U.S. World Bank nominee leads in business and development

Ajay Banga, President Biden’s nominee to lead the World Bank, is a successful businessman who has long worked to bring investment and jobs to developing countries.

In announcing Banga’s nomination for World Bank president, Biden commended Banga’s experience leading companies that have expanded access to financial services, as well as his skill forging effective partnerships.

“Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history,” Biden said February 23. “He has a proven track record managing people and systems, and partnering with global leaders around the world to deliver results.”

Comprising 189 member countries, the World Bank provides loans, grants and technical assistance to developing countries to reduce poverty and improve lives. The international finance institution also advises governments, businesses and communities on economic development. The World Bank’s Board of Governors would have to confirm Banga’s nomination.

Ajay Banga listening during meeting (© Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)
Banga attends a May 2021 meeting in Washington for the Partnership for Central America supporting economic development in the Northern Triangle. (© Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Now serving as investment firm General Atlantic’s vice chairman, Banga is one of numerous Indian Americans who have risen to lead major U.S. companies. As a business leader, Banga has worked to expand access to the digital economy and tackle the climate crisis.

As Mastercard president and chief executive officer, Banga led the company’s efforts to bring 500 million people into the digital economy. He told a 2020 TED Talk that access to digital financial tools connects people with credit, insurance and savings opportunities they previously lacked. But expanding digital access is complex. It requires “a bunch of shoulders at the wheel to come together,” he said. “It requires partnerships across the public and the private sector.”

During Banga’s tenure, Mastercard launched 2KUZE, a digital platform that connects East Africa’s farmers with buyers. The firm’s partnership with the South African Social Security Agency improved benefits and reduced waste. Mastercard’s partnership with the World Food Programme provided digital food vouchers to Syrian refugees.

At Mastercard, Banga also sought to address climate change and deforestation. He led the firm’s launch of the Priceless Planet Coalition that led more than 120 companies to pledge to plant 100 million trees by 2025.

In 2021, following his Mastercard tenure, Banga joined Vice President Kamala Harris as co-chair of the Partnership for Central America, a public-private initiative that has pledged $4 billion in private sector investment in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The partnership has already invested more than $650 million in textile manufacturing, agriculture and jobs, while training over 160,000 workers and expanding access to the digital economy.

Banga “has critical experience mobilizing public-private resources to tackle the most urgent challenges of our time,” Biden said. He knows “how the World Bank can deliver on its ambitious agenda to reduce poverty and expand prosperity.”