USAID Administrator Mark Green's Remarks at the Initiative for Global Development's Fall Frontier 100 Forum

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email:


Ronald Reagan Building
Washington, DC

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Thank you, Rob. Thanks for those kind words, and it's good to see all of you here. Now, a few things have changed since my last Frontier 100 forum when (inaudible) on the other side of the microphone. But what really hasn't changed is the importance of this organization and its mission, and that really is what brings me here.

But not only the organization and its mission, but the discussions all of you are having and will be having as you get together.

My principal goal as administrator has been to sharpen USAID's focus around two basic development themes, and in my way of thinking they are inseparable. The first is that the purpose of foreign assistance must be to the need for its existence.

Every dollar we spend, every program we manage, every tool we deploy needs to move us just a little bit closer to that day when African leaders, public sector, private sector, civil society, private business in particular, can take over in a self-reliant way leadership of the challenges that their nations face. And so, that really is what all of our work should be about.

Now, there is a second theme that I think is irreplaceably important in USAID and that is that the only sustainable way of reaching that goal is by tapping into private enterprise, turning to all of you to help tackle the challenges, and the opportunities that we all see.

Now, traditionally when the development community, including USAID, has referred to partnering with all of you in the business sector, we've largely meant contracts, forging contracts. It has meant paying private organizations to do exactly what public sector wants it to do on the terms and the timeline and in the places that we want you to do it. There's still room for that. If you all want to donate money to us, we'd be happy to take it. But of course, that misses the point, and this is what the greatest opportunities are for lifting lives and building communities all across the continent that I believe has literally unlimited potential not only to rise for Africa's sake, but to rise for the world's sake.

The contributions that Africans, particularly young emerging African leaders, can make to the world economy, to the world's culture, arts, sciences, and that really is what brings us all here and why I think all of this matters so much. So, as all of you know, the world is changing pretty rapidly.

When USAID was started more than five decades ago, 80 percent or so of the capital flows from America to the developing world or traditional development assistance. These days it's about nine percent, and I think our job at USAID is to find a way to take that nine percent to help unleash the 90 percent. And so, what we're looking to do is to identify those irreplaceable value adds that we do have at USAID to help bolster enterprise-driven development.

At USAID, our job, our obligation, our commitment to all of you, must be to mobilize those capacities that we have in ways that will help you do more. So, we want to use our convening power. That is a legitimate, important role for the public sector. We want to use our ability to incentivize and assist in policy reform. We want to help with the technical assistance that we can provide to enhance country capacity with smart, targeted regulations.

And we want to mobilize our ability to identify artificial market failures and help to foster investments that can help take on and close those gaps. All of this we need to make available to all of you to unleash entrepreneurial activity, activity that energizes inclusive growth and raises living standards.

Two of USAID's most recent initiatives I think are beginning to capture and apply some of those principles. Number one, many of you know, is Feed the Future, and the second one is Power Africa. What my request is of all of you is to help us do more to help you do more. Help us identify those barriers to business, those artificial barriers and restrictions that you face in each potential market.

Number two, help us to connect you to opportunities, and number three, help us more generally to listen better, to be real partners to you as you try to grow, sell more goods, build jobs, build services, and yes, make money all the while.

A story that -- I close with, one that really touched me during a recent journey that I did to the Horn of Africa. I was traveling to Ethiopia to take a look at some of our food security programs, and I'll never forget because an important part of the day was to observe food donations that we were providing. And at a food distribution in Ethiopia in the Somali region I walked through and I saw some families receiving sacks of grain.

And there was one lady that I came across who was sitting next to a sack that she had just been given, and she was getting ready to take it back and divide up with her family. And as I walked through, she tugged and she said, "Can I ask you a question?" I said, "Sure." And the question wasn't, "Can you give me some more grain?" or "Can you give me some money?" She said, "Can you help me with irrigation so I never need to take grain again?"

So, I turned to the two reporters who were traveling with me, and I said, "There it is. That's it right there. That's what we want to capture. That's what we want to mobilize that. That's what we want to harness. That's what we want to use."

Every human being wants to provide for themselves and their family. It is the dignity that we all have. That is what we have to turn to.

So, my commitment to you is that USAID will try to help you capture that woman's drive and apply it in ways that not only help her and her family, but make that contribution that we all know is essential to Africa's bright future. Good luck with your discussions.

Again, look at me and look at USAID as a partner. We want to help you do more because when you do more, that allows us to mobilize even further and to accomplish those goals that we all believe in so strongly, so heartily. So, thank you. It's good to be here. And good luck.

Last updated: October 11, 2017

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