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About the DCED

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Supporting Poverty Reduction, Economic Opportunity and Self Reliance through Private Sector Development

The World Bank's survey 'Voices of the Poor' (2000) survey asked 60,000 poor people what they saw as their best route out of poverty; the answer was clear: through jobs or economic opportunities. Donors are responding by increasingly placing private sector development (PSD) at the heart of their work.

The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) enhances these efforts by sharing information about what works – based on practical experience, as well as research into businesses’ views on their constraints and needs of support. Founded in 1979, the DCED has developed a substantial body of knowledge and experience about the rapidly expanding field of PSD – as summarised in its website at A dedicated Secretariat, and an active global network with policy advisors, researchers and on-the-ground practitioners, help ensure the quality and cutting-edge character of its contents. Nearly ten thousand website visitors per month demonstrates its value for the many actors discovering or working in PSD.

Vision and Strategic Priorities

The DCED currently has 24 members – bi- and multilateral donors and agencies as well as private foundations – who share the vision of making PSD more effective. To achieve this, the DCED has three strategic priorities:
  • Developing and sharing knowledge and guidance on good practice in PSD
  • Communicating evidence on results in PSD
  • Leveraging its knowledge through engagement in international processes

Knowledge Sharing and Guidance on PSD

In addition to its specialised databases on Value Chain Development and Business Environment Reform, the DCED’s Knowledge Portal on PSD includes dedicated pages with resources from a wide range of agencies and researchers on many PSD topics, such as Industrial Policy, M4P and Partnerships with the Private Sector.

Syntheses and original research of effective practices or new trends, such as a recent case study of the African Cashew Initiative, are being expanded. The latest publications and activities in PSD are regularly communicated through the DCED Newsletter, and its social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Many of the DCED’s own publications and guidance materials are developed by the five thematic groups on Results Measurement, Business Environment Reform, PSD in Conflict-Affected Environments, Green Growth, and Women’s Entrepreneurship.

Measuring results is a top priority for members, although tangible progress has been elusive. The DCED has convened field-based experts to develop a practical Standard for results measurement – providing practitioners with a common framework and an incentive, to measure their programmes’ results credibly. A growing library of supporting documents and case studies is available on the website. Many programmes and agencies are working towards compliance with the Standard – as illustrated in the map.

The DCED Standard’s application in different contexts is also being addressed in other groups, including women’s entrepreneurship (WED). Here, a recent stock-taking of members’ WED activities has identified the monitoring of gender-related results as a critical knowledge gap. The potential for Women’s Participation in Green Growth was addressed in a study by the Green Growth (GG) working group, alongside other GG research, and sharing of knowledge and advice via the DCED website .

DCED members’ common understanding of good practice in business environment reform (BER) has been documented in the Practical Guidance on Supporting BER and on how Business Environment Reform can Promote Formalisation. Reviews of donor's compliance with the good practice took place in 2011 in three countries. Through conferences and publications the DCED has also tackled other key issues such as BER and the Informal Economy, and an Introduction for Practitioners to the Political Economy of BER. Current work includes research on industrial policy and BER, to be followed by guidance on good practice in this area.

The DCED’s work on PSD in Conflict-Affected Environments (CAEs) includes a library of 450 documents and websites on PSD in CAEs. Informed by expert meetings, the DCED has also produced A Review of Current Literature and Practice. This was followed by Key Resources for PSD Practitioners in CAEs. Currently, the DCED is developing and piloting an inter-agency training course on the theme.

Making the Case for PSD

While PSD is attracting growing interest among development practitioners, many remain cautious about collaboration with the private sector to achieve development goals. A focus across the DCED’s work is therefore to communicate fresh, robust data on results achieved through PSD. The DCED website lists credible ‘success stories’ that report impact at scale. The DCED also organises field-level and academic evidence on PSD impacts in the form of a results chain, and publishes regular mail-outs on the Latest Research and Evidence.

Engaging in International Processes

The DCED’s Green Growth group has recently contributed to the outcome document of the Rio+20 summit, on the private sector’s role for environmental sustainability. The group also organised a side event on green and inclusive markets, with the UN Global Compact. A further event is planned at the International Business Forum in South Africa later in 2012.

The DCED is a signatory to the Joint Statement on Public-Private Cooperation of the 4th Aid Effectiveness Forum in Busan; it has also contributed to the work of the post-Busan Building Block, through its mapping and directory of donor-funded partnerships with the private sector. This directory provides businesses with a single window through which to identify relevant donor partnership programmes. The DCED will continue to leverage its knowledge products in this way, while continuing to focus on adding value to the technical discussions in member agencies.

Learn more and get involved!

To learn more about the organisational structure of the DCED and how to join, please click here.

To get in touch with the DCED Coordinator, click here .
Last update: 1 February 2013

Photographs courtesy of Melina Heinrich and Katalyst.