A Banker’s Perspective on Development

January 17, 2011 By Christopher Williams

Daniel Yohannes, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), laid out a strong business case for development last week declaring, “I have a client – the U.S. taxpayer.  I have a partner – the countries receiving MCC assistance and the citizens they represent.  And, I have a goal – to get the best return on America’s investment.”  Yohannes spoke at an event late last week co-sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for American Progress—a venue appropriate to address the broad bipartisan support for a smart power foreign policy approach.  “We are building on the best ideas of Democratic and Republican administrations, and Democrats and Republicans in Congress,” he said.

In addition, Yohannes drew on his own background as a banker, focusing on the importance of a good return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer. President Obama’s global development policy calls for sustainable economic growth in well-governed partner countries that will enact reforms to ensure government accountability and create favorable business conditions in the private sector. Yohannes said, “MCC’s rigorous approach requires that we only invest in those proposals with the strongest potential to reduce poverty and increase incomes.  This enables us to answer the fundamental question of aid effectiveness: Do the expected results from our investment justify the use of scarce aid dollars?”

Yohannes made clear that international development aid is not charity, but rather an essential investment in America’s own economic prosperity, saying “By laying the foundation for economic growth in countries worldwide through effective partnerships with the private sector and others outside of government, MCC generates sustainable impact in the fight against global poverty.  This creates viable economic partners for the United States and benefits our own prosperity here at home.”

To read CEO Yohannes speech, titled “Investing in Development: On the Road to Better Aid, MCC is Paving the Way” please click here.