Keynote Address by Ambassador Jonathan Addleton at the Third Annual Conference of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce on Corporate Social Responsibility

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Corporate Social Responsibility
Keynote Address by Ambassador Jonathan Addleton at the Third Annual Conference of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce on Corpo
Keynote Address by Ambassador Jonathan Addleton at the Third Annual Conference of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce on Corporate Social Responsibility

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Good afternoon, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you for the opportunity to share some of USAID's experience in working with the corporate social responsibility sector in India

We welcome this event, providing as it does a platform for CSR officials, corporate leaders, impact investors, philanthropists, academics and NGO leaders to discuss challenges and identify opportunities for implementing effective CSR strategies.  Already, I've learned a lot by simply listening to the presentations and discussions that have followed.

It is encouraging to see India's large and vibrant private sector focusing on new approaches to improve social and development outcomes, working together with the public sector in order to be more effective.  This is especially important because the private sector can provide critical insights on market dynamics and new opportunities while the publc sector has a mandate to make these improvements sustainable and extend them even further.

I would also like to acknowledge the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) for its leadership in building an appropriate enabling environment for both CSR and public-private partnerships in India.

My own comments will focus on USAID and its very different way of doing business in a new India.  Certainly, India has changed, the US has changed, the world has changed -- and USAID also has changed, resulting in a "new paradigm" for our work in this large, diverse and vibrant country.

Traditionally, USAID programs are often looked at through a sectoral lens.  Viewed that way, USAID programs focus on health and energy, with other and more modest programs addressing various other areas of concern including basic education, food security, WASH and financial inclusion.  But what is perhaps more interesting is not what sectors we are involved in; rather it is how USAID works in India!

In India, USAID is working to build partnership platforms to unite diverse public ad private stakeholders to accelerate development outcomes.  India today embraces a variety of positive developments, including increasing supplies of financial capital, expanding technological prowess, a dynamic private sector, a large number of non-profit organizations committed to grassroots efforts and entrepreneurial talent.  These qualities open up important new opportunities for public and private players at all levels to work toward solutions that generate social benefits as well as commercially viable products, technologies and services.

Some Indian successes also reflect the relevancy of the Indian development experience to other countries, hence the mantra that USAID sometimes uses here in India that our program is partly about the United States and India -- but also partly about the United States, India and the rest of the world.

Such programs include a variety of less traditional activities such as training for African agricultural extension workers in Hyderabad; an interesting partnership with India's Self Help Women's Association (SEWA) to train and empower Afghan women; and the long-standing South Asia Regional Integration (SARI) program focused on energy.  

Looking back at my first months in INdia, I also note that this international outreach is reflected in a number of interesting "international engagements" in Delhi, including meetings with female Kenyan dairy farmers; discussions with Uzbek horticulturalists; programs for various Afghans including health officials, food safety specialists and financial exclusion experts; and meetings with power sector engineers from Nepal, Bhutan and elsewhere.  In each case, the intent is to connect Indian institutions with officials and private citizens from other countries that are also engaged in development work and are well positioned to learn from India's own development experience..

Let me also share with you a few specific examples of how we work directly with India's private sector.

In 2012, through a unique collaboration platform involving the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), India' s private sector joined forces with the Government of India and USAID to create the Millennium Alliance, a year-round grant competition to support innovators working across key development sectors in India.

Having the Indian private sector directly engaged brings the credibility and knowledge of the Alliance to a whole new level.  A key factor in any success achieved thus far is that the Alliance, while focused on developments outcomes, is also supportive of the interests of the Indian business community.

Th Millennium Aliances helps the Indian private sector strengthen it engagement with the Indian government, further enhancing its credibility within the development space --- a matter of great interest, given that India's Corporate Social Responsibility law is the focus of this conference.

The Millennium Alliance also represents the first instance in which the Indian Government has directly contributed its own financial resources to a USAID program.

What started as a $7 million initiative is now a $25 million program, reflecting a growing partnership that is supporting more than 60 innovators through seed funding and capacity building services, as well as an additional 100 innovators with networking and advisory assistance.

For example, the Millennium Alliance has given support to HaldiTech, an innovative technology developed by Science for Society (S4S) for post-harvest processing of turmeric.  This cost-effective drying technology reduced the processing time of turmeric from 30 day to only one day.  It also costs 50 percent less than traditional processing, resulting in increased farmer incomes in the Amravati District of Maharashtra.

At the same time, the Millennium Alliance has become a diverse and even unlikely alliance involving governments, local companies and international donors.  Indeed it has grown from the original three founding partners in 2012 -- USAID, FICCI and the Government of India's Department of Science and Technology -- to eight partners including UKAID, ICCO Cooperation, ICICI Foundation, Wadhwani Initiative for Sustainable Health (WISH) and the World Bank.

We are now working to leverage the best of our partner institutions and the best of private Indian philanthropy to develop solutions that can respond effectively to tough challenges, making our joint assistance more efficient as well as more effective.  The alliance also demonstrates that when we work together, we can together become a powerful force for change

From my perspective, it is also a vital and even compelling example of the Hindi saying that I often recite as a way to emphasize the importance of partnership in everything that we do:  ek our ekh gyara -- one plus one does not equal two, rather it equals eleven!

Another example of partnership is the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) Alliance, where USAID is working with the Government of India, private sector stakeholders, NGOs, frontline health care works and civil society to identify, demonstrate and scale innovative solutions in India.

Work here involves partnerships with USAID, Kiawah Trust, Piramel Foundation and Dasra.  This partnership seeks to demonstrate high-impact and innovative approaches to improve health outcomes for mothers and children and to help empower adolescent girls.  Many private sectors partners also support this endeavor through the Dasra Giving Circle. You will be familiar with some of the names:  DSP BlackRok, Bank of America, Merrill Lunch, Philips India, Tata Motors Finance Ltd., Johnson & Johnson, GlaoSmithKline, Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative, Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative, Hindustan Times, Mint Publications and others.

As I conclude, I would like to mention that in my view the rise of India is one of the most compelling and even defining stories of our time.  At the same time, the work that our two nations are doing today in cooperation with the private sector is helping to lay the foundations for future prosperity.  It is underpinned by a shared belief in the power of technology and innovation to do good.  It is also the reason why I often say that when the United States and India are in a good place, we can together help move the world toward a better place.  By its very name, the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce is committed to similar goals.

Finally, let me once again express thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to participate in this conference, providing a forum to discuss a shared vision of the important role that partnerships can play in building a better world.  Our collective action can also provide the synergy needed to help India meet its own ambitious development agenda, moving the entire country toward a better place. We at USAID are grateful and appreciative that we too can be a partner in that journey.

Thank you.

Mumbai, India
Issuing Country