Executive Director

Marcela EscobariMarcela Escobari is Executive Director of Harvard's Center for International Development, a university-wide center that develops and disseminates breakthrough strategies for growth and prosperity in developing countries. The Center encompasses 40 staff and fellows and 80 faculty associates from across Harvard University.

She has two decades of experience in economic development. Before joining the CID, Marcela led the Americas region and served on the Executive Committee of the OTF Group, a strategy consulting firm that advises private and public sector leaders on how to improve export competitiveness.

Her work at OTF included advising the president of the Dominican Republic on the country's industrial policy, the government of Colombia on revitalizing its tourism industry, and the Jamaican entertainment and tourism industries on increasing their earning potential. She has also led strategy projects for private multinationals on corporate strategy, product positioning and market entry.

Marcela has a particular interest in the impact of information and communication technology (ICT) on economic development. She has led studies on the effectiveness of ICT investments in the Caribbean and Africa, and assessed the role business incubation in driving entrepreneurship in 47 developing countries. Along with Harvard and London Business School professors, she co-authored cases on successful business strategies in Latin American companies. She has spoken about issues of technology, entrepreneurship and competitiveness in a wide range of policy, industry and academic forums throughout the Americas, and gave the keynote address at the "International Conference of Social Women Entrepreneurs" for an audience of over 1000 women entrepreneurs in Mexico City.

The World Economic Forum recently named Marcela a Young Global Leader for 2013.

Marcela serves on the board of Root Capital, an organization financing rural development, and co-authored the book In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty.

Prior to working at OTF, Marcela worked with indigenous communities in Bolivia for the World Bank and was a Mergers & Acquisitions investment banker with JP Morgan in New York. Marcela grew up in Bolivia, holds a B.A. in Economics from Swarthmore College and a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. [E-mail]


"In the River they Swim: Essays from around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty", Templeton Press, Ed. Escobari, Fairbanks, Fal & Hooper, 2009.

Articles, Papers, Reports

A review of evidence on mobile use by micro and small enterprises in developing countries. (2010) M. Escobari & J. Donner, Journal of International Development, 22, 641-658. doi: 10.1002/jid.1717


"Ukraine's real problem, in four graphs," Boston Globe Ideas, 2014

"When a mobile can also mean a bank," Parliamentary Brief, S. Soza, M. Escobari, 2008.

"Building Competitive Advantage," From Growth to Prosperity, Policy Perspective for Trinidad and Tobago, IADB Special Publications on Development, M. Escobari, Fairbanks, Rabkin, Rodriguez, 2006.

Improving Competitiveness and Increasing Economic Diversification in the Caribbean: The Role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), M. Escobari, C. Rodriguez, D. Rabkin, InfoDev, 2005. 

"Un Gigante Dormido: Cinco Opciones para La Competitividad en Mexico," PODER Magazine, Mexico edition, May 2005.

Assessing Network Applications for Economic Development, co-author; Published at the Kennedy School of Government, Supported by the CID at Harvard and the Media Lab at MIT, received Best PAE Award, 2001.

"Governance for the XXI Century; The transition to E-government" in Semana, Web Edition, 2000.

"NATURA:The Magic Behind Brazil's Most Admired Company," Case Study, London Business School Press, 1999.

"WEG: Internationalizing a Brazilian Company," Case Study, London Business School Press, 1999.