Adam Boehler was confirmed by the US Senate as the first CEO of DFC in September and will take the helm of the new agency when it launches in the coming weeks. In this edition of the USDFC Monitor we ask him about his plans for the new agency.
A key feature of the BUILD Act was to strengthen OPIC’s successor’s development mandate by pushing it into less-developed countries, raising the threshold for project impact and equipping it with new financing tools. In this Q&A, Adam Boehler lays out how he will implement the rebalancing of DFC’s portfolio towards higher impact projects in tougher markets, how he envisions the role of the new Chief Development Officer and the future of OPIC's 2X Initiative.
Here is our exchange.
Q: The BUILD Act directs DFC to prioritize investments in low and lower-middle income countries. What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges to growing the agency’s portfolio in some of the world’s most difficult markets? How do you plan to address them?
Congress was thoughtful in drafting the BUILD Act. They recognized the positive elements of OPIC and maintained them while simultaneously modernizing the agency to position it for success. They recognized that OPIC has been punching above its weight—both in the development and foreign policy space—for years. They understood that new financial tools, flexibilities, and an increased investment mandate are needed to support investments in the world’s emerging markets. The flexibilities provided by BUILD will allow DFC to be proactive and forward-leaning in pursuing opportunities in low and lower-middle income countries. One of my most important jobs as CEO will be to advocate on behalf of the agency with the administration and Congress to ensure that we are well resourced to achieve our goals and deliver on the expanded mandate.
Q: The Chief Development Officer (CDO) is a key new position created under the BUILD Act. How do you see the CDO’s role in ensuring that development impact receives as much—if not more—attention and weight as DFC’s competing mandates of achieving financial returns and advancing US foreign policy objectives?
I think the creation of the CDO is one of the most important aspects of BUILD. This individual will play a central role in ensuring that development impact is considered at every step in the investment process, as well as focusing the entire organization on driving measurable impact.
Q: OPIC’s 2X Women’s initiative has successfully mobilized over a $1billion in investments for women’s economic empowerment. What do you envision for the future of the initiative at DFC?
Women’s equality is a critical social issue as well as an economic one. How can a country reach its economic potential if it does not empower half of the workforce? When we invest in women, it truly has a multiplying impact: they invest in themselves, their families, and their communities. OPIC’s 2X Women’s Initiative has done exceptional work. I’m excited to continue, as well as broaden, these important initiatives with allies across the globe.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.