Private Investment in Public Good

Combining the resources and expertise of the public and private sectors is a powerful development tool. Technical experts in health, agriculture, and other arenas can work across companies and agencies to maximize the impact of project dollars spent, and find innovative solutions to global challenges.

Throughout the Social Good Summit, numerous companies and private organizations have highlighted their initiatives and financial commitments to provide services, technology, or advocacy to improve the lives of those overseas. The commitments made by these companies are both forward thinking and inspiring, illustrating the power private industry has to improve lives and satisfy shareholders. A few examples highlighted at the Summit follow.

Merck committed $500 million over 10 years through their Merck for Mothers initiative to support access to drugs to for postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, and family planning services. Globally, an estimated 215 million women want access to family planning services but don’t have it, and approximately 350,000 women die in childbirth each year. By providing access to contraception, an estimated 32 percent of those deaths could be averted, if not more. In a panel discussion around maternal mortality and the new initiative, the program’s director highlighted the company’s commitment to continue their support of affordable family planning services until we meet Millennium Development Goal 5.

Ericsson has a series of Technology for Good initiatives around maternal and child health, refugees, and education. In a conversation with Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg and Director of Sustainability Elaine Weidman, both highlighted these initiatives as some of the most inspiring and important projects within the company. Program recipients in the Millennium Villages across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa receive the same quality products as consumers in the US and Europe, and are finding new uses for hardware technology never anticipated when the product was being designed.

Dow-Corning committed $5 million to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which aims to avert many of the 2 million deaths that occur annually due to exposure to cookstove smoke. Their goal: empower 100 million home to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020. The financial commitment from Dow Corning will be supported with both technical and human resource for the Alliance’s programs. “This commitment will allow us to explore how to use our technology, business, and innovation expertise to provide a valuable contribution to improve and even save lives of those exposed to smoke from traditional cookstoves, especially women and children who spend hours each week collecting fuel, often in dangerous circumstances,” said Bob Hansen, Dow Corning President and CEO.

USAID also engages in numerous public private partnerships, recognizing the need to leverage business expertise to maximize the gains in health and development outcomes. Current alliances included the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action, Helping Babies Breathe,  Handwashing with Soap, and the African Diaspora Marketplace. MCHIP is an implementing partner or otherwise involved in the first three of these initiatives, providing necessary technical and logistic support. Continued development of partnerships is supported by Administrator Raj Shah and the USAID Forward agenda, allowing the Agency to “unleash it’s full potential to achieve high-impact development.”

In his speech to the UN General Assembly, President Obama said: “To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity…Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we can do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions from poverty.“ Private support for international development endeavors, like those highlighted at the Social Good Summit, will continue to play an important role achieving the MDGs and other development goals.


Cross posted from MCHIP.

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