News / Africa

Ethiopian Banker Leads Development Agency for Obama Administration

As chief of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Daniel Yohannes, is the highest ranking Ethiopian American in Obama's government.

Daniel Yohannes -CEO-Millennium Development Corporation
Daniel Yohannes -CEO-Millennium Development Corporation

Multimedia

Audio

An Ethiopian immigrant is making history as the highest Ethiopian-American official in the Obama administration.
 
Daniel Yohannes was born in the Ethiopian capital.  He completed his elementary school at Addis Ababa’s Nativity Boy’s School and later transferred to St. Joseph’s, a prestigious Catholic high school in Addis Ababa.
 
“In those days people of my generation were idealistic, full of energy, with a lot of love for each other, as well as love and respect for our parents, elders, and teachers,” Yohannes says.

“Growing up in Ethiopia, we had a wonderful awareness of our country as well as the world.  We were more advanced in some ways than most teenagers today,” he says.
 
Go west, young man
 

In 1970, the 17-year-old Yohannes came to the United States and settled in Los Angeles, California.  After completing high school, he pursued his undergraduate studies at Claremont McKenna College and went to graduate School at Pepperdine University, where he obtained his MBA.
 
Of his time in California, Yohannes says the first few years were difficult.  With no car he had to walk two to three hours a day trying to be on time for both classes and work.
 
With an undergraduate degree in economics and a graduate degree in finance, Yohannes was finally ready to plunge into the world of banking.  He worked his way up to vice chairman of the sixth largest bank in the United States, U.S. Bank, which has assets close to $260 billion.
 
For many this would have been success enough.  Not so for Daniel Yohannes.  Taking an early retirement from the bank in 2003, he co-founded one of the first “green” banks in the United States, one that specialized in funding companies creating non-polluting technologies in northern California.  Observers point out that Yohannes “went green” before the movement became fashionable.

Making a difference globally
 
The MCC was created in 2004 with a mission to reduce poverty through long-term economic growth.  According to Yohannes, the MCC was created based on best practices learned in the last four decades from other U.S. development agencies.

Mr. Yohannes and President of Benin Thomas Yayi Boni
Mr. Yohannes and President of Benin Thomas Yayi Boni

The MCC is very innovative in terms of its approach.  “We work with countries that have implemented good social-economic policies and are accountable for their own growth,” says Yohannes.
  
As chief executive officer of the MCC, Yohannes says he now has an opportunity to make a positive difference globally.
   
MCC equals good governance
 
Yohannes says the MCC, which has more than $7 billion available for grants, forms partnerships with some of the world’s poorest countries. But only those that invest in their citizens and are committed to good governance and to economic freedom make the cut.

MCC Ceo Daniel Yohannes (center left) greeting ambassadors from around the world
MCC Ceo Daniel Yohannes (center left) greeting ambassadors from around the world

Nineteen countries have entered poverty-reduction “compacts” with the organization, 12 of which are from Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal and Tanzania. Together, they account for over $5 billion available for projects aimed at promoting growth.
 
Yohannes tells about some of the successes.  Ghana, he points out, is making commercial agriculture more profitable and reduce the cost of transporting food from rural areas to markets.  In Lesotho, the MCC is helping the children of HIV-positive mothers live long and healthy lives by renovating health care centers and establishing clinics to distribute anti-retroviral medicines.  And in Burkina Faso, 400 classrooms have been built exclusively for girls.
 
“I’m confident that MCC’s antipoverty partnership worldwide will generate sustainable economic growth and opportunity, and this is fundamental to enhancing our collective security and common humanity for a more prosperous, peaceful world,” Yohannes told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearings.
 
Supporters say with the vast experience in the private sector that he brings to the MCC, Yohannes is well positioned to help boost African businesses and national economies.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid