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Rory Stewart, former International Development secretary, appointed President of GiveDirectly

By Madeleine Eastwood, Head of Communications  |   Posted 29th August 2022

GIF grantee GiveDirectly today announced the appointment of Rory Stewart, former Secretary of State for International Development, as its President.

Mr Stewart will succeed Michael Faye, who has led the non-profit as President and Co-Founder since 2009. Mr Faye will move to the role of Executive Chair of GiveDirectly’s Board, while remaining in his ongoing role as CEO of Taptap Send.

As President, Mr Stewart will work closely with Mr Faye, and lead this next phase for the charity, which is on course to approach the $1 billion fundraising milestone. He takes up the position with immediate effect.

GiveDirectly has been a pioneer in scaling the use of unconditional cash transfers, building consensus amongst the international community that it is the most effective approach to tackling poverty. GIF partnered with Give Directly in 2019, awarding a $2.1 million grant allocated to direct cash transfers: the costs of facilitating the transfers, operational costs including personnel, software, equipment and travel, and communications and dissemination activities.

The organisation is currently launching some of its most ambitious projects ever in Malawi and Liberia. This is part of a larger scale-up to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty worldwide by 2030.

A former politician and soldier, Mr Stewart began his career working for Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service as a diplomat in Indonesia and as British Representative to Montenegro. He left the diplomatic service to undertake a two-year walk across Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. In 2005, he moved to Kabul to establish and run the Turquoise Mountain Foundation. He is currently a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs where he teaches politics and international relations, and hosts The Rest is Politics podcast.

Rory Stewart and GiveDirectly Country Director Ivan Ntwali with a household in Rwanda’s Mugombwa refugee camp. Image courtesy of GiveDirectly.


New President Mr Stewart said: “People have talked about ending poverty for decades – but GiveDirectly gives us the model that can deliver it. Unconditional cash transfers have been proven to deliver support to those that need it with unprecedented speed and scale, meaning we now have the opportunity to do something really historic. I am beyond excited to take on the role of President as we embark on this endeavour – at a time when climate change and the pandemic make global poverty more urgent than ever.”

Mr Faye said: “It’s been more than a decade since we started GiveDirectly with the goal of shifting resources and choice into the hands of the poor, and improving the effectiveness of the traditional >$170 billion development sector in the process. Cash transfers were considered experimental or even crazy. Now, over 180 governments implemented cash programs during COVID19 alone; the UN Secretary-General has called for ‘cash to be the default’ and GiveDirectly alone has reached over a million people, developing new technologies for targeting and delivery in the process. We’re proud of how far we’ve come, but keenly aware of how far there is to go. With 711 million people left in extreme poverty, and the number increasing for the first time in two decades, there’s much left to do. Today, that ambition seems just a bit more realistic with the introduction of Rory Stewart as President. Rory has not only run one of the world’s largest aid budgets, but also deeply exemplifies GiveDirectly’s core values. I couldn’t be more excited for him to lead us in this next phase.”