Michael Fairbanks is a Co-Founder of SEVEN, a philanthropic foundation run by entrepreneurs, whose strategy is to produce films, books and original research to markedly increase the rate of diffusion of enterprise solutions to global poverty.
He is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the OTF Group, a strategy-consulting firm based in Boston, and the first venture-backed U.S. firm to focus on developing nations. He was a U.S. Peace Corps teacher in Kenya. A long-time angel investor, he is a founding shareholder in Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, which has drugs currently undergoing FDA trials to fight cancer and autoimmune diseases.
His most recent projects include advising the President of the Inter-American Development Bank on its Opportunities for the Majority Initiative; working for the President of Rwanda to improve the competitiveness of that nation’s tourism, coffee and agro-industry sectors; and advising the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan on private-sector reforms. He conceived and oversees the Global Pioneers of Prosperity Program, in cooperation with OTF, Legatum, the Multilateral Investment Fund, and the Templeton Foundation, which finds and recognizes role model businesses in the world’s poorest nations.
He co–authored Harvard Business School’s landmark book on business strategy in emerging markets, "Plowing the Sea, Nurturing the Hidden Sources of Advantage in Developing Nations," with a foreword by Michael Porter. Business Week Magazine said, "Plowing the Sea points the way toward creating prosperity in developing nations; " the Boston Globe named it one of the ten best books of the year in Politics and Economics; and Exame magazine, Brazil’s leading business weekly, called it one of the ten best books of the decade.
He co-conceived and contributed to the global best selling book "Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress," edited by Sam Huntington and Larry Harrison at Harvard. His most recent book, edited with Malik Fal, Marcela Escobari-Rose, and Elizabeth Hooper contains essays by OTF colleagues and clients from around the world. It is entitled "In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty," and was released in May 2009.
His work has been translated into a dozen languages, including Korean, Mongolian and Serbian. He was a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, a lecturer at Harvard, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. He studied philosophy and biochemistry at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university in Pennsylvania where he was a trustee for six years, and African politics at Columbia University in New York City.
He was appointed to the Commission on Globalization with, among others, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jane Goodall and Joe Stiglitz. In 2007, he was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council in Rwanda with Pastor Rick Warren, President Donald Kaberuka of the African Development Bank, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In 2006, his alma mater gave him its highest award, a doctorate in humane letters for his "accomplishments and devotion to social justice."
He is a citizen of the US, Ireland, and Rwanda.