Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned Acumen Fund’s work in her remarks at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. It is thrilling to see Secretary Clinton discussing the importance of investment as a complement to aid. To read the full text of her comments, click here. To see a video of the speech, go to the bottom of this post. (Secretary Clinton’s comments on Acumen begin at the 17:00 minute mark.) Excerpts below:
“This approach highlights the difference between aid and investment. Through aid, we supply what is needed to the people who need it – be it sacks of rice or cartons of medicines. But through investment, we seek to break the cycle of dependence that aid can create by helping countries build their own institutions and their own capacity to deliver essential services. Aid chases need; investment chases opportunity.
Now, that is not to say that the United States is abandoning aid. It is still a vital tool, especially as an emergency response. But through strategic investments, we hope to one day, far from now, to put ourselves out of the aid business except for emergencies.
Our commitment to partnership extends not only to the countries where we work, but to other countries and organizations working there as well. New countries are emerging as important contributors to global development, including China, Brazil, and India – nations with the opportunity to play a key role, and with the responsibility to support sustainable solutions. Long-time leaders like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the U.K., Japan, and others continue to reach billions through their longstanding work in dozens of countries.
Multilateral organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, the UNDP, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria have the reach and resources to do what countries working alone cannot, along with valuable expertise in infrastructure, health, and finance initiatives.
Non-profits like the Gates Foundation, CARE, the Clinton Foundation, Oxfam International, networks of NGOs like InterAction, as well as smaller organizations like ACCION and Transparency International bring their own resources, deep knowledge, and commitment to humanitarian missions that complement our work in critical ways. And some foundations are combining philanthropy and capitalism in a very innovative approach, like the Acumen Fund. Universities are engaging in critical research, both to solve urgent problems like hunger and disease, and to improve the work of development, like the work of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT.
Even private businesses are able to reach large numbers of people in a way that’s economically sustainable, because they bring to bear the power of markets. A company like Starbucks, which has worked to create supply chains from coffee-growing communities in the developing world that promote better environmental practices and better prices for farmers; or Unilever/Hindustan, which has created soap and hygiene products that the very poor – long-overlooked by private business – can afford.”