Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us for the Development Finance Corporation’s first quarterly Board meeting of 2021. And thank you especially to Dev Jagadesan, our acting CEO, and David Marchick, our chief operating officer, for their leadership.
This Board brings together leaders from across the U.S. government – from Commerce, Treasury, USAID, and State – as well as from the U.S. private sector. That’s a signal of how important the DFC’s mission is to our foreign policy, our domestic policy, and to the American people.
This is my first board meeting as chairperson, and the first thing I want to do today is say thank you to the staff at the Development Finance Corporation.
You are helping us make good on our commitment to deliver results to the American people and to lead with our values around the world.
President Biden said in his inaugural address that the United States will lead by the power of our example. Investing in development is one way we will do that. We believe in creating opportunity for people here at home and around the world. We believe in investing in critical sectors that directly impact the quality of people’s lives, like healthcare, energy, technology, and infrastructure. We believe in working with our partners, not coercing them – that small businesses and women entrepreneurs are vital to a dynamic economy – and that the best investment is not only economically sound but also adheres to high standards, like protecting the environment and respecting human rights, including workers’ rights.
We will comport ourselves with integrity. We will take seriously our nonpartisanship. And we will hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct.
The work we do at the DFC reflects these values. And it delivers for the American people in a few ways.
It makes the global economy stronger and more inclusive, which is good for us. It helps us build connections with new partners around the world. And it makes the United States a stronger leader in the space of global development, which is an increasingly competitive realm. Other countries are aggressively moving to invest in global development. We want our model – with the transparency, good governance, and values that underpin the American approach to business and development – to win out. I’m convinced the DFC is critical to our success in leveraging our greatest strength – the private sector – and competing more effectively.
Last year, the DFC committed $4.8 billion in new investments – and 65 percent of those investments were in low- and lower-middle income countries and fragile states. This is hard and sometimes dangerous work, but it can have a huge pay-off – first and foremost for people in these countries, who want and deserve a chance at a better future.
Additionally, the DFC’s 2X Initiative has catalyzed more than $7 billion of private sector investment in women-owned and women-led businesses – and in businesses with products and services designed to support women. We know that women are often powerful drivers of job creation and entrepreneurship, and the DFC is wise to support them in this way.
And our ambassadors continue to express how impressed they are by the work of the DFC’s transaction officers and field representatives, who work with our embassies, Deal Teams, and others to generate bankable deals and catalyze private-sector investment.
As we look to the future, there are a few priorities we need to keep in mind.
First, development finance is a powerful tool for addressing the climate crisis. Secretary Kerry – the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate – and I are very interested in how the DFC can help drive investment toward climate solutions, innovation in climate resilience, renewable energy, and decarbonization technologies. This part of the DFC’s work will be front and center at the climate summit on April 22.
Second, development finance can help strengthen global health security, which is top of mind right now for obvious reasons. We need to minimize the impact of COVID-19 in developing economies, where many have limited access to healthcare, clean water, or electricity. Our development finance tools can mobilize private sector resources to help counter the devastating health and economic consequences of the pandemic. To that end, the DFC has established a rapid response liquidity facility to provide up to $4 billion for existing clients and operations, and they’ve launched an initiative to invest $2 billion in strengthening health systems. This is timely work that will save lives, and we should find ways to build upon it.
Third, we will stay committed to a multilateral approach. The DFC collaborates with other countries’ development banks and development finance institutions. We also work closely with private philanthropies. This is a core source of strength for us. We often do better work and get better results when we work with partners. And by collaborating on development finance, we can strengthen our partnerships more broadly.
And fourth, we know that our success depends on building an effective agency. So I want to emphasize some of the core values of the Biden-Harris Administration. We are committed to building a culture of transparency. We will embrace the best practices in corporate governance. And we will foster a respectful and collaborative working environment between career staff, leadership, the Board, and the interagency. That’s how we’ll do our best work and give the women and men of the DFC the support they need to do their jobs well.
Thank you again for being a part of this endeavor. I’m looking forward to today’s discussion.