The Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) is a success. It is a company wholly-owned by the people of the United Kingdom which has been investing in businesses in developing countries since 1948.
One such investment is in Abacus Parenteral Drugs, a manufacturer of intravenous fluids and sterile water in Uganda, which also exports to Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. It competes on quality and price with imports. The company employs 688 people. It provides educational benefits to staff so that their children can attend school; it also offers university scholarships to people from poor backgrounds.
In Pakistan, CDC has invested in Beaconhouse School System which runs a network of 144 schools for 84,000 students from varying sociology-economic backgrounds. 70pc of the 11,400 staff are women.
In Bangladesh, 12,000 people, of whom 51pc are women, work for Ananta Apparels in which CDC has invested £6m. Ananta manufactures ready-made garments, an industry which is of considerable importance to Bangladesh and has led to great improvements in the lives of millions.
For developing countries to stop depending on aid, businesses such as these have to grow so that they can both create vital jobs and pay the taxes needed to pay for health, education and other public services.
CDC currently has investments in 1126 businesses in 74 countries in South America, Africa and Asia. These companies employ about 976,000 people and, last year, paid some £2.5 billion in taxes to their governments.
Since 2003, CDC's investments have brought profits of £1.6 billion, all of which is reinvested. Not one pound of additional UK taxpayer's money has been used for more than a decade and yet the total value of CDCs holdings has increased from £1 billion to £2.6 billion.
In recent years, CDC has invested through funds rather than directly in companies. It has also done much less in agriculture than in its early days when it was responsible for developing large-scale plantations of tea, sugar and other crops, many of which are still prospering.
Since investment in agriculture - whether in smallholders or larger farms - brings increased food security and opportunities for work, it is important that CDC returns to this if it is to meet its goal of creating jobs and tackling poverty.
Last year, the International Development Committee, of which I am a member, recommended that CDC should concentrate on areas of the world with the highest concentration of poor people - Africa and Asia. It also wanted to see more direct investments in businesses so that CDC works more closely with individual companies; and it stressed the importance of agriculture, which has been neglected.
As CDC starts to put these recommendations into effect, we should see it supporting the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs in developing countries; and the taxes paid by these businesses will bring closer the time when their governments no longer need external aid. CDC's contribution to the UK's international development programme is largely unseen. But, as it supports more businesses such as Abacus, Beaconhouse and Ananta, it is increasingly important.