Indian American Ajay Banga on Friday became the first person of color to lead the World Bank, one of the two global financial institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Executive Directors of the World Bank on June 2 selected Ajay Banga as the 14th President for a five-year term beginning June 2, 2023. In February, US President Joe Biden announced that the US would be nominating Banga to lead the World Bank. He said that Banga is well equipped to lead the global institution at “this critical moment in history.”
“Join us in welcoming Ajay Banga as the new President of the World Bank Group. We are committed to creating a world free from poverty on a livable planet,” the World Bank said in a tweet with a picture of Banga entering the bank headquarters.
Join us in welcoming Ajay Banga as the new President of the World Bank Group. We are committed to creating a world free from poverty on a livable planet. pic.twitter.com/8SwKQ4txVO
— World Bank (@WorldBank) June 2, 2023
“I wish Ajay Banga all the best as he takes up his new role as President of the World Bank today. I look forward to continuing the deep partnership between our institutions to do good and help those most in need,” IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said in a tweet.
Ajay Banga replaces David Malpass, who stepped down in February. Banga most recently served as Vice Chairman at General Atlantic, a global investment firm. Previously, he was President and CEO of Mastercard, a global payments company with over 24,000 employees.
Under his leadership, MasterCard launched the Center for Inclusive Growth, which advances equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world.
He was the Honorary Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as Chairman from 2020-2022. He became an advisor to General Atlantic’s climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, at its inception in 2021.
Banga also served as Co-Chair of the Partnership for Central America, a coalition of private organizations that works to advance economic opportunity across underserved populations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. He was previously on the Boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods, and Dow Inc.
Banga is a co-founder of The Cyber Readiness Institute and was Vice Chair of the Economic Club of New York. He was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Padma Shri Award by the President of India in 2016, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Business Council for International Understanding’s Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021.
On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Ajay Banga. Yellen welcomed Banga and expressed her desire for the Treasury Department to continue working closely with him to build on the progress made so far in evolving the multilateral development banks (MDBs), according to a press statement released after the meeting.
That includes continuing implementation of the recommendations of the G20 Capital Adequacy Framework review to get the most out of the Bank’s balance sheet, improving and increasing the amount of private capital mobilised for our shared global development objectives, and refining the operating model to increase the responsiveness and agility of the bank, the statement added.
Banga’s Presidency comes at a critical time for the World Bank. The Bank is facing a number of challenges, including the ongoing war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change. These challenges are putting a strain on the Bank’s resources and its ability to help the world’s poorest countries.