The following is a summary of the history of Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (IESC)—starting with our founding as the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) in 1964.
How We Began
The International Executive Service Corps (IESC) came to life in the early 1960s when entrepreneurial and philanthropic giants David Rockefeller, Sol Linowitz, and Frank Pace shared a vision: they saw the potential for American business leaders to share the technical and managerial strategies acquired over decades working in the private sector with counterparts in economically developing nations. President Lyndon Johnson announced IESC’s founding in the White House Rose Garden in June 1964 (see photo at right). We began as a private sector executive volunteer corps sharing skills and experience, and our work complemented the efforts of the newly-launched US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Peace Corps.
After the White House Rose Garden
Throughout our history, IESC has continuously adapted to shifting global dynamics and the challenging environments where we serve to improve lives around the world. For example, in the 1970s, we strengthened young businesses during the “East Asian miracle.” In the 1980s, we broadened private sector participation in Latin America. In the 1990s, we helped bridge a free-market transition in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In the 2000s, we supported Africa’s rapid growth and helped Afghanistan rebuild after decades of conflict. These efforts mean so much today because they have contributed to sustainable economic development and job creation, improving the lives of individuals, families, and communities globally.
Notably, for our first 30+ years, IESC received a Core Grant from USAID to fund large-scale expert volunteer technical assistance efforts throughout the economically developing world. IESC has conducted more than 25,000 volunteer assignments since our founding, with the most assignments in a single year taking place in 1996. Following the wind-down and elimination of IESC’s USAID Core Grant in the 1990s, IESC shifted to a new funding model out of necessity, and an associated new model for achieving its mission. Throughout our history, we have remained true to our mission and specialized in private sector development. Since 1964, we have created over 1.5 million jobs in 139 countries.
IESC is a valued partner to people and communities throughout the economically developing world. We share proven business skills and experience with entrepreneurs, jobseekers, businesses, farmers, cooperatives, and governments. We also offer resources—human, technological, and financial—that sustainably build capacity and empower communities. Our long legacy of strengthening developing economies is matched by our vision for the next generation: a world with economic opportunity for all, where people and communities thrive.
Today, we achieve our mission primarily through the efforts of long-term staff, who are principally from the countries where we work. We also partner with local organizations to ensure our impact will endure. These efforts are supported by our home office staff located largely in Washington, DC, our dedicated volunteer experts and consultants, as well as select international partners.
New Name and Unwavering Commitment to Private Sector Growth
We changed our name at the beginning of 2023 to Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (IESC). We selected this name—which embraces our history while reflecting who we are and what we do in the present day—following a thoughtful process that included multiple internal and external stakeholder surveys and unanimous IESC Board approval. In addition to retaining the IESC acronym, we also retained our existing logo.
What has not changed is our focus on sustainable economic development and making a lasting difference in the lives of the individuals and communities we serve. The name change marked the beginning of a new era in IESC’s long and storied history. We are glad to have you with us as we continue this important work for decades to come.