QDDR Blog Series: MFAN Principal Jennifer Potter on the Role of the Private Sector & Trade

The sixth installment in MFAN’s QDDR blog series comes from MFAN Principal Jennifer Potter, president & CEO of the Initiative for Global Development.  To see other posts in the series, click on the following names – George IngramNoam Unger, David BeckmannRitu Sharma & Nora O’Connell, Ray Offenheiser.

Jennifer PotterInitiative for Global Development

“Applying Business Principles to Development:  Invest for Success”

By Jennifer Potter

Most U.S. companies, regardless of their size, view themselves as players in a global system. Whether they are selling products and services in the international marketplace or sourcing their inputs from overseas, companies today are far more engaged globally now than ever before. U.S. business has a core interest in the economic health of the rest of the world. Increasingly, this includes the economic development of people in poor countries, and one of the best ways to boost growth and expand opportunity around the world is to improve the impact of U.S. foreign assistance.

U.S. foreign aid has posted significant successes over the past few decades, but its current organizational structure is disjointed and inefficient. We hope the QDDR’s interim report points to a process that seeks to apply the fundamental business principles outlined below to the organization, administration, and disbursal of U.S. aid.

Start with a clear strategy

  • Formulate a comprehensive national strategy for global development that outlines clear objectives and encompasses all relevant trade, aid, and investment programs.
  • Put someone in charge: one individual responsible for coordinating all U.S. development policies and programs, who is accountable for delivering results, and who serves as a unique development voice – distinct from diplomacy and defense – in interagency discussions.
  • Know your customers: design assistance efforts so that they respond to local needs and priorities.

Emphasize results

  • Evaluate development outcomes rather than dollars disbursed
  • Emphasize local management: give U.S. government development staff in country the flexibility and authority to allocate resources based on their knowledge of needs on the ground.
  • Find more strategic ways to collaborate with the private sector to leverage impact.

Invest for success

  • Put the right team in place: rebuild the government’s core development expertise
  • Support the strategy with adequate resources: increase funding for U.S. development programs over time.
  • Leverage the investments made by U.S. development agencies with private sector commitments to catalyze greater development gains.

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