Economic and Cultural Transformation: Breaking the Shackles of Poverty

Event Information

Date: Thursday, 24 March 2011

Location: Strathmore University (Nairobi, Kenya)

Sponsored by the Acton Institute, and cosponsored by the Strathmore Governance Centre & the Anglican Church of Kenya.


On March 24, 2011, the Acton Institute in cooperation with the Strathmore Governance Centre at Strathmore University and the Anglican Church of Kenya held a day-long conference – Economic and Cultural Transformation: Breaking the Shackles of Poverty – in Nairobi, Kenya. The purpose of this conference was to discuss the role played by particular ethical systems, cultural habits, and institutions in allowing human creativity, entrepreneurship, and spiritual capital to diminish poverty at an unprecedented rate, as well as the cultural questions that emerge as societies move from poverty to wealth. With a special focus on Africa, this conference brought together academics, practitioners, business leaders, clergy, and policy-makers from developed and developing nations with recognized expertise in these complex subjects. This conference was the fifth in the seven-part series Poverty, Entrepreneurship, and Integral Development.


Speaker Biographies:

Reverend Chanshi Chanda serves as field strategy coordinator in the French Equatorial field for the Church of the Nazarene in Zambia. Previously, he served as the coordinator of leadership development in Central Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi) and the assistant district superintendent in the South East DRC. He recently published his first book entitled Christ-like Justice and the Holiness Tradition and is currently working on a second book.

Mr. Kishore Jayabalan is director of Istituto Acton, the Acton Institute's Rome office. Formerly, he worked for the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as an analyst for environmental and disarmament issues and desk officer for English-speaking countries. Kishore Jayabalan earned a B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In college, he was executive editor of The Michigan Review and an economic policy intern for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He worked as an international economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C. and then graduated with an M.A. in political science from the University of Toronto. During his graduate studies, Kishore was baptized and received into the Roman Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1996. He later worked as a student campus minister at the university's Newman Centre, which led to his appointment to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York in 1997. Two years later, he returned to Rome to work for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Kishore became director of Istituto Acton in 2005 and organizes the institute's educational and outreach efforts in Rome and throughout Europe. 

Mr. Michael Macharia (35), a qualified chartered accountant and true entrepreneur founded Seven Seas Technology Group (SST) at the age of 25 and has steered the Group as founder and CEO to what it is today through innovation, vision, commitment and passion. The result is a true Kenyan success story in technology entrepreneurship with SST Group receiving several accolades from major forums and vendors in its pursuit of excellence, performance and growth. Under Mr. Macharia’s leadership, the company has expanded into Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia. The company’s customer portfolio includes industry leaders in telecoms, banking and government institutions. SST currently boasts a workforce of over 100 permanent, highly skilled, multi-cultural employees. His vision and passion attracted prominent venture capital partners and he plans to take Seven Seas Technologies public in 2013 with a with top-line revenue projection of US$75m and an EBIDTA of US$13m. Husband and father to wife Connie and son Leo, Mr. Macharia is also an avid social golfer and architecture enthusiast. He is a member of Kenya’s chapter of Young Presidents Organization and has attended numerous management development courses all over the world for entrepreneurship, human resource development and operations excellence and is an alumni of Strathmore University/IESE Business School – Barcelona, Spain for advanced management in 2009.

H.E. Bishop Anthony Muheria was born in Murang'a on May 27, 1963. He attended various primary schools in Murang'a, Kirinyaga and Kiambu. He attended Mang'u high school for his secondary education where he sat the "O" level exam in 1978. He was then admitted to Strathmore College for his "A" level for the next two years. Having excelled in his Form six exams, he joined the University of Nairobi to study Civil Engineering. He graduated with an honours degree in Civil Engineering in 1984 and was immediately employed as a graduate Engineer by Gathaiya Njagi and partners, a firm of Consulting Engineers. He worked for four years in design and supervision of structural works until 1989. In 1989, he joined the "International seminary of the Holy Cross" while attending his Theological studies in the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He was ordained priest on June 13, 1993 at the Basilica of the Saint Eugene in Rome. After his ordination, he worked in formation within the Seminary of the Holy Cross for two years. Bishop Muheria completed his Doctoral studies in Sacramental Theology in June 1995, and returned to Kenya where he was mainly involved in the pastoral work within the Prelature of Opus Dei, in which he is incardinated. In these years, he has carried out a wide apostolate of spiritual direction and formation to various groups of people, including preaching many retreats to laymen and diocesan Priests. In 2003 he was appointed the Bishop of Embu and in 2008 was appointed Bishop of Kitui.

Ms. Eva Muraya is the co-founder and CEO of Color Creations Group Ltd. She has been recognized in both her community and internationally for her business innovation and leadership. Her business leadership has earned her a variety of notable awards and appointments including award nominee at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) supported Pan African Invent and Innovate Conference in Accra-Ghana, an alumnus of the Legatum Pioneers of Prosperity, and was named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, by a leading Kenyan women’s magazine. At the global level, Ms. Muraya’s remarkable entrepreneurship and business acumen saw her selected in 2006 by the US State Department to represent Kenya in a premier U.S. government-sponsored program. Ms. Muraya is also a co-recipient of the premier Goldman Sachs Fortune Global Leaders Award. Ms. Muraya is an internationally-known motivational speaker on topics such as business leadership, mentorship and small and medium woman-owned business development. Ms. Muraya holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism and Marketing (Magna Cum Laudae) from the United States International University (USIU) in Nairobi and a Diploma in Advanced Business Management from the IESE (University of Navarra) and Strathmore Business Schools.       

Professor Terry Ryan is the director of the African Centre for Economic Growth, and professor at Strathmore University where he is also the chairman of the Strathmore Educational Trust. He received his PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Professor Ryan has had a wide experience at both the academic and the practical levels. He has taught in Harvard University, MIT and the University of Nairobi. He is an internationally recognized expert on the Kenya economy, having worked for the Government of Kenya as Director of Planning and Economic Secretary, particularly in the course of developing informal sector policies. He has recently served as Chairman of the Informal Sector (Jua Kali) task force. He has also been recently appointed to the Commission for Higher Education.

Professor Robert W. Vivian graduated with the BSc degree from the University of the Witwatersrand and was admitted as an electrical engineer and practiced as such for a decade. After graduating he started to study law and subsequently graduated with two degrees in law, BProc and LLB degrees. He is an admitted Advocate of the High Court of South Africa. In 1989 the University of the Witwatersand established a chair in Insurance and Risk Management and he was appointed as the first professor to hold this chair, a position he has held ever since. At the university he has held a number of appointments including the head of the departments of business economics and information systems. He is a director of a number of companies, and was for many years was a member of South Africa’s Financial Service Board’s short-term advisory committee. He has written and edited a number of books and published a number academic articles. He has presented numerous academic papers both locally and internationally. He developed an interest in economic history when asked to write a book on the history of a large South African insurance company. He became the president of the South African Economic History Society and has published and edited a number of articles and books on the economic history of South Africa, the latest being the co-editor of South African Economy and Policy 1990 - 2000: An economy in transition (2010) published by Manchester University Press. He has presented a number of papers on the economic history of Africa at international conferences including The Economic nature of African States (Australia) and An Institutional explanation for the Zimbabwean Tragedy (Finland).