The combination of food and financial crises trapped an estimated 50 to 90 million people in extreme poverty in 2009.
How can the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 be met in the wake of the economic crisis?
Vikram Akula is the Founder and CEO of SKS Microfinance, one of the leading microfinance institutions in the world. Akula launched SKS in 1997 because of a fundamental flaw he saw with microfinance - namely, its inability to scale to large numbers.
Akula is also the founder of SKS Foundation, which is a U.S.-based non profit organization that supports the Ultra Poor Program, a program that attacks the challenge of extreme poverty on three levels: economic, social and health, and aims to graduate clients into being able to run a sustainable income-generating enterprise - and potentially into mainstream microfinance.
Mark Malloch Brown
Mark Malloch Brown has served as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations since April, 2006. Before his current appointment, he was the Secretary-General's Chef de Cabinet since January 2005. In that position, he worked closely with the Secretary-General and the Deputy-Secretary General on all aspects of UN work, including helping to set out an ambitious reform agenda for the United Nations, much of which was endorsed by world leaders at the World Summit in New York last September.
Prior to becoming Chef de Cabinet, Mr. Malloch Brown served as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN's global development network, from July 1999 to August 2005. During that time, he was also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programs and departments working on development issues.
Helen E. Clark
Helen Elizabeth Clark, ONZ (born February 26, 1950), a New Zealand politician and administrator, is the head of the United Nations Development Programme, the third-highest UN position. Clark was the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008 and led the Labour Party from 1993 until it lost the 2008 general election.
Before resigning from Parliament in April 2009, Clark was Labour's foreign affairs spokeswoman and MP for the Mount Albert electorate which she had held since 1981. Forbes magazine ranked her 20th most powerful woman in the world in 2006.
Bill H. Gates
Bill Gates III is chairman of Microsoft Corporation, the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. In July 2008, Gates transitioned out of a day-to-day role in the company to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates continues to serve as Microsoft's chairman and an advisor on key development projects.
Michel D. Kazatchkine became Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in April 2007. The Global Fund, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the world's leading multilateral financier of programs for the three diseases and one of the major financiers of health systems strengthening.
Dr. Kazatchkine has spent the past 25 years fighting AIDS as a leading physician, researcher, administrator, advocate, policy maker, and diplomat.
Jeffrey Sachs is the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Since 2010 he has also served as a Commissioner for the Broadband Commission for Digital Development which leverages broadband technologies as a key enabler for social and economic development. He has authored Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet.
Originally one of the youngest economics professors in the history of Harvard University, Sachs became renowned for implementing economic shock therapy throughout the developing world, and subsequently for his work on the challenges of economic development, environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, debt cancellation, and globalization.
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
He is the President of the Movement for Democratic Change - Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and a key figure in the opposition to President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on February 11, 2009.