Why Tuesday was huge for our movement
We testified before Congress and saw landmark legislation introduced in the same day.
Dear Unlock Aid community,
Sometimes it’s important to take a step back.
When we started building this coalition last year, we set the goal of testifying in Congress as an indicator of impact. Then yesterday, this happened:
It was my honor to represent our coalition at yesterday’s House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing entitled “Modernizing International Development Assistance: Opportunities and Challenges.” Also invited were Dr. Prashant Yadav from the Center for Global Development, Dr. Zainab Usman from the Carnegie Africa Program, and former Congressman Ted Yoho from the Consensus for Development Reform.
The Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, Rep. Joaquin Castro, framed the conversation by sharing that, “Discussions in the Congress about foreign assistance are usually about questions like how much, where, and on what issues. They’re rarely about how.”
We’re fixing that that! I emphasized that transparency and accountability will make such a difference for so many organizations that have tried but failed to work with USAID. Lawmakers appreciated the concrete ideas we’ve all developed in our 2023 policy platform and drew focus to three actions USAID could take today to accelerate innovation and impact. Read our full written testimony and/or watch the entire oral testimony and hearing here.
That’s not all.
The same morning, Congressman Castro and Congresswoman Young Kim introduced the bipartisan Fostering Innovation in Global Development Act (FIGDA), which would go a long way towards modernizing the way the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and USAID work with world-class innovators. Rest assured we will be tracking its progress closely, building support for it in Congress, and reporting back to all of you.
Here’s the impact FIGDA would have once law:
Lower barriers to entry for world-class innovators;
Stronger links between the DFC and USAID to do joint innovation initiatives;
Prioritized investments in proven and evidence-based solutions, including through investments in the Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) unit and the Global Innovation Fund; and
Better integration between innovation initiatives and top agency priorities.
FIGDA also creates a Proven Solutions program so that innovators know if they pilot something that works, USAID can be counted on for the scale up, too. Go deeper into the analysis or just check out this clip of Congressman Castro introducing the bill.
Here’s the full press release, including Unlock Aid’s statement of support for the bill:
“We can make the United States the partner of first resort for countries and entrepreneurs that want to use innovation to accelerate economic and social progress,” said Walter Kerr, Executive Director of Unlock Aid. “This bill takes the best of what’s worked at other federal agencies to source and scale next-generation solutions and says we can do this at USAID, too.”
Yesterday was a key milestone for Unlock Aid, and we would not be here without this community. Thank you for your input and support. Of course, sharing this email with friends and colleagues who are skeptical that anything will ever change might be a nice present this holiday season. So consider it! ;)
Congress is listening to us, and we’re going to make the most of that in 2023.
Unlock Aid Executive Director
P.S. This year, we’ve talked a lot about why it’s so important to scale-up proven solutions, including those supported by USAID’s DIV unit. Check out this clip where dive into this idea with Rep. Castro and Dr. Yadav.