USAID Deploys First-Ever Field Investment Officers

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently deployed the first-ever cadre of Field Investment Officers to regional USAID Missions in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Thailand, Egypt, Peru and Ukraine. This overseas presence will allow USAID to inject capital markets expertise into its field offices, ensuring the local private sector becomes a critical component of USAID programming. These officers will initiate innovative deals that leverage private financing and facilitate linkages between investors and the local private sector for development activities.

"Doing this engagement will require more than the right structures. It requires the right people. Development agencies have not traditionally recruited staff with capital markets experience. And the expertise that does exist is often underutilized," said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. "To address this gap we are deploying a cadre of Investment Officers who bring previous capital markets experience and will serve as deal originators."

By increasing the involvement of local capital markets in development, USAID is helping to make financing for development sustainable beyond donor funds. For U.S. businesses, developing these markets means future trading partners as emerging economies represent roughly half of U.S. exports.

The Field Investment Officers will utilize all tools available to them at USAID including Global Development Alliances, Mobile Money, Development Innovation Ventures, and the Private Capital Group for Africa.

One of the primary tools the Field Investment Officers will utilize is USAID's Development Credit Authority (DCA). Through DCA, USAID can offer private local banks the incentive of partial loan guarantees to encourage them to lend to new sectors and businesses, instead of holding onto their assets in safe government securities. By offering to share the risks in case of loss, USAID has been changing banks' behavior as lenders realize that industries they once viewed as risky are in fact profitable.

Ben Hubbard, Director of USAID's Development Credit Authority said, "With a renewed emphasis on private-sector led economic growth, DCA is designing alternatives to traditional assistance and putting more local wealth to work for development. In an increasingly constrained budget environment, DCA is extracting additional value from our increasingly scarce development dollars."

USAID's Development Credit Authority, established by Congress in 1999, unlocks local capital through loan guarantees for sectors including agriculture, health, housing, clean energy, infrastructure, microfinance, and education.