Celebrating Impact – Overseas and at Home

March 14, 2014 By Ashley E. (Chandler) Chang

What does the world’s leading refugee nonprofit, solar energy services provider, and one of the oldest and largest dredge-building companies have in common?  Partnering with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to make a big IMPACT – in developing countries AND right here in America.

IMPACT: Restoring Dignity and Hope to Millions Overseas – and “from sea to shining sea”

OPIC honored The International Rescue Committee (IRC) with a “Development Impact” award* this week for the organization’s commitment to restoring hope to millions fleeing from war and persecution, gender-based violence, and in the aftermath of humanitarian disasters.  This takes a whole lot of “courage,” said Nancy Birdsall, President of the Center for Global Development, as she presented the award.

The IRC also needs a way to protect its people and property from violence and destruction. Enter OPIC’s insurance coverage, which the IRC has leveraged in 20 countries. “When our operations are threatened,” said  IRC Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy Sharon Waxman, OPIC is “right there by our side.”

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IRC was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein.

The IRC is also a longtime USAID partner in crisis environments such as Congo, Pakistan, and Haiti.  But right here in America, communities have come together in Atlanta, Boise, Seattle, Dallas, and over a dozen others cities, to work with the IRC,  helping more than 38,000 refugees and victims of human trafficking rebuild their lives with dignity.

IMPACT: Developing Economies Abroad – and Boosting American Manufacturing

In 2006, the Iraqi people faced a critical development challenge – maintaining reliable water infrastructure for everyday living, and health and safety interests.  OPIC identified this challenge as an opportunity to boost the economy and improve navigation of the Country’s irrigation system through its waterways.  Some heavy-duty dredging was in order, but operating in Iraq during U.S. military and civilian stabilization efforts was pretty risky business – even if you’re Ellicott Dredges OPIC’s political risk insurance allowed Ellicott to take advantage of the commercial opportunities in modernizing Iraq’s rivers and created new jobs at its facilities in Maryland and Wisconsin.

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Ellicott has performed projects and created jobs in almost every conceivable way,” remarked U.S. Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) while presenting Ellicott’s CEO Peter Boye with OPIC’s “Small Business” award.

From its solar headquarters in California, SunEdison provides solar energy services all over the world and right here in America.  White House Counselor John Podesta awarded the company’s for their solar power plant in a rural part of South Africa, which is being built with support of $250 million in OPIC financing.

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The 60 megawatt Boshof plant in South Africa is supporting economic development in an underdevelopment region.

The project and the SunEdison’s partnership with OPIC provided the opportunity to “rapidly grow our project portfolio in emerging markets,” said SunEdison President Pashupathy Gopalan, and “generate much needed clean electricity in South Africa, provide construction and permanent jobs, and help the local economy.”

It is also promoting demand for American high-tech.  Factoring in SunEdison offices, power plants, and manufacturing partners in Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, and more, one thing is for certain:  You can certainly do well by doing good in the world.


*The IRC, SunEdison, and Ellicott Dredges, along with five others, were honored this week for exemplifying how public private partnerships are solving some of the world’s greatest challenges, while advancing U.S. foreign policy. The OPIC Impact Awards were the first of its kind for agency, and presenters included senior White House officials and government partners, academia, and members of Congress — from both political parties because U.S. global leadership is a bipartisan issue.