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Center for
Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Jake Harriman (MBA '08)

An interview with Jake Harriman (MBA '08)

Published: May 19, 2009

GSB Alum, Stanford Social Innovation Review Reader
What are your causes?

I’m passionate about ending extreme poverty. It’s an unnecessary evil in the world today. As a special operations platoon commander in the Marine Corps, I saw the ties between terrorism and extreme poverty, so I went to Stanford to develop a model that would allow us to create innovative, scalable, and sustainable solutions to address this problem. In our model, we work to create partnerships with organizations that are doing good work already.

How do you contribute?

I started Nuru International while I was at Stanford. We partner with rural communities empowering them to lift themselves out of extreme poverty permanently within five years. We design innovative, sustainable solutions to meet the specific needs in the community in the areas of water and sanitation, health care, education, agriculture, and small business. We also do campaigns to raise awareness about extreme poverty in communities and on college campuses, and we have a volunteer partnership program that allows people to work side by side with local people on specific poverty alleviation projects.

What are important lessons you learned?

The poor can teach us more than we can teach them.  People with very little can be incredibly intelligent and resourceful.

There is tremendous power behind a small group of individuals who set their minds to addressing seemingly insurmountable problems. You can make a significant impact in a very short time on the ground.

True strength and success come from being humble.

What are your favorite social innovation resources?

New York University Development Research Institute (DRI)
Social Edge

Any last thought you would like to share?

People think extreme poverty is an impossible problem that’s never going to end. There’s a lot of good work out there showing that if we all work together, we can solve this problem in our lifetime.