Opening Remarks by Acting MCC CEO Darius Mans at the Business Civic Leadership Center

Thank you for that kind introduction.

I am pleased to be here to help kick off this year’s Global Corporate Citizenship Conference.  Allow me to thank the corporate sponsors and the Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center for making this conference possible.  Bringing together business, nonprofit, and government leaders to focus on the development of emerging markets is smart and strategic, any way you look at it.

It makes sense for all of us, during a time of global economic downturn, to look at ways to make recovery as inclusive as possible.  The interconnected global marketplace means that if we are serious about the sustainability of our efforts, we must be serious about working with emerging markets.

It makes sense that we look at both the poverty line and the bottom line. The private sector’s role in lifting people around the world above the poverty line through their core business activities and philanthropic efforts is commendable.  Equally valid is the private sector’s role as the engine of sustainable economic growth that can unleash the ingenuity of entrepreneurs, create jobs, build capacity, raise living standards, introduce new technologies, and generate trade and investment opportunities.  These factors spur wealth in developing communities as they create new markets for the goods and services businesses have to sell, while helping millions thrive above the poverty line. In our new economy, expanding a company’s bottom line cannot ignore the potential or marginalize the promise of emerging markets.

As a career-long development professional, it’s great to be part of this discussion.  It’s an exciting time at MCC.  As you know, President Obama has nominated Mr. Daniel Yohannes to be MCC’s new CEO.  This nomination indicates the Administration’s strong support for MCC and our mission.  From where I sit at the Millennium Challenge Corporation—where our worldwide anti-poverty, pro-growth grants top over $7 billion—I see the linkages between emerging market development and economic growth, between sustainable development in these emerging markets and the role public-private partnerships are playing to create a foundation for growth.

Evidence in Examples

I see it in El Salvador, where a public-private partnership is leveraging resources from the $460 million MCC compact, Virginia-based AES Corporation, and the Government of El Salvador to support 1,300 kilometers of new rural electrification lines, connections, and extensions of existing lines throughout the country’s Northern Zone.  Poor families in the area, who do not have access to electricity, will be connected to the grid for the first time.  A basic service like electricity allows businesses to operate and school children to build the skills they need to perform future jobs.

I see it in Ghana, where part of MCC’s $547 million grant is boosting agricultural productivity with investments in post-harvest infrastructure, feeder roads, and credit services that are opening new opportunities for Ghanaian pineapple farmers.  Major agribusinesses are increasingly viewing the country as a reliable supplier of globally-certified fruits and investigating possible investments.  This has the very real potential of expanding the benefits of trade and raising the incomes of Ghanaian farmers. 

Adminstration’s Perspective

In pursuing the global development agenda, President Obama has called for broadening prosperity “through public-private partnerships.”  He understands the power of partnerships to improve the standard of living for the world’s poorest.  MCC is one capable tool the administration supports—and is using—to forge such partnerships, not just in El Salvador and Ghana, but in all partner countries. Through both policies and programs, MCC is leveraging public development dollars effectively to promote emerging market development by engaging the private sector.  Let me explain how.

Policies and Programs

First, policies.  As a policy-performance model for awarding development assistance, MCC works with partner countries committed to good governance, investing in health and education, and economic freedom.   These partners are working hard to respect the rule of law, fight corruption, create a predictable regulatory and legal environment, enforce contracts, protect intellectual property rights, safeguard land rights, and apply transparent procurement standards. Clearly, countries committed to these policies are creating not only pro-growth conditions but also an attractive business and investment climate.  What we have found is that the partners MCC selects are the same ones any savvy business investor would select. MCC’s selection of countries with sound policies leads the private sector to economies open—and ready—for business. 

Second, programs. In addition to creating a favorable business climate through the policies we insist upon, MCC actively involves the private sector in country-determined development programs right from the start.

  • We hold private sector dialogues to engage the private sector as early as possible in actually developing MCC programs.
  • We issue Requests for Information to solicit written feedback from the private sector on partner country proposals.
  • We encourage MCC countries to leverage MCC grants with other investors in both the profit and nonprofit worlds.  We also do all we can to help MCC countries use MCC funding to attract additional investment. 
  • We communicate private sector trade and investment opportunities that result from MCC grants as well as procurement opportunities that arise during program implementation. 

The way we see it: It is not enough that a partner country builds a road or other infrastructure today with MCC funding.  As critical are the follow-on, private sector investments made possible through improved infrastructure that spur sustainable economic development.  With the road built, for example, the private sector might now be more willing to build that factory, or gas station, or convenience store.  It is not enough for MCC to build clean water systems or health clinics—as important as these are—unless the private sector employs the healthier, productive workforce that results. 

The private sector is not an afterthought in our programs; it is integral to them and to their success. What MCC starts, we want the private sector to finish.  Where MCC leads, we want the private sector to follow.  As we see through MCC’s work, this is how emerging markets can—and will—develop.

Call to Action

During her trip to sub-Saharan Africa, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who chairs MCC’s Board of Directors, stated that, “There are business opportunities in solving the problems of the poor.”   Think about this: “There are business opportunities in solving the problems of the poor.”  

MCC partner countries are excellent examples of where “business opportunities” and “solutions for the problems of the poor” merge. This is a clear call to action. 

We call on the private sector to work with us—adding to, complementing, and building upon MCC’s investments.  And, I know many of you here—from private businesses, the international development community, other U.S. Government agencies, and international donors—have your own examples to share of how public-private partnerships are working. A conference like this allows us to exchange ideas and best practices to advance the private sector’s role in the social and economic development of emerging markets.

Working together through public-private partnerships has the tremendous potential not only of increasing a business’s bottom line but also of moving many more of the world’s poor above the poverty line. We can—and must—explore ways to tackle multiple bottom lines—to benefit business and to win the fight against global poverty.   The Millennium Challenge Corporation welcomes working with all of you to be part of the solution that will make a meaningful and sustainable difference in the lives of the world’s poor.

Thank you very much.