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Community Contribution

Incorporating CLA in the Delivery of PSE Technical Assistance

Glen Burnett and Tahira Siddiqui

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The Promoting Excellence in Private Sector Engagement (PEPSE) project is a five-year mechanism, under the Private Sector Engagement Hub in USAID's Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation, designed to support Missions, Bureaus, and Independent Offices to engage the private sector per USAID's PSE Policy.

PEPSE's CLA journey began in 2019 as it was finalizing a challenging Private Sector Landscape Assessment for a Mission client. A Private Sector Landscape Assessment assesses potential private sector engagement opportunities in partner countries and priority sectors. Most PSLAs are completed within six months, but setbacks delayed this assessment over two years. To determine the root causes of these setbacks, PEPSE had open conversations with Mission and internal staff and realized that Private Sector Landscape Assessment-specific challenges stemmed from broader issues with the delivery of short-term technical assistance including: a rigid scoping process, limited Mission collaboration, limited understanding of Mission realities, a lack of qualitative analysis, and a lack of next steps or actionable follow-on activities.

To resolve these challenges, PEPSE fostered a culture of openness, collaboration, adaptation, pauses and reflection, and continuous learning and improvement. PEPSE now: starts engagements by defining success and uses adaptive Scopes of Works designed through open dialogue with Missions; uses multiple touchpoints and a learn-by-doing approach to ensure collaboration with USAID; applies qualitative coding to track private sector insights and add quantitative rigor to insights; includes next steps and follow-on activities like Mission-led private sector convenings as part of technical products; and conducts pre-mortems to anticipate challenges and formal pause and reflect sessions after short-term technical assistance delivery. This has transformed PEPSE's culture and improved how the project operates and engages Missions, Bureaus, and Independent Offices by creating an adaptive approach to service delivery.

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