The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition highlighted OPIC client Husk Power during a talk last month about the value of positive economic engagement in advancing foreign relations. Husk’s founders used an OPIC loan to introduce a series of mini-power plants in remote regions of India.
“Today in India, 200,000 people now have electricity because of this project,” USGLC Executive Director Liz Schrayer said at the panel discussion. The Husk power plants use an innovative technology to generate electricity by burning rice husks, which used to end up as refuse after harvesting.
The USGLC event gathered retired Gen. James Mattis, former World Bank president Robert Zoellick and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mattis noted that the economy is the primary meeting ground between America and foreign countries and that investment overseas puts the U.S. in better standing with the countries it engages.
OPIC’s work as the U.S. Government’s development finance institute carries this theory into reality. By mobilizing private capital to gain a foothold in emerging markets, OPIC builds positive U.S. relations and offers solutions to development challenges. The Agency’s support of the Husk project in India is just such an intersection of public benefit through foreign cooperation.
Sen. Kaine also singled out OPIC as an example of how just a small investment in foreign aid can go a long way, and have unexpected impact. By supporting OPIC’s work he said, “we’re helping American customers, big companies and small startup companies find global markets. We’re creating jobs right here.” Husk’s founders have connections to India, but are also innovative entrepreneurs from Kaine’s own state, having graduated from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of business.
Schrayer agreed, adding “What we want to do today is to have this very conversation about how we can do well and do good at the same time, about how we can make the world a better place and bring jobs back home,” she said.
OPIC’s support around the world generates just such progress. Private businesses supported by OPIC are investing in more than 100 countries, fostering positive economic relations, creating U.S. and host country jobs, and paving paths for private investors. The global leaders applauded this effort in Richmond this week.