Global Communities’ economic development programs aim to catalyze sustainable and inclusive economic growth by strengthening the capacity and integration of economic actors to effectively pursue market-based opportunities. Our programs increase incomes and support local economies, being especially mindful of the needs of youth, women and marginalized groups. We use a systems-based approach that relies on comprehensive analysis, local capacity building, market facilitation and sustainable solutions identified and implemented in collaboration with the private sector and local partners. Our work focuses in six main areas:

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) and Value Chain Development
Using a market facilitation approach, Global Communities works MSMEs to leverage opportunities for growth through improvement in production, quality control and business management and facilitation of new market linkages. We build the capacity of new and growing entrepreneurs with technical skills development, management training, access to finance and access to market information—leading to increased sales, employment and incomes. Global Communities also works with innovative and influential enterprises to facilitate activities that lead to growth for firms throughout the value chain.

Workforce and Entrepreneurship Development
Global Communities’ workforce development approach is demand-driven, focusing on market-led employment opportunities and entrepreneurship. We work with the private sector to customize technical training programs, provide soft skills and entrepreneurship training, and place trained youth in internships and apprenticeships for on-the-job learning and skills development. Through linking private sector firms, training providers, government and vulnerable youth in a collaborative action approach, we foster systemic change in the transition of disadvantaged youth to sustainable livelihoods by improving the alignment between the demand for and supply of skills in the marketplace.

Livelihoods and Resilience
Global Communities takes a comprehensive approach to build resilience and reduce household vulnerability, working with households who have experienced or are at risk of economic, social, health and environmental shocks and those dealing with factors such as disability or lower social status. We build and protect livelihoods and assets while linking people to local networks of social, health and education services that provide critical safety nets. Using a market-based approach to income generation, Global Communities also mobilizes savings, provides technical training, develops cooperatives and market linkages, and promotes entrepreneurship.

Financial Inclusion
Global Communities is an innovator in providing locally appropriate financial solutions. We operate a range of models from assisting community savings and lending groups with technical support and linkages to formal financial institutions to operating development finance institutions (DFIs) to providing loan guarantees. Over the past two decades, Global Communities has established DFIs in eight countries representing a growing portfolio of more than $215 million, mainly in the MSME and housing finance sectors. Our loan guarantee facilities, in partnership with OPIC, USAID and USDA, help businesses that are too large for traditional microfinance and too small for commercial banks to access credit.

Local Economic Development
We work with communities to develop and execute local economic development strategies that drive inclusive economic growth, providing jobs and market opportunities for local citizens and privately owned firms. We engage the government, the private sector and civil society in defining local economic development priorities and designing targeted interventions that lead to more vibrant local economies and broad-based economic growth.

Cooperative Development
Global Communities takes a comprehensive approach to promoting cooperative enterprises. We build the capacity of primary cooperatives, support apex organizations to strengthen their operations, foster growth through new partnerships, engage in policy development and collaborate with universities on research initiatives to foster academic engagement in the sector.  Our programming is based on a common philosophy rooted in five dimensions of cooperative development (governance, management, production, marketing and membership) that provide a sustainable foundation for commercial and social capital growth. Leaning on the seven Rochdale Principles, our programs also provide capacity building activities that foster civic engagement, gender parity and financial inclusion.

Recent Economic Development Work
Agribusiness Investment for Market Stimulation (AIMS)
is a five-year initiative to bolster trade in key agricultural sectors in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi by increasing access to financing and markets for small and medium-sized agribusinesses. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), AIMS includes a USD 50 million loan guaranty facility backed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In partnership with the Eastern Africa Grain Council and business development service providers, Global Communities builds the capacity of agribusinesses and improves access to regional markets through enhanced buyer-seller linkages and access to market information.

The Youth Inclusive Entrepreneurial Development Initiative for Employment (YIEDIE, which means "progress" in the Twi language) is designed to create economic opportunities in Ghana’s construction sector for disadvantaged youth. YIEDIE aims to directly reach at least 23,700 of these youth with training in technical, life and/or entrepreneurship skills leading to employment. The project applies an integrated market-systems model to improve the capacity of youth and service providers across the value chain. Key objectives are to: 1) provide employment opportunities in the construction sector, including self-employment, for young people in five of Ghana’s largest cities: Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi, Ashaiman and Tema; and 2) provide increased coordination and support for a better enabling environment by construction sector stakeholders.

Initiated in October 2011, the Jordan Loan Guarantee Facility (JLGF) combines a $250 million loan guarantee facility from OPIC with a $9.3 million USAID cooperative agreement.  To date, JLGF has provided technical assistance and capacity building, and has issued over 440 loan guarantees, enabling Jordanian SMEs to access over $115 million in bank financing for start-up and expansion. The program has specifically targeted women operating enterprises larger than “micro” sized.

USAID/Twiyubake aims to improve the resilience of at least 50,000 households and 250,000 individuals from vulnerable populations in 15 target districts of Rwanda, including people living with HIV, orphans and vulnerable children, very poor households, and out-of-school youth. USAID/Twiyubake is working with these groups to improve nutrition and food security, address economic vulnerability by fostering income generation and market linkages, and to increase access to education and social services including vocational skills training. Participants engage in a wide variety of activities such as savings mobilization groups, agricultural production assistance and nutrition training.