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The Natural Effort to Better One’s Conditions

NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

19 Washington Square North, New York, NY 10011

NYU Africa House, NYU CTED and NYU Abu Dhabi Institute co-presented a lecture entitled, “The Natural Effort to Better One’s Conditions”

Date: Tuesday, June 11th

Time: 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (followed by light reception)

Location: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute 19 Washington Square North, New York, NY 10010


Prof. Iqbal Z. Quadir, Founder & Director of MIT’s Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship

Prof. Yaw Nyarko, NYU Professor of Economics; Director, NYU Africa House; Co-Director, Development Research Institute; Director, Center for Technology & Economic Development (CTED), NYU Abu Dhabi


Prof. Iqbal Z. Quadir

Iqbal Z. Quadir is a long-time champion of the critical role of entrepreneurship and innovations in creating prosperity in low-income countries. He is an accomplished entrepreneur who, 20 years ago, saw the potential of mobile technology to transform low-income countries.

Quadir realized in the early 1990s that the ensuing digital revolution could facilitate the introduction of telephone access throughout Bangladesh, including its rural areas. To make this vision a reality, he established a New York-based company, Gonofone Development Corp (meaning “phones for the masses” in Bengali), and assembled a global consortium of Gonofone, micro-credit pioneer Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, and Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor to create Grameenphone. Grameenphone is now Bangladesh’s leading telecommunications operator providing access to over 35 million subscribers irrespective of their geographic location or economic standing.

From 2001-2004, Quadir was a Fellow and Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, focusing on the democratizing effects of technologies in low-income countries. He co-founded the journal Innovations (MIT Press) and, in 2005, moved to MIT where he founded the Legatum Center in 2007. Quadir founded Emergence BioEnergy to produce decentralized energy, and in 2010 co-founded Money in Motion, a start-up company to provide mobile phone-based banking services. He sits on the Advisory Council of the World Wide Web Foundation.

Quadir’s work and thinking has been cited in nearly 30 books and profiled in publications including The Economist, The New York Times, and The Financial Times. His writing has been published in The Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Science, Nature, and The Wall Street Journal. He received the prestigious Science, Education and Economic Development award in Bangladesh and was listed as one of 125 Influential People and Ideas for the 125-year celebration of the Wharton School in 2006. He is the recipient of the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Swarthmore College (2011), the honorary Doctor of Science from Case Western Reserve University (2011), and the Russell-Whitehead Business Humanitarian Award presented by the Business Humanitarian Forum Association (2012). He holds both an MBA and an MA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a BS with honors from Swarthmore College.

Prof. Yaw Nyarko

Professor Yaw Nyarko, a native of Ghana, is a Professor of Economics at New York University (NYU) and the Director of the Center for Technology and Economic Development. He is also the Co-Director of the Development Research Institute, winner of the 2009 BBVA Frontiers in Knowledge Award on Economic Development Cooperation, and Founding Director of NYU Africa House. His research interests are in the areas of economic development and theoretical economics. He has worked on models of human capital as engines of economic growth, as well as on the “brain drain” and skills acquisition in the growth process. He is currently engaged in research on technology and economic development. Professor Nyarko is the author of many published research papers and is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, and has served as editor/associate editor on a number of academic economics journals. He has also served as a consultant to many organizations including the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Social Science Research Council. Professor Nyarko is the immediate past Vice Provost of New York University, with a portfolio which included the oversight and establishment of campuses of NYU in Africa and around the world.  Professor Nyarko received a B.A. from the University of Ghana, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Cornell University.