Our Work

Private Sector Engagement

Private sector engagement has always been an integral part of IESC’s mission of catalyzing private sector growth. As IESC was founded by giants of American business of their era—David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan Bank and Sol Linowitz of Xerox—we have partnered with large multinationals that have business interests aligned with our mission since our founding. Recent examples include partnering with Microsoft to launch an information technology portal to increase employment and entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka, and helping smallholder farmers expand by integrating into the supply chains of multinational agribusinesses across multiple countries.

Program Examples


Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises (LinkSME)

Funder: USAID

Three women gathered around a vendor's display table

Matching sessions between six lead firms and 25 SMEs at a workshop organized with Agrotrade

Program overview: LinkSME built the capacity of Vietnamese business support organizations to advance linkages between Vietnamese small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and lead firms, thereby enhancing the capacity of SMEs to participate in global supply chains. Improved and increased business linkages help Vietnamese firms generate jobs, improve livelihoods, and encourage entrepreneurial innovation. Additionally, the program reduced major barriers limiting SME growth across Vietnam and helped to institutionalize key reforms.

Relation to IESC expertise: Through LinkSME, IESC engaged with international firms producing goods in Vietnam and large Vietnamese firms as lead firms. IESC developed Vietnam’s private sector by building the capacity of SMEs to integrate into the lead firms’ supply chains. IESC audited SMEs for their linkage-readiness and their digital transformation needs, providing SMEs with roadmaps to update equipment and digital systems to improve their ability to meet lead firm requirements. Lead firms and SMEs invested more than $31 million to improve equipment and adopt digital transformation solutions following the program’s guidance.

Sri Lanka

Youth Employment and Business Start-up (YouLead)

Funder: USAID

Seven men holding a pizza

: Stakeholders holding up the first pizza made in the first vocational training facility at the Department of Technical Education and Training center in Kuliyapitiya

Program overview: YouLead enhanced employment opportunities for youth in Sri Lanka by working with both the public and private sectors to improve the quality and relevance of vocational and technical training. The program also linked youth to demand-driven employment opportunities and increased sustainable self-employment through entrepreneurial and business development services.

Relation to IESC expertise: We partnered with Gamma Pizzakraft Lanka under YouLead to implement the Equal Slice for Everyone program. Funded by a $1.3-million grant from the Yum! Brands Foundation, we opened five state-of-the-art kitchens at Vocational Training Authority and Department of Technical Education and Training vocational centers across Sri Lanka, with 15 more on the way. YouLead, together with the food service industry, developed a new curriculum of 758 blended learning hours that focused on preparing 2,500 youth per year for employment in Sri Lanka’s quick service restaurant industry.

Republic of Georgia

Industry-led Skills Development

Funder: USAID

A woman interviewing a man

Third meeting of the Business Leaders’ Council

Program overview: The Industry-led Skills Development program is developing industry-relevant human capacity that contributes to high-value employment opportunities and increased economic competitiveness in Georgia. The program is achieving this via a $13 million grants fund, by systematically engaging employers to equip Georgians with skills demanded in sectors with high growth potential, and by creating direct linkages between training programs and employment opportunities.

Relation to IESC expertise: To ensure program investments are demand-driven, we implemented an intensive private sector engagement process, meeting with more than 200 Georgian enterprises in the first year alone. IESC met with the private sector, undertook a private sector mapping and constraints analysis, developed a Private Sector Engagement Framework, and instituted the Business Leaders Council. These private sector engagement initiatives built a baseline understanding of the critical skills constraints the Georgian private sector faced and developed a foundation of relationships with the businesses for co-investment in demand-driven solutions.

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