Eleni Gabre-Madhin is working to build Ethiopia's first commodities market. Re-establishing the profit motive for farmers, she believes, could help turn the world's largest recipient of food aid into a regional food basket.
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."