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.
Good morning Mandela Washington Fellows and other distinguished guests from across the region. It is a pleasure to welcome you to this second YALI Regional Conference in East Africa on behalf of USAID.
Private sector engagement has been an important component of USAID’s work since our founding in 1961. Of course, the nature and breadth of that work has deepened over time, evolving from a strategy focused on enabling the conditions of a robust market economy to one of mutually beneficial opportunities.
For example, today we work with private investors not simply because of the strategic capital they can deploy, but also because of the skills, knowledge, and experience investment brings to help developing countries grow. And investors are increasingly seeing opportunities in emerging markets such as those found across sub-Saharan Africa, and with good reason. It’s at this nexus of business and development opportunities that we can help achieve transformative progress
President Obama underscored the importance of our cooperation during his trip to Kenya last year when he said, “America partners with Kenya in areas where you’re making enormous progress …on access to power, where Kenya is developing clean energy that can reach more people; on the important issue of climate change, where Kenya’s recent goal to reduce its emissions has put it in the position of being a leader on the continent.”
I had the pleasure and good fortune to be there at the birth of Feed the Future early in President Obama’s first term, and it was born out of a vision that the agriculture sector should be one that enables people to thrive, and survive, and grow, and create, and build their communities and countries. And not the source of pain and hardship and hunger and inequality. And what you all are doing and what I just saw out there, for which I thank all of you and I want to thank the USAID team across a number of bureaus, is making that dream come alive. So it’s a wonderful thing to see, the amount of energy and creativity and dynamism.
Good evening. It is a pleasure to join you as we mark what I am sure will be an extraordinary partnership between Stanford, one of the world’s premier universities, and so many of the great innovators and entrepreneurs here tonight. The Stanford SEED Transformation Program will bring new growth and innovation to Kenya through the promotion of business development and management skills. It will bring Silicon Valley ingenuity and the expertise of Stanford’s leading business faculty to help businesses across East Africa expand. And, ultimately, it will bring jobs and greater prosperity across Africa.
The United States and India have a long and successful strategic partnership in the energy sector. In 2009, our governments held a Strategic Dialogue focusing on five pillars including energy and climate change.
One of the most significant outcomes of this Dialogue is our Partnership to Advance Clean Energy, or the “PACE” initiative, launched by President Obama and former Prime Minister Singh in November 2009. It remains the flagship program for clean energy between the United States and India.
The U.S. Government is a committed to partnering with Kenya in improving the agricultural sector. We support Kenya through President Obama’s global initiative, Feed the Future, which aims to reduce poverty and stunting by 20 percent through improved technologies in agriculture. The Feed the Future Kenya Innovation Engine activity accelerates private-sector investment by sharing investors’ risk in backing innovations that address food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty across Kenya.
We are at the starting point of the USAID-funded Feed the Future Asia Innovative Farmers Project. Over the next five years, the project will support South to South innovation and regional networks to bring proven technologies to smallholders in the region. In particular to countries that face the greatest threats to food security.
As graduates of a school of public policy – and one of the finest at that – you will have plenty of opportunities in front of you to seek personal pride, and to fulfill personal ambitions. But you will also have opportunities to leave the world a better place than you found it.
I hope you’ll remember that this is a privilege, and an extraordinary one at that. And I hope you’ll remember that there is something bigger than you out there, and that it’s worth pursuing.
Because, as it turns out, when you remove yourself from the equation a bit, and when you remember that everything really isn’t about you, that’s when you do your best work. And that’s when you can have a real impact on the world.
Honorable Minister, Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, It is an honor to address this gathering as you discuss the creation of a Right to Information bill designed to enhance citizens’ access to transparency and insight about their government. Any democracy requires that government officials be accountable to the citizens who elected them, and that accountability requires transparency.
Last updated: April 15, 2016