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We’re all in this together: OPIC Impact Awards highlight the power of our partnerships

By Judith Pryor Vice President, OPIC Office of External Affairs

Group Shot of 2015 Award Winners
Celebrating a far reaching impact: Award winners from India to Ghana to Brazil pose for a group photo

 

One of the realities of working for a small agency like OPIC that supports development in more than 100 countries around the world is that it’s difficult to get many of our partners in the same room together to honor the important work they are doing.

It is the same reason that I was thrilled last month to MC the OPIC Impact Awards for the second straight year. To paraphrase OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield, everything that OPIC does is done in partnership. On May 19, OPIC formally recognized seven of our clients for excellence in development, before a standing room only audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We heard several inspiring accounts of businesses and nonprofits working with OPIC to build schools in Africa, provide solar lighting to small rural households in India, increase food production in Georgia, and much more

Shari Berenbach and Kofi Ampim
Shari Berenbach, President of the U.S. Africa Development Foundation, presents the Impact Innovation Award to Kofi Ampim, Chairman of Belstar Development, which used OPIC political risk insurance to support its work as the lead investor in the Ghana National Medical Equipment Modernization Project.

 

Every client we honored has a compelling story of working in often challenging conditions to improve people’s lives. If you haven’t seen the stories we’ve been sharing these past few weeks you should check it out and see the range of work that OPIC supports around the world in sectors from energy to education to financial services:

Shannon May, Co-Founder of Bridge International Academies, summarized why the work we support all around the world is so important when she said, “we are all in this together.”

“The work that OPIC does to support companies in the developing world – even in fragile states – is critical not only to the development of those countries but to the future security of the United States,” she explained.

Bridge offers a great example of how business can serve as a force for good in the developing world. Recognizing the magnitude of the lack of educational opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, it set out to design a model that would not just educate a classroom of students, but reach hundreds of thousands, thanks to a curriculum that can be accessed electronically. OPIC financing has enabled it to expand its network of schools. Today Bridge is educating 100,000 students in schools across Kenya.

While our clients were the centerpiece of the afternoon, we were also honored to have two esteemed keynote speakers including U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President Myron Brilliant.

Ambassador Susan Rice
“OPIC is a critical piece of America’s leadership around the world,” said keynote speaker Ambassador Susan Rice. “When it comes to catalyzing greater investment in developing markets, OPIC is one of our most nimble and effective tools.”

 

 

VP Myron Brilliant
“The U.S. Chamber recognizes the tremendous value of OPIC and the work that it does around the world,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Myron Brilliant. “OPIC is a catalyst for private sector investment in critical markets where our companies would not be doing business without your support. We are strong advocates of OPIC and we support a multi-year reauthorization.”

 

At OPIC, I’m fortunate to spend all my days focused on supporting this important work addressing the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people, while helping American businesses gain access to some fast-growing emerging markets. It was an honor to meet so many of the partners that have developed innovative ways to address major world challenges from hunger to insufficient electricity and access to finance. Our partners are optimists and realists, dreamers and thinkers who are working hard every day in often challenging conditions. And the world is a better place because of them.

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