USAID Private Sector Engagement

Funded by: USAID Date Range: 2018 - 2023 Project Lead: Pulte Institute

The private sector plays a critical role in reducing the need for foreign assistance, providing financial, in-kind, and human resources to organizations who deliver development activities across the globe. Despite its importance, many development organizations lack an understanding of how to effectively engage with the private sector to create better outcomes for communities. 

In an effort to better understand and utilize Private Sector Engagement (PSE), USAID partnered with the Pulte Institute, Purdue University, and Catholic Relief Services to implement an evidence and learning strategy to help its staff better align themselves with their private sector counterparts. 

Phase 1 of the multi-year project, which is supported via a buy-in from USAID LASER PULSE, will focus on filling critical knowledge gaps and answering USAID-identified priority questions, such as: what is the effectiveness of different forms of PSE; what external factors drive effective PSE; and what PSE relationship qualities influence results?  

A team of Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students, directed by Pulte Institute Evidence and Learning Director Paul Perrin, conducted an extensive desktop review, identifying tangible evidence (e.g. case studies, technical reports, etc.) of USAID PSE. Using this research, the consortium will co-create a series of tools to complement USAID’s Private-Sector Engagement Policy, including:

  • An evidence gap map, which consolidates what is known and unknown about PSE and can be used as a tool for decision making;
  • A prospective study, taking place in unison with the evidence gap map activity, to lay the groundwork for understanding effective partnership development and efficacy;
  • A PSE Indicator Framework to deepen the understanding of both USAID staff and private sector partners about the sustainability and scale of their partnership activities; and
  • A failure risk analysis, which will examine the end-to-end process used to match private sector partners with engagement needs.

The team is currently receiving feedback on these tools in the field and will plan to implement Phase 2 of the project in 2020, during which they will pilot the tools in select USAID missions before rolling it out to the full organization. 

View the Evidence Gap Map

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