On September 9, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah traveled to Arkansas to the headquarters of Walmart. During his visit, Shah signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between USAID and the Walmart Foundation. The MOU was designed to solidify the partnership between USAID and Walmart, a corporate giant in bettering livelihoods in developing countries by promoting the economic empowerment of women, sustainable agriculture, environmental sustainability, and professional and life skills training for youth in poor countries.
Now one may be asking themselves what a global retail chain would have to do with a government international development agency. Well, perhaps contrary to popular belief, the two have much in common.
Both share the common beliefs of the importance of partnerships, leveraging assets, and boosting resources, as well as similar business strategies. Additionally, Walmart shares USAID’s vision for furthering international development in the developing world.
In fact, the MOU symbolized the future development work that Walmart and USAID will take part in together, specifically with the three year long, public-private partnership between the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative and Walmart’s Global Sustainable Agriculture Goals. The project will increase incomes of rural smallholder farmers by promoting agricultural diversification techniques and connecting the farmers to Walmart’s global supply chain.
“We are excited about this latest landmark in our relationship with Walmart. Out global partnership is emblematic of USAID’s new model of development and our commitment to work with private sector companies to end extreme poverty around the world,” said Shah at the ceremony at the Walmart headquarters in Arkansas.
The joint initiative will give farmers chances to compete in the global economic market, as Walmart will increase the number of small and medium-sized farms that they will source their products from in Central America. It will also support enhanced nutrition, as consumers will have more access to various locally grown produce.
“This partnership with USAID allows us to broaden and accelerate our commitment to help small rural farmers in Central America lead a better life and will also bring our customers more affordable and higher quality food,” said the president and CEO of Walmart Latinoamérica Eduardo Solorzano.
Smallholder farmers will receive assistance to grow a greater variation of high-quality fruits and vegetables. In addition, the partnership will expand on smallholder farmers’ ability to implement sound farming, and environmental and natural resources management on their farms to uphold more sustainable livelihoods.
This recent partnership builds on other collaborations that USAID and Walmart have engaged in over the years, specifically in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. From local partnerships with entrepreneurs to global cooperation on international issues such as global food security, public-private partnerships are becoming an important part of new models of development in order to combat extreme poverty.
– Elisha-Kim Desmangles
Sources: Feed the Future, USAID, US Global Leadership Coalition