'Private Sector Role in Sustainable Development'

Thank you, Frances.  I appreciate that introduction and your efforts and expertise as MCC’s point person for greater private sector engagement.

We are pleased to be joined by Cape Verde’s Prime Minister José Maria Neves; IFC CEO Lars Thunell; AES Corporation’s Global Chief Operating Officer Andres Gluski; Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome, and thank you for joining us this evening!  The Millennium Challenge Corporation is guided by one mission: to reduce global poverty through long-term economic growth.  Our ultimate success in achieving this mission depends, in large part, on the partnerships we forge with so many of you gathered here this evening.  I believe we can—and should—find ways to work together to align our missions and business interests with sustainable development objectives.

President Obama’s strategy for global development recognizes that ending global poverty means:

  • investing in economic growth,
  • promoting country-led development that engages government, civil society, and the private sector in the design and implementation of investments,
  • demanding accountability from partner countries, and
  • focusing on transparency and results.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation combines the principles and practices that are at the core of the President’s vision for development.  We are committed to transitioning countries from development assistance to private sector-led economic growth.  We believe economic growth and increased incomes will pull communities and countries out of poverty toward self-sufficiency.

One of my top priorities at MCC is to involve the private sector in all stages of our operations around the world.  We are building relationships with the private sector to:

  • analyze constraints to commercial activity, trade, and investment, so we can analyze solutions that will create investment-ready markets;
  • identify commercial opportunities that MCC’s support can help bring about;
  • solicit advice on program design;
  • seek co-investment or parallel investment;
  • secure practical advice on designing innovative financing models for commercial needs; and
  • encourage bidding on MCC procurements, which amount to 3 billion dollars through 2011.

In addition, we are challenging ourselves at MCC to think more broadly and more deeply about what we mean by private sector engagement.

  • To us, this means engaging the traditional private sector as well as the whole community of non-governmental and non-traditional actors, like social entrepreneurs and foundations.
  • We are looking at the role small- and medium-sized companies—not just the large multinationals—can play in development.  Often, these smaller firms are executing impressive niche strategies in emerging markets.
  • We want to work with firms and foundations dedicated to social entrepreneurship.  They see the value of maximizing their bottom lines and their ability to do good in the communities where they operate.
  • We need to create a stronger climate for local entrepreneurship.  How can our investments help developing countries develop homegrown capacity and skills to compete, do business, innovate, and create jobs?
  • We want to pursue more innovative solutions.  We may not be able to come up with new products, but we may be able to come up with new processes.  We can learn from the successful development experiments others have undertaken and explore innovative ways to scale them up to long-term viability and sustainability.

In all these ways, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is committed to the fullest definition of partnership to achieve the greatest impact we can in the fight against global poverty.

Tonight offers an opportunity to make connections as well as start—and continue—conversations to lay out a path toward greater cooperation.  We want to work with you to discuss, strategize, and plan.  Starting tonight, let us forge strong partnerships for progress that will benefit our missions and interests as well as the lives of the world’s poor.

Thank you, again, for being here, and now it is my great pleasure to introduce the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, one of our partner countries where I will travel to next month to mark the end of their first MCC compact.  Please join me in welcoming the Prime Minister of Cape Verde José Maria Neves.  Mr. Prime Minister…