In issuing our annual report for 2011, we also marked a milestone: 40 years of investing with impact across the developing world. Often we use this blog as an opportunity to talk about our new projects or our response to current global development challenges. But OPIC’s rich history also underscores how our development finance model endures in a world where the social, environmental and political landscape has changed dramatically.
Countries that once lacked basic infrastructure are now focused on expanding access to energy and health care, building low-income housing and supporting small businesses, and they are increasingly conscious of growing in a sustainable manner. Technology has transformed the way the world communicates, making it possible to connect with smaller businesses and communities in remote areas. And the 2010 Arab Spring reminded us the political landscape continues to shift in sudden and surprising ways, requiring a quick response to foster stability.
Below are some excerpts from the special 40th anniversary section in our new annual report:
While trying to rebuild Europe after World War II, the U.S. recognized that private investment is a more powerful engine for economic development than aid. It also became clear that there is a central role for government in encouraging private investment. Congress created OPIC in 1969 through an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, and the agency began operations in 1971. Read more.
OPIC initiated its overseas investment mission program in 1975, with 25 U.S. executives traveling with OPIC staff to five nations to explore investment opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa. And while many of OPIC’s projects in the 1970s were very large financing or insurance deals, the agency also began experimenting with micro- lending. Read more
With a decade of success behind it, OPIC in the 1980s became more proactive, innovative and responsive in meeting the needs of U.S. investors and host countries. OPIC also increased its political risk insurance offerings to cover civil strife and business interruption. It also strengthened ties with nations in the Caribbean Basin. Read more
OPIC helped U.S. businesses compete for opportunities in the 33 New Independent States of the former Soviet Union – many of them needing billions of dollars to repair, upgrade or replace long-neglected infrastructure. Read more
During this period, OPIC took the lead in promoting and supporting the use of highly sustainable green energy and alternative technologies in the developing world. OPIC’s commitments to renewable resources projects grew from $10 million in 2008 to $11 billion in 2011. Read more