Jake Harriman, founder and CEO of Nuru International shares what fuels his work as a development professional and his plans to help locally driven development thrive in conflict states.

When Jake Harriman was an infantry and special operations platoon leader in the U.S. Marine Corps, he saw firsthand how extreme poverty creates desperation and fuels violence.

He saw a need to combat violence and extremism by fighting poverty. To be successful, such efforts have to be locally driven and sustainable — not fed in perpetuity by disaster relief operations and handouts from aid workers.

After seven years in the Marine Corps, Harriman pursued his idea at Stanford University and from there Nuru International was born.

Nuru works to find and train local leaders in the developing world and works in remote and rural areas. In June, all Nuru expatriate staff in Kenya officially exited the country, leaving the work to a dedicated team of local leaders — a major milestone for the organization.

Harriman also saw a place for people with military backgrounds trained to handle high stress conflict situations and who can work with local communities to push forward a locally led model of development.

Ultimately, Harriman and his team want to bring the model to conflict states where they hope to spur development at the community level and undermine violence.

Watch the above video to learn more about what Harriman calls the “third way” for development in conflict settings.

Conflict in Context is a monthlong global conversation on conflict, transition and recovery hosted by Devex in partnership with Chemonics, Mercy Corps, OSCE and USAID. We’ll decode the challenges and highlight the opportunities countries face while in crisis and what the development community is doing to respond. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #ConflictinContext.

About the author

  • Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a former global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid, and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the U.S., and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.

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