Jon Thiele
25 years in development assistance

in a crowd


Project management

  • led a global program for five years
  • COP over ten years leading teams large & small
  • economic development, health, gender
  • previously contracted to USAID GH/OHA/OVC
  • started & closed projects
  • led grantmaking programs

Client and compliance knowledge

  • USAID, USDA, State, DOL, PRTs
  • Danida, DFID, EU, UNHCR
  • numerous private foundations


  • economic development
  • gender
  • agribusiness
  • MCHN
  • conflict areas
  • capacity building
  • community based development
  • program development & project design.



Situation in Ukraine
A few years ago I led a large multi-national team of EU, World Bank, UN, and government experts to draft a response to the crisis caused by Russia's anschluss of territory in Ukraine's east. Working closely with government officials, we reported how it looked then...

Some Recent Updates

Savings groups are very useful and very popular in development work-- USAID alone supports well over a million people in SGs today-- but the methodology hasn't changed in 20 years even as financial services markets have changed hugely. I wrote a paper on the needed evolution of the savings group.

A short paper on effective program design for MCHN, some learning from my recent posting in Tajikistan, an interesting thought on corruption, some Tajik graffiti, and the results of liberal reform.

The Most Important Lesson of my Career
Evaluations and research from about 20 countries show how to equip a person to make the life choices that break generational poverty, solve daily problems in dysfunctional communities, and improve underdeveloped societies. It is not through training...

Gender in Economic Development
In traditional societies a woman is the one to get up with the sun to fetch water because, simply, that is what a woman does. She needs to know and believe that getting water for the family is valuable and productive work, but the realization that her labor has value does not come easily...

Enterprise Development & Agribusiness
The target beneficiaries were any processing company which satisfied two basic criteria: demonstrated potential for growth and the possibility of strong linkages to smaller area enterprises which could grow along with it. The objective was to foster business growth in these sectors...

Small Holders
To prepare more effective training sessions several years ago, we did a survey to learn about the small holder farmers in our project area. In Ukraine in 1999, almost 17% expected the national government would make their lives better...

Islamic Economics
Economic development programs are about entrepreneurship, rational decision makers, and self-interest-- liberal democracy and free market thinking. I often work in countries with significant Muslim populations where the economic principles have quite a different basis. This well-received essay illuminates a number of the economic values and practices of Muslim societies in theory and practice...

Promoting Cooperatives
Working together is often a very good option for building a business. During 2011-2012 the program I led helped several thousand women in six countries form business groups. Some groups have done much better than others, and I researched why that happened...

Community-based Development
I have done community-based initiatives in three countries, and one was so well received that eight local governments changed their budgets and public hearing rules. A similar effort for an island in the Bahamas, however, couldn't overcome a general feeling that a seemingly idyllic island should "be developed"...

Credit in Economic Development
I have sat on the board of directors of a bank, and I have worked one on one with poor farmers. I started one lending operation, oversaw loan programs in a couple of places, and organized more bank fairs and borrower training than I can remember. I am a strong supporter of the practice of regular savings over "access to credit"...

Economic Institutions
Economic institutions are the rules and social norms that govern behavior-- things like trust, the role of women, level of cooperation, views of property, how the courts work, corruption, and so on. We all act within systems of these institutions, and understanding this can be useful in understanding the problems of developing countries where modernization of economic institutions is usually a prerequisite for broad and lasting development....

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for." -- Socrates

Different styles for different audiences: a major agribusiness program case study is here along with a few columns for a Kiev newspaper, a report on business training, more economics, and a fictional short story about what life as an expat could be if you weren't careful...

"Good fortune is not as blind as it is generally thought to be. It is often nothing more than the result of sound, consistent actions that go unnoticed by the crowd but nonetheless make a particular event possible. Still more often, it is the result of an individual's character, nature, and behavior." --Catherine the Great

This site was updated on April 23, 2022.
All photos on this site were taken by me unless otherwise noted. Free use to all.