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Sunday, June 22, 2008

You Ought to Know:Eleni Gabre-Madhin

Another woman who believes in using the power of the capital markets to engage in social change.

Economist Eleni Gabre-Madhin has ambitious vision -- to found the first commodities market in Ethiopia, bringing rates and standards (not to mention trading systems, warehousing and data centers) to the trade of crops.

Gabre-Madhin left her earlier job, as a World Bank senior economist in Washington, DC, in part because she was disturbed by the 2002 famine in Ethiopia -- after a bumper crop of maize the year before. With prices depressed, many farmers simply left their grain in the field in 2001. But when the rains failed in 2002, a famine of 1984 proportions threatened the country. Her dream: to build a market that protects the African farmer, who is too often living at the mercy of forces beyond his or her control.

The director of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Madhin studies market reforms, market institutions, and structural transformation in Africa, and works to create "a world free of hunger and malnutrition."

If you have 20 minutes, here s the speech she gave at TED ( Technology, Entertainment, Design)- The annual conference brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

It isn't a panacea, but it is a tool that is often overlooked. Governments can't fix everything and incompetent government officials often make things much worse. The International Food Policy Research Institute works towards developing sustainable solutions to world hunger.