Leadership & Council

Campaign Executive Committee

Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank

Muhammad Yunus was born in 28th June, 1940 in the village of Bathua, in Hathazari, Chittagong, the business centre of what was then Eastern Bengal. He was the third of 14 children of whom five died in infancy. His father was a successful goldsmith who always encouraged his sons to seek higher education. But his biggest influence was his mother, Sufia Khatun, who always helped any poor that knocked on their door. This inspired him to commit himself to eradication of poverty. His early childhood years were spent in the village. In 1947, his family moved to the city of Chittagong, where his father had the jewelry business.

In 1974, Professor Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist from Chittagong University, led his students on a field trip to a poor village. They interviewed a woman who made bamboo stools, and learnt that she had to borrow the equivalent of 15p to buy raw bamboo for each stool made. After repaying the middleman, sometimes at rates as high as 10% a week, she was left with a penny profit margin. Had she been able to borrow at more advantageous rates, she would have been able to amass an economic cushion and raise herself above subsistence level.

Realizing that there must be something terribly wrong with the economics he was teaching, Yunus took matters into his own hands, and from his own pocket lent the equivalent of 17 to 42 basket-weavers. He found that it was possible with this tiny amount not only to help them survive, but also to create the spark of personal initiative and enterprise necessary to pull themselves out of poverty.

Against the advice of banks and government, Yunus carried on giving out ‘micro-loans’, and in 1983 formed the Grameen Bank, meaning ‘village bank’ founded on principles of trust and solidarity. In Bangladesh today, Grameen has 1,084 branches, with 12,500 staff serving 2.1 million borrowers in 37,000 villages. On any working day Grameen collects an average of $1.5 million in weekly installments. Of the borrowers, 94% are women and over 98% of the loans are paid back, a recovery rate higher than any other banking system. Grameen methods are applied in projects in 58 countries, including the US, Canada, France, The Netherlands and Norway.

John Hatch, Founder, FINCA International

Dr. John Hatch is the founder of FINCA and the creator of Village Banking—a unique and influential method for delivering small loans, savings, and other financial services to the poor worldwide.

During his early career, Hatch served with the Peace Corps in Colombia, and as a regional director in Peru. As a graduate student, he won a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Peru, where he spent two crop cycles as a hired laborer working for subsistence farmers and documenting their agricultural practices.

In his work with the rural poor, Hatch found that most credit programs were administered by outside experts. This management style resulted in poor repayment rates and low morale among borrowers. Believing that the poor lacked neither ambition nor skill, but simply resources, in 1984, John created the Village Banking method. This method allowed the poor to obtain loans without collateral—their main obstacle to accessing credit—at interest rates they could afford. It brought neighbors together in groups, giving them the collective power to disburse, invest, and collect loan capital as they saw fit. The results among FINCA’s earliest clients were improved earnings and family nutrition, high repayment rates, and increased empowerment.

When Hatch began lending to women, he saw the tremendous potential of Village Banking as an anti-poverty tool: “Our focus on women was the result of a growing conviction that the fastest way to affect the welfare of children was through aid to their mothers,” said Hatch.

Over 22 years with FINCA, Hatch served as president, and as chief of party for programs in El Salvador and Guatemala; he retired as FINCA’s director of research in 2006. Today, the organization he founded reaches half a million families in 21 countries with small loans, insurance, savings programs, and other services. Hatch continues as a FINCA board member, advisor, speaker, lecturer, and fundraiser. He is continuing his research on the impact of Village Banking and is active in FINCA’s annual student symposium and research awards competition.

Throughout his career, Hatch supported efforts to promote microcredit worldwide. Since founding FINCA in 1984, he has shared his Village Banking methodology with numerous nongovernmental organizations. As a result, today there are hundreds of Village Banking programs worldwide. Hatch is also co-founder of the Global Microcredit Summit.

Chief Bisi Ogunleye, Chair, Country Women Association of Nigeria

Chief Bisi is a pioneer in the economic empowerment of women, a gifted advocate for their full participation in policy and decision making, and a long-time leader in the fight to free her country from poverty, hunger, malnutrition, environmental degradation and injustice. For nearly two decades she has been promoting the active involvement of Africans in development issues that affect them.

A hands-on activist, Chief Bisi’s strength is derived from a firm foundation in the villages of Africa, and the committed partnership of her late husband, Peter Adeleke Ogunleye. She began helping women organize themselves by donating one month’s salary to a group of rural women to use as seed money to start their own business. The repaid loan was reinvested in other groups until, in 1982, Chief Bisi founded the Country Women Association of Nigeria (COWAN) with six cooperatives of 150 members.

Today COWAN has over 1,390 groups and 31,000 active members across eight states of Nigeria. It is known for its women-designed programs in credit, agriculture and small business development. In 1993 COWAN incorporated into its program the Centre for Development and Self-Help Activities (CEDSHA), created by Peter Ogunleye in support of youth and rural women. In 1994, in partnership with the international organization CEDPA (Center for Development and Population Activities), COWAN began an integrated health and family planning project designed to reach 3.5 million women in Ondo State.

Through COWAN, Chief Bisi established NARWA: the Network of African Rural Women Associations. An articulate spokesperson in the international community, she also currently serves as co-chair of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, and is one of eight women on the 20-member United Nations Earth Council.

Chief Bisi’s inspired leadership grows out of her tenacity and vision, long before it was fashionable, that rural women possess the desire, capability and commitment to work to improve their own lives and their communities.

Soraya Rodriguez Ramos, Former Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation

Born in 1963 in Valladolid, and mother of two children. Studied Law at the University of Valladolid, where she specialised in European Community Law. After passing a civil service exam, she became a Legal Adviser of the Local Administration, and has taught at the University School of Labour Relations.

Committed from a very young age to social policy issues, the environment and women’s rights, she has worked as a lawyer and legal adviser at the Shelter for Abused Women of the Valladolid City Council, and has been the Director of the City Council’s Women’s Centre.

Elected Member of the European Parliament (1999 – 2004), she has been Vice-Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and a member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, among others.

Elected Member of the Spanish Parliament for Valladolid in 2004, she was Spokeswoman for the Socialist Group in the Joint Committee for the European Union. Re-elected at the General Elections in 2008, she has been, among other positions, Spokeswoman for the Socialist Parliamentary Group at the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries, and at the Joint Committee for the European Union.

During this period, she played an active role in drafting bills and in debating and passing environmental laws that are important for the general interest: the Act on the Right to Information, Participation and Environmental Justice; the Environmental Liability Act; the Forests Act; the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Act; the National Parks Act; and the Act on the Sustainable Development of the Rural Environment. All this reflects a Spanish national policy for progress in rural areas.

At the elections to Valladolid City Council in 2007, she was elected Chair of and Spokeswoman for the Socialist Municipal Group.

She has held different positions in the local, regional and federal bodies of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), of which she has been a member from the age of eighteen. In 2008 she was elected Secretary for the Environment and Rural Development of the PSOE Federal Executive Committee.

In July 2008, she was appointed, by the President of the Government, Secretary of State for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and President of the AECID, positions which she currently holds. AECID will manage, in 2011, a total budget of 1.13 billion Euros. AECID’s human resources comprise 1,303 workers, half of them working abroad.

Since her appointment, she has visited more than 40 of the world’s most underprivileged countries in which Spanish Cooperation is active. Her presence has been especially significant in Latin America and Africa, and in countries afflicted by wars or natural disasters—from Gaza to Haiti, from Nicaragua to Mali, Congo or Sudan. Throughout these years, she has had an unflagging presence and participation in international agencies and conferences.

José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs is Assistant-Director General for Policy at the ILO

José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Assistant-Director General for Policy, International Labour Organization

Mr. José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs is Assistant-Director General for Policy at the ILO since February, 2013, with oversight over a wide range of ILO issues including employment, enterprise development, social protection, working conditions and research, as part of the Office of the Deputy Director General for Policy, and a Member of the ILO Senior Management Team.

Before that and since August 2005, he was Executive Director for Employment with global responsibility for the employment related work of the ILO in areas such as employment policy development; sustainable enterprises; skills and employability; labour market analysis; employment services; labour market information and trends; employment-intensive investments; social finance; informal economy; trade and employment; green jobs; rural employment; youth employment; gender and employment; disability; response to conflicts and disasters and employment recovery and Global Jobs Pact.

From 1998 to 2005, Mr. Salazar-Xirinachs was Director of the Office of Trade, Growth and Competitiveness at the Organization of American States (OAS) supporting the countries of the Americas in their negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

From 1997 to 1998, Mr. Salazar-Xirinachs was Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, a period that included Costa Rica’s Chairmanship of the FTAA process. From 1994 to 1997, he served as Executive Director of the Federation of Private Entities of Central America and Panama (FEDEPRICAP) and, from 1990 to 1994, as the Federation’s Chief Economist. He was also a Member of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Costa Rica from 1995 to 1997. From 1988 to 1990, he was Executive President of the Costa Rican Development Corporation.

Mr. Salazar-Xirinachs has a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. He has taught at the Universities of Costa Rica; the National University of Heredia, Costa Rica; Cambridge University, United Kingdom, England; and Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

He is the author of numerous journal articles on development, trade, and competitiveness policies and has written and edited several books, including Towards Free Trade in the Americas (Brookings Institution, 2001), Promoting Sustainable Enterprises (ILO, 2008), Trade and Employment: From Myths to Facts (ILO, 2011). He was a member of the Advisory Panel for the 2010 Human Development Report (UNDP, New York), a member of the Board of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (Geneva), and a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Trade and Financial Architecture Project chaired by President Ernesto Zedillo.

Director’s Advisory Group

Dr. Steven D. Funk, Chair

Dr. Steven Funk is a dedicated philanthropist and father after 30 years working as an entrepreneur in a private equity universe. He is the founder and current or former controlling shareholder of Aspen Properties Ltd., Imperial Parking Ltd., Imperial Parking (Hong Kong) Ltd., Canadian Maple Leaf Financial Corporation, and the Canadian Maple Leaf Fund Management group. He also owns and oversees a 100,000 acre environment rainforest asset in Central America. Today, Dr. Funk manages his private investment group, Funk Partners through Funk Holdings Ltd. Dr. Funk was an anatomy professor, has a master’s and doctoral degree, and pursued a career in oral surgery when he took a one year sabbatical that became “the rest is history.” He has built 5 operating interests in 3 different countries to leadership status. His philanthropic endeavors emphasize women’s empowerment and microfinance initiatives, and are currently focused on East Africa. Dr. Funk is the founder of the recently acclaimed Race4Change.org initiative, a founding director of Unitus, founding financial associate of Unitus Capital, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Microcredit Summit, and through Race4Change, a supporter of Kiva, Women’s World Banking, and Jamii Bora. Steven is an explorer and adventurer, a racing driver, a pilot, water and snow skier, and loves to read – all seriously relegated to making his short race through life be a Race4Change, and a positive impact for the world we all inherited.

Ian Callaghan, Senior Director of Investments, Omidyar Network, UK

Ian Callaghan brings nearly 20 years of expertise – as a business owner, consultant and banker – to the areas of SME finance, microfinance and social finance. His particular specialism is in the provision of such finance in remote areas and developing countries.

Working independently or in partnership with one or more associates, this consultancy can offer a range of services in the areas of fundraising, strategic and management advice, and research, speaking and writing.

Clients and potential clients include other consultancies and advisers, microfinance institutions, investment vehicles, philanthropic and commercial investors, CSR managers, and universities and business schools.

William Price, Proprietor, Classic Wines LLC, USA

William S. “Bill” Price, III is a co-founder and partner emeritus of TPG Capital, LP (formerly Texas Pacific Group), a private equity fund founded in 1992 with over $30 billion in assets under management. TPG deals include Burger King, Oxford Insurance, Ducati motorcycles, Punch Taverns Group, Del Monte Foods, Petco, J. Crew, Continental Airlines, Gemplus, Grohe and Seagate. TPG has owned various wine industry assets including Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, St. Clement, Meridian, Stags Leap Winery and wineries in China and Turkey.

Bill left TPG in 2007 to focus on pursuing his passion in the wine business. He owns Durell Vineyards with 150 acres of pinot noir, chardonnay and syrah in Sonoma County. He founded Three Sticks Winery in 2002 and bought stakes in Buccella and Kistler Vineyards. He is a founder of The Vincraft Group, a winery acquisition fund which purchased interests in Kosta Browne Winery and Gary Farrell. Prior to forming Texas Pacific Group, Mr. Price was Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development for GE Capital and an attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Mr. Price serves as board chairman for Common Sense Media and the Gladstone Institutes Foundation Board. He also serves on the boards of the California Academy of Sciences, the California Mentor Foundation, the Dignity Fund, and Justgive.com

Jack Lowe, Chairman Co-Founder, Avenir Global Investment Advisors S.A, Switzerland

Jack has over 40 years’ experience as an entrepreneur and as a business developer, both as a business owner and investment banker. Jack began his career in the Asia-Pacific Region in 1968 as a crude oil sales and logistics manager. A Japanese speaker, he then was recruited in 1969 to open the McKinsey and Co. consulting office in Tokyo with Japanese colleagues.

After coming to Switzerland in 1974, he started several franchising businesses (McDonalds and Midas) , and in 1986, upon the sale of these businesses, became a shareholder of Montgomery Securities. Upon the sale of Montgomery to Bank of America in 1997, he acquired several medium-sized businesses, which he now controls, mostly in emerging markets. In addition to these interests, Jack was CEO of Blue Orchard Finance from 2004 to end-2008. Blue Orchard, under his guidance, increased its assets from 60million USD to nearly 1 billion during his tenure, to become the largest private sector player in the microfinance field.

In 2011 Jack created, with Vincent Oswald, the Azure Partnership, which will manage and advise funds of funds in microfinance on a global scale.

Jack is a Swiss national, lives in Geneva Canton, and speaks several languages. He is a graduate of Stanford University, MBA 1965.

Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President, Women’s World Banking, USA

Mary Ellen Iskenderian is President and CEO of Women’s World Banking (WWB), the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions and banks. Ms. Iskenderian leads the WWB global team, based in New York, in providing hands-on technical services and strategic support to 39 top-performing microfinance institutions and banks in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. WWB’s network members consistently rate among the top three microfinance institutions in their countries and 82 percent of their clients are poor women entrepreneurs.

Ms. Iskenderian, who joined WWB in 2006, has more than 20 years of experience in building global financial systems throughout the developing world. Ms. Iskenderian is a leading voice for women’s leadership and participation in microfinance, and a strong advocate for the role of capital markets in the sector.

Prior to WWB, Ms. Iskenderian worked for 17 years in senior management at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, where her numerous leadership positions included Director of Partnership Development, Director of the Global Financial Markets Portfolio and Director of the South Asia Regional Department. Previously, she worked for the investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Ms. Iskenderian is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Board of Kashf Microfinance Bank in Pakistan. She holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in International Economics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Nick O’Donohoe, CEO, Big Society Capital, UK

Nick O’Donohoe is Chief Executive Officer of Big Society Capital, the UKs Social Investment Bank. Prior to his appointment to this role in July 2011 he acted as an advisor to HMG in developing the blueprint for this institution. From 1996 he worked at JP Morgan and served as Global Head of Research from 2002 until the end of end of 2010. He was a member of the Management Committee of JP Morgan Investment Bank and the Executive Committee of JP Morgan Chase. He was also responsible for supervising the firms Social Finance group and led research studies on Microfinance and Impact Investing as an Asset Class.

Before joining JP Morgan Nick worked 13 years at Goldman Sachs.

He holds a BA from Trinity College Dublin and an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.