Executive Director

Marcela Escobari is Executive Director of Harvard's Center for International Development (CID), a university-wide center that develops and disseminates breakthrough strategies to create prosperity in developing countries. Marcela has spearheaded the growth of the center, which now encompasses over 60 staff and fellows and 80 faculty associates from across Harvard University. The Center’s research is focused on inclusive growth, evidence-based policy making and effective governance.  Marcela has expanded the reach of CID ideas through visualization tools and technology platforms, reaching more than 300,000 users. Over her tenure at Harvard, CID has tripled in size, with a diversified set of supporters in the public, philanthropic and private realms.

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

While at OTF, Marcela built partnerships between country governments and private enterprise to increase the competitiveness of sectors with strong potential for economic expansion. Her work included advising the government 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.

Marcela has a particular interest in the impact of the private sector and information and communication technology (ICT) on economic development. She has led studies on the effectiveness of ICT investments in the Caribbean and Africa, assessed the role of business incubation in driving entrepreneurship in 47 developing countries, and co-authored cases on successful business strategies in Latin American companies with Harvard and London Business School professors. She speaks frequently on issues of inclusive growth, competitiveness and development 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.

In 2013 the World Economic Forum named Marcela a Young Global Leader and she helps manage the Boston hub of Young Global Leaders.

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 Master’s 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.