A highlight of my work as a partnerships advisor is helping businesses of all sizes, and with clear sustainable development impact goals in place, find ways to work more effectively and in line with governments as part of public-private partnerships. These typically take the form of a company with a global presence asking us to liaise on their behalf with U.S. or European agencies working in developing countries, and around issues like increased market access, trade facilitation, climate smart agriculture, health access, access to finance and gender equity. Often times these companies are looking for additional funding to support their development initiatives.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tend to be the go-to agencies I approach for these discussions here in the United States.
It’s easy to love a scope of work that allows me to find policy action that supports business advancement, since I’ve been working on economic development challenges for the last 20 years. I’ve always seen business as a key driver for positive change in places where the economy needs a shot of adrenaline, or what’s more, market-driven fluidity. Businesses must have a good relationship with governments that build and support infrastructure, and are often drivers of the investments needed for effective markets in all places where they operate. Thus when a U.S. or European-based business needs help raising money in tandem with a government actor here in the U.S. or in Europe, I see it as an ideal way to engage in effective public-private partnerships that have mutual benefit for the business, the government agency, and the communities in need of greater investment support.
Recently I was asked by a corporate client of ours whether the company could be easily set up to “prime” a U.S. Government funded program to institute a market-building effort in a country of priority to their production efforts.
What does it mean to be a prime? Essentially a prime partner of a U.S. (or other government) entity is one that receives a large chunk of funding to carry out a key program for the government, and thereafter sub-contracts that funding to technical implementers to ensure the program is delivered as promised and guaranteed by the prime. The prime partner must keep track of deliverables, budgets, timelines, ensure the program is operating as promised, and report back on progress. Often times primes are big contracting firms, set up specifically to monitor and manage big U.S. (or other) government programs.
So can a private sector partner be set up to prime? The answer is yes.
Susanne Barsoum, Founder of Keylime, a marketplace for international development expertise, shared with me this: "Donors are looking for the kind of innovation and private sector engagement that large international companies are so well positioned to offer. International development and the private sector each have so much to gain working together."
And here’s why:
Are you a business interested in learning more about opportunities to partner with government agencies to leverage funding and help build long-term market action in countries of importance to your business?
Whether it’s via a “prime” relationship or not, let’s discuss where there’s a fit for you.