It’s a pleasure to be here to open the third ANCP Partner Agency Collaboration Learning Forum on Inclusive Private Sector Partnerships, and I thank Tim Costello for inviting me to this event.
Let me say at the outset, how much the Australian Government values its engagement with the NGO sector.
For more than four decades, we have been cooperating on the greatest development challenges in our region and, indeed, across the world.
Over the years, our relationship has gone from strength to strength.
This year, the ANCP will provide an estimated $127 million to more than 50 organisations, supporting approximately 550 community development activities.
The Australian Government’s partnership with NGOs has helped us to achieve impressive results in a number of sectors, from education; health; water and sanitation, to food security; civil society; and economic development, in more than 50 countries.
Every NGO here today has unique strengths.
Today’s Learning Forum is an opportunity to share expertise, ideas and knowledge with stakeholders from the private and public sectors, and to open up new opportunities to collaborate.
Today, I’d like to share with you key aspects of the Coalition Government’s development agenda and our focus on engaging the private sector on aid.
It has been a hallmark of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s approach to development, to place economic growth at the heart of Australia’s aid program.
In August, Ms Bishop released the Ministerial Statement on Engaging the Private Sector, which outlines how the Government aims to work together with business in aid and development.
Behind our efforts to engage the private sector on the aid program is a simple premise:
Aid represents an increasingly small proportion of development finance, compared to foreign direct investment, equity flows and remittances.
It’s the private sector which is best placed to sustainably change people’s lives, and people’s futures.
In developing countries around the world, the private sector accounts for 60 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, 80 per cent of capital flows, and 90 per cent of jobs.
Traditional aid remains an important part of the development mix – because there are many places business and investors will not, and cannot, go – but as countries rely less on aid, the need to collaborate with the private sector has become even more essential.
As the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, I am focused on how Australia can alleviate hardship and promote prosperity, particularly in our region.
By bringing the private sector in as a partner in our development program, so opens up a world of new possibilities and opportunities.
Most of you here today are at the forefront of exploring the potential of what business can bring to our development aspirations.
The Government is genuinely excited and encouraged by the support we have received from NGOs and business.
Last month, applications opened for the Business Partnerships Platform.
Under the Platform, the Government will co-invest up to $500,000 with organisations on commercial opportunities which also have a significant development impact.
I understand there has already been a very positive response to the Platform, particularly from NGOs.
I am delighted the NGO sector has been so proactive in exploring how this Platform can be used to bring business, the government and non-government sector together for mutual benefit.
This direct collaboration with business reimagines what business can contribute to sustainable development and, more fundamentally, what we, as a Government, can also offer as a partner to business.
The Business Partnerships Platform is very much an invitation for business to get involved, and for NGOs to partner with government and business.
NGOs have a long history of working closely with business to deliver development outcomes.
NGOs have international networks of offices which are plugged into local communities and governments, and work with a cross-section of private sector interests.
We all know NGOs work directly with the millions of smallholder farmers, small business people and
micro-entrepreneurs who make up the majority of the private sector in developing countries.
And this is why the ANCP, funded under the Australian aid program, is so highly valued.
There are many success stories.
Last financial year, the ANCP generated more than
$34 million in private sector investment in aid and development.
And last year, there were more than 19 million beneficiaries of ANCP projects, the majority of which were women and girls.
We all know the greater involvement of women in an economy is a prerequisite for higher growth.
The development of the private sector at the grassroots level, where NGOs operate, enables more women to participate in the economy.
Take Cambodia, for example.
In Cambodia, the Australian Government supports CARE Australia to create better working conditions for women in the garment industry.
Un Sopheak has been the HR Manager at a garment factory in Cambodia for more than six years.
Thanks to CARE’s support, she is now developing a workplace policy on sexual harassment and building greater confidence among female employees.
This will not only create a safer environment for women in the workplace, but it will also drive productivity in the industry for Cambodia.
In the Pacific, the Australian Government is supporting Anglican Overseas Aid in Vanuatu to introduce solar energy.
In turn, the profits from these solar businesses have enabled women to establish other enterprises, including poultry farms, a sewing enterprise and much-needed storerooms for local markets.
Often it’s the small start, such as access to micro-finance, which can make such a big difference.
Like Joni, who has a disability and worked delivering local newspapers in Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, to support his late brother’s wife and children. Through Uniting World’s Indonesian microfinance partner, Joni secured a $100 loan to buy large quantities of newspapers direct from the supplier, which has helped him to grow his business.
The Australian Government also knows in order to be effective today, aid must be more nimble and catalytic, and help to unleash other drivers of development.
To this end, Ms Bishop has established the innovationXchange within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
This is a $140 million investment based on the principle: innovation and new partnerships hold the key to finding solutions to the world’s most intractable development problems.
This investment has allowed new partnerships to flourish.
The Government has teamed up with a range of organisations through the innovationXchange, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Asia Foundation and the Omidyar Network.
Just yesterday, applications opened for the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge.
This exciting challenge is about finding innovative, new ways to respond to natural disasters in our region.
It calls on applicants to re-think three critical challenges – the communication of needs, humanitarian logistics and financial resilience – in responding to disasters.
The winners will be announced at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next May. I encourage all of you here to share your best ideas.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Government is committed to using the Australian aid program to promote the growth and inclusiveness of the private sector, in our region and beyond.
Our highest priority is to pursue best value for money solutions with business, NGOs and partner governments.
The NGO sector is central to Australia’s development agenda.
It’s therefore vital for us to facilitate greater sharing of knowledge and learning, to improve development outcomes across the globe.
Today’s Learning Forum on inclusive private sector partnerships is an opportunity to do just this.
Good luck and thank you.
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