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IBI Founder Dr. Lucie Phillips Accepts USAID Award, Shares Challenges Along the Way

Pictured above, from left to right: Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt, Deputy Administrator at USAID; Bob Reschke, Vice President for Programs at IBI; Dr. Lucie Phillips, Founder and Chairman of IBI; and Mauricio Vera, Director of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) at USAID.

"When we started 20 years ago it was a small three-person office, myself and two interns, doing economic research. I guess we’ve come a long way," recalls Dr. Lucie Phillips, founder and chairman of IBI, during her acceptance of USAID's 2015 Small Business of the Year Award on May 4, 2016.

We've shared our live-cast of the USAID ceremony and looked back together at 20 years of IBI. Now, hear from Dr. Phillips herself on the role of small businesses in the international development community, with an introduction from Vice President for Programs, Bob Reschke.

Bob Reschke:

"We’re particularly proud to win this award today because it represents our primary partner USAID’s recognition of IBI’s accomplishments. While our current activities include projects in Eastern Europe and South Asia, IBI’s 20-year commitment to development has been largely and remains largely focused in Africa, including a regional office in Accra, which is directly managed by our President and CEO David Colvin. It is therefore on his behalf that I am very proud and privileged to introduce our founder, owner, and chairman, Dr. Lucie Phillips."

Bob Reschke introduced Dr. Phillips on behalf of President and CEO David Colvin. Dr. Phillips accepted the award.

Dr. Lucie Phillips:

"My colleagues at IBI and our President David Colvin are amazed and humbled by this honor. I guess it might comfort some small business founders here to know that when we started 20 years ago it was a small three-person office, myself and two interns, doing economic research. I guess we’ve come a long way. On the other hand, those of you who are starting out now, might take a little less comfort if you realize it could take 20 years together.

IBI’s growth spurt came when we won prime long-term projects in economic growth and economic governance, as Bob mentioned, working in Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. I have to say USAID is our absolute favorite client, and it’s because USAID understands the need for long-term teams overseas, present and able to solve problems – the ones that are originally assigned, and the ones that come as surprises. And the one that came as a big surprise to us was the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. So I just want to take a minute to thank our staff there who stayed on their ground and stood their ground, despite the pervasive fears the disease provoked; and to the home office operations and project management teams, that mobilized daily to support our 90 employees at the time in Liberia.

The field experts, both international and local, provided the moral and technical support to the Ebola response, in particular: information and communications technology (ICT) regional strategy; the local procurement management for UN procurement, which was a centralized procurement; vehicle fleet management, likewise for the entire effort under UN auspices; and support to the government as it tried to figure out what the impact was on the economy and society as well as on government finances.

"We small businesses now have an opportunity to show that we can manage ever larger and more complex projects."

I have just a couple thoughts for other small businesses that may be starting out the way I did 20 years ago. First is just focus on what you do well and do it well. Next, I think IBI’s success has come in equal parts from the outstanding leadership teams that we have put together and the diversity that they represent, and the fact that USAID has truly opened up opportunities for small businesses. We small businesses now have an opportunity to show that we can manage ever larger and more complex projects.

In our experience, IDIQs have been the gateway because of the fast-track contracting option that they represent for small businesses. So I want to say thank you to Mauricio [Vera, Director of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization] and to the USAID administration who changed the policies making the operations and Mauricio’s team possible, and the fact that Mauricio’s team has had a strategy and implemented it thoroughly is a guide for all of us and I hope you’ll join me in giving him a big thank you."

IBI is an international economic development consulting firm dedicated to providing insightful analysis and practical, timely solutions to challenges facing governments and companies. For any questions about this release, the award, or IBI, please contact Sarah Berg, Communications Manager, at

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