The Millennium Challenge Corporation is, despite its private sector-sounding name, a government entity. It paves the way for impact investing globally by supporting and mandating good governance. And it works.
In an exclusive interview with this correspondent, MCC chief executive Daniel Yohannes says, "We create an environment to make the private sector successful."
The MCC's mission is to fight poverty. But it does this in a unique way by requiring good governance, economic freedom and local investment. It started under President George W. Bush in 2004. So far it has approved more than $8 billion in funding programs that engender social impact: agriculture programs that help farmers; infrastructure programs that pave roads; water supply programs; and programs that give access to health and education.
Take what it's doing in El Salvador. The MCC has helped build or improve hundreds of miles of roads in El Salvador's poorest region so it can be connected to the rest of the country and afford access to jobs and supplies. It's helping to mitigate water scarcity in Jordan, and helping to raise literacy in Morocco. The programs not only help locals, but the U.S., too.
"We look to get businesses involved from the beginning," Johannes says. "We work with local businesses, NGOs, and international corporations." By focusing on promising projects, American companies can participate operationally and invest in the region. This has resulted in procurements for energy companies and construction operators alike.
"It helps produce U.S. jobs and profits," Johannes says. When a company gets a government procurement, it has to hire and, of course, its revenues increase.
In shorthand, the MCC is akin to a quiet, modern-day Marshall Plan.
The crux of the MCC plan is to enforce governance standards and transparency so programs and investments can be implemented without the fear of graft and corruption--chronic problems that plague the developing world.
"For impact investors such as funds, institutions and high net worth individuals who invest abroad, there are parallel opportunities, Johannes says. "Our goal is to create partnerships with other countries. And the best way to leverage that is to partner with other charter organizations for parallel investments."
The MCC is also a great lead generator for investing ideas by country, region, sector, or even businesses (for example a corporation that receives a large procurement contract). And the MCC is a good risk barometer, giving telltale signs of countries and projects that are abiding by good management principles.
"We are making the business of aid become more business-like," Johannes says.
For more information, see mcc.gov