USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick and OPIC Acting President and CEO Bohigian Announce the Launch of a Partnership with Women's World Banking Asset Management

Remarks

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: press@usaid.gov

 

June 4, 2019
Global Entrepreneurship Summit Global Launch Lounge
The Hague, Netherlands

ACTING PRESIDENT AND CEO BOHIGIAN: Thank you. I'm really, really delighted to be here today. The Global Entrepreneurial Summit brings together entrepreneurs and business leaders, as well as government leaders, from all over the world. The United States is proud to sponsor it, and I couldn't think of a better location than The Netherlands. We've got such a long-standing partnership of almost 400 years -- one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, and really, an example for many of us on competitiveness and economic growth, and also, empowering of women.

This morning, we heard from the Queen and several ministers, and at the conference, really, the global role of leadership for women was really highlighted. And so, that's why we are excited today, with USAID and with Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, to be able to announce, I think, a really catalytic investment in women through Women's World Banking. This blended finance with USAID working together with $500,000, as well as OPIC, with an intent to invest $25 million, really has an opportunity to allow women to be able to access credit, to be able to develop their own loans, to be able to really break the cycle of poverty. And, that's tremendously exciting, because as we invest in women, and as they invest in their families, we invest in better societies together.

And, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation has been investing in emerging markets for almost 50 years. We have a $24 billion portfolio across private equity, across political risk insurance, and across project finance, in everything from housing to healthcare to infrastructure to venture capital, supporting entrepreneurs. And so, the ability to invest in women is something that we've really focused on in the last two years, through our 2X Initiative, which is meant to catalyze capital that ensures that women-owned, women-managed, and women-empowering businesses really get the benefit of being part of an inclusive, global economy. Because one thing that we've learned is that when a woman earns a dollar, she puts 90 cents back into her family. A man only puts 30 cents back into his family.

So, this truly is, with Women's World Banking, providing the credit and the capital that women need -- we think, a really catalytic investment. And also, it shows the strong partnership that we have with USAID, and I'm really thrilled to be a part of this today. So, thank you, and I'll introduce Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick.

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: Thank you so much, David. Today, I'm proud to announce that the United States Agency for International Development is joining with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in supporting the Women's World Banking Asset Management blended finance fund to empower women in emerging and frontier markets. It was particularly enjoyable last night to spend some time with the leadership of the Women's World Banking, where we made an informal announcement, and today will make the announcement much more formally.

The fund is projected to raise $100 million to expand women's access to financial services. The blended finance vehicle is designed to attract private capital in developing markets by offering protection to commercial investors and lowering the risk of loss. The fund will lead to increased financial inclusion for low-income women in Africa, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific region. More women will have access to loans, develop credit, build their savings, and purchase insurance, which are all critical to breaking the poverty cycle and promoting self-reliance.

USAID will provide $500,000 in catalytic funding, and $100,000 in technical assistance. The technical assistance will expand due diligence capabilities around digital financial services, and enable better assessments of financial institution's digital strategies, which are critical to expand the reach of their products and services to low-income women. USAID is re-thinking how international development initiatives are designed, tested, and rolled out, and we're embracing the creativity and entrepreneurship that only the private sector can bring to the table.

While there will always be an important role for traditional contracting and grant-making in USAID's work, we can accelerate and amplify our efforts and outcomes by increasingly applying market-based solutions to the development challenges we aim to address. The blended finance approach offers USAID an effective tool to empower women to reach their full economic potential, and to create more self-reliant communities. For investors, blended finance can shift the balance between risk and return in frontier and emerging markets, opening up new opportunities for investment. For donors of foreign assistance, it can close gaps in development financing, and ease some of the toughest global challenges that we face.

Used properly, blended finance channels private capital into areas where it can have a positive impact while generating solid returns. It develops markets and builds local commitment and capacity to plan, finance, and implement solutions to their own development challenges. USAID's investment in the blended finance fund is in alignment with the mission of the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. We like to call that Women's GDP, which is a U.S. government-wide effort to economically empower 50 million women in the developing world by 2025. This initiative established a $50 million fund at USAID to finance innovative and effective programs that advance women's economic empowerment.

By investing in women, USAID is enabling countries to progress beyond assistance, by unlocking human potential on a transformational scale. We're pleased to work with our partner, OPIC, to overcome the barriers to the full and equal inclusion of women in the formal economy. So, thank you all so much for being here today to be here for our launch.

MODERATOR: Now, we're going to open it up to questions. So, if you have some questions, you can speak into the mic here, in the middle.

QUESTION: Hi. Yeah, I'm Vince Chadwick. I'm a reporter with Devex, based in Brussels. I'd just like to know -- I mean, in the press release just now, it says it's a first-of-its-kind initiative, but just a bit more information about what's really new here, as you see it. And, with the technical assistance, $100,000 doesn't seem particularly like a lot. I'd like to know why in particular you'd like to target that at the digital aspects you mentioned. Thanks.

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: So, it's a great question. Thank you very much. I'll go directly to the first-of-its-kind initiative. It's something that is a preview to how USAID will be working with OPIC when the two combine forces on October 1st to launch the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, which is going to be a new version of our DFI, is how they're -- Development Finance Institution. So, it's a first of a kind in that -- in that sense, but it's also the first time that USAID has focused on this blended finance in such a public forum. We've done little bits and pieces here and there that has been much more ad hoc. But, the idea behind getting behind blended finance as a way to allow more women in particular to enter the business space has been, we find, a critical step toward getting more and more women to launch their own businesses. And, there couldn't be a better place to launch something like that than at GES this year. So, we're delighted on that end.

$100,000 in technical assistance is a start. Right? Normally -- if you are from Devex, you know that normally, our projects and programs have an additional zero or two at the end of them. So, the idea behind our engagement here with Women's World Banking is to serve as a catalyst, and that's what blended finance does. It provides the initial seed capital that allows other investors to come to the table with more zeros at the end of their engagements. The idea behind this next fund is to raise $100 million, and USAID will not take any return from the -- will not take any income from the returns that are generated from this second fund. All of that will be reinvested into the fund. So, the $100,000 in technical assistance is to get it up and running, off the ground, to help explain to people how they, too, can take advantage of the investments that are being made into their businesses. And from there, we see where it goes.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up question, maybe, about -- in which other investors you're thinking of, who could kind of jump on board this initiative, and if you've got any names already you could share?

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: So, it's not our fund. It's the Women's World Banking fund, and I think that we're not at liberty to talk about who their investors are.

You're making our lives too easy. (laughter)

MODERATOR: Thank you and thank you for your questions. We have the press release here, out at the desk, if you're interested, and we are having another press conference here tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. This is going to be to talk about a new initiative that is going to be bridging the gender digital divide and promoting women's economic empowerment. And Deputy Administrator Glick will be hosting that. So, thank you to both of you, and thank you to the participants, for coming.

Last updated: June 04, 2019

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