Deputy Administrator Glick’s Remarks at South Africa’s Ubuntu Cloth Mask Event

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

[As Prepared]

Host: With support from USAID and the British High Commision, Project Last Mile in South Africa is working to spark local manufacturing of essential supplies and equipment required for the COVID-19 response. Project Last Mile aims to support 5 local manufacturers to produce COVID-19 supplies to support the coronavirus effort in South Africa. Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick could you tell us a little about how USAID helped to form the Project Last Mile partnership?

Draft Answer: Thank you Nthabeleng.

For USAID, successful partnerships make all of the difference—our relationships with our private sector partners and host country governments, like the Western Cape Provincial Government, are critical to achieving results.

We believe that USAID must work across public and private sectors, bringing stakeholders together to tackle global problems. This is how we create sustainable solutions and support countries on their journey to self-reliance.

An example of these great multi-sectoral partnerships is Project Last Mile. Since 2014, we have been working with the Global Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Coca-Cola Foundation, and the Coca-Cola Company to improve access to life-saving medicine.

That is the beauty of this project. Here in South Africa, Project Last Mile taps into the Coca-Cola network’s distribution, logistics, and marketing expertise. And those insights have been crucial for understanding how to pivot in response to COVID-19.

Now, the project is helping community-led businesses manufacture and sell masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Project Last Mile connects marketing experts with communities that sell their goods in large corporate venues—like private retail pharmacies—so businesses like Mama Rose’s can expand their access to markets and increase their sales.

This is a prime example of how we can accelerate development outcomes by harnessing the expertise of the private sector.

It is important to USAID to support local South African manufacturers in this way; and we are proud to do this with our colleagues from the British High Commission, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and the Western Cape Provincial Government.

All of us share the belief that we can create sustainable growth and tap into South Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit to combat the harmful effects that COVID-19 can have on health and on livelihoods.

Thank you for including me in today’s celebration of a great United States-United Kingdom-South Africa partnership.

Host: Deputy Administrator Glick, USAID focuses a lot on women's economic empowerment. You yourself have worked in the private sector as well. Could you tell us more about why funding this project is an important part of flattening the curve not only in South Africa but worldwide?

Draft Answer: Thank you Nthabeleng.

At USAID, we believe that the contributions of women are critical to a country’s political, economic, and social development. Societies cannot achieve self-reliance if 50 percent of their members are on the sidelines.

That is why women’s empowerment is integral to USAID’s work. Investing in women is not only the smart thing to do; it is a priority for countries around the world, because engaging with women can unlock human potential on a transformational scale.

The United States Government has been proud to partner with other donors such as the British High Commission to support the incredible efforts of the South African government.

The effects of COVID-19’s first wave have been mitigated. However, we must together address COVID-19’s negative effects on the economy and the threat that the disease poses to the livelihoods of people who most need our help.

By organizing seamstresses from across the province, this project creates economic opportunities for women and helps to ensure that the quality of the product meets international standards. By consolidating production efforts, this initiative brings the products to market at a retail scale that would otherwise not be accessible for smaller groups. This is a great example of taking a private sector approach to market development and using it to benefit the public good.

Getting more masks out to the public and creating more jobs is vitally important at this time. I am proud that this partnership has already helped to create 130 jobs among community seamstresses and has gotten over 60,000 masks on citizens’ faces.

With that, I wanted to ask you Mama Rose, why is it so important to you for women to be entrepreneurs?

Last updated: October 14, 2020

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