SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Manisha. Thanks, everybody.
Good afternoon. The – talking about my old days in the private sector brings – like, there’s things I miss in the world. (Laughter.) But I love what I’m doing. It’s great to see so many amazing business leaders here today. I was – I was part of this before I lost my mind and ran for Congress. (Laughter.)
I hope that we have here, in my tenure as the Secretary of State, brought some of the sense that comes from risk taking every day, the things that the private sector does, about how to manage people and organizations and institutions. It’s a great value. I hope we’ve brought some of that here to the State Department.
I’ve certainly made an emphasis of making sure that our economic diplomacy here at State was real and strong and capable everywhere. I can’t imagine that you could go to one of our embassies anywhere in the world and you wouldn’t know that our team in the field understood those instructions and that priority. It includes certainly making businesses like all of yours successful.
And as often as possible, I like to say thank you to those businesses that represent our nation and its values so well around the world. It’s what this ceremony is about today, the Award for Corporate Excellence is indeed all about.
Today’s four honorees are ambassadors for the American way. As I travel the world, I’m constantly reminded how right we have it here.
These companies represent our free market values by creating good jobs here in the United States and around the world, investing sustainably, operating transparently, and offering the highest quality products and services in the world. By doing that, they create friends for the United States everyplace that they go. They serve as a powerful example of the character of our nation, for how to do business while doing good – a sharp contrast to how business is conducted in other places in the world.
Consider one of this year’s winners: Chambers Federation, an American NGO that’s created the first conflict-free chocolate and coffee processing facility in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That effort, housed in an area that is plagued by conflict, brings stability to the region by hiring, training, and empowering local women, who make up 90 percent of their staff.
Another one of our winners – and this will make the Ohioans in the room very happy – is an international arm of Procter & Gamble, Procter & Gamble Asia Pacific. Although she told me she’s from Lawrence, Kansas, so I don’t know about – I don’t know so much about the Ohio deal. (Laughter.) Procter & Gamble Asia Pacific supports and empowers women leaders by offering executive mentorship, flexible parental leave, and industry-leading childcare programs. As a result, women represent a strong 35 percent of company management in 16 countries across the region. That’s an industry best.
The Chambers Federation and Procter & Gamble prove the value of the American way.
In Africa and the Indo-Pacific, they are surrounded by companies from other nations surrounded – that do things differently – that work to enrich themselves at the expense of their host countries. Often those entities are state-owned or state-subsidized. Instead of creating jobs, these companies often bring in their own workers, not of a benefit to the host nations.
And too many times those companies, instead of hiring women, promoting stability, and setting the example through fair labor practices, they trap local communities in a death spiral of debt and corruption.
I want to give another contrast. We see a similar contrast in the example of our other two winners.
Today we honor one of PepsiCo’s regional arms, PepsiCo India. It is India’s largest purchaser of potatoes.
And it uses this to power good, sourcing sustainably from 24,000 small Indian farmers. It also has a program aimed at replenishing water in stressed areas, through which it has restored nearly five billion liters of water.
And next, finally, we want to recognize Agilis Partners, which has built a thriving agriculture businesses in Uganda. The company employs 650 Ugandans, pays higher than average wages, trains their workers in new technologies, invests in communities, and teaches sustainable farming practices.
Other countries operating in these two regions do business differently than PepsiCo and Agilis. Instead of operating sustainably, they brutalize the natural resources of their host country, cut costs, produce low-quality products, and leave behind pollution.
Our four winners today demonstrate the power of free enterprise. They demonstrate to our foreign partners that working with our businesses is a path to prosperity and stability.
That’s one reason that we at the State Department work so hard to support U.S. companies.
We build relationships that develop markets around the world, and we fight against any foreign efforts to undermine our businesses or to rig the global economy against the United States or its entities.
To all four of today’s winners, and to the 20 years’ worth of past winners in the audience today, I say thank you. Please keep up the good work.
You are truly proof that the American Dream is contagious, and that U.S. businesses can help spread it throughout the world.
Thank you for your leadership, and congratulations to you all. Thank you. (Applause.)