The Integra LEAP III team supported the adoption of USAID’s Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Policy in the USAID/Middle East Bureau and related Missions. Our work included a listening tour of Bureau headquarters staff to gather perspectives on the policy and a baseline of understanding; a workshop in Washington D.C. to work through questions and concerns about the policy, increase buy-in, and demonstrate how the policy applies to Bureau staff’s everyday work; and the co-development of 2020 PSE Action Plans for the Bureau and Morocco, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and Tunisia operating units.
Each PSE Action Plan was accompanied by “visual document,” which was a succinct version of the Action Plan created in PowerPoint and designed to be easily shareable and digestible. The activity also included field visits to Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan (on behalf of the Yemen team), to meet with private sector actors and discuss the perception of, opportunities for and barriers to partnership; and build PSE skills for Mission staff. These field visits resulted in two additional reports for the Morocco and Yemen operating units (OUs), describing specific PSE opportunities that complemented the priorities outlined in their PSE Action Plans.
Additionally, following the co-development of the 2020 PSE Action Plans, the LEAP III team pivoted to focus on support for longer-term implementation of the PSE Policy. Each month in 2020, LEAP III hosts a training for Bureau and MENA Mission staff designed to maintain PSE awareness and continue to build PSE skills. To date these trainings have covered firm-level assistance in MENA and its impact on SME competitiveness, export growth and employment generation; as well as PSE in the health and education sectors; tips for identifying and reaching out to potential private sector partners; and engagement with the newly formed Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to advance PSE goals.
In February 2020, LEAP III hosted an invite only event showcasing the success of the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund (EAEF) for USAID, State, DFC and Hill staff to increase awareness of Enterprise Funds as a development tool. Other activities focused on long-term implementation include a rapid PSE portfolio review for each regional OU to identify specific PSE opportunities within existing mechanisms; and targeted outreach to the private sector, specifically located in New York City and Silicon Valley.
Integra continues to build on this work and our long-term commitment to the implementation of the Agency’s PSE Policy. Additional monthly trainings will cover PSE and democracy and governance in MENA; foreign direct investment; PSE best practices in co-creation; PSE in youth employment and workforce development; and working with the private sector in conflict environments.
The team has also developed a thought piece discussing PSE as it relates to a post- COVID-19 world and is supporting the drafting of a priorities paper for the Bureau’s Technical Services team (ME/TS). This paper will also discuss the Agency’s new 2020-2024 Digital Strategy and how the ME/TS team will find synergies between the Digital Strategy and PSE Policy objectives.