The William J. Clinton Foundation was selected as a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator based on a poll of thousands of global development professionals who are part of Devex, the largest network of aid and relief workers in the world.
Announced on April 18, Devex Top 40 Development Innovators is an impressive listing of the world’s leading donor agencies & foundations, development consulting companies, implementing NGOs, and advocacy groups.
We asked each of the Innovators four questions to learn how they stay ahead to the curve and tackle old development challenges in new ways. Here’s how the Clinton Foundation responded:
‘The Clinton Foundation works to alleviate poverty, improve global health, protect the environment, and strengthen local economies’
If you had to condense it to just one or two sentences, overall, what is it that makes your organization innovative?
Instead of relying on the traditional model of a nonprofit organization, the Clinton Foundation has established separate initiatives, such as the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative in Colombia and Peru, the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative in Malawi and Rwanda, and the Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative in the United States. Each initiative operates with a distinct mission in a distinct region, and only at the invitation of local governments, but all reflect President Clinton’s founding vision: to implement sustainable programs that improve access worldwide to investment, opportunity, and lifesaving services.
Can you provide a specific example of something your organization has done that is particularly innovative?
The Clinton Foundation works with local governments and businesses to promote sustainable development in ways that will genuinely help local communities. In the past year, the foundation has partnered with the Fundacion Carlos Slim to launch two funds aimed at providing financing for small and medium-sized businesses in Colombia and Haiti; provided 1 million meals to primary-school students in Colombia; helped more than 4,000 Rwandan farmers increase their harvests; and provided more than 72,500 hours of pro-bono consulting services to business owners in the United States. By working not only for, but with these communities, the Clinton Foundation is able to effectively and innovatively provide the aid needed.
Looking ahead 10 years, what are some of the innovations in international development that your organization wants to be a part of?
Ten years ago, President Clinton left office and began the important work of the William J. Clinton Foundation. Over the past ten years, a “Decade of Difference,” President Clinton’s leadership has redefined the way we think about giving and philanthropy.
Over the next decade, the foundation hopes to build on this legacy. We have been working with private sector engagement in social and economic development, an increasingly recognized strategy for doing business in the developing world. Private sector engagement in social and economic development is increasingly recognized as an enabling condition for doing business in much of the developing world. While many companies are motivated by an ethical or moral belief in doing right by the communities impacted by their operations, there is also a bottom-line awareness that the world of international business has changed, giving leading global companies the added incentive to develop a sincere and productive relationship with the local community.
Partnering with key stakeholders in the developing world over the next ten years, the foundation’s initiatives in Latin America, Africa, and North America will further encourage private sector engagement to strengthen the systems that create jobs, increase incomes, close the gap between the rich and the poor, and provide people the resources to lift themselves out of poverty such as education, entrepreneurship training, and health care.
One factor in driving innovation at any organization is the talent you hire and the partnerships you make. How does your organization take into account innovation when it comes to cultivating talent and partners?
The Clinton Foundation operates only at the invitation of local governments, ensuring that our partners are as dedicating to innovation and creating change as we are. For example, our sustainable development projects in Africa and Latin America are guided by several core operating principles that ensure the effectiveness of these local partnerships.
First, we serve as an honest broker, emphasizing trust, cooperation and transparency, to bring together stakeholders who have not previously worked together. Second, we identify effective projects currently being implemented by governments, NGOs and/or the private sector, and explore ways to bring them to scale or replicate and adapt successful initiatives elsewhere. Third, we determine where our expertise and help are needed most – whether it is technical assistance, capacity building, or capital – and work with partners to provide it. Fourth, in areas where the foundation already possesses operational expertise, such as in health and business development, we will partner with local actors on implementation. Effective partnerships thus serve as a driving force of the Clinton Foundation’s method of operation.
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