How We Began
IESC came to life in the early 1960s, when entrepreneurial and philanthropy 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 developing nations.
President Lyndon Johnson announced IESC’s founding in the White House Rose Garden in June 1964.
We began as a volunteer corps using skills and experience for diplomacy, and our work complemented the efforts of the newly-launched USAID and Peace Corps.
In 2014, we celebrated our 50th anniversary. We made this video to commemorate a half century of improving lives through private enterprise development.
After the Rose Garden
For nearly 60 years, IESC has continuously adapted to shifting global dynamics and the challenging environments where we serve to improve lives around the world.
This legacy inspires us today:
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 around the world.
We are proud of a tremendous track record of making a difference in the lives of people all over the world – including in the most challenging environments. Today, IESC works primarily through long-term local staff based in the countries where we work, supported by volunteer and consultant support.
There is still hard, important work to do. We have made great progress toward economic opportunity for all. But we are not done.
And today, as we are all more aware than ever of our global interconnectedness, we know that our work is as urgent as it has ever been.
Some things have not changed since June 1964 at our founding in the Rose Garden:
We are still dedicated to job creation and sustainable business development where it is needed most.
We are still dedicated to small and medium enterprises – still the engines of innovation, jobs, and strong community partners.
And we are still dedicated to partnerships that make lives better. We believe a brighter future is possible: a world with opportunity for all, where every person and community can thrive.
We recognize ever-increasing global inequity and the climate crisis as two of our generation’s most urgent challenges.
We are committed to harnessing solutions that respond to today’s most urgent challenges: sustainability, climate consciousness, and equity.
Today, this comes through in our commitment to all forms of equity in economic development. Our work prioritizes investing in the vast potential of women, youth, people with disabilities, and other historically marginalized groups.
And it comes through in our commitment to supporting climate-conscious enterprise. From design through implementation, our programs care for the environment and all who depend on its health.
Today we always work with and through local organizations to ensure that the solutions we develop will endure. We implement our programs through experts who are not only based in the countries where we work, but are primarily from the countries where we work.
Thank you for looking forward with us, in support of the communities serve.