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Hernando De Soto's Mug ShotPresident of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), Lima, Peru

Main Topics: Corporate Social Responsibility, Society, Global Economics

Professional Profile:

Visionary economist with a practical and groundbreaking approach to alleviating global poverty.

Mr. de Soto is currently President of the ILD. He is considered by The Economist as one of the two most important think tanks in the world. Time magazine chose him as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century in its special May 1999 issue “Leaders for the New Millennium”, and included him among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004. Mr. de Soto was also listed as one of 15 innovators “who will reinvent your future” according to Forbes magazine’ 85th anniversary edition. In January 2000, Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit, the German development magazine, described Mr. de Soto as one of the most important development theoreticians of the last millennium. In October 2005, over 20,000 readers of Prospect magazine of the UK and Foreign Policy of the US ranked him among the top 13 “public intellectuals” in the world from the magazines’ joint list of 100. Mr. de Soto has served as an economist for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, as President of the Executive Committee of the Copper Exporting Countries Organization (CIPEC), as CEO of Universal Engineering Corporation (Continental Europe’s largest consulting engineering firm), as a principal of the Swiss Bank Corporation Consultant Group, and as a governor of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank. Currently, Mr. de Soto, together with his colleagues at the ILD, is focused on designing and implementing capital formation programs to empower the poor in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and former Soviet Nations. Some 30 heads of state have invited him to carry out these ILD programs in their countries. He also co-chairs with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright the High Level Commission on Legal Empowerment for the Poor. (For more information, see:
Mr. de Soto has published two books about economic and political development: The Other Path, in the mid- 1980s, and at the end of 2000, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. Both books have been international bestsellers – translated into some 20 languages.
Among the prizes he has received are The Freedom Prize (Switzerland), and The Fisher Prize (United Kingdom). In 2002, he received The Goldwater Award (USA), The Adam Smith Award from the Association of Private Enterprise Education (USA), and The CARE Canada Award for Outstanding Development Thinking (Canada). In 2003, he received the Downey Fellowship at Yale University and the Democracy Hall of Fame International Award from the National Graduate University (USA). In 2004, he was given The Templeton Freedom Prize (USA) and The Milton Friedman Prize (USA), as well as the Royal Decoration of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn, 5th Class, (Thailand). In 2005, he received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Buckingham (United Kingdom), The Americas Award (USA); he was also named the Most Outstanding of 2004 by the Peruvian National Assembly of Rectors, and received the Prize of Deutsche Stiftung Eigentum, the 2004 IPAE Award by the Peruvian Institute of Business Administration, the Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award 2005 (USA), the BearingPoint, Forbes magazine’s seventh Compass Award for Strategic Direction, and was named as a “Fellow of the Class of 1930” by Dartmouth College. In 2006, he received the 2006 Bradley Prize for outstanding achievement by the Bradley Foundation, and the 2006 The Economist’s Innovation Award for outstanding work in economics. In 2007, he has received The PODER BCG BUSINESS AWARDS 2007, granted by Poder Magazine and the Boston Consulting Group, for the “Best Anti-Poverty Initiative”. The anthology Die zwölf wichtigsten Ökonomen der Welt (The World’s Twelve Most Influential Economists, 2007) included his profile in a list that begins with Adam Smith. In November 3, 2007 he received the 2007 Humanitarian Award in recognition of his work to help poor people participate in the market economy.


Comments on Mr. De Soto’s work:

The world’s greatest living economist.

Bill Clinton, former President of the United States

De Soto’s prescription offers a clear and promising alternative to economic stagnation...

George Bush, former President of the United States

De Soto and his colleagues have examined the only ladder for upward mobility. The free market is the other path to development and the one true path. It is the people's path... it leads somewhere. It works.

Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States

Hernando de Soto is absolutely right, that we need to rethink how we capture economic growth and development.

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

I am glad to let the world know that this administration certainly supports the ILD’s ideas for lifting billions of fellow human beings out of despair and poverty.

Donald L. Evans, US Secretary Department of Commerce

It was really with very good reason that President Clinton stated that the most promising anti-poverty initiative in the world is the one being advanced by the ILD.

Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State

The blueprint for a new industrial revolution.

The Times, London