Is USAID's 'go local' strategy hurting US small business?

In Kenya, the Huruma Women's Group receives support from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Feed the Future project to turn produce to value-added goods that are sold in local markets. USAID is increasingly going local and many U.S. small businesses are feeling the pinch of the new policy. Photo by: Fintrac Inc. / USAID / CC BY-NC

There was a time when U.S. small businesses used to get most of the smaller awards from U.S. Agency for International Development.

Now, more and more non-U.S. local partners are bagging those contracts, and as USAID is increasingly “going local,” American small businesses are feeling the pinch of the new policy.

This is just one of the unintended consequences of USAID’s local partnership strategy: Small businesses have to compete for awards in a changing yet small market where they are pitted against local partners.

Interviews with big-time contractors and small business firms show that the relationship of small businesses with USAID has never been easy, but it’s getting even more complicated under the agency’s new vision to engage local partners.

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About the author

  • Alliage profile

    John Alliage Morales

    As a staff writer, John Alliage Morales covers the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community - from Capitol Hill to Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom to the downtown headquarters of USAID, the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corp. Prior to joining Devex, Alliage worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.