USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick's Fireside Chat with Overseas Private Investment Corporation Executive Vice President David Bohigian at the Social Capital Markets Conference

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For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 24, 2019
Office of Press Relations
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October 23, 2019
Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
San Francisco, California

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: Well, we're competing against the Nationals and the Astros. So, I really appreciate that you care more about impact than the World Series right now. And you grew up in Texas for a little bit.

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: A little bit. But I'm the biggest Nats fan, except for my counterpart on the stage right now. So, we've been talking about the --

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: I'm a big Nats fan, too. Yup. Like all Washington, D.C., 64 square miles, surrounded by reality. (laughter)

So, it's good to be here in reality, and what we're going to talk about for a little bit today is public-private partnerships and helping catalyze the impact that we all care about here so much at SOCAP. And I think what you've got between Bonnie Glick, who the Deputy Administrator of USAID, a $20 billion dollar organization, with thousands of people around the world making an impact in emerging markets around the world. And with me, who's been at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which helps to catalyze private sector, is a great example of collaboration that helps bring in the private sector.

So, Bonnie, I'd love to start this conversation by asking you to better describe what USAID has been doing, as well as public-private partnerships that've been helping to catalyze, and so impressed by the private sector engagement strategy you put together.

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: So, David, thank you very much. And I will spell out what our acronym is. So, we do have the best acronym in the U.S. Government. The United States Agency for International Development is what we call USAID. And USAID is the largest agency within the U.S. Government, though, not the only agency that focuses on the development priorities of the United States. One of the things that we've been focusing on since my boss, the Administrator, came into USAID two years ago, is engaging with the private sector. Finding ways to say, "Hey, guys, there's never going to be enough public capital out there. The U.S. Government, all of U.S. taxpayers, are never going to contribute enough to solve all of the problems that we see in and around the world. So, we have to work with the private sector."

One of the things that we've started to do, too, is change the language that we use about development. And you and I have had this conversation a number of times. We talk at USAID, within the Government, about developing countries. But you all, impact investors, talk about emerging markets. We talk about aid beneficiaries. You all talk about customers and clients. The bottom line is you all have a much more dignified set of terms to refer to the same group of people that we're all trying to impact around the world.

No mom wants to raise her child to be a refugee. Every mom wants to raise her child to be a consumer. So, for that, we're grateful to all of you for the work that you're doing to help those kids become consumers. And for next generations to have better lives than the lives of their parents. But we do a lot of this through public-private partnerships and what we refer to as private sector engagement. We want to work with all of you. We're the public, you're the private.

What we can do from a government perspective is offer seed capital that then gets catalyzed by investors. David and I were together in May in The Netherlands at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. And there we announced Women's World Banking Program, where USAID invested $500,000. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation matched that with the $25 million debt guarantee. And with that, we're looking to catalyze $100 million dollars of investor impact. And that's pretty remarkable. $500,000 of our collective tax dollars being leveraged into a $100 million investment. Bravo to all of us. So that's what we mean when we talk about engaging with the private sector. Public-private partnerships, they can be at that large scale. They can be at much smaller scales. And we're interested in the whole spectrum of them.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: We also talk about it as a ministry as we said, and as you said a journey to self-reliance. So, I think it's helpful for this audience. When I've been at SOCAP in the past, sometimes I sit down with some of the most amazing social entrepreneurs in the world. And I have to ask them, how do you make money? Because we invest with private equity firms and political risk insurance and product finance. You're not always investing because there's a continuum that goes from grants to development finance into the private sector. So, do you want to talk about how that journey relates to you?

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: Sure. We talk all day long about countries being on journeys to self-reliance. Some of the poorest countries in the world have made tremendous progress over the years in terms of being able to have sustainable programs. What does sustainability look like? If you look at a country like Ethiopia, which, in my childhood, suffered regularly from droughts and famine. And now, even though they have regularly occurring droughts, USAID has invested with U.S. research institutions and universities in the United States. We focused on creating drought resistant grains. Those drought resistant grains are able to survive the predictable droughts that countries like Ethiopia are going to have. And so, citizens of Ethiopia don't starve the way that they used to. They don't starve. They're able to grow grains that will feed the entire country. That's a remarkable change over time.

So, where they were in terms of less reliant, is now far more along the trajectory of self-reliance. And that's just one small example. But when we look at where countries need to be, we understand that every country around the world that struggles is at a different place along their journey. And our goal, in USAID and across the U.S. Government, is to walk alongside them on that journey to have them be able to be resilient and self-reliant for their own citizens.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: I often think of our two programs as the successor to the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe after World War II. And the devastation there, when there was famine and poverty, unlike we can even imagine in Europe today. And then you flash forward to Germany just two years ago announcing their own Marshall Plan for Africa. That's the kind of journey that Germany has been on. Korea after the Korean War going through to becoming one of the top 10 economies and a major exporter in the world. That's what we're trying to do in emerging markets. So, I'd say as you're creating public-private partnerships, whether that is major infrastructure, like a road or a bridge, through to small and medium sized enterprises, over to private equity funds, we are trying to work as a U.S. Government altogether. Right? Because Bonnie already helped decode a couple of acronyms from Washington, D.C., but it shouldn't be up to you to try and figure out what the right pocket is. So, if you're coming to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Millennium Challenge Corporation, or the Trade Development Administration or USAID or the Commerce Department. There's lots of doors to come into.

But I think for the first time with this administration, we're taking a whole government approach to really try to help the emerging markets together. So that once you come in to the U.S. Government, you're going to be able to find a solution to help you solve the world's biggest problems. When I first met Administrator Green before we were going through the confirmation process, and he'd been an Ambassador in Africa about 15 years ago.


EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: In Tanzania. And there were a number of government agencies there trying to figure out who is going to launch a program, what the logo is going to look like. We said our logo is the American flag. And that's what we're trying to bring is an approach where we're advancing American values in development and foreign policy that's helping out. Whether it's on refugees, as you mentioned earlier, or in the women's empowerment work we've done together. The Administrator and I went to Ethiopia together to announce $500 million for the women of Africa. We went to Paraguay to announce $500 million more with Latin America. And that's a great place where we collaborated together on empowering women. I don't know if you want to talk about some of the work we've done there as well.

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: Sure. I -- one of the things that's the newest and exciting thing to hit Washington, D.C., other than our hope for a World Series trophy is the Development Finance Corporation.

So, the United States Development Finance Corporation is going to be the successor agency, a brand new agency to OPIC, where David is. So, David has been the key to transforming OPIC into a new U.S. Government agency that's going to focus singularly on development finance. And what this means for all of us across the U.S. Government is that we have a new tool in the U.S. development toolbox that will help us leverage and catalyze more capital into emerging market countries. We'll be able to do bigger deals. We'll be able, as David said, to focus on large scale infrastructure projects as a government. This is something that we haven't done as successfully in the past. Whether it's helping a country build a new port with financing coming from the Development Finance Corporation, and how to train your employees to run that port and how to secure the cyber security around the operations of that port. Those are going to be things where USAID can come in and bring technical expertise and capacity building into countries so that they're able to take that next natural step with the United States as its partner through the use and the leverage of the Development Finance Corporation.

So, we're super excited to get this started. There are these little things in Washington, D.C. that really are inside baseball, like the fact that there's no approved budget yet for our new fiscal year, but we're getting there. (laughter) And that aside, once we have an official launch of the Development Finance Corporation, we're going to see a new approach in development with these new tools in our development toolbox.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: There really has been bipartisan support. When the BUILD Act passed, it's one that I can honestly say that Speaker Pelosi and President Trump have agreed on over the last year consistently that we need to double down on development finance. And the new DFC will have a $60 billion potential portfolio up from $25 billion today. So I'd be interested: Who's working overseas today? Anybody working overseas?

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: Oh, a lot of you. Great.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: Well, you know, I think the world's most persistent problem calls for novel, innovative solutions, right? We talked about blended finance, we talked about social impact bonds. We talk about new platforms that help catalyze capital, and that's what we're all trying to do. So, I'd be interested in some of the platforms that you've helped create in your tenure there, and maybe some of the things you're ready to announce or do in the days ahead.

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: So, one of the things that I loved the most about USAID when I got there, we always say nobody has a favorite child, but I kind of have a favorite thing.

And that is -- we have at USAID a Global Development Lab. An in-house laboratory where we focus on finding solutions to some of these really tough development challenges that we face around the world. I came out of industry and I came out of a research organization where we would focus on grand challenges. That's a research term. So, our Lab has adopted that. And I'm here today to announce the launch of a challenge and I encourage all of you to look into it. If this is your space and even if it's not your space. Today we're launching something called the Water and Energy for Food Challenge. This is a neat opportunity. I know we're short on time, so you can look -- read about it on But I'm going to give you a brief overview, which is: we're looking for solutions. We're looking for solutions that come from anywhere. We recognize that we do not have a monopoly on the good solutions.

We don't even very often have a clue about the good solutions. There are great solutions that are generated everywhere on earth. And the idea behind a grand challenge is to give those great ideas a platform. We're going to encourage organizations, individuals to submit to us concept papers about how you would visualize a solution to the problems that we see around the world, or in an individual country, that are at the nexus of water, energy and food. Very often -- and we've done a lot of work in this space at USAID. Very often what we see is missing is just that additional capital that comes at post-seed and prior to scale anywhere in the range of sort of $250 to $750,000 project -- that's the valley of death that we see in some of these developing countries, projects in agriculture.

We'd like to be able to be there to help seed that valley of death so that projects don't die, and we'll do this by crowding in private capital from family foundations, from social impact investors, from other entrepreneurs to help scale projects that are specifically focused on agriculture, food, and also incorporating the need for water and energy, which are sometimes scarce resources that are absent from some of our solutions. So, this is a broad call to you, to your friends, to your networks, and we'll publicize it much more broadly to think about this next challenge. The United States Government, along with the Swedish Development Agency and the Government of the Netherlands, are co-funding this with initial capital of $35 million for the first year, and we expect that that capital will increase. That will crowd an investment capital in year one at around $25 million. And then in the subsequent years, it will scale up. We're very excited about this.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: Good, and when we talk about solutions, I think that's the spirit of SOCAP. Now, as Einstein once said, "You can't solve problems with the same level of consciousness in which they were created." So, whether you're an entrepreneur, or an NGO or even a government --


EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT BOHIGIAN: -- you can actually be part of these solutions that would elude anyone operating individually. So, I'm tremendously proud to work with you. If you're here from OPIC, or here from USAID or the U.S. Government, can you stand up so that people can find you after this and try to (inaudible). We want to help. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for being part of the impact investment movement that's going to help solve 21st century problems. Thank you.


Last updated: December 22, 2020

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