Esther Duflo is one of those people who are taken seriously by the sort of people who eat up TED talks with a silver spoon. Her big number is how to help people in the Third World up from poverty, which is a surprisingly profitable branch of economics when you consider the sheer number of NGOs and billionaires interested in getting into the aid business.
But there’s one particular billionaire at Duflo’s back. Abdul Latif Jameel.
Esther Duflo is one of the co-founders of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT, more commonly known as J-PAL for the father of Abdul Latif Jameel aka Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, a Saudi billionaire with a net worth of approximately 5 billion dollars.
Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel owns the world’s largest Toyota dealership and sits on the board of Coexist as well as a number of other organizations. And Jameel provided 3 major endowments for J-PAL. Around the same time the Abdul Latif Jameel Group sued the Wall Street Journal for reporting its presence on the list of accounts monitored for funding terrorism.
Mohammed’s brother was sued by victims of Al Qaeda on accusations that he helped fund its terrorist activities after his name was found on a list in the offices of Benevolence International Foundation, an Al Qaeda front group started by Bin Laden’s brother-in-law.
Now Obama has chosen Duflo to serve on the President’s Global Development Council which will shape American global development policy worldwide.