Nuru International

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Nuru International is a U.S.-based social venture that equips the poor living in remote, rural areas to end extreme poverty in their communities.[1] Nuru is a Kiswahili word that means "light." Nuru International currently works in Kenya and Ethiopia.


Nuru International was founded by CEO Jake Harriman, who attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served over 7 years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Platoon Commander in both the Infantry and a Special Operations unit called Force Recon. Jake led Marines in four operational deployments throughout Southwest Asia/Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, including two combat tours in Iraq during the Iraq War. He was awarded the Bronze Star for actions in combat during his second tour in Iraq.[2]

Harriman's experiences in combat compelled him to believe that extreme poverty was a contributing factor to global terrorism.[3] Harriman left his career in the Marine Corps and enrolled at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business to start an organization that would fight terrorism by ending extreme poverty.[4] Nuru International began operations in 2008.[5]

Development model[edit]

Nuru International trains and equips local leaders in effective poverty reduction methods gleaned from other humanitarian organizations around the world. Because of this approach, Nuru has been called a "general contractor of the NGO sector."[6] Nuru is piloting an innovative community development model that is integrated, self-sustaining, and self-scaling and addresses four areas of need: 1) hunger, 2) inability to cope with economic shocks, 3) preventable disease and death, and 4) lack of access to quality education for children.[7] By partnering with organizations such as One Acre Fund, Nuru seeks to create an efficient, scalable model[8]

Servant Leadership[edit]

Nuru identifies and mentors local leaders in the principles of servant leadership, and mobilizes the community into groups led by these local leaders, supplying them with necessary expertise to lift their communities out of extreme poverty.[9]

Third Party Evaluation[edit]

Nuru commissions third party evaluation of the poverty levels of the communities where it works in order to assess its own success or failure.[10] For its next third-party evaluation in 2011, Nuru plans to partner with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations in use of its Multi-Dimensional Poverty Assessment Tool to assess the enabling environment present in Nuru's pilot community of Kuria, Kenya.

Sustainability and Scalability[edit]

Nuru integrates revenue generation models into all five of its program areas to achieve sustainability and eventually scale to achieving national impact.[11]

Pilot project[edit]

Nuru International's first project is in Kuria, Kenya. Located in the southwest of the country, Kuria is one of the poorest districts in all of Kenya.[12]

Since Nuru began partnering with the community in 2008, 5,525 farmers and their families have enrolled in Nuru's agriculture loan program. These farmers are experiencing a 123% increase of maize their yields on average.[13] Nuru's other program areas (healthcare, education, community economic development) operate in concert with the agriculture program comprising a holistic approach to humanitarian development.[14]


  1. ^ Guidestar Profile
  2. ^ "Recession lesson: Confidence without arrogance" by Andrew S. Ross, September 12, 2010.
  3. ^ Uncommon Valor: A Marine Trades His Guns for Good by Will Laughlin,
  4. ^ Giving to Stanford - Student Profile - Jake Harriman
  5. ^ Profile: Nuru International - One Day's Wages
  6. ^ The Huffington Post - How to Design for (Real) Impact by Jacob Donnelly, September 10, 2010.
  7. ^ Non-profit organization Nuru utilizes Macs to end extreme poverty. by Dalrymple, Jim. Loop Insight. November 18, 2009.
  8. ^ Rainer Arnhold Fellows Profile - Nuru International
  9. ^ Nurturing Self-Help Among Kenyan Farmers, by Stanford Business Magazine Winter 2009
  10. ^ Project Redwood Profile
  11. ^ Humanitarian organization has roots (Harriman '98). US Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation. March 24, 2010.
  12. ^ Jake's Story, Metro News, November 11, 2009.
  13. ^ Nuru International. by Allison Gilligan, Relevant Magazine, Reject Apathy. April 28, 2010.
  14. ^ Behind the Scene with Jake Harriman Ideation Conference, 2010.

External links[edit]