Innovation Through Public-Private Partnerships

March 25, 2011 By Joel Paque

Investing in public-private partnerships is an important part of doing development in new and innovative ways, and just last week USAID and Walmart signed an agreement to support small rural farmers in Central America by connecting them to the retailer’s regional and international supply chains.  Drawing from objectives of both the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative and Walmart’s own Global Sustainable Agriculture Goals, this new partnership leverages corporate expertise and government dollars to help small farmers across Central America. Thanks to this new venture local farmers will earn better prices for their produce and raise their incomes, while helping Walmart deliver locally sourced produce as its business expands in this growing market.

USAID’s Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mark Feierstein, pointed to the win-win-win outcomes possible when public-private partnerships are implemented correctly, “Through these alliances, USAID leverages its resources; our private sector partners meet core business goals; and the rural poor improve their livelihoods.”

At a time when America must ensure every taxpayer dollar is spent in the most effective and efficient manner possible, these kinds of partnerships represent a great deal of leverage.  Since 2001, USAID has formed more than 900 alliances with over 1,700 distinct partners to leverage more than $9 billion in combined public and private resources through its Global Development Alliance program. These partnerships are one of the most effective ways to leverage taxpayer dollars for high impact development, while also supporting the bottom-line goals of U.S. companies. As Eduardo Solorzano, president and CEO of Walmart Latinoamerica said,  “This partnership with the USAID allows us to broaden and accelerate our commitment to help small rural farmers in Central America lead a better life while also bringing our customers more affordable and higher quality food.”