Three new programs mark a milestone in the deepening partnership between the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). AKDN has been working alongside USAID to create new partnerships, harmonize approaches, and leverage financial resources for shared outcomes. In March 2013, USAID and AKDN signed the first partnership in this mold, the Multi-Input Area Development Global Development Alliance (MIAD GDA) in Afghanistan.

What is a global development alliance? Global Development Alliances (GDAs) are USAID’s premiere model for public-private partnerships, helping to improve the social and economic conditions in developing countries and deepen USAID’s development impact. Since 2001, USAID has formed more than 1,500 public-private partnerships with over 3,500 distinct partner organizations, with an estimated value of more than $20 billion in public and private funds.

This month AKDN and USAID are launching three new GDAs, totaling nearly $18 million. These three programs have different approaches and geographies, yet they demonstrate a shared commitment to longer-term, holistic programming; explore new ways to finance long-term, sustainable social development; and include strong learning and research agendas.

Economic and Social Connections: A Multi-Input Area Development Financing Facility for Tajikistan (ESCoMIAD) is a new $12.1 million GDA that will utilize USAID grant funds to help mobilize medium- to large-scale private-sector investment in Tajikistan. Both the MIAD GDA and ESCoMIAD will ensure that a portion of the returns on project investments is set aside in a trust fund-like entity that will finance local social development activities for decades to come. Alex Thier, USAID Assistant Administrator for Policy, Planning, and Learning, praised the MIAD model in the Huffington Post as a way to create jobs and “a ‘virtuous cycle’ where economic development is self-enabling and self-sustaining,” and where for-profit incubators provide funding mechanisms for future development. Click here for more information on AKDN and USAID’s new five-year ESCoMIAD program in Tajikistan.

This month, AKDN and USAID also signed two new GDAs that focus on building sustainability of civil society by strengthening community philanthropy, a widely-found practice of communities mobilizing local assets to address community-identified needs and development challenges. Community philanthropy reduces donor dependency and increases local ownership of development outcomes.

The Yetu Initiative, from a Kiswahili word meaning “ours,” is a four-year GDA in Kenya designed to support the practice of community philanthropy. The $6 million partnership will build the capacity of Kenyan civil-society organizations (CSOs) to catalyze support for local development needs. The program will engage more than five million Kenyans, building local participation in civil society. By working to build trust between CSOs and the communities they serve, Yetu aims to foster local support for Kenyan CSOs into the future.

AKDN and USAID also finalized a new 5-year global GDA that will support the Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy (GACP). AKF, USAID, and their GACP partners, the C.S. Mott Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, will work through the Global Fund for Community Foundations to gather learning about community philanthropy from around the world, highlight how community philanthropy has been implemented under various conditions, and share lessons learned about the best ways for external donors to support local sustainability through community philanthropy approaches.

All three new partnerships reflect a deep commitment by AKDN and USAID to research the process and impact of programming that attempts to influence development financing in order to further enhance sustainability and ensure local buy-in. ESCoMIAD includes research on how enterprise-based economic drivers can subsidize social programs for the long term. Likewise, Yetu will document the experience of growing community philanthropy in East Africa, and be closely linked to a global learning agenda on how to build community philanthropy in different geographic contexts through the Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy.

By Natalie Ross and Luke Bostian, Program Officers with the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A.