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



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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs