Australia has a new strategy to foster an enabling environment for businesses in its partner countries — which include Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines — one that could create jobs and reduce poverty.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr unveiled the Australian Agency for International Development’s Private Sector Development Strategy at a business forum in Canberra on Aug. 21. The strategy aims to create opportunities for people in developing countries to “exit poverty” and includes interventions Australia plans to pursue per country setting: fragile states, Pacific island developing countries, and low- and middle-income countries.
For fragile states, Australia’s interventions include funding large-scale public works programs to help create jobs and reduce the risk of civil unrest, supporting “infant industries” through startup grants, and providing business advisory services to help entrepreneurs develop their skills and experience.
Among the interventions for Pacific island developing countries are improving farmers’ access to market information, increasing private sector involvement in service delivery and infrastructure maintenance, and supporting private sector associations.
As for its low- and middle-income country partners, Australia plans to adopt approaches that could benefit poor people, who may not always be reached by a nation’s economic growth. For instance, despite Indonesia’s strong economy, some 120 million Indonesians continue to live on less than $2 a day, according to the report.
To implement its strategies, AusAID intends to increase its engagement with the business community by consulting the private sector in developing and designing its aid programs. AusAID will also strengthen its partnership with financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the International Finance Corp., the private sector arm of the World Bank, making use of its financial contributions to encourage these organizations to focus on its partner countries, among others.
Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.