USAID Africa Missions Small Business Conference

  • USAID Africa Missions Small Business Conference Program

  • USAID Senior Officials - Senior Procurement Executive and OAA Director Roy Plucknet and OSDBU Director Mauricio Vera

  • Panel members which includes Deputy Assistant Administrator/Trade Africa Coordinator, Bureau for Africa, Oren E. Whyche-Shaw

  • Winston Allen, USAID Program Official/COR

On November 1-2, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted the USAID Africa Missions Small Business Conference, “Diversifying our Partners to Achieve our Mission” in Boksburg, South Africa.  This was USAID’s first international small business conference. As an agency, we are committed to engaging diverse partners such as diaspora-owned businesses to partner with us to have sustainability and long-term impact in the countries we work in. To celebrate this unique partnership USAID hosted a two-day conference, attended by over 270 small business representatives, focused on the inclusion of U.S. small businesses as development partners for USAID Africa Missions. There were also eight other federal agencies that participated in the conference. Those agencies were the U.S. Department of State, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service in South Africa and its Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). Those agencies senior level representatives served on panels and hosted booths at the conference.

The conference opened with remarks from Mauricio Vera, Director of USAID’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). Mauricio then introduced USAID Administrator Gayle Smith and Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who provided welcoming remarks via video. USAID Administrator Gayle Smith and Congressman Ellison expressed support of this unique outreach activity and reiterated the importance of utilizing the expertise of U.S. small businesses. Oren E. Whyche-Shaw, Deputy Assistant Administrator/Trade Africa Coordinator, Bureau for Africa and Alonzo Wind, USAID/Southern Africa Acting Mission Director, gave Africa Bureau and Southern Africa Mission welcome remarks and discussed how U.S. small businesses can support the region's development challenges.

USAID’s Senior Procurement Executive, Roy Plucknett, presented on the priorities for the Management Bureau’s Office of Acquisition and Assistance and moderated a panel on how small businesses can work with USAID Missions. A presentation was also given by Dr. Winston J. Allen, Senior Evaluation Specialist in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning. Dr. Allen presented on the importance of monitoring and evaluation of the agency programs, and how U.S. small businesses can support the agency in this area. In the afternoon of the second day of the conference, there was an Exhibit Hall with exhibitors from all 20 USAID Africa Missions, 15 of USAID’s large prime contractors, and some of the federal agencies. This was an opportunity for the U.S. small businesses to learn more about the priorities of the USAID Africa Missions and federal agencies. The small businesses were also able to better understand subcontracting with some of the large business prime contractors.

The two-day conference was organized to provide small business representatives with the opportunity to meet USAID leadership, acquisition, and technical staff. The conference panel topics were on Power Africa, health, agriculture and agribusiness. At the conference, best practices were also shared by small businesses on how to work with USAID Missions. The conference attendees commented on how the conference was very productive and successful, and that they appreciated the opportunities to network with USAID officials and obtain valuable information on doing business with USAID. USAID Africa Missions officials also felt the conference was very successful. Many agency staff expressed their greater understanding of the capabilities of U.S. small businesses, and are now eager to work with these organizations.

This conference is a reflection of USAID’s, and our partner agencies’ commitment to U.S. small businesses. USAID chose to do this overseas conference because of the recent expansion of the small business goals program to contracts awarded overseas. In Fiscal Year 2016, the Small Business Administration (SBA) implemented new federal regulations requiring that overseas acquisitions be included in the small business goaling program. Previously only domestic awards were included. The USAID Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) plans to continue to educate the small business community about the USAID Missions, and to educate agency staff about the capabilities of U.S. small businesses. Diversifying our partner base is essential to achieving federally mandated requirements to utilize small business and to ensure that the Agency leverages the skills and experiences of the best partners.