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.
I am very pleased to be here with you all today to launch Inform Asia, a health research program that will be implemented by our partners RTI International and the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre. We know that learning and knowledge-sharing are powerful accelerators of successful development, and in that way this activity will play an important role in helping us to achieve better health policy - and better health conditions - for the people of the region.
In my years as Mission Director of USAID in the Philippines, I have been a frequent visitor of Bohol, in work-related and personal capacities. I thoroughly enjoyed all those visits, not only because of Bohol’s unique attractions, but more importantly, the friendship and warm hospitality that the Boholanos offer. I’m sure I am not alone in feeling this way. I look forward to exploring your exhibit as I will surely discover new places that will persuade me to come back again. I may take advantage of the travel discounts myself.
I am pleased to be here with all of you today to launch the Professional Master’s Program in Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management of the University of the Philippines. Through this effort, the U.S. Government continues to strengthen local institutions such as universities to become key partners in coastal and marine biodiversity conservation.
First, I would like to thank our hosts, Ambassador Lena Nordstrom of Sweden and her entire team at SIDA and the Embassy. The United States and Sweden have a very robust partnership that is helping Africa accelerate growth and eliminate extreme poverty. In August, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Sweden committed to provide up to $1 billion in capital to the Power Africa initiative, which is focused on helping provide 30,000 more megawatts of cleaner energy to Africans. And, here in Zambia, SIDA and USAID jointly provide credit guarantees to the Zambia National Commercial Bank (“ZANACO”) to generate more than $9 million in lending to individuals and small businesses in the agricultural sector.
On behalf of the American people, thank you for allowing me to make brief remarks. A fundamental principle in democracy is that citizens have the right to demand accountability and that the government at all levels from the commune council to the national level including the Ministry of Education have an obligation to be accountable. Each and every appointed and elected official and civil servants are accountable for their conduct and performance.
I would like to commend our three partner cities—Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, and Iloilo—for entering into sister-city agreements among yourselves. I am encouraged by your initiative to share your learnings with each other and support each other’s initiatives.
Trade and investment have been powerful engines driving economic growth and reducing poverty in Vietnam. In the almost 20 years since the United States and Vietnam normalized diplomatic relations, U.S.-Vietnam two-way trade has grown from less than $500 million to over thirty-four billion dollars this year, in the process contributing to Vietnam’s dramatic reduction in poverty. Vietnam’s participation in the rules-based international trading system has also reinforced good governance and the rule of law.
I am honored to be here this afternoon in recognition of Cambodia’s National Day against Trafficking. I would like to recognize the Provincial Committee to Combat Human Trafficking who have worked closely with our partner – Winrock International – to make this event a reality. Too many Cambodians continue to be pushed into situations where they are easily exploited or trafficked. We need to recommit our collective energy to ensure those situations are a thing of the past.
I am pleased to join this important event today organized by the Ministry of Justice to receive social organizations and other stakeholders’ inputs on the draft Civil Code. This event follows lively discussions with the Ministry of Justice and social organizations on the draft civil code in Hanoi and Hai Phong recently. USAID’s Governance for Inclusive Growth Program is honored to support the Ministry of Justice’s efforts in identifying issues on citizens and organizations rights for inclusion in the draft Civil Code.
Nearly fifty years ago, when my grandfather in India dreamt of a better life for his children, he only had one choice to make. He emptied his entire retirement account and put my dad on a plane with a one-way ticket to the United States of America. Today, families around the world have more options—and that is a wonderful and hopeful reality.
But we still, as Americans, need to stand for something special. So when successive Republican and Democratic presidents call on us to lead the fight to end extreme poverty or advance our basic democratic values, it is in our national security and economic interest, but it also speaks volumes about who we are. On behalf of the entire team at the U.S. Agency for International Development, thank you for this honor.
Last updated: March 26, 2015