Dr. Rajiv Shah led the efforts of nearly 10,000 staff in more than 70 countries around the world to advance USAID’s mission of ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies.
Under Dr. Shah’s leadership, USAID applied innovative technologies and engaged the private sector to solve the world’s most intractable development challenges. This new model of development brings together an increasingly diverse community—from large companies to local civil society groups to communities of faith—to deliver meaningful results.
Dr. Shah led President Obama’s landmark Feed the Future and Power Africa initiatives and has refocused America’s global health partnerships to end preventable child death. Feed the Future, alone, has improved nutrition for 12 million children and empowered more than 7 million farmers with climate-smart tools they need to grow their way out of extreme poverty. In April 2014, USAID launched the U.S. Global Development Lab to harness the expertise of the world’s brightest scientists, students, and entrepreneurs. At the same time, the newly formed Private Capital Group for Development forges a more strategic relationship between private capital and development.
Dr. Shah also managed the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to catastrophic crises around the world, from the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Through an extensive set of reforms called “USAID Forward,” Dr. Shah worked with the United States Congress to transform USAID into the world’s premier development Agency that prioritizes public-private partnerships, innovation, and meaningful results. He currently serves on the boards of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as participates on the National Security Council.
Previously, Dr. Shah served as Undersecretary and Chief Scientist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, he spent eight years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he led efforts in global health, agriculture, and financial services, including the creation of the International Finance Facility for Immunization.
He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and the Wharton School of Business. He regularly appears in the media and has delivered keynote addresses before the U.S. Military Academy, the National Prayer Breakfast, and diverse audiences across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Dr. Shah was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He has served as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, been named to Fortune’s 40 Under 40, and has received multiple honorary degrees.
He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Shivam Mallick Shah and three children and has given up mountain climbing for family bicycle rides.
It is a pleasure to see you all here today and thank you for coming to the closing event of USAID’s TransACTION project. I am also pleased to have this opportunity to share a few thoughts on our partnership in the fight against HIV and AIDS and what we have accomplished with the project. TransACTION was USAID’s flagship project—funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—for HIV prevention here in Ethiopia. The project has been working hard to prevent new HIV and sexually transmitted infections and to strengthen linkages to care and support services in 119 towns. It has largely been successful in doing so.
I am delighted to join you at today’s rollout of the Agri-Nutrition Resource Manual for Trainers. USAID is proud to have partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health to create a toolkit that helps rural Kenyans improve their nutrition and resiliency. Healthier people are better able to adapt to survive periods of drought or famine. For 50 years, the United States has partnered with the Government of Kenya to reach our joint development objectives. This is one more example of how we can work together to realize a better future.
I am excited to see how USAID is supporting Kenyans as you strive to improve your communities, your health and your quality of life. This water distribution system, built by Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company in a densely populated urban neighborhood is a great example of how USAID is supporting Kenyan-led development.
I am delighted to join you at this launch of a new series of training that could propel some of you to political office.
Thank you for inviting me to join you in celebrating the leadership, talent, potential and promise of Kenyan women.
For decades, USAID has been leading global efforts to achieve gender equality – believing that long-term, sustainable development will only be possible when women and men enjoy equal opportunity to rise to their potential.
It is a pleasure to be with you today to celebrate the launch of Wezesha Project. Wezesha Project is a USAID partnership with Lifeskills Promoters, and its partners, St Johns’ Community Center and Christian Partnership on AIDS in Kenya, to coordinate the sustainable care of 20,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Homa Bay, Kisii, and Migori Counties.
With support from the Lab, we will ensure that this story—of solutions rigorously tested and applied on a transformational scale—increasingly defines how America works around the world. As we do, our students will have greater opportunities to develop math and science skills—and lend those skills in service of mission bigger and greater than themselves.
Our entrepreneurs will form connections in the markets of the future. And all of us will be inspired by the contributions we can each bring to the task of ending extreme poverty.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, awarded a grant to KUSCCO as part of an open competition for innovative solutions to overcome distribution and financing bottlenecks in the Kenyan cook stove sector, two key constraints to growth noted in recent market assessments by Winrock and the Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves.
With those opening comments, I just want to say thank you to all of you who have made it your life's work to help fight hunger and poverty around the world. I wish more people around the world—certainly in the United States Congress, but also all around the world—saw that your efforts are in fact succeeding, and that over time, if we all make the right decisions, if we all continue to work together, and if we are all blessed by the kind of leadership like we see here in Rome right now—that we can achieve the end of extreme poverty within the next two decades. Wouldn’t that create a more stable more productive world for all of us to live and prosper in?
There is no one model for successful PPPs in general or in support of innovation in engineering education in particular. But many of Vietnam's challenges and the principles I've described at least begin to be addressed by the very effort to form alliances of government, business and educational institutions. We can make a contribution just by trying, and USAID is enthusiastic about trying.
Last updated: March 26, 2015