Creative unlocks economic opportunities by upgrading market systems, building skilled workforces and strengthening the private sector to attract sustainable investment, better-paying jobs, improve resilience and generate economic prosperity. Creative achieves these goals by working with donors and communities to design and implement locally owned, data-driven approaches that focus on equity, economic empowerment of women and youth enterprise development and domestic resource mobilization.
Across all its programs, Creative supports micro-, small -and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and entrepreneurs, which make up 90 percent of worldwide businesses and employs two-thirds of the total workforce to better forecast, produce, sell and deliver high-quality goods and services that meet market demands. The West Africa Trade and Investment Hub that Creative implemented, provides nearly $150 million of co-investment grants to private sector partners – particularly to innovative small and mid-sized firms – as part of the U.S. government’s Prosper Africa strategy. Grantees receive technical assistance before, during and after their partnerships to ensure they can scale up and contribute to larger economic transformation in their communities. Grantees receive technical assistance before, during and after their partnerships to ensure they can scale up and contribute to larger economic transformation in their communities.
Since its inception, the Trade Hub has awarded co-investment grants, created jobs and increased revenue from exported goods. Some notable accomplishments are:
- Investing $36 million into 239 co-ventures during the second year of the five-year long program
- Identifying 136 applications for grant investments worth $122 million, which are estimated to attract $1 billion in new private sector investment, create over 135,000 new jobs (50 percent of which will be for women) and increase export revenues by $839 million by the end of the five-year long program
- On track to surpass expectations by creating 100 percent more jobs than the target goal, leveraging private sector investments by 75 percent and generating 50 percent more export revenue than projected
Creative realizes a key ingredient for the private sector to grow includes a skilled workforce that meets market demand.
The U.S. Agency for International Development Afghanistan Workforce Development Program addressed market needs by creating demand-driven, quality technical and business training, as well as job placement support services.
The program successfully:
- Trained nearly 40,000 mid-career and skill-deficient workers – more than 30 percent of them women – in seven cities
- Established training centers with contemporary curriculums and proven results
Creative’s workforce development efforts also focus on at-risk youth and vulnerable communities.
Creative implemented the U.S. Agency for International Development Technical Vocational Education and Training Strengthening for At-Risk Youth (TVET SAY) program. The program contributed to a fundamental change in the Technical Vocational Education and Training ecosystem, empowered youth to lead positive change in their communities and contribute to improved security in the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.
Some program highlights include:
- Nearly 1,000 at-risk youth received scholarships to participate in TVET programming, equipping them with vocational, life, work readiness and soft skills that they need to be capable employees and entrepreneurs
- Youth showed resilience by pursuing alternatives to criminal activity, developed leadership skills by facilitating community development initiatives with stakeholders and contributed to building safer communities
- The TVET-SAY program also provided participants with a skill-matching and job placement platform that connected youth to a network of 38 private sector businesses
- 50 percent of youth reportedly obtained new or better employment after graduating, while 18 percent pursued additional education within six months of graduating to further build their skills
As market trends shape growing economies and unforeseen events such as the COVID-19 pandemic further impact economics, Creative has stepped in to implement resources. The pandemic caused significant disruptions in the global supply chain, and in all facets of economic and social life, which highlighted the importance of resilience in market economies and the need to invest in countries’ digital infrastructure.
In response to COVID-19, the Trade Hub provided $50 million of new grants to support companies, particularly enterprises owned and operated by women. For example, Global Mamas, a Ghana-based fair-trade enterprise that works with women across Ghana to create and sell handcrafted products, was one of the first recipients of the COVID-19 rapid response grant awarded by Trade Hub. The co-investment grant of $497,000 leveraged private funding of $2 million that stabilized the firm and allowed it to preserve 258 jobs. With these resources, Global Mama’s expects to create 85 new positions and launch nine new products by the end of 2022.
In partnership with development clients, including U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, the Millennium Challenge Corp. and other development finance institutions (such as the U.S. International Development Finance Corp., the African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and International Finance Corp.) we seek to strengthen economic development by:
- Forging private/public partnerships through technical assistance, co-investment grants and blended finance solutions
- Supporting formalization of informal micro, small and medium-sized enterprises
- Improving business laws and regulations
- Enabling access to digital solutions
- Promoting social and gender inclusion and awareness, women’s economic empowerment and positive youth development