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Community Contribution

Rethinking Private Sector Engagement in North Macedonia

Mirjana Makedonska

Working to move North Macedonia forward on its journey to self-reliance, the USAID Business Ecosystem Project (BEP), implemented by Palladium Group, is designed to increase private sector investment in strengthening domestic supply chains and workforce development. BEP’s initial strategy mandated that the Project mobilize CSR funds from investors and large international corporations towards this goal, but it quickly became evident that such investments would be neither strategic nor sustainable. To achieve a long-lasting impact on North Macedonia’s business ecosystem, BEP needed to partner with companies that were better positioned to recognize the link between local economic development and their own business interest.

Operating through the CLA framework, BEP learned from its local partners and adapted its private sector engagement (PSE) strategy to target small, medium and large enterprises that were more dependent on domestic supply chains and workers. The Project no longer focuses only on foreign direct investment (FDI) companies with CSR budgets, but approaches all companies that have a real economic incentive to invest in local supply chains and workforce development. This approach allowed BEP to co-invest in a diverse range of supply chain and workforce development initiatives, first as a proof of concept and later at scale. Structuring activities in this fashion allowed BEP not just to be more effective, but also to align its activities more closely with the Journey to Self-Reliance mission.

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