Speech

April 2, 2008

As Prepared by John J. Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer

New York City

‘G.E. Memorandum of Understanding Signing’

Introduction

It’s a pleasure to be in New York City in this magnificent boardroom to sign this groundbreaking memorandum of understanding between the Millennium Challenge Corporation and General Electric.

I know that we can be much more effective in tackling the challenges of global poverty and sustainable economic growth when we work together rather than when we work alone. Today is a celebration of

  • that cooperation,
  • that collaboration,
  • that partnership

to create new possibilities for the world’s poorest.

Core MCC and GE values

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an

  • innovative,
  • different,
  • and demanding

approach to awarding U.S. development assistance. 

Built

  • on accountability,
  • on allocating aid based on how well countries perform on a set of independent and transparent
    • political,
    • economic,
    • and social indicators,
  • and on tangible results,

it is not too much to ask countries receiving MCC grants to practice good policies and to demonstrate the will and wherewithal to use our funding wisely.  Such is the case with the 16 countries in

  • Africa,
  • Central America,
  • Eurasia,
  • and the Pacific

with whom we have signed MCC compacts totaling $5.5 billion.

No matter how effectively the Millennium Challenge Corporation delivers what many call smart aid by partnering with countries committed to

  • good governance,
  • investments in the health and education of their citizens,
  • and economic freedom,

our assistance alone is not enough to win the fight against global poverty. No matter how hard we work to empower countries to build their capacity and lead their own development, it is not enough.  What leverages our aid and creates a sustainable impact in the lives of the poor is the transformative role played by the private sector, including a leader like General Electric.

GE is “imagination at work” and the company’s legendary reputation and long history of innovation in this country, and in more than 100 other countries around the world, is enhanced by its outreach to those in need.  As a global citizen practicing strong corporate social responsibility—as one of the visionaries of the private sector interested in more than the bottom line—GE serves the communities in which it operates—not necessarily because it’s good for business but, more important, because it’s a good thing to do.  MCC is a smart approach to development, and GE’s leadership in global development is smart business.

MCC-GE MOU

MCC is pleased to collaborate with GE through the memorandum of understanding we sign today to advance common development goals.

  • This memorandum provides a framework for future collaboration between MCC partner countries and GE in promoting and supporting sustainable economic growth projects around the world.
  • This memorandum capitalizes on our respective
    • strengths,
    • expertise,
    • experience,
    • technologies,
    • methodologies,
    • and resources.
  • And, this memorandum outlines possible areas of cooperation, such as  
    • exploring ways to leverage MCC funds through new finance mechanisms, 
    • providing sectoral expertise to MCC partner countries in
      • energy,
      • water,
      • health,
      • transportation,
      • security,
      • the environment,
      • and financial services,
    • examining opportunities for corporate social responsibility,

    • supporting corporate governance and institutional capacity building,

    • enhancing environmental sustainability,

    • and providing incentives to encourage private sector investment in MCC partner countries.

GE is already working in many of the countries where MCC has compacts or our smaller threshold programs.  We see GE improving health clinics and hospitals in

  • Ghana,
  • Mali,
  • and Honduras

—three of MCC’s compact countries.  We see GE planting tree seedlings in the Philippines, which the MCC Board recently selected as eligible for our compact funding. We see GE supporting primary school education for girls in Malawi, which not only was selected for compact funding but also is completing a successful MCC threshold program to fight corruption and improve fiscal management, essential ingredients for attracting private enterprise.

Importance of Private Sector

At MCC, we have long recognized the tremendous potential role other organizations, especially private sector companies, can play in delivering meaningful and positive change in the economies of our partner countries and in the lives of their poor. 

MCC’s goal is to have the self-sustaining economic activity and foreign investment generated by the private sector itself within a partner country build upon and eventually replace our aid.  For this reason, MCC is exploring ways to more closely partner with the private sector. 

  • We have created a Private Sector Initiatives team to look closely at the intersection between
      • poverty reduction,
      • development,
      • and the private sector.

Many corporations are moving away from pure philanthropy toward more socially responsible investments that meet not only their corporate goals but also overall development objectives.  MCC’s Private Sector Initiatives team is pursuing ways to encourage private sector activity in development, and stands at the forefront of forging the MOU we sign today with GE.

  • We are weaving the private sector into the fabric of MCC compacts from the very beginning of our process. During compact development, we encourage MCC partner governments and the international and domestic private sector to work together to address constraints and opportunities for
      • growth,
      • trade,
      • and investment.

This dialogue will help MCC make “smarter” investments, and help the private sector make investments that have a real developmental impact. 

    • We are tracking private sector opportunities that are expected to surface because of MCC’s investments. MCC investments can provide the private sector with a point of entry to initiate or expand its own commercial activities.
      • MCC investments enable and encourage other investments that were previously constrained by a lack of
        • transportation infrastructure,
        • or trained workers,
        • or clean water,
        • or proper sanitation.
      • MCC investments foster continuing economic activity—whether by a farmer in her field who now invests because she has title to her land, or by a local company that invests because of the improved business climate and infrastructure made possible by MCC. 

      • We also want the private sector to be aware of upcoming procurement opportunities as well as opportunities to partner with MCC countries in MCC or MCC-related investments.

MCC’s effectiveness is very much tied to partnering with the private sector.

We can help create and accelerate the right policy conditions in partner countries for growth to outpace poverty.  These conditions send a powerful signal to the private sector that the environment for investing and doing business is swiftly improving.

We can help countries build their capacity to deliver results and sustain their development.

Yet, for our efforts to make a lasting difference in the lives of the poor, the private sector’s engagement is fundamental.  What we start at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the private sector will take to the finish line; and our partnership along the way is what, ultimately, will replace poverty with prosperity and give the poor a fruitful share in the economic lives of their communities.

Working with GE

Given MCC’s commitment to be excellent stewards of U.S. taxpayer dollars—and in a time of tighter budgets when thriving businesses seek to maximize the impact of their investments—public-private partnerships provide a win-win scenario that benefits us as well as the people and communities we serve.  This memorandum of understanding between GE and MCC opens the door to promising achievements ahead as the public and private sectors cooperate.   The private sector—including an industry leader like GE—brings the

  • technology,
  • know-how,
  • skills,
  • and jobs

that can significantly deepen and sustain the impact of MCC’s development assistance and help countries grow and prosper.  

Conclusion

We are excited to work with GE and to showcase this MOU as a trailblazing example of how the private sector can contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth and development.  We hope others will follow in GE’s footsteps, and that today’s MOU is one of many more to come with other private sector companies.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation and General Electric share a vision for a better world; and what we imagine, let us now set out together—with this MOU as our roadmap—to achieve. 

Thank you very much.