available labor force ages 15–24—are without a job. This percentage is double that of Afghanistan and triple that of Bangladesh, even though those countries register poverty levels far worse than Jordan’s. The problem has intensified since 2011 with the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees following the Syrian crisis.
In recent years, lower- and middle-income countries have borne the brunt of the global refugee crisis, currently hosting more than 80 percent of the world’s refugees. But some host countries, like Jordan, are taking important steps to seize what opportunities they can in this situation, supporting refugee self-reliance and at the same time boosting their own economy by issuing work permits to refugees and connecting multinational companies to business opportunities with local firms and displaced people.
The influx of refugees from across the Syrian border is straining Lebanon’s economy and host communities. Since 2011, Lebanon’s population has increased 30 percent to around 6 million as a result of this influx, and its young people are increasingly anxious to enter the workforce. Many even wish to start or join social enterprises to help address the country’s challenges, including problems stemming from the refugee crisis. But until recently there were few avenues for pursuing this work.
An estimated 75 million children cannot go to school because they have been driven from their homes by war, crisis, and natural disaster. This deprivation in turn destabilizes vulnerable regions because uneducated children grow into at-risk teenagers and young adults.
Earlier this spring, the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub achieved a major milestone by surpassing the $100-million mark in commercial investment catalyzed into the region. This investment would not have found its way to these markets without the approximately $4 million nudge offered by the Hub, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative implemented by DAI. Given the potential impact of the investee companies, this project shows how a donor like USAID can leverage its relatively scarce capital to crowd in more plentiful commercial funds—a process known as blended finance. The leverage factor is almost 25x.
Nigeria is the economic heavyweight of West Africa, but it faces challenges. Approximately two-thirds of its people live in poverty and its economy suffers from low productivity and an uneven climate for trade and investment. Until recently, oil-rich Nigeria has not been a good place to make products or grow crops because it didn’t have to be—the country simply imported what it needed. But times are changing for Africa’s most populous nation.