Who are the heroes of sustainable development?

Often, creating sustainable development projects can go unrecognized amid other sexier, more immediate development stories. Yet, the folks at OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation whose core mission is to mobilize private capital to help solve critical development challenges, have created a way to honor individuals and investors who are working to create sustainable development projects.

On Tuesday, March 11 they kick-off the inaugural OPIC Impact Awards, with awards to recognize excellence in development finance. The agency will honor funders and organizations employing “projects in clean energy, infrastructure, healthcare and other sectors that are helping create jobs, improve lives and stimulate economic growth.”  The six categories include: American Small Business, Renewable Resources, Development Impact, Critical Infrastructure, Private Equity and Access to Finance.

The Development Impact category will award a winner with the project in a priority sectors or region that uses innovation in overcoming difficulties. OPIC will measure the quality of results, risk mitigation practice, development impact, and other factors, such as serving as a model in project development and execution. The projects that the agency supports in more than 100 developing nations around the world deliver a range of positive results, from providing electricity and housing to increasing access to finance.

OPIC recently gave its support to the efforts to bring electricity to more than 50 million people in Africa.  At our energy event last summer, OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield discussed the enormous need for reliable access to energy in Africa and addressed ways in which the private sector can help fund Africa’s energy efforts. She also underscored that OPIC funds projects that other banks won’t—they take risks that create US jobs and help countries in emerging markets. “We return money every single year back to the taxpayer which is then recycled and cross-subsidizes other aspects of the 150 account… we create both exports and jobs in the US. For every job a US investor creates in emerging markets, two and a half are created back here at home,” she stated.

In recognizing the importance of energy for sustainable development, we look forward to future OPIC Impact Awards to see if innovative energy efforts in Africa might be rewarded in the years to come.

Watch OPIC’s Impact Awards live at 4pm on Tuesday, March 11th.

Want to learn more about energy poverty and see how you can help bring electricity to more than 50 million people in Africa? Click here.