USAID Administrator Mark Green's Remarks at Milwaukee Startup Week as Part of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit Series


For Immediate Release

Monday, November 6, 2017

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: As Tom mentioned, I am Wisconsin through and through. I will also point out that Tom and I served together in the House of Representatives. Our little part of the Longworth Building had Tom, myself, and Paul Ryan. Tammy was just, I think, a floor below. We were known as "cheesehead central" throughout the House of Representatives.

But also, Tom gave me one of my most important reality checks in politics and he wouldn't be remember this probably. But, shortly after I was sworn into the House, we were all on the flight back to Milwaukee. It was our two U.S. Senators at the time, Tom, myself, I think Paul Ryan, and I think Tammy. We were all on the same flight. And I immediately said to Tom, "Can you imagine what would happen if this plane went down?" And Tom said, "yep. Everybody would be sad for about 24 hours, then they'd take out of the papers for the special elections and continue on as if nothing ever happened."

First, a little bit about USAID - I have a cool job. I get to lead the world's premiere development agency. And that is really what USAID is. Launched 56 years ago essentially by John F. Kennedy. But in truth goes back even further to the Marshall Plan. Working in over 100 countries, including some of the most difficult, dangerous places in the world.

We are an expression of American compassion and we are a projection of American values. Much of our work falls into one of three streams. First, we provide humanitarian assistance. We respond to disasters. In fact, most Americans don't realize it, but America is far and away the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in the world. And numbers two and three combined don't approach what the generosity of American taxpayer means for so many in need.

Second, we provide development assistance to help partner countries on their own development journey to self-reliance. Over the long run, our goal is to have countries go from being recipients, to partners, to donors. We look at ways to help lift lives and build communities.

Third, wherever we can, we foster and strengthen inclusive economic growth and also (inaudible) to both help our partners meet their development needs but also to open markets for American goods and American commerce.

So, in practical terms, what does that mean? Well, it means that when there's an earthquake or a hurricane anywhere in the world, like we saw recently in Mexico City and the Caribbean, it is usually USAID, through the generous support of all of you, who responds and helps to rebuild.

When famine threatens, as it is very sadly in so many places in the world, places like South Sudan, Northern Nigeria, and Somalia, and Yemen, we not only help with emergency food, but we also strengthen resilience of countries and families, of communities to help them better withstand future shocks.

On the development front, it is USAID, again on behalf of Americans like you, who are in communities helping to prevent the spread of HIV or Malaria or Zika or Ebola. We lead initiatives like Feed the Future, the hardest American agribusiness know-how in which Wisconsin is a major driver.

We try to help farmers overseas become more prosperous and less dependent upon traditional pay. We're also connecting those farmers and their communities to global markets, helping to bridge the divide between them and American enterprise. As they rise, they want to purchase American farm equipment, IT equipment. And as they really rise, maybe a Harley Davidson or two along the way.

The reason that I am here today is to help review a major world event. And I am delighted that Milwaukee is one of the few sites in America that has been chosen for the preview. The event is the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

And GES really is the preeminent annual gathering of emerging entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers from all around the world. It is designed to make connections and help innovators take their ideas to the next level, in ways that lift lives, advance humanity, and yeah, build opportunities for commerce.

The 2017 Summit is being co-hosted by the U.S. and India, in Hyderabad, India. Ivanka Trump will lead the U.S. delegation and I will be there with her. This year's theme is women first, prosperity for all. And you heard Chris talk about the importance of women to women relations in commerce and development around the world, and he is exactly right. That's why we're going to pay special attention towards women and discuss how empowering them, really accelerates economic growth for everyone.

Every study seems to agree that when women do better, countries do better, communities do better, and families do better. In terms of development, it's really true. Ninety cents of every dollar that a woman makes around the world, is invested back into her family. That means from the perspective of a development agency, that's about as wise as an investment that we could possibly make.

Now all of this matters, and really should matter, to Milwaukee for a number of reasons. First of course with respect to India, Milwaukee has a wonderful, vibrant, Indian-American community. It's another reason that this is a world-class city. But even more importantly, this area, from our universities and entrepreneurial non-profits, like the Water Council, to our globally-engaged businesses, we have so much to offer the world.

And really the reason that we're all here, to preview the GES, is we want to enlist this community's help, the ideas, the energy, the people here, to help energize America's global leadership.

When USAID was launched about five and a half decades ago, about 80 percent of the money flowing from America to the developing world was government money, what we called ODA, Official Development Assistance. Today, that figure is a little less than nine percent. Now, it's not because government development spending has gone down, it's because private financial flows have roared ahead: large scale philanthropy, remittances, but most of all, commerce.

Development goals, poverty relief, improvements in global health, stronger food security increasingly depend upon more collaboration between agencies like USAID and the private sector. That's why the Global Entrepreneurship Summit is not just about business for business's sake. But also about how private entrepreneurship and private research drive development outcomes, lifting lives.

One story that we often tell at USAID is the story of CoolBot as a way of showing how this collaboration works. Now, in many parts of the world, farmers harvest much more food than they need to generate a modest revenue. But what happens is they lack access to temperature controlled storage. In other words, they produce more than they need but most of it spoils before it ever reaches market. So, where they should be living comfortably instead they're barely getting by.

Last fall, Feed the Future, which is led by USAID and is the U.S. government's global food security initiative, called out to the private sector and research community for help. CoolBot was one of the solutions that we received. An engineer in upstate New York had figured out how to turn a regular window air conditioning unit into a low-cost cold storage unit: CoolBot.

His unit costs about $300 compared to $30,000 for traditional commercial units. An American company Store It Cold, saw that the device was a hit for small and medium farmers back here in the U.S., and they thought it could work in the developing world. So, we forget a partnership with Store It Cold to scale CoolBots in Central America. Right product, right place, right price, and it took off. With any luck, CoolBot will reach 15,000 small farmers and cooperatives by the end of this year. That means 15,000 rural farmers and cooperatives who for the first time will have access to refrigerated storage. And Store It Cold might actually make a dollar along the way.

These are the kinds of stories that the Global Entrepreneurship Summit wants to highlight and it's also the kind of story that we know very well back here in Wisconsin. We're collaborating at USAID, for example, with researcher-entrepreneur Rebecca Larson at UW in Madison. That entrepreneurship collaboration has led to a half dozen innovations that are leading some of the world's most important and significant agricultural development challenges.

One of these is also a refrigeration unit that runs on biogas, fuel that can be easily produced at home. Like the CoolBot, this refrigeration unit is helping small business owners in the developing world keep perishable foods fresh.

Today, Rebecca has placed 15 biogas units across the country of Uganda. One of her customers is a dairy farmer named Margaret (inaudible). After getting her refrigeration unit, Margaret saw her milk losses fall by 10 liters a day. With the additional milk help to sell, she expects to pay off her unit in less than a year and a half and from there, it's all profit.

Technology is here in the Milwaukee area. For example, some of those are being tested in the clean water field, have unlimited potential. But please know that this is about much more than altruism. This needs to make commercial sense, and it does. As I think maybe if you realize, most of the world's fastest growing economies are in the developing world. Half of Africa is now lower to middle income or higher.

And many of these same countries are demographically young. For example, the median age of a Ugandan is 16. So, we have emerging economies, rising incomes, and demographically young populations. That's a mixture for consumers who care about the kinds of things that we produce back here. The goods and services that American entrepreneurs provide, that's what they want in the developing world. That creates opportunity for their lives, that creates market opportunities for American entrepreneurs.

So, as we go through the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, we want to highlight that American business has business in the developing world. American companies like Johnson Controls, ManpowerGroup, Harley Davidson, the Oshkosh Corporation, they've all recognized this for quite some time. They all have opportunities going into the developing world.

Harley is selling motorcycles in India, Oshkosh is doing business across Mexico, Johnson Controls is part of a vast supply chain that spans the globe, and the Manpower group provides staffing solutions out of 4,000 offices in 82 countries.

What we don't see enough of, are small businesses getting together, merging opportunities for them. We don't see entrepreneurs coming together on the smaller scale often enough, and that's what we can do at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

Now, finally, I'd like to give you a taste of some of the challenges at USAID that we'll be bringing to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be addressed. Three in particular: tuberculosis especially in India, gender digital divide, and the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Now it's probably hard for many of you to believe, but tuberculosis is actually the leading infectious killer in the world. And there's no reason for it. It is entirely curable. Of all the countries in the world, 2.8 million Indians have developed the disease each year and over half a million people die from it.

Drug resistant TB is surging in India like nowhere else. And women with TB are often stigmatized. They are shunned and they are isolated. And we believe the world community has to help and can help.

The second challenge across the globe, is a gender-based digital divide that is holding back progress and stifling innovation and entrepreneurship especially for women around the world. It is leaving women sidelined and outside the emerging economy.

Over 55 percent of the world's population remains unconnected, most of whom are women. By closing the digital divide, expanding internet access, we expand for women access to health, safety, education services while unlocking billions of dollars in global GDP.

How do we expand digital literacy to women when their access to the internet and technology is low? How can we expand inclusive digital access to rural communities? These are the questions that hope to take up at GES.

And finally, humanitarian assistance. There are 66 million displaced people in the world today. Asylum seekers, internally displaced people, and refugees. That's like the entire United Kingdom suddenly going homeless and having nowhere to go.

Over 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen now face life-threatening hunger. And I think as a compassionate people, we would agree that we must find ways to provide humanitarian assistance to them. Ways that make humanitarian assistance, yes more efficient, and certainly more effective. And so, at the summit we're seeking new ideas and innovative thinking.

How can we better deliver medicine that needs refrigeration in tropical areas? How do we more accurately track humanitarian assistance dollars and measure our impact? How do we educate children who are born and being raised in refugee camps?

As I leave you, I challenge all of you and I invite all of you, to bring your ideas, bring the character of this community, bring the vibrancy of the entrepreneurial community in this area to bear to the global entrepreneurship side and on the to the challenges facing humanity.

A hundred years ago, Teddy Roosevelt said, that the greatest prize life has to offer is the chance to do hard work that is worth doing. And I think if we take a look at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, as we take a look at the challenges facing humanity, and we take a look at the ideas that are out there, innovative ideas and technology. As Tom mentioned from his youth and what his father used to go through, this is hard work. It's really hard work. And it's not going to get easier. The one thing we do know, we know that it's work worth doing. So, again, it's great to be back here. Good to see my friends Chris and Tom, all of you. Let's go do good things in the south. Thank you.

Last updated: April 15, 2020

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