CEO Sylvia J. Megret celebrates ACDI/VOCA’s 60th anniversary.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of ACDI/VOCA’s founding on July 12, 1963. Decades later, we and our affiliates, including Tanager, AV Ventures, and Fundación ACDI/VOCA Latin America, have nearly 900 employees—81 percent of whom are working in their own communities—spanning nearly 150 countries. Together, we bridge diverse stakeholders in joint development efforts, sharing technical resources and on-the-ground presence to achieve the objectives of our partners and donors. Over the years, our promotion of locally driven market solutions has ensured durable outcomes for issues like food security, economic prosperity, and social inclusion, especially during times of concurrent crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, among others.
This year is a milestone that calls for both celebration of how far we’ve come and reflection on how far we must go. Our vision is a world in which people are empowered to succeed in the global economy. In this pursuit, there have been accomplishments, such as implementing USAID flagship projects and mobilizing more than 12,000 volunteers around the world. And there have been challenges, such as operating amid a global pandemic and mounting climate disasters, which many of you will relate to.
One of our core values at ACDI/VOCA is impact. After launching 60 years ago to spur agricultural development through cooperative principles, we now pursue four broad impact areas that reflect these roots and respond to the challenges of today. As we enter this 60th year, we are envisioning our work through the lens of these four impact areas:
1. We are connecting people with businesses to create jobs and strengthen economic market systems.
Small businesses are the backbone of most economies. But many of these businesses are too large to secure microloans and too small to secure commercial investment. As an example of our work to expand economic well-being, our program in the Kyrgyz Republic is supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by partnering with the private sector, offering blended finance to lower the risk of investing in SMEs, and improving SMEs access to capital through accelerator programs.
2. We are pursuing equity and inclusion for all.
As Colombia reaches a pivotal time in its history, turning the page on decades of armed conflict, our program is promoting the reconciliation of communities. Our work in Colombia is one way we are advancing equity and inclusion by supporting local ownership and leadership among indigenous peoples and Afro Colombians through new partnerships and investments. By co-creating plans with these communities, we aim to advance the Colombian government’s Territorial Development Plans.
3. We are helping communities build resilience to conflict, climate change, and other shocks and stresses.
Many pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands experience the dire consequences of climate change, such as extreme drought. Our work supports the aspirations of national and local governments to expand and diversify income opportunities, from climate smart investments in the livestock sector to a small business expanding household access to solar panels for their energy needs. Our Impact for Northern Kenya Fund has disbursed $2.3 million in climate financing in the area, including an investment into Solargen, a pay-as-you-go solar services provider. In Kenya and elsewhere, we help strengthen policies and local systems that both create sustainable livelihoods and help with the successful management of natural resources, such as rangeland and water.
4. We are helping improve food security among poor and vulnerable populations.
Many Ethiopian grain farmers are locked in a vicious cycle of poverty driven by low-quality seed, manual cultivation, and small plot sizes. Rooted in our deep history of agriculture, our program in Ethiopia is one example of how we are helping farmers grow much needed food and improve their productivity by promoting high-yielding seed and mechanization while also minimizing post-harvest losses.
Honoring 60 Years of Impact
The world is a different place than it was 60 years ago, but what remains a constant in our work are the cooperative principles that laid our foundation. Where cooperatives call for open membership and autonomy, we call for social inclusion and economic empowerment. The participation and training of cooperative members has evolved into our market systems approach to development, which relies on small and large market actors building networks and sharing in benefits. The cooperative concern for community speaks to our focus on resilience. Our focus on agricultural development is still reflected in our efforts to mitigate climate change and achieve sustainable food security.
While some of the challenges we saw when we started this work remain, we know that together we are making an impact. Thank you to all who have been a part of ACDI/VOCA’s journey over the past 60 years and who continue to support our mission.Comments