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Speeches and Testimony

Remarks as prepared: Women's Empowerment in the Americas at the U.S. Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States

August 27, 2018 | Washington, D.C.

Ray W. Washburne

President and Chief Executive Officer

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

 

(As Prepared)

Thank you Ambassador Trujillo, for inviting OPIC to address this important institution. For more than 70 years, the Organization of American States has served a critical role fostering solidarity and cooperation among the countries of the Americas. This shared commitment to freedom, peace and security has brought countless benefits to the people of the Western Hemisphere.

Since his first day in office, President Trump has made these values a top Administration priority, and has committed to promoting stability and prosperity throughout Latin America.

OPIC works closely with the Administration to advance these goals. As the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, OPIC mobilizes private investment in developing countries to improve lives and promote stability around the world.

OPIC has a strong and longstanding commitment to Latin America. We have more than $5.2 billion invested in 120 projects across the region; investments that are expected to catalyze an additional $7.5 billion external capital, bringing total investment in the region to nearly $13 billion. This capital is being put to work to build power plants and other critical infrastructure and to expand access to education and financial services.

OPIC is working hard to do even more. Over the past year, OPIC leadership has traveled extensively to Latin America to identify ways we can mobilize more investment to the region. The Agency has seen results; just since October, OPIC has supported $1.3 billion in investment in Latin America.

OPIC also recognizes that investing in women is one of the ways the Agency can extend its impact and bring about positive change in the world.

Earlier this year OPIC launched 2X: A commitment to mobilize $1 billion to invest in women. And Latin America is a key component of our global strategy.

In April, Ivanka and I traveled to the Summit of the Americas in Lima, where we announced 2X Americas; OPIC’s pledge to mobilize $500 million to support women in Latin America. This support will provide women in the hemisphere with access to capital, jobs, skills and services.

2X represents a bold commitment; the single largest financing commitment the U.S. has ever made to global women’s economic empowerment. We’ve identified many worthy investments and we’re moving quickly. Since we launched 2X, we’ve committed more than $195 million to support women in the Americas.

For example, 2X Americas is providing improved financial services for women-owned businesses. OPIC does this by partnering with local financial institutions such as the recently approved financing to Lafise Bank in Panama to support lending to women-owned business.

2X Americas is also providing support to women and families living near the base of the pyramid. For example, OPIC provided financing to a social investment fund called Global Partnerships, which focuses on providing women in the hardest to reach places with access to financial services, health services, training and education.

And finally, OPIC has added a gender lens to our existing investment strategy. That means factoring in how the project, whether it is a hospital or a toll road or a power plant, will address the specific concerns of women; and supporting projects that are women-led or have gender diverse management teams.

As OPIC pursues a gender-smart investment strategy and aims to mobilize $1 billion globally, I want close by reiterating our specific commitment to Latin America.

This Administration’s $500 million target for 2X Americas is ambitious but OPIC is in this for the long haul. OPIC will continue to support the women of Latin America, long after our $500 million target is reached.

Because -- there are many, great opportunities to invest in women and OPIC is committed to being a leader in empowering women around the world.

Thank you for letting me share a bit about this vision. As OAS has demonstrated for so long, we can all achieve much more for all countries in the region when we work together.

I look forward to working with all of you.