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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid