WASHINGTON — U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump on Monday launched $10 million in new partnerships and activities for the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. They also announced three new grants as a part of the second round of the WomenConnect Challenge.
The new partnerships will work with private sector and government actors in Southeast Asia, Asia, Africa, and Latin America to support women’s economic empowerment initiatives, with the new activities leveraging an additional $5 million in private sector funding.
“Development assistance is supposed to result in the goal of it not being needed,” Trump said, echoing a favorite line of Green’s. “Arguably, women are always an asterisk, the role of women in these programs. So how could we unleash the most underutilized resource in the developing world — arguably the world — and encourage the same type of pro-growth policies that we benefit from here in the United States: access to capital, leveling the playing field so women can participate equally, and of course working with the private sector.”
Since its launch in February 2018, W-GDP has received a total of $100 million in its first year, according to USAID. It seeks to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025 by coordinating women’s economic empowerment activities across the U.S. government under three pillars: women prospering in the workforce, women succeeding as entrepreneurs, and women enabled in the economy.
One WomenConnect Challenge grant was awarded for each of those three pillars, totaling an additional $2 million. Dimagi Inc. will receive funds for a women’s financial literacy chatbot in Rwanda; United Purpose will develop a digital platform for women in Senegal to overcome barriers in the agricultural value chain; and Solidaridad will give women in Bangladesh access to mobile money and dairy industry training.
Among the new partnerships, USAID and Mars, Inc. will focus $4.5 million on transforming the shea supply chain in Ghana. It will give resources to women-led businesses to increase the sustainability of the supply chain and increase product efficiency and quality. With $2 million from W-GDP and $2.5 million from Mars, it will also seek to improve access to financial products.
Several other partnership initiatives will receive under $1 million each, including: Bancamia, Palladium, and USAID will catalyze private sector investment in early-stage and women-led businesses; the U.S. Department of Commerce, USAID, and the Dominican Republic will revise laws to allow women-led businesses greater opportunity; and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, Visa Foundation and USAID seek to help closing the financing gap for women-led businesses in East and Southeast Asia.
“Women remain the largest marginalized community in the world,” Green said. “If we can lower the barriers that prevent women from fully participating in the marketplace and the boardroom, quite frankly we’ll unleash a wave of economic activity that will benefit the entire world.”