Photo Credit: Jeremy Green, USAID

In support of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Integra is conducting a portfolio performance evaluation of 45 activities under the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP). The initiative, established in February 2019, is the first whole-of-government effort to advance women’s economic empowerment globally, with a goal of reaching 500 million women in the developing world by 2025. A variety of private sector partners and ten government agencies are supporting the initiative including USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), among others. Private sector partners include major companies like Mars, Inc., Microsoft, and VISA, which are working to support women in a variety of ways, such as more directly including women in PepsiCo’s potato supply chain in India, and developing policies and mechanisms that increase women’s safety in Levi Strauss apparel factories in Lesotho.

Gender inequalities are costly to economies on a social and monetary scale. It is estimated that if women were able to participate in the economy identically to men, they could add as much as $28 trillion to annual global GDP by 2025. However, women face many challenges to both entering and receiving fair treatment in the workforce, despite the immense value they add. Such barriers span across legal and regulatory frameworks, workforce policies and practices, and cultural norms, undermining women in both formal and informal economies. For example, unequal access to capital and credit can severely hinder female entrepreneurs’ ability to start and sustain businesses. Other regulations restrict women’s ability to sign legal documents and own or manage property, while workplace policies – or lack thereof – can put women’s health and safety at risk, disincentivizing or directly limiting their ability to generate income. To overcome these barriers, W-GDP focuses on three pillars: (1) women prospering in the workforce, (2) women succeeding as entrepreneurs, and (3) women enabled in the economy. Every W-GDP activity addresses some element or a combination of improving women’s workforce development, skills training and education, increasing access to capital, markets, networks, and mentorship, and removing restrictive legal, regulatory, and cultural barriers.

As a result of W-GDP, the U.S. White House reports significant impacts in countries such as Columbia, Cote d’Ivoire, and Morocco, where commitments to expand women’s access to credit, property rights, and land have been put in place. It also reports that W-GDP has reached 12 million women to date.  The Integra-led evaluation will provide invaluable insights into how these activities are progressing, whom they benefit, and how partners, including USAID offices that support W-GDP, might adapt to further maximize results for women.  The evaluation will also address the sustainability of these efforts and produce four case studies on specific in-country activities, to be selected by USAID.

Due to the global reach of W-GDP and the wide range of partners involved, Integra is taking a three-pronged approach to answer the evaluation questions, which broadly assess each activity’s relevance, effectiveness, and sustainability:

  • Overcoming challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, an electronic survey will be disseminated to W-GDP staff across all 45 activities, with tailored questions for different cohorts, for example, USAID staff, an implementing partners’ Chief of Party, and local partners;
  • Building on insights gained from the survey, Integra will conduct remote key informant interviews (KIIs) with select W-GDP staff, partners, and beneficiaries;
  • Diving deep into four activities, case studies will be developed using remote and in-person KIIs to be conducted by locally based teams, with oversight from Integra staff using a set of country-specific COVID-19 protocols.

Through the collection and analysis of this data, Integra will provide valuable insight and recommendations to USAID and partners for increasing women’s economic empowerment. A final evaluation will also be conducted in early 2023. Beyond this effort, Integra looks forward to incorporating insights gained from this evaluation and the W-GDP and this evaluation  activities into the design and implementation of other activities client projects moving forward, to support women’s economic empowerment globally.

In late July 2019, Integra’s evaluation team made the first of three trips to Indonesia to collect data, speak with stakeholders, and design three separate performance evaluations for the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Green Prosperity Project.

Impact

Totaling $313 million over five years, the Green Prosperity Project was designed to increase productivity, reduce reliance on fossil fuels by expanding renewable energy, and reduce land-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Under the project, this was to be done through the improvement of land use practices and better management of natural resources. Particularly in Indonesia, a country with a large forest-dwelling population, developing alternative land-use mechanisms is an essential part of safeguarding the future wellbeing of the diverse population. Divided into five portfolios – partnership grants; community-based natural resources management; renewable energy; technical assistance and project preparation; and the Green Knowledge activity (a knowledge-sharing component) – the Green Prosperity Project developed and implemented solutions for some of Indonesia’s key environmental issues. This included the development of participatory land use and planning mechanisms as well as a grant financing facility aimed at funding renewable energy initiatives throughout the country.

Opportunity

Integra is currently in the process of evaluating the successes and impact of facility grants within the renewable energy and community-based natural resources management portfolios. Our on-grid renewable energy team, led by Matthew Addison, is focused on the impact made by on-grid renewable energy projects financed by the GP Grant Facility. Our social forestry team, led by Scott Bode, is conducting an evaluability assessment of the project’s efforts in developing community-engaged forest management (‘social forestry’) processes. Finally, our peatlands rehabilitation team, led by Corey Nelson, is assessing the performance of peatland rehabilitation efforts. These efforts will continue through submission of the final report, estimated for completion in January 2020.

Integra is conducting this evaluation on behalf of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. For more information about this assignment, please visit the project page here.

Integra has been instrumental in advising USAID Vietnam and guiding the Government of Vietnam (GVN) Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the National Assembly (NA), and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) through the process of addressing the policy and legal constraints to Public Private Partnerships (PPP).  Core to the engagement is expanding the understanding of PPPs among Government Officials and the Private Sector, guiding updates to the PPP Law to align with international standards and best practices, and building policy consensus.

Infrastructure is one of the most important development-related interventions that one can make in a society.  It is not only a tool that accelerates and increases the standard of living of the people, but is also one of the most important inputs the public sector can provide to support the economy and private entrepreneurship. In order to sustain current growth levels and achieve sustainable growth standards, the country recognized their need to double their infrastructure investment to $20 billion annually between 2017-2022.  Given current public budget constraints, it is estimated that over 50 percent of the funding required will need to come from the private sector.  The GVN sought support from USAID Vietnam to address the barriers to Financing Self Reliance.


Impact

Integra was engaged by the USAID Vietnam Mission through the Learning, Evaluation, and Analysis Project (LEAP III), to provide the GVN with the technical assistance to address these challenges.  The engagement initially focused on convening stakeholders, capacity building, and gathering feedback on behalf of the MPI.  From that context, a draft PPP Law was composed by the MPI with guidance from Integra.  The draft PPP Law represents a vital opportunity to create a consistent and sustainable platform for partnership between the public and private sectors, directly responding to the Government’s priority for effective mobilization of private sector investment for infrastructure.

Integra mobilized the international expertise of both Dr. Vũ Thành Tự Anh, Dean of the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management and Professor Akash Deep, a global authority on PPPs and faculty chair of the Infrastructure in a Market Economy Executive Program at Harvard University.  Professor Deep shared his international experience on PPPs with Vietnamese senior leadership to help the current PPP draft law more closely align with international standards.  Professor Akash Deep worked closely with Dr. Vũ Thành Tự Anh, to ensure his recommendations fit within the Vietnam context.

Based on the recommendations from the experts and Integra’s own case study analyses and findings, MPI and the National Assembly are finalizing the law. Integra has been further engaged to provide targeted technical expertise on eight key outstanding issues. The law is expected to be passed in May 2020.


Opportunity

Since 2010, the Government of Vietnam (GVN) has tried to mobilize private sector engagement in infrastructure via public private partnerships (PPPs). According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), as of this year, 336 infrastructure projects have been implemented as PPPs (with $70 billion in private finance), of which 220 were in transportation, 18 in power, and 18 in water supply, wastewater treatment, and the environment.

There have been challenges in the implementation of these PPPs.  Weaknesses in the legal and institutional framework have led to non-transparent and uncompetitive procurement processes.  Case studies of infrastructure investment, such as Vinh Tan 3 Coal-Fired Thermal Power Plant and Thang Long Thermal Power Plant, show that the Authorized State Agencies (ASAs) often utilize PPPs through sole source procurement. In the Vinh Tan 3 example, the investor conducted the feasibility study only after it had been selected. The Vinh Tan 3 Power Project documents were mainly prepared by international lawyers hired by the investors.  The Ministry of Industry and Trade did not have a draft contract or key contract terms available before appointing the investor. As a result, contract negotiation has lingered for over 10 years because the parties cannot agree on key provisions.

Inconsistencies among current Vietnamese laws have destabilized the investment environment and led to the failure of some PPP projects. In the Cam Pha hospital project, for example, the relevant legal regulations were not in place to allow for the transfer of public assets (land, in this case) to the private party in the project company, forcing the project to be cancelled.


USAID Mission Director and Mr. Phung Quoc Hien, Vice Chairman, National Assembly discuss the draft PPP Law.


The Thang Long Thermal Power Plant in Quang Ninh Province

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Integra is continuing to provide modified support for the USAID/Middle East Bureau under the USAID Learning, Evaluation and Analysis Project (LEAP III). Integra’s support includes assisting the Middle East Bureau and Missions in the MENA region with implementing the Agency’s 2018 Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Policy. With the emergence of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, and an overall concern for the health and safety of all involved, Integra adapted activity operations to ensure continuity through an entirely remote environment.

Opportunity

A monthly training series designed to build PSE awareness and skills for Bureau and Mission staff is a critical component of the engagement. Beginning in March, these trainings were shifted to remote delivery and participation, requiring Integra to re-think how to present the information, while continuing to meet the training objectives.

Remote delivery poses a host of new challenges beyond those typically associated with trainings and workshops. Training material needs to be accessible for participants dialing in through their phone or joining via a link on their computer, as well as shareable afterwards for those unable to attend the live session. Presentations need to be adapted to engage the audience, while accommodating limited bandwidth and possible connectivity issues. Speaker remarks must be well rehearsed to ensure smooth delivery and scripted to prevent presenters from speaking over one another. Attendees must also be able to both participate in Q&A periods and breakout into small group work sessions to allow for effective communication between team members, many of whom are located in different parts of the world. Furthermore, some participants were temporarily relocated, requiring that new time zones be considered during scheduling. New technology tools needed to be deployed and tested for the meeting coordinators, presenters, and participants. None of these challenges were envisioned in the original workplan. COVID-19 provided an opportunity for Integra to adapt and we did so with the support of USAID.

Impact

Integra found innovative methods and approaches to continue delivering for the USAID/Middle East Bureau and is preparing to deliver the fifth remote training since the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, training attendance has significantly increased (more than 200%) since switching to remote delivery, reaching over 100 unique participants, with an average of 50 participants per training, in March, April, and May. The remote delivery trainings have provided opportunities for knowledge sharing and learning necessary for effectively partnering with the private sector to improve development impact. Recent training topics have included tips and tools for identifying and reaching out to the private sector; an introduction to the Development Finance Corporation (DFC); partnering with the private sector for improved service delivery; and applying the Agency’s new 2020-2024 Digital Strategy in line with PSE Policy for better outcomes in the MENA region.

Beyond the PSE training series, Integra is also working to adapt other activity operations to a remote environment. For example, another component to the MENA support is conducting private sector outreach. In this effort, LEAP III connects with private sector actors, identifies potential opportunities for partnership, and makes introductions to Bureau or Mission staff. Portfolio reviews began in February 2020 for Missions in the region, using a PSE lens, to determine current and upcoming mechanisms that present openings for private sector engagement. These portfolio reviews were conducted in an entirely remote environment using video teleconferences and modified desk research. Despite the virtual challenges, these efforts produced clear and succinct write ups of Mission activities that the LEAP III team and Bureau staff could reference during meetings with private sector prospects.

Domestic travel to Silicon Valley and New York City was planned for April 2020, following the completion of the portfolio reviews. Acknowledging that companies would deprioritize direct conversations regarding longer-term investment plans in order to focus bandwidth on the COVID-19 response, LEAP III suspended the in-person outreach, so as not to waste social capital by pushing conversations that are not a priority. Integra is now adapting the original approach, conducting virtual outreach where possible and adjusting the pitch to prioritize shorter-term private sector objectives, such as those related to COVID-19, over longer-term growth strategies.

Finding new ways to deliver training, enhance capacity, and gather information has been an active part of Integra’s response to the challenges of COVID-19. That effort has been supported by technology and adapted approaches which are being embraced by USAID. Our current challenge is to build critical private sector relationships remotely as a necessary response to the reality that many firms are not scheduled to return to the office full time in 2020.


USAID/Middle East Bureau PSE training, May 2020

USAID issued its first Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Policy in December 2018, codifying nearly two decades of formal collaboration with private sector actors, as well as earlier Agency initiatives which recognized the private sector’s role in development. The PSE Policy, described as “a call to action” in the document itself, recognized the private sector’s fundamental role in ending the need for foreign assistance, and aims to inspire and equip USAID staff to work hand-in-hand with private sector actors.

Integra, under the USAID Learning, Evaluation, and Analysis Project (LEAP III) mechanism, was tasked by the USAID/Middle East Bureau (“the Bureau”) to support PSE for the Bureau and interested MENA Missions in 2019 and 2020. In the Fall of 2019 under Phase I of the Activity, the LEAP III team assisted the Bureau, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia and Iraq Operating Units (OUs) in co-developing their PSE Action Plans.

To do so, the LEAP III team analyzed existing strategy documents and carried out desk research, which entailed reviewing Mission portfolios, their internal priorities, and the perceived strengths and obstacles to conducting business within each host country. The team also conducted remote consultations with staff at each Mission, including the PSE point of contact (POC). These consultations included a discussion of the Mission’s past PSE experience, its understanding of the PSE Policy, potential limitations in resources or funding, and any skepticism as to how the new PSE policy would change staff day-to-day operations.
Other support varied across OUs, offering an adapted approach and level of technical assistance that reflected the tailored needs of each Mission. For example, Morocco, Yemen and Egypt requested additional in-person involvement. The LEAP III team’s support in these countries included: week-long PSE visioning and brainstorming exercises with Mission technical teams; extended department-to-department consultations; workshops and peer-to-peer learning; and/or field visits to key private sector industry actors followed by the creation of separate PSE Opportunities Reports that contained additional research on plans for growth, strengths and obstacles for conducting business, and recommendations on private partners in the region to contact. For the Bureau, the LEAP III team conducted a listening tour and executed a workshop for USAID/Washington staff, including participatory exercises to allow all levels of Mission staff to interact with the material, ultimately improving buy-in and creating consensus and understanding.


Impact

The extensive technical assistance offered by Integra resulted in the successful co-development of seven PSE Action Plans. More importantly, there is a greater awareness and stronger understanding of the Agency’s policy and PSE as a priority within the MENA Region Missions. Awareness stemmed from successfully combining effort by LEAP III and USAID’s PSE campaign, including the PSE newsletter, trainings, and resources made available by the PSE Hub, among other impactful efforts carried out throughout the Agency.

PSE in the MENA region will continue with Phase II, as Integra supports the Bureau’s and Missions’ successful implementation of the PSE Action Plans and begins assistance for other interested Missions moving forward. Throughout 2020, Missions will expand analysis of PSE opportunities, including outreach to private sector actors located in the U.S. and conducting Private Sector Landscape Analyses (PSLAs) in-country. Integra will also expand access to PSE related training for all Mission staff, contributing to the Agency-wide PSE Evidence and Learning Plan.


Opportunity

Integra, the Bureau and its partner Missions intend to develop other initiatives to catalyze the private sector throughout the region and establish more robust internal communications around PSE, so that successes are captured, and we learn from what is working and what is not. As the PSE plans unfold, USAID will build stronger relationships with key private partners, mobilize public and private funds, strengthen local capacities, accelerate enterprise-driven development with an impact of achieving locally sustainable results reducing the need for foreign assistance along a Journey to Self-Reliance.


About USAID/LEAP III

The Learning, Evaluation, and Analysis Project (LEAP III) provides a mechanism for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) field missions and bureaus to easily and cost effectively access rigorous independent and high-quality analytical services to support economic and policy analyses, strategy and project design, monitoring and evaluation, and training and knowledge management. Assistance can be provided across all sectors including agriculture and food security, climate change and the environment, economic growth, education, private sector engagement, and women’s empowerment.

Integra’s LEAP III team leading a PSE workshop for USAID/W Middle East Bureau staff.

Visiting key private sector industry actors in Morocco for creating PSE Opportunities Reports.

The LEAP III team received positive feedback from partner Missions:


“The plan is excellent and informative. It gives a clear idea about the challenges USAID/Iraq is facing to advance its engagement with the private sector. Also, the plan reflects the flexible approach USAID is adopting to achieve its goals in that context.”

“I seize this chance to congratulate [the Integra LEAP III team] for the great job they have done with this. This plan is in line with USAID / Morocco’s vision, suggesting many interesting actions and learning to explore, and takes into consideration the Mission’s limitation in funding and human resources.”

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