Remarks by Deputy Mission Director Ramona M El Hamzaoui at the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Summit & Exhibition 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning everyone. It is my distinct pleasure to be here today to represent USAID among such a learned and distinguished audience.  This is my first time attending the India CSR Summit, but I have been informed that it has been an unbroken tradition since 2013, and has been getting bigger and better with each passing year. 

I want to thank and congratulate the organizers NGOBox for providing a great opportunity for philanthropists, innovators and community leaders to get together to take stock of progress and identify opportunities to work together on new and exciting projects that address development gaps. I know that USAID has worked with NGOBox for the past few years and we’re thrilled to have received an invitation to share our thoughts.

India is a dynamic country that is reimagining itself every minute. The country’s large and vibrant private sector has changed the development ecosystem in India, focusing on new approaches to improve social and development outcomes.

CSR – this acronym, and the idea behind it, has changed how companies act and react toward the environment and people with whom they share the planet. CSR has not only opened the floodgates for new resources and talent but has also led to an influx of innovative ideas regarding how corporations can play a key role in supporting the development of this great country.

At USAID, we take partnership very seriously and believe that it is part and parcel of how we operate in India.  Our mantra has been: “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to far, go together.”

Over the past few years, we’ve worked with more than 100 organizations from the private sector where we co-fund and co-design programs to address development challenges in the area of maternal and child health, tuberculosis, energy, early literacy, WASH, and financial inclusion.

To name some of them, we are working with Piramal Foundation, Kiawah Trust, Kaivalya, English Helper, IL&FS, Tata Trusts, Coca Cola, Merck, Reckitt Benckiser, and the Gates Foundation.  With support from each partner, who brings a varied skill to the program or initiative, we are leveraging India’s dynamic economy and its status as a leader in innovation to devise solutions that generate social benefits and commercially viable products, technologies, and services uniquely suited to those with limited means.

For example, we support the Millennium Alliance Initiative, which unites public and private sector partners to create, test and scale solutions that benefit marginalized populations across India and the world. The initiative has both private and public sector partners and has seed-funded more than 80 innovative projects that address local and global development challenges.

In Jalore district in Rajasthan, the Mumbai-based organization Educate Girls, supported by the Millennium Alliance program, has increased girl’s enrollment in schools by almost 60 percent and retention rates by 93 percent.  This was achieved through a process innovation where Team Balika consisting of community volunteers works with school, parents, and village leaders to ensure access to quality education for girls.

Another great example is HaldiTech, which is an innovative technology developed by Science for Society (S4S) for post-harvest processing of turmeric. This cost-effective drying technology has reduced the processing time of turmeric from 30 days to one day, and costs 50 percent less than traditional processing, resulting in increased farmer incomes in the Amravati District of Maharashtra.

And only last week, one of our partners in clean water, the Safe Water Network, inaugurated their first Water ATM out of the proposed 50 ATMs with support from Honeywell Inc. and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.  Once all 50 are up and running, more than 150,000 people living in the slums across the Hyderabad city will have access to safe drinking water at a very nominal cost. 150,000 people will live healthier lives free from preventable, water-borne diseases. And I’m proud to note that this has been the direct result of three years of dedicated efforts of USAID and Safe Water Network.

We at USAID strongly believe that cross-sectoral collaboration is absolutely essential if we are to tackle the most intractable development challenges, as sustainable solutions for these issues invariably require capabilities and resources that no one entity or sector possesses.

We are striving to widen the funnel of ideas and resources that are channeled towards delivering development outcomes, by bringing new and non-traditional partners to the table as part of our collaborative efforts. We are embracing greater private sector engagement in development, and identifying new ways to harness the skills, technologies, and innovations that companies large and small can bring to bear. It is this sort of collaboration that I believe offers a way forward to achieve greater impact by working together. 

We know that you and your organizations are deeply committed to addressing India’s development challenges.  We look forward to expanding results to be achieved by working in partnership with you and your intellectual and financial contributions. I’m also eager to hear from each one of you, and those in the audience, on how CSR is being practiced in your organizations, and how we can together make it work even more meaningfully.

In the end, I think of partnership as a dance.  Sometimes you will ask the partner to dance, sometimes they will ask you first. Sometimes you will lead, sometimes they will lead. Sometimes you will step on their toes, sometimes they will step on your toes. But if you remain committed and the song is beautiful, something wonderful will emerge. 

Thank you!

Issuing Country