Mobilizing Investment for Development with Transaction Advisory Services
USAID's Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Policy recognizes that private sector resources and capabilities are required to work at the scale needed to address development challenges effectively and sustainably. Mobilizing private capital has become an increasingly important part of this effort. USAID’s INVEST initiative has successfully engaged transaction advisors to mobilize over $800 million in investment capital for renewable energy, agriculture, financial services, and other priorities. This experience has yielded important insights into how to effectively incentivize both financial and development impacts, the importance of market-led approaches, and the benefits for local investment ecosystems that extend beyond individual transactions. See INVEST’s learning brief and Transaction Advisory Services 101 primer.
On August 3, 2023, Nora Brown, INVEST Chief of Party, discussed the lessons learned from both successful and failed attempts to mobilize investment through transaction advisory services. Jake Cusack of the CrossBoundary Group and Beatrice Duret of Haitian advisory firm GECA, both INVEST partners, discussed their unique experience as transaction advisors working to overcome some of the most persistent barriers to investment in USAID priority markets. Sharon D’Onofrio, USAID INVEST’s Director of Learning, moderated the event, and Steve Shira of USAID’s PSE Hub provided introductory remarks outlining INVEST’s role in ensuring both financial and development impact.
Sharon D’Onofrio, Director of Learning, USAID INVEST
Sharon D’Onofrio is an international development professional who currently serves as the Director of Learning at USAID INVEST. In her role, she oversees monitoring, evaluation, and learning across INVEST’s global portfolio, which spans more than 80 countries. A key focus is improving impact and effectiveness of donor-supported private sector engagement. Prior to her role at USAID INVEST, Sharon served as the Executive Director of the SEEP Network and led multiple capacity development and standard setting initiatives in financial inclusion, market systems development, and women’s economic empowerment.
Nora Brown, Chief of Party, USAID INVEST
Nora Brown is an international development professional with 19 years of experience designing, implementing, and managing innovation projects for a variety of clients, including USAID and International Finance Corporation (IFC). Nora currently serves as Chief of Party on USAID INVEST, the USAID flagship initiative to align the resources and capital of donors, investors, and corporates to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to this role, Nora served as Chief of Party of USAID Vietnam Urban Energy Security, a project focused on deploying advanced and distributed energy solutions in urban settings through technical assistance and investment mobilization.
Jake Cusack, Managing Partner, CrossBoundary Group
Jake Cusack is Managing Partner of the CrossBoundary Group, a firm focused on bringing capital into underserved markets to drive sustainable growth and strong returns. CrossBoundary now has twenty-four offices globally on six continents. He co-leads the firm’s advisory business as well as its direct investment platforms. Mr. Cusack holds joint MPP and MBA degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School and a BA from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Cusack has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Inc. Magazine. Ten years ago, he co-authored Investment Facilitation for Fragile and Transitional States, published by CSIS, which helped lay out a methodology for addressing transaction costs and information asymmetries to unlock capital for nascent sectors and markets.
Beatrice Duret, Managing Partner and CFO, GECA Haiti
Beatrice Duret joined GECA, a service/consulting company specializing in management, financial studies, surveys, accounting, and audit, as a partner in 2017, and now serves as Managing Partner and CFO. As part of her role, she leads GECA’s work under USAID INVEST to facilitate private investment into Haitian SMEs, raising up to $20 million in four years. She is a Certified Public Accountant with 15+ years of experience in auditing, taxes, and financial advising to small and medium enterprises. She previously spent seven years as a senior auditor with KPMG and three years as Vice President of Treasury with Banque de l’Union Haitienne, Haiti’s first private commercial bank. Ms. Duret also is co-founder of social entrepreneurship project KOREVWAZEN and the Bracing Neighbors Foundation, both of which support women entrepreneurs in southern Haiti.
Steve Shira, Senior Director, PSE Hub, USAID
Steve Shira is the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) for the USAID INVEST project. He is a Senior Director in the USAID Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Hub’s Operations and Program Support Office.