They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but the ones you're seeing in the slideshow above are worth much more than just talk. They were taken at a dinner hosted by Secretary Clinton in honor of Partners for a New Beginning (PNB), where the leaders pictured all came together last week to discuss new projects that will create economic opportunity and improve thousands upon thousands of lives.
At this year's U.S.-Islamic World Forum, Secretary Clinton stated that the leaders involved in PNB would “convene a summit at the end of May to connect American investors with partners in the region's transitional democracies, with an eye to creating more jobs and boosting trade.” PNB involves three types of partners -- Steering Committee Members, Local Chapters, and Members-at-Large -- and each of them announced new commitments at last week's summit that will accomplish just that.
While many summits will typically involve lots of talk (and, yes, lots of nice photos), this gathering was action-oriented and there are stories of real, on-the-ground investment behind each and every picture.
First and foremost, PNB has developed local chapters across eight different countries that will be the real driving force for this flagship public-private partnership: Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, the Palestinian Territories and across the Maghreb (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia). PNB Local Chapter leaders in attendance at the dinner included Abdelmadjid Fechkeur from Algeria, Asep Sulaeman from Indonesia, Omar Chaabi from Morocco, Asad Umar from Pakistan, Zahi Khouri from the Palestinian Territories, and Rifat Hisarciklioglu from Turkey.
In addition, PNB Steering Committee Members announced a number of new commitments, including:
Cisco has committed to invest $20 million dollars in the MENA region through two new $10 million venture capital investments, one in Jordan and one in Egypt, which aim to create a sustainable model of job-creation and economic development in these two countries, with a particular focus on high-potential small businesses.
Coca-Cola announced that it will dedicate $6 million to its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) with a focus on water and sanitation projects designed to improve the lives of 250,000 women and girls across Africa, including Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is working on the Peacebuilding Program, with a budget of $2.8 million for 2011, and has begun an exploratory effort to support the forces for democracy and economic reform in Egypt, which will support Egyptian civil society organizations working to ensure a successful transition to democratic governance.
PNB's work is not just limited to the local chapters and the Steering Committee. Over 20 organizations joined the partnership last week, including:
The International Youth Foundation (IYF) and The MasterCard Foundation launched a new partnership, Egypt Works. This project will directly assist 10,000 Egyptian youth in increasing their employability skills, while supporting 4,000 young people to obtain jobs or start new businesses. Youth will also build networks and participate in learning exchanges that will help to take these programs to scale with the support of additional stakeholders. The MasterCard Foundation is providing $5 million towards the implementation of the partnership, while IYF provides overall management for the Egypt Works program. The project will be locally implemented by an Egyptian youth-led NGO, Nahdet El Mahrousa (NM).
In joining PNB, Souktel developed JobMatch Egypt to connect job-seekers to employers through Souktel's mobile-based JobMatch technology. In cooperation with PNB partners, Souktel will work with major corporations active in Egypt to improve their national hiring processes through innovative mobile technology solutions, while collaborating with Egyptian mobile operators on donations of SMS, voice, and connectivity services to match more jobseekers with jobs, career guidance, and workforce readiness training throughout Egypt.
IBM committed to extend their innovative Executive Service Corps to bring best practices to improve public service and drive local economic development in Jakarta, Istanbul and Cairo over the next nine months. This investment of more than $1.2 million in business and IT consulting is in addition to ongoing Corporate Service Corps teams deployed across growth markets, including seven Muslim Majority countries.
As the only effort of its kind that seeks to leverage diaspora communities in support of the Arab Spring, Dr. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute and Ahmed Chabani, Chairman of the Michigan Arab-American Chamber of Commerce, will convene a new network of business leaders who attended the White House Arab-American Business Roundtable for a meeting in July to encourage investment abroad at this critical time in the Arab World, while creating jobs in the United States as markets in the region open to new U.S. investment.
In joining the PNB network, the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists will work with PNB partners to support innovative programs to alleviate poverty and promote entrepreneurship and good governance. In the initial phase, they will raise $3 million for Pakistan over the next three years to assist smallholder farmers and landless laborers, mostly females, to achieve sustainable agriculture production.
We are thrilled to welcome these new members to the partnership. If you are interested in joining the PNB network, I invite you to review the steps to join and fill out the application. You are also welcome to e-mail Rob Lalka, who coordinates the partnership for us, at PNB@state.gov.
What really makes this partnership work so well is our commitment to work in tandem with local communities. Everything we are doing involves the pursuit of common goals based on mutual respect and mutual interests, so it's only fitting that I end with a great quote from Secretary Clinton about PNB's locally-driven model.
As the Secretary of State said at the dinner: “I believed in this vision and it has developed into something that is now ready to just take off. This entire effort is moving in the direction we need: partnership, not patronage. Rather than work on the premise of 'what we would do to someone,' we're pursuing an approach of 'what we would do with someone.' We are reorienting our thinking and PNB is really such an impressive example of just that.”