What Private Sector Engagement Looks Like in Practice
Education and PSE
USAID’s Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Policy and the PSE in Education Plan outline how the education sector can strategically involve the private sector as a partner and stakeholder in development to advance a country’s journey to self-reliance. The following case studies highlight how PSE in the education sector works in practice and is complementary to the blog post Getting Started in Private Sector Engagement.
Global Book Alliance - The Business Side of Literacy
The Global Book Alliance (GBA) is a market-based approach to address a core obstacle to ending illiteracy — the lack of access to quality early reading materials (print and digital) in underserved languages. In the countries where USAID works, books do not exist in local languages, preventing children from learning to read, reading to learn, and developing a love of reading and learning. The issues are complex, but the book chain remains a root problem in building a literate world in the countries where USAID works.
The Business Side of Literacy
The GBA adds a private sector perspective to USAID’s reading programs. Illiteracy costs the world $1.19 trillion per year. It contributes to poor health, lost earnings, and lost business productivity. By conducting country-level supply chain assessments of the book chain — from book development, access, procurement, and distribution, to use — USAID missions can engage publishers, printing companies, digital content providers, among others to build an enabling environment, create a culture of reading, and foster sustainable markets. More efficient markets can significantly reduce the cost of textbooks for governments and donors, and foster more transparent government procurement and education financing practices. There also is potential to open or expand non-state school and consumer markets.
Expanding Access to Reading Materials
The Global Digital Library (GDL) is an outcome of USAID’s All Children Reading Grand Challenge for Development and is led by Norad. The GDL provides open-source, high-quality reading resources in underserved languages worldwide. The GBA is a partnership of donor agencies, multilateral institutions, and civil society organizations, with USAID building partnerships with the private sector. New partnerships with corporations such as Google, Age of Learning, local and international publishers, and other content providers offer opportunities to reach audiences beyond USAID’s community and to scale the GBA, the GDL, and the country-level programming. By the end of 2020, the GDL will have over 100 languages, more links to nonprofit and commercial digital content platforms, and an expanded range of materials from USAID and the private sector. Partnerships between the development community and private sector offer new opportunities for growth, sustainable development, and creative solutions to core issues that limit building a culture of reading and literacy.
COVID-19 Crisis Response: TranslateAStory.org
The GBA, the GDL, and other organizations, launched "Translation Sprint" to provide reading materials in underserved languages to children isolated at home due to COVID-19. Those who are bilingual or multilingual can join the effort at translateastory.org. Most of the nearly 1.6 billion children and youth now out of school lack access in their home environment to reading materials in languages they use and understand. The call to action helps translate books so that kids can continue to learn how to read!
EON Reality - Enterprise-Driven Development
EON Reality has a global vision for Augmented and Virtual Reality (AVR) technology based on the principles of “Learn, Train, Perform,” to make knowledge available, accessible, and affordable for every human on the planet. Their double bottom line of corporate and social impact is the backbone for their long-term strategy. As a multi-million dollar company with 20 locations worldwide and 20 years developing standards for AVR education and industry solutions, EON Reality has created an extensive AR/VR training library with over 8,000 applications and 40 million users around the world.
USAID’s relationship with EON Reality has evolved from implementing partner to a co-design/co-investment partner with a long-term perspective on regional sustained development. The partnership embodies USAID’s move from a transactional or project-based approach to strategic collaboration and relationship-building with the private sector to create opportunities for scale and sustainability. In February 2020, Morocco’s Interactive Digital Center (IDC) located at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, in Ben Guerir, opened through a multi-faceted partnership by EON Reality with USAID, the Government of Morocco, the technical/vocational and higher education communities, industry, and other research and scientific stakeholders. The new Center is a model for USAID’s enterprise-driven development to advance education, youth employment and economic growth strategies to support a country’s journey to self-reliance.
COVID-19 Crisis Response
With centers around the world as a resource, like the new Interactive Digital Center (IDC) at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco, there is an infrastructure to quickly respond to the crisis. EON has offered free and customized Remote AVR Learning and Self-Directed Learning programs, in addition to creating COVID-19 -specific AR and VR Training for nurses and doctors. They are also focused on the secondary impact to help educational institutions and industry “catch up” and reform for the future.
With the Morocco IDC as a regional resource, EON Reality and USAID are exploring opportunities for other centers in Ethiopia, Jordan, and Laos, as well as ways to use this type of model to enhance USAID programs across all sectors.
For more information on USAID engagement with the private sector and its COVID-19 response, please visit:
or contact Lisa Blonder, Senior Advisor for Private Sector Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.