WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced four new investments totaling more than $38 million that will help mobilize the power of global entrepreneurs and innovators in the fight to end extreme poverty. These investments will connect innovators around the world with investors and capital to increase access to energy and expand food security in developing countries.
USAID is committed to engaging entrepreneurs, innovators, and other private sector partners in developing countries around the world to advance development outcomes. Over the past seven years, USAID has directly supported hundreds of entrepreneurs and has partnered with other donors, international organizations, and local governments to develop entrepreneurial ecosystems. In 2015, USAID had over 360 active public-private partnerships that leveraged more than $5.9 billion from private sector and other partners.
“President Obama’s leadership in convening Global Entrepreneurship Summits over the past seven years has elevated the importance of entrepreneurship to building more economically prosperous, secure, and globally connected communities around the world,” said USAID Administrator Gayle E. Smith. “Today’s announcement builds on the Obama Administration’s commitment to harnessing the power of entrepreneurs to advance development goals and spread American values around the globe.”
As part of USAID’s ongoing support of global entrepreneurs, Smith announced the following new investments:
Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development
Power Africa and USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab are launching Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development, an investment of $36 million to empower entrepreneurs and investors to grow a market to connect 20 million households in sub-Saharan Africa that live beyond the reach of the electricity grid with modern, clean, affordable electricity. In partnership with the U.K. Department for International Development and the Shell Foundation, the Grand Challenge for Development will help build a vibrant market across sub-Saharan Africa by supporting the growth of innovative entrepreneurs that are making off-grid solutions affordable for rural families through profitable business ventures, and by catalyzing private investment to help these enterprises reach new markets. The Grand Challenge will also drive new technological innovation, and address constraints to market growth in specific countries.
Feed the Future Call for Cool Storage Solutions
Through a competitive call for innovations, USAID will provide up to $2.5 million in funding and mentoring to entrepreneurs to help them adapt, pilot and scale their proven cool storage solutions to prevent food loss and waste in countries where the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative focuses efforts. This call will expand the impact of USAID’s investment by catalyzing private investment that strengthens food chains between farms and markets.
Geeks on a Plane
USAID is partnering with 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley global venture capital fund and accelerator, to host a Geeks on a Plane (GOAP) trip to Africa in March 2017. On this first-ever Africa GOAP trip, Silicon Valley leaders will participate in an 11-day itinerary in Accra, Lagos, Cape Town and Johannesburg to engage with African entrepreneurs and innovators and explore partnership and investment opportunities. The trip will culminate with the Global Entrepreneur Congress in Johannesburg on March 13-16, 2017.
Global Innovation Exchange
USAID is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the South Korean and Australian Governments to launch the Global Innovation Exchange, a global marketplace to connect entrepreneurs and innovators with resources, funding, collaborators, investors, and customers. The Exchange already contains over 4,200 innovations, has over $72 million in available funding opportunities, and over 9,000 expert collaborators to help innovators and entrepreneurs accelerate their innovation to impact.