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.
As many of you know, under President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, USAID is the single largest bilateral donor to Ethiopia’s agriculture development agenda with over $50 million of annual assistance to the sector. Development of the coffee value chain is an important part of our program and one of the key export commodities we support under Feed-The-Future.
SCIP is a public private partnership between USAID, the ELMA Foundation and J.P. Morgan, in conjunction with South African Department of Basic Education, seeking to empower teachers to improve primary grade reading.
Demand for wildlife and wildlife products has dramatically increased in recent years, attracting criminal networks that have made the illicit wildlife economy a global challenge, rivaling trafficking in drugs, persons and weapons. Regrettably, wildlife trafficking can offer greater profits, lower risk of detection, and lower penalties than other illicit trade, and the profits are fueling transnational criminal activities, and even terrorism. At USAID, we believe that wildlife trafficking is not only a security and ethical issue, it is a threat to development. Because of linkages with transnational criminal networks, illicit wildlife trade undermines security and rule of law on which development depends. In regions that depend on wildlife for ecotourism, trafficking costs jobs, reduces incomes, and threatens investment. With 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases originating in wildlife, trafficking is also a global health issue. And we know that drastically reducing populations of keystone species such as elephants and tigers can disrupt delicate ecosystems on which local communities depend.
It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be here tonight on behalf of U.S. Ambassador Donald Booth and the American People. Ambassador Booth asked me to convey his sincere regrets and best wishes, in particular for Dr. Eleni Gebre-Madhin as she takes on new ventures. I am new to Ethiopia but I am well aware of the importance of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) for the business of agriculture and, ultimately, for development, and Dr. Eleni’s pioneering efforts to launch this important institution. Many farmers and producers have benefitted from the establishment of the ECX. Citing the example set by the ECX for markets in other countries around Africa, President Obama invited Dr. Eleni to the G8 Summit at Camp David in May of this year and the launch of the public-private New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. So it is a source of pride and satisfaction for me to be here and to be able to note USAID’s contribution beginning back in 2006 to help make the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange a reality in 2008.
In order to reach the scale and sustainability required to affect real change—to finally solve intractable problems in development—we have to overcome our remaining challenges and encourage a new era of private sector engagement in development. And all of us—businesses and development agencies—will have to take a new approach.
That food security is on the global agenda today seems normal. But it was just two years ago here in Iowa that I first introduced USAID’s Bureau of Food Security and discussed President Obama’s recently announced global food security initiative Feed the Future. It all felt so new at the time, because it was new. It represented a new model of development, which has, in many ways, come to define the way we work around the world today:
A model that advances a far deeper focus on science, technology and innovation to dramatically expand the realm of what is possible in development. A model that aligns resources behind comprehensive country plans developed and supported by policymakers, technical experts and stakeholders in developing countries. A model that engages far more broadly with private sector partners—putting behind us an old reluctance to work together, and engaging companies not as wellsprings of corporate charity, but as real partners with an interest in serving the needs of the most vulnerable. And a model that delivers more for developing countries, but demands far more as well.
That’s the guiding framework for Feed the Future, an initiative that has brought the U.S. Government together behind country-led plans that have made tough trade-offs and focused on specific regions, policies, crops and livestock with the greatest potential for fighting hunger and transforming economies. Three years later, it is high time we’ve taken stock of our progress and asked what we’ve achieved. We know there are many ways you can measure results in development, especially when you consider the comprehensive reach of Feed the Future. We know the first way is by measuring the number of people you’ve reached.
Programs like today’s Annual Meeting permit us to celebrate our successes. Indeed, the last two decades have been a validation of our work. There has been more progress in global development since the end of the Cold War than in any time in history. In the decade and a half since the mid-90s, real incomes have risen 60 percent across developing countries, infant mortality rates have plunged by a third, and primary school enrollment rates jumped nearly 15 percent.
The truth is—you are part of an incredible generation of young people. On campuses across the country and the world, you’re expressing a surge of interest in tackling global challenges, oversubscribing courses on public health, international education, global politics and development economics. And at USAID, we are working hard to support and engage this enthusiasm.
That is why it is my honor and privilege today to announce the Payne Fellowship Program, an extraordinary program that will honor the memory of Congressman Payne by supporting the next generation of leaders in global development. With two fellowships valued at up to $45,000 annually for two years, the program will provide opportunities throughout the students’ graduate studies, including two summer internships—the first working on international issues for a member of Congress and the second with an USAID mission overseas.; as well as consistent and supportive mentoring throughout the fellowship program and into early employment.
It’s a great pleasure and honor to be here to participate in the launch of a major new area of cooperation among the federal and regional ministries of health, the Ministry of Education, training institutions and USAID to strengthen human resources for health.
HANOI -- It is a great honor for me to be here on behalf of the U.S. Government and USAID to join you in opening this 8th Annual National Conference of Vietnam Public Health Association today.
Public health represents a major part of the United States Agency for International Development's global programs and we continue to be privileged to work with you here in Vietnam to address significant existing, emerging and re-emerging public health issues.
Last updated: March 26, 2015