2015 Conference: Alison Eskesen


Profitability, sustainability and risk

10-12 August 2015


Sir John Crawford Memorial Address
Conference Scholarships


Ms Alison Eskesen
Director of Knowledge and Accountability, Grow Asia

Alison EskesenAlison Eskesen is a seasoned international development executive working 16 years at the intersection of development and finance. In over thirty countries worldwide, she has built a track record of measurable results by cultivating strategic partnerships among governments, private banks, foundations and impact investors.

Previously Alison was Director of Research and Programs at Impact Investment Shujog, where she oversaw the day-to-day operations and growth of Shujog. This included measuring the impact of organizations, providing leadership on the design and implementation of technical assistance programs, and contributing as a principal researcher on commissioned papers. Alison spent the majority of her career at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she mobilized domestic capital for local development projects by structuring and negotiating innovative financing mechanisms. She headed the business development team with a total portfolio of $2.8 billion. While at USAID Alison also created and managed development programs that strengthened urban governance and facilitated slum upgrading.

Alison has also traded fixed income securities, fundraised for a New York State non-government organization, and consulted for the United Nations Development Programme and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Alison holds a MA from Columbia University and a BA from Colgate University. She was also a Fulbright Scholar in Paraguay.

Grow Asia: A Multi-stakeholder Approach to Food Security

By 2050, a global population of 9 billion will demand 70% more food than is consumed today. Feeding this expanded population nutritiously and sustainably will require substantial improvements to the global food system—one that provides livelihoods for farmers as well as nutritious products for consumers. To achieve on-the-ground improvements, the World Economic Forum launched the Grow Africa and the Grow Asia partnerships.

Grow Asia, launched in April 2015, is a partnership among leading companies, national governments and civil society to enable sustainable and inclusive agricultural development in South East Asia. The partnership facilitates multi-stakeholder collaboration to develop the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers and to improve the environmental sustainability of agriculture. Smallholder farmers—men and women—dominate the ASEAN agricultural landscape. Farming on less than 2 hectares of land, they have low productivity and declining annual growth rates. They face changing weather patterns and volatile commodity prices, with low access to technology, information and markets. Additionally, the unique ecosystems in ASEAN like the Mekong Delta and the rainforests of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Borneo are under threat from population pressure, increasing resource demand as well as pollution and degradation.

Raising more people out of poverty, reducing hunger and securing nutritious food for all, while ensuring the natural environment is protected, requires a step change in smallholder agriculture. It necessitates joint efforts and a new commitment from companies, governments, NGOs, researchers and farmers. Grow Asia is a partnership to facilitate this needed and ongoing collaboration at the scale necessary to address food security.