For some, international development is a walk on the wild side. For Bill Grant, it is the family business. His family has been involved in international health and economic development for more than 120 years. His great-grandfather built the first major hospital in Ningpo, China, in the 1880s; his grandfather was the first doctor of public health in China in the 1920s; and his father was an architect of the U.S. Government’s foreign assistance programs in the 1950s and 1960s, before helping to lead the United Nations Children’s Fund to its current position in the world of international development.

“There is little that is more powerful than watching 30 village women sitting under a mango tree managing their own savings and credit using simple techniques that do not require written records or outside funding, and are so easily replicable that millions of poor, illiterate women are now able to participate in financial intermediation.”

So it is not surprising that Bill followed in the family footsteps and joined the Peace Corps in 1978. After spending nearly four years in the Central African Empire/Republic running a regional community development program and two years in Burundi working with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Bill saw that development was changing from a predominantly government-driven process to one in which the private sector would play an increasing role in bringing economic benefits to the poor.

So in 1984, after driving his motorcycle across Africa, he enrolled in Stanford Business School. He joined DAI in 1986 and has been focused on bringing new models of market-led, sustainable economic development to bear around the world. Over the years he has worked in 50 countries, including 35 in Africa. He has played an important role in the development and application of subsector and value chain approaches and is currently leading numerous programs applying the Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approach for private and international donors.

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