Letter from the President, December 2014

Dear IESC Colleagues and Friends,

Tom Miller, President and CEO

As 2014 draws to a close, IESC continues to celebrate 50 years of supporting emerging economies, creating and preserving jobs, and building the capacity of public institutions. Not only are IESC’s programs thriving, but IESC as an organization is growing and improving in exciting ways.

First, the financial highlights: our revenues for 2014 are projected to be $30 million, which represents a six-fold increase from four years ago. We are looking at revenues of $47 million in 2015.

As a nonprofit organization, however, we know that increased revenue is just one measure of progress. We and our partners, clients, and other stakeholders want to see results’to know that what we do makes a real, tangible difference. IESC has made a renewed commitment to measure and communicate the global impact of our work, and with our revamped monitoring and evaluation and communications departments, we are prepared to do just that.

We have also brought on a new director of grants and contracts to ensure that we are operating in accordance with government and other regulations, and we are upgrading our information, finance, and recruiting systems to make us more efficient and effective.

The vast majority of our work is funded by USAID, and these projects are doing well despite difficult conditions in some of the countries where we work, including Afghanistan and Liberia. IESC is not afraid to work in places where it can have an impact; at the same time, we do everything within our power to keep our staff, consultants, and volunteer experts safe.

In Afghanistan, the Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises Program’our largest, at $105 million over four years’is doing critical work with the private sector to strengthen businesses and help create jobs. IESC is meeting its targets to negotiate public-private alliances that provide small and medium enterprises with equipment and other tools that allow them to expand. For example, restaurateur Naeem Yusofi was able to open a second location of his Chipsi restaurant in Herat and already has his sights set on additional locations in western and northern Afghanistan.

When I last wrote you, our USDA-funded program at the agriculture ministry in Afghanistan was supposed to end. However, the capacity building program was so successful that USAID is funding a $20 million, three-year follow-on program that has a greater focus on the provinces outside Kabul. We are pleased to have most of the team continuing with this second program. Like the first, the new program is almost entirely Afghan-run. This is what sustainability is all about.

Our access to finance program in Liberia, IBEX, is persevering despite the devastating Ebola outbreak. In fact, our work is more relevant than ever. By continuing to make credit available to small and medium businesses when much of the financial system is collapsing under the weight of the crisis, IESC is helping to keep the economy going. We are extremely grateful that all of our IBEX staff are healthy and working.

Without economic interventions, the current health crisis will easily become an even more widespread humanitarian crisis. This is what compelled us to start our fundraising campaign. As you may know, this is not something that IESC has done much in the past. But we are in the unique position of being on the ground when a crisis emerged and are seeing firsthand the desperate need, a need that goes well beyond the parameters of our IBEX program. We know that terrific things can be accomplished when many individuals come together around a cause. I want to thank everyone who has donated so far, and if you can help, please visit our donation page.

In Lebanon, our microfinance program is expanding opportunities in the country, facilitating more than 12,000 loans valued at about $27 million. You can see the human impact of this program in a series of videos on our YouTube channel. In fact, our channel features many more videos of our work.

Three other programs have come to successful completion this year: the Facilitating Economic Growth Program in Sri Lanka, the Small and Medium Enterprise Project in Tunisia, and our diplomatic assistance project in South Sudan. The South Sudan project was suspended earlier this year due to deteriorating conditions on the ground, and many U.S. government projects were eventually forced to close. Our Kazakhstan Business Connections project will end in December, but this fall we are hosting three delegations of business people that seek to do business in the U.S. market.

Although many of the activities I have mentioned incorporate volunteer experts to some degree, I am particularly pleased to report that our efforts to rejuvenate a volunteer services program are bearing fruit. Our partnership with AARP in China is growing, and our first group of four volunteers went to China in July on short-term assignments in a variety of sectors. We are in conversations with AARP about providing additional services through volunteers, which is very exciting. Our volunteer services lead, Andrea Patrick, has already taken several trips to China, and the president of AARP will likely join me in a trip to China in the spring.

We see some other interesting prospects on the horizon, and over the course of the fall we have sent business development teams to Guatemala, Mali, Pakistan, Tanzania, Lebanon, and Ukraine.

This year the world is marking 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. IESC worked extensively in Ukraine in the 1990s, helping the economy to restructure after independence. More than 700 of our volunteers participated in those very successful programs. Twenty years later, we are not only remembered in the country, but respected and sought after, and we see new opportunities to help the country as it weathers another difficult time.

Finally, we are dedicating a significant amount of resources to diversify our business beyond government-funded programs. We are looking for new kinds of partnerships and new ways to implement enterprise solutions to poverty and development.

Because of our work, business owners are able to be more productive and reach new markets, government agencies run more smoothly and are better equipped to serve their populations, and financial institutions are stronger and lending to more people. With creativity and innovation, and with the combined talent of IESC and its dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers, we will continue to make a difference.

Thank you for your continued support of IESC.

All the best,
Tom Miller
CEO and President