The private sector is a major partner of development cooperation because businesses solve problems. They create jobs, build infrastructure and contribute to poverty reduction. Particularly those countries where the private sector has played a larger role have made great progress. The only way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is for governments, enterprises and civil societies to act together worldwide.


  • are a major driver for employment, productivity and inclusive economic growth through their investments and innovations;
  • make an effective contribution to poverty reduction;
  • provide basic goods and services, such as food, education, health and energy;
  • can draw on expertise in various sectors of sustainable development and develop innovative business models;
  • provide capital, develop innovative financing arrangements and generate tax revenue;
  • operate in areas where the government can exert hardly any influence for political, economic or logistical reasons.

The private sector is important for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) therefore intervenes at two points in the sector:

  • Developing inclusive market systems paves the way for private-sector development: an enabling environment, capacity development and access to finance are important building blocks for doing so.
  • Partnerships, e.g. between donor agencies and companies, can harness the potential of the private sector for sustainable development. Cooperation with businesses contributes private funds but it also transfers decisive know-how to partner countries. It enhances the efficiency of development-policy engagement and takes account of all three aspects of sustainability alike (economic, environmental and social).

The ADA pursues three objectives in private sector and development: 

  • sustainable, inclusive and consequently pro-poor growth
  • harnessing the potential of the European private sector for development cooperation
  • inclusive market system development 


Involving the private sector affords a great opportunity for the programs and projects of the Austrian Development Agency. Thanks to the higher efficiency and sustainability of the market system, the inclusive market system development approach helps to integrate poor sections of the population into economic life – as entrepreneurs, workers or consumers.

It strengthens the private sector and opens access to markets for all – to goods, services, work and information. This frequently involves cooperation with private-sector actors. Commercial aims are subordinated here to development objectives: Business activities are only supported if they take account of social and environmental impacts and comply with international standards and rights.

Development cooperation enables local ownership. This means that it takes local actors seriously and works with the current market trend.