History and Mission

IESC was established in 1964 at the initiative of entrepreneurs and philanthropists David Rockefeller and Sol Linowitz, who saw the need for American business leaders to provide technical and managerial advice to developing countries. An all-volunteer corps that viewed private enterprise development as a tool of diplomacy, IESC complemented the efforts of USAID and the Peace Corps, both founded just three years earlier.

In June 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced the launch of IESC in the White House Rose Garden, in the company of representatives of prestigious American businesses such as Xerox, Time, CBS, and General Dynamics. In his speech, Johnson said that “the preservation of the free world may well depend on our success in seeing economic development succeed.” Since then IESC has been committed to the idea that private enterprise is the cornerstone of strong communities and strong societies.


We apply private sector solutions around the world to improve standards of living, create and preserve jobs, and help enterprises grow.  We strive to leave behind sustainable businesses, robust institutions, knowledgeable and skilled people, and thriving communities.

We have worked in 130 countries, designing, implementing, managing and evaluating a wide range of projects and programs. Founded as a strictly volunteer organization, IESC has evolved and now uses a mix of passionate volunteer experts, paid consultants, and staff for its work.

Over our 50 year history, we have adapted to shifting global dynamics and the often challenging environments in which we operate.

  • In the 1970s, we strengthened young businesses for an Asian miracle
  • In the 1980s, we broadened private sector participation in Latin America
  • In the 1990s, we helped to bridge a free-market transition in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
  • In the 2000s, we supported Africa's rapid growth by improving exports for small and medium businesses and facilitating technology use
  • Today, we are working to support private enterprise development and a build stronger agricultural sector in post-war Afghanistan.