As president of Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, LBJ School alumna Shamina Singh (MPAff ’97) is one of four panelists set to discuss “Disrupting Global Hunger: Moonshots for Humanity” at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) 2017 Conference and Festivals.
“We are at a unique moment in time—where we have enough know-how to solve every problem, but we still have enormous suffering and need,” said Singh. “The panel is an opportunity to have a discussion about what it will take to go beyond whatever boundaries exist to address this baseline issue.”
Not Just a Credit Card
Mastercard is a natural partner in the fight against global hunger, Singh explains. “Most people think it’s a bank or a credit card company—it’s neither. It’s actually the technology railroad tracks that allow buyers and sellers to transact digitally. That type of technology disrupts cash transactions.”
“The time for public private partnerships is now. Neither government nor corporations have all of the answers or the resources to help humanity in isolation. We have to work together. Having experience in both sectors allows you to translate and find important synergies.”
She goes on to explain that a reliance on cash can be detrimental to getting aid where it needs to go across the world.
“We have been working with [the World Food Programme] and other humanitarian aid organizations to digitize aid delivery which increases the impact of programs, provides beneficiaries with greater control and dignity and stimulates local economies.”
In addition, Mastercard has opened a research and development lab in Kenya focused on financial inclusion that recently launched a platform to help small farmers negotiate crop prices using their mobile phones—eliminating days of travel.
“This has been especially impactful for women as these types of technology advances provide economic independence while attacking inefficiencies in the agricultural supply chains.”
Cross-Sector Career Path
In 1993, before enrolling in the LBJ School, Singh moved from Virginia to Austin to work on then-Texas Governor Ann Richards’ campaign. After her graduation from LBJ, she moved to Washington, DC, where she was exposed to federal government, national campaigns and global companies.
"The LBJ ethos and environment, for me, was a fantastic opportunity to develop relationships with really smart people who embody President Johnson’s beliefs in fundamental fairness and have continued on a journey to make the world a better place.”
Though at first glance, private and public sector professions can seem very different, Singh says they align in very important ways.
“The time for public private partnerships is now,” she explained. “Neither government nor corporations have all of the answers or the resources to help humanity in isolation. We have to work together. Having experience in both sectors allows you to translate and find important synergies.”
The LBJ School, she says, provided her with the foundation that allowed her to excel in a variety of professional experiences.
“The professors encouraged ‘out of the box’ questions with practical application. That has been really helpful in my work life,” said Singh. “Mostly, the LBJ ethos and environment, for me, was a fantastic opportunity to develop relationships with really smart people who embody President Johnson’s beliefs in fundamental fairness and have continued on a journey to make the world a better place.”
More About Shamina Singh
As president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Singh’s role is responsible for advancing sustainable and equitable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. In 2015, President Obama appointed her to a six-year term on the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service; she is also a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Public-Private Partnerships.
Prior to joining Mastercard, she held positions with Nike and Citigroup. In the public sector, she has senior leadership experience in the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Singh graduated from the LBJ School with a Master of Public Affairs degree in 1997.