April 9, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Edwin Macharia ’01, Kenyan political activist and associate partner with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, will deliver a talk titled “The State of Affairs in Kenya” Tuesday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Assembly Room of Amherst College’s Converse Hall. The event, which is sponsored by Amherst’s President’s Office, is free and open to the public.
Last year, Macharia mounted an ambitious political campaign as an opposition candidate for a seat in the Kenyan Parliament, representing the Kieni constituency in Nyeri, Kenya, but lost a hard-fought battle to an incumbent. (The elections, plagued by allegations of fraud, led to an extended period of violent political unrest in Kenya that was only recently resolved by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.) Part of what many consider a new generation of Kenyan leadership, Macharia hopes to one day bring to the government his combination of professional and academic excellence, international exposure and a fundamental understanding of the challenges facing ordinary citizens across his homeland.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Macharia came to Amherst in 1997, fulfilled his pre-med requirements and graduated in 2001 with a degree in biology, thinking early on in his career that he would become a physician. After shadowing a doctor in Kenya, however, Macharia realized that he could have a greater impact by getting involved in international development. After a stint at a top New York consulting firm, Macharia joined the Clinton Foundation—initially as a volunteer and subsequently as a staff member—and played a key role in building the organization’s presence across Eastern and Southern Africa and helping countries respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He then served as the first director of the Rural Initiative for the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative, overseeing programs across core countries that included Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Lesotho, the Dominican Republic and Papua New Guinea, as well as providing strategic advice to foundation teams in other countries around the world. During this same period, Macharia spearheaded the successful opening of the Clinton Foundation’s office in Kenya and helped facilitate former President Bill Clinton’s visit to the country in July 2005.
In 2006, Macharia was appointed the director of Agriculture for the Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative, a $100 million collaboration between the Clinton Foundation and the Hunter Foundation that aims to foster rural development in Rwanda and Malawi. Much of his time since then has been spent working to understand the challenges facing small-scale farmers in rural African communities and working with those communities and respective governments to develop creative new solutions. Following his run for parliament, he took his current position with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where he has helped lead the establishment of Dalberg’s Nairobi office and expansion across Africa, and served clients across the continent in strategic planning, implementation of new ventures, organizational design and development policy.
Macharia isn’t the only Amherst graduate involved in Kenyan politics; on Sunday, April 13, Uhuru Kenyatta, member of the Class of 1985, was named a deputy prime minister of the country’s new coalition government.