Hernando de Soto is the Peruvian founder and president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD). Founded in 1980, ILD has been involved in designing and implementing legal reform programs to empower the poor in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations by increasing access to property and business rights. In the early 1990s, de Soto and ILD drafted and promoted more than 187 laws that gave the poorest Peruvians access to economic opportunities, including title to their property and businesses, and created the national office of ombudsman to defend the constitutional and human rights of Peruvians. For his efforts, the Peruvian Marxist terror group Shining Path targeted de Soto for assassination and ILD’s offices were bombed. De Soto has served as an economist for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, as a principal of the Swiss Bank Corporation Consultant Group, and as a governor of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank. De Soto currently serves as honorary co-chair on various boards and organizations, including the World Justice Project. In 2005, the president of Peru appointed de Soto as his personal representative to design and implement Peru’s free trade program. De Soto is the author of “The Other Path” and “The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.” Both books are international bestsellers and have been translated into 30 languages.
The work of de Soto and ILD has been featured in the documentaries "The Power of the Poor with Hernando de Soto,” "Globalization at the Crossroads with Hernando de Soto,” and "Unlikely Heroes of the Arab Spring.” Time magazine named de Soto as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century in 1999 and included him among the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2004. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Economist’s Innovation Award, the Freedom Prize, and the Fisher Prize. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton has described de Soto as “the world’s most important living economist.”