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James Otieno, 49

James Otieno, 49

Old career: Vice-president of executive compensation at Hewlett-Packard
New venture: Karibu Rafiki Foundation

When Otieno took an early retirement package from HP in 2007, he knew he wanted to focus on giving back to his native Kenya with an educational effort. But he didn't know how to accomplish that goal. He teamed up with Civic Ventures, which has a program to help individuals transition from for-profit sector work into the nonprofit sector. Otieno has used the experience from his fellowship at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation to start the Karibu Rafiki Foundation, which will build schools in Kenya and Sudan. (Karibu rafiki means "Welcome, friend" in Swahili.) "If we can marry the discipline that exists in the corporate world with the passion that exists in nonprofit sector, nonprofits can go a long way in being effective," he says.