June 9, 2021
I want to thank Dev Jagadesan, David Marchick, as well as Brian, Don, Wally and the entire DFC Board. I’m excited to join my first Board meeting, and to serve as Vice Chair.
USAID and DFC have been partners since the OPIC days, but the partnership is much stronger now, so I’m thrilled to help carry that legacy forward in this role. I look forward to our discussion, but I did want to share a few thoughts about how I see DFC and USAID’s partnership growing.
I think an important place to start is that our partnership truly is pioneering. No other development agency in the world works together with its Development Finance Institution in the way USAID and DFC do. In most cases, their goals are completely separate; they don’t get to align on shared development priorities, and they don’t benefit from the mutual expertise and capabilities of each. That’s why I’m so grateful that over the past year, there has been real blood, sweat, and tears investing in setting up the Mission Transaction Unit, so that USAID missions around the world can source promising deals, work with DFC to execute them, and then manage the implementation and monitoring.
We’ve got 10 USAID-sponsored projects done and we have 40 in the pipeline, and frankly, I believe we can do many more. And I believe we can build on what is working between us—adapting anything that might be impeding our joint impact—to further improve our existing structure.
Let me offer an example that illustrates how important and urgent this is: Before DFC was founded, OPIC had made a 230 million dollar investment in 2015 to create Kenya’s second largest wind farm. Amazing project, inspiring work, achieving clear climate development goals, providing up to 1 million Kenyans with renewable energy.
But apparently the deal almost fell through because of the impact it would have on endangered vultures in the area. Luckily, USAID has biodiversity experts in our Kenya Mission, and we have links with local NGOs and Maasai leaders. So, together, we were able to chart a way forward for the deal that respects local customs, protects those vultures, and allowed the wind farm to start delivering clean energy to Kenya’s grid this past January.
USAID has tremendous expertise, which grows out of our 80 Missions around the world, 56 of which DFC has projects. We can identify needs, we can match-make, and by operating in so many sectors, we can hopefully prevent important deals from going sideways.
With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging development gains around the world, it is our job now to be even more ambitious in our partnership. There is no higher priority on the planet right now than ensuring we get as many people vaccinated around the planet as quickly as possible. I know we’re already in talks to partner on a meaningful investment to build vaccine manufacturing capacity in Senegal. I know DFC is also exploring deals to expand capacity in India and South Africa, and exploring new investments to strengthen cold chains and insure and track dose shipments.
USAID is ready to support these efforts, whether through providing the capital, technical expertise, or local knowledge to get these deals done. For example, USAID can use its networks on the ground to make sure that locally-produced vaccines actually get into people’s arms, including “last-mile” delivery in rural areas. We can leverage our relationships with local communities to help them overcome vaccine hesitancy.
Look, we all know that there simply isn’t enough development assistance in the world to meet the global challenges we face—COVID, climate shocks, pick your humanitarian crisis of the day—we have to get private sector capital engaged to sustainably meet global development goals.
And I plan on using my voice as part of this board to ensure we prioritize development objectives, and that we develop more deals and expand on our existing partnership.
I’m so encouraged to see USAID’s own Andy Herscowitz, our Chief Development Officer, prioritize that agenda as well, and to see how DFC is dedicating itself to the needs of people all around the planet.
And I hope you continue to look to USAID early and often to meet our shared development mandate.