The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Mimi Juggles the Globe

(Page 3 of 8)

As an African woman in a high profile position, can you describe the current landscape for women in general and African women in particular as far as career opportunities available to them?

When I was on the Board of the African Development Bank, I was the only woman and I served with 17 men. While some things have changed for women, many things have not. When I returned to Washington in 2010, President Obama also nominated me to be on the Board of the African Development Foundation, where I was once again the only woman on that Board. Today there are still very few women serving on the boards of Fortune 100, Fortune 500 companies. What that means is that we are not making the best use of 50 percent of our talent. One of my favorite quotes is from Christine Lagarde who said if Lehman Brothers behaved more like Lehman Sisters, things might have turned out differently for the bank. We have a way to go on this issue.

You previously served as the United States Executive Director at the African Development Bank and in that role you were the most senior US Treasury official in Africa. What are some of the highlights of the time you spent at the African Development Bank? What were some of the challenges?

The highlights were the projects we approved that created thousands of jobs and improved lives in Africa. We approved a modern highway construction project in Senegal and multiple power projects and port projects. I have tremendous respect for my friend Donald Kaberuka who has been a great leader of the institution.

The challenge was making sure that the African people were involved at every level in their own development agenda. It often surprised me that NGOs in the Western world had more to say than local groups about projects taking place in Africa. Too often, the African voice is lost or discounted. We have to build stronger civil society in Africa that can speak adequately on behalf of their people.

Your organization, OPIC, the US Government's Development Finance Institution, manages over $16 billion in financing and insurance in support of private sector investment in emerging markets. What are the specific emerging markets that your organization targets and which sectors? How are the regions and sectors determined for investment by OPIC?

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