Speakers for Cracking the Nut 2014
Chief of Party, USAID Agricultural Growth Program, ACDI/VOCA
Vanessa is the Chief of Party (COP) for USAID’s contribution to the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture-led Agricultural Growth Program, Agribusiness Market Development implemented by ACDI/VOCA. The project has already generated more than $30 million in exports and $26 million in increased farmgate sales, transforming six agricultural commodity value chains to increase incomes and food security for one million smallholder farmers. Previously, as COP for the USAID West Africa Trade Hub, Vanessa facilitated $170 million in exports and catalyzed $20 million in regional and international investments in the agribusiness and manufacturing sectors. She oversaw the development of internationally respected industry alliances in the cashew, shea and transport sectors that have fostered collaboration and increased sustainability with public and private contributors.
Judith Aguga Acon
Technical Director, Access to Finance Rwanda
Judith currently serves as Technical Director of Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR), a company funded by DFID, the World Bank and KFW to support the development of inclusive finance in Rwanda. Previously, she served as the Chief Technical Advisor to UNCDF, UNDP and Ministry of Finance in Lesotho. Judith’s 18 years of work and consulting experience have equipped her with a broad range of practical and policy-related skills. She studied economics at the undergraduate and postgraduate level and has direct experience in the management of financial institutions, fund management, value chain development as well setting up of rural financial systems (such as Village savings and loans methodology, micro leasing, inventory credit, and input credit approaches).
Economic Development Coordinator and Cocoa Life Project Manager, World Vision Ghana
Harry is the Economic Development Coordinator and the Cocoa Life Project Manager for World Vision Ghana. He facilitates interventions that enable people, particularly women and youth, to increase their income earning capacities so that they are sufficiently empowered to provide for their families and assure the wellbeing of children. He is also responsible for facilitating entrepreneurial/business skills and market access opportunities that provide sustainable market solutions to micro entrepreneurs in World Vision Ghana’s operational areas. Harry is an accountant by profession and has working knowledge in microfinance (both microcredit and savings groups) and value chain development.
Programme Manager, Cocoa Sustainability Programme, Mondelez International
Paul works as Programme Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation with the Cocoa Sustainability programme (Cocoa Life) of Mondelēz International. He is an agricultural economist with over 20 years of experience in project planning and monitoring and evaluation in a variety of positions with international private voluntary organizations (PVOs) in Ghana. He has several years of experience working with international PVOs and projects funded by bilateral and international funding agencies, including USAID, where he was involved in the design and implementation of monitoring and evaluation systems and reporting procedures.
Project Manager, Cocoa Life Programme, CARE International
Mawuli works as Project Manager for the Cocoa Life Programme for CARE International in Ghana. His background is in Agricultural Economics and Administration, with 16 years of experience in agriculture and rural development in Ghana. He is very passionate for private enterprise development, especially in agricultural products and value chains. Mawuli previously worked with private agricultural businesses, Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture and with some USAID and other private donor funded agricultural development projects in Ghana. He speaks fluent English, Ewe, Twi and basic French.
Technical Specialist on Sustainable Agriculture, MEDA Ghana
Livinus is MEDA Ghana’s Technical Specialist on Sustainable Agriculture. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Economics and has a broad range of experience in agribusiness and conservation agriculture projects in Ghana. His primary responsibility is providing technical expertise to MEDA’s Grow Project on soybean production and conservation agriculture. Before MEDA, Livinus worked with CARE International for four years as the Project Facilitator of the Conservation Agriculture Project (CAP) in Ghana's upper west region, which aimed at improving soil fertility in particular and environmental and natural resources management in general. He also served as the Project Manager of a local agriculture and food security project, the Lassia Tuolu Agricultural Project (LAP) for five years.
President and CEO, USADF
Shari the is President/CEO of the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), a public corporation in the U.S. government promoting economic development in marginalized, underserved populations. USADF builds capacity and expands businesses at the grassroots level, benefiting 1.2 million people and encouraging shared prosperity. Shari’s 30 year career spans from microfinance to international banking. From 2010-12, she directed USAID’s Microenterprise & Private Enterprise Promotion Office, increasing financial and market resources to rural areas and smallholders. A pioneer in impact investing, she was President/CEO of the Calvert Foundation, a non-profit financial intermediary that mobilizes capital from social investors to meet critical financing needs in communities.
John has been engaged in small enterprise development and finance for more than twenty-five years and has worked in more than 40 countries including long-term positions in Swaziland, Rwanda, Tunisia, and Niger. He has worked with USAID, the United Nations, Peace Corps, and numerous NGOs, foundations, and consulting firms. John speaks French, Spanish, and Zarma, and holds a Master’s degree in Development Economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS. He is the author of Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory and numerous articles on microenterprise development including an assessment of specialty coffee finance in Rwanda for USAID.
Research Project Manager - Agroenterprise in Africa, Murdoch University
Davina is an applied researcher and consultant in the areas of capacity building, development and sustainability. She works with diverse stakeholder groups to build institutional and individual capacity in sustainable livelihoods, governance, cultural awareness and community wellbeing. Currently she is the principal investigator for Agroenterprise in Africa, a collaborative research project between Murdoch University, Catholic Relief Service and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, funded by the AusAID Development Research Award Scheme. This research project explores innovative ways to build the capacity of smallholder farmers in Malawi and Zambia to connect with markets.
Jean Claude Bucumi
Technical Assistant, USAID FEWS NET Rwanda
Jean Claude is a Technical Assistant for the USAID FEWS NET Rwanda program. He has a background in meteorology sciences from Rwanda Meteorology Agency where he worked as in charge of agro-meteorology before moving to the Kirehe community-based Watershed Management Project to serve as the M&E Officer. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Soil and Agriculture Engineering from the Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Busogo.
Programme Manager for Production and Market Development, CRSPT-AKF
Trinnie is the Programme Manager for Production and Market Development with the Coastal Rural Support Programme Tanzania (CRSPT), a local partner of the Aga Khan Foundation Tanzania. She has been heading this component for the past two years, leading the rice and sesame value chain projects in southern Tanzania. She has over 20 years of experience managing businesses in commercial agriculture in the private sector in East Africa, including her own business which she continues to manage in Kenya.
Project Manager & Technical Advisor, Fundacion Paraguaya
Africanus is a Project Manager and Technical Advisor of Fundación Paraguaya’s ‘Financially Self‐Sufficient School’ project in Tanzania. A seasoned professional, he has twelve years of work experience in government, international non-profit organizations and business settings. With a background in Community Development and Business Administration, Africanus thinks that improving rural livelihood and food security needs an integral approach and deep analysis of the community’s intention, behavior, culture and system. His areas of expertise are community project intervention design, organizational systems assessment, business planning, technical education curriculum development and project management.
National Technical Manager, USAID FEWS NET Rwanda
Dan has been the National Technical Manager for FEWS NET in Rwanda for over two years. He previously worked with the UN World Food Programme for seven years as a Vulnerabilty Analysis and Mapping Officer, and also served in various positions within the governments of Rwanda and Tanzania. He holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies, a BBA-Statistics, and an Advanced Diploma in Statistics.
Tanzania Country Office Manager, Fundacion Paraguaya
Julia currently serves as Fundación Paraguaya’s (FP) Tanzania Country Office Manager where she oversees the implementation of a replication project of FP’s ‘Financially Self-Sufficient School’ model in 25 secondary schools in Tanzania. Prior to her move to East Africa, she was Deputy Manager at FP’s headquarters in Asuncion, Paraguay, assisting in different areas to advance the mission and strategy of the organization. Julia first joined FP in 2007 and she is currently based in Morogoro, Tanzania.
Chief of Party, Expanding Financial Inclusion in Africa, Catholic Relief Services
Amy is a microfinance specialist with over 25 years of international experience. She is currently the COP of CRS’ Expanding Financial Inclusion in Africa – a four-country program to scale up CRS’s Savings and Internal Lending Communities. Prior to this, she managed the USAID Rwanda Integrated Improved Livelihoods Program, an integrated rural livelihoods program funded by USAID Feed the Future. She has been in microfinance for 18 years, working in savings-led approaches, financial education and consumer protection, particularly in East and West Africa. Ms. Davis has managed start-up operations for leading global microfinance networks and provided extensive strategic planning, program management, technical assistance and fundraising support for emerging microfinance institutions.
Partner, Dalberg Global Development Advisors
Wouter is a Partner in Dalberg’s Geneva office. His key focus areas are advising clients on sustainable value chains, impact investment and public-private engagement. Wouter has deep experience on agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa and has advised multiple corporations on sourcing and processing a range of commodities in the region. Previously, he worked with the Gates Foundation to analyze potential options for involving the private sector in the global initiative to combat the prevalence of Wheat Rust. Most recently, he helped lead an engagement for the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative focused on developing a multi-party (public/private) cocoa investment portfolio in West Africa. Wouter holds a Master’s degree in Management from the London School of Economics as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Economics from Erasmus University Rotterdam. Recently, he passed his exams to become a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst.
Director, Youth Economic Opportunities, MEDA
Jennifer is the Director of Youth Economic Opportunities at MEDA, leading programming that connects young people with financial services and prepares them for successful entrepreneurship and employment. She manages projects in Egypt, Morocco and Afghanistan, supporting non-formal education, workplace safety initiatives and access to decent work for youth. She also facilitated the SEEP Network’s “Innovations in Youth Financial Services” Practitioner Learning Program. Prior to joining MEDA, Jennifer worked as the pedagogical manager of a teacher training center in Germany, and as a curriculum designer for BRAC’s Nonformal Primary Education Program in Bangladesh. Jennifer holds a M.Ed. in Comparative, International and Development Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT) and an MA from McGill University.
Nimna is the President of FEPROMAS, a federation of gender-mixed maize growers in Senegal’s central zone. Her organization supports small-scale maize producers to secure seasonal credit, access improved technical services and move beyond subsistence to integrate into emerging domestic markets. She supervises contractual maize production and marketing as well asseasonal credit for 3,000 members farming 15,000 acres. Nimna lives in Boubou Dème village in Kaolack (center of Senegal). As a housewife and mother, she runs her own farm unit that grew from 2 hectares in 2009 to 20 hectares now.
Head, Agriculture Finance and Investment, USAID
Elizabeth is the head of the Bureau for Food Security's Agriculture Finance and Investment team at USAID. Focusing on the nexus of private sector investment and international development, she has held positions in microfinance, social investment, corporate social responsibility, public/private partnership development, and investment facilitation. Elizabeth led the effort on behalf of the U.S. Government to secure private sector investment commitments to launch the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in 2012 and recently returned from a secondment with the World Economic Forum, where she served as Head of Investment Mobilization for Grow Africa. Elizabeth is particularly passionate about access to finance issues for SMEs in developing countries. She holds a Master’s degree in International Economics from American University and an undergraduate degree from University of Missouri.
Product Development Manager, BFC
Tatyana is the Product Development Manager for BFC, researching and developing new models in areas such as efficient, low-overhead microfinance, mobile banking, and due diligence. She is focused on finding new ways to leverage technology for lower costs and greater scale. Prior to her current role, Tatyana worked on research and due diligence projects in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Vietnam, Nepal, and Bangladesh, built a web startup, and spent six years as a bank regulator in the United States. Tatyana holds a BA in Finance from the University of Washington and an MBA from Seattle University.
Colin is tasked with utilizing his private sector background to originate deals that will expand linkages between USAID field operations and private firms and investors. Prior to being assigned to Nairobi, Colin led the USAID Economic Growth team in the Dominican Republic. As a software industry veteran, he has helped launch numerous startups and has worked at both Apple and Microsoft. While a volunteer in Nepal, he taught university-level computer science and project management and designed software systems for the government to mitigate the effects of fraud and corruption. He received his MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell.
Head Agricultural Finance, Fortis Microfinance Bank PLC
Eunice is currently Head of the Agriculture Finance Department at Fortis Microfinance Bank PLC. A graduate from the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, she previously worked at Intergrated Microfinance Bank for five years. At Fortis, her responsibilities include implementation of the Central Bank of Nigeria-Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme for Farmers, monitoring agriculture portfolios and implementing extension services at various levels of the agricultural value chain. She has certifications in microfinance, enterprise risk management, credit administration /loan recovery and proficiency in management.
Regional BCC Advisor, Danya International
Moges is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience working in communication and media development in Africa. His background includes work in media training, public sector communication and outreach, strategic communication planning, and behavior change communication. Moges currently provides technical support for behavior change communications components on three FTF projects in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Zambia. Prior to this, he was the contract director on the USAID-funded Zambia Communications Support for Health (CSH) Program. Moges holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Master’s degree in Communications from Johns Hopkins University.
Farmer Field School, Facilitator
Thomas works in agriculture, focusing on maize, common beans and soybean. Since recently, he has been trained by the Rwandan Agriculture Board to become a Farmer Field School (FFS) Facilitator in soybean and common bean. Presently, he has established a new FFS group comprising of 31 farmers who are learning good agronomic practices under his facilitation for a sustainable increase of productivity. He is expecting to skill more farmers through FFS to develop locally adapted solutions to address the various ground constraints.
Head, DFID Rwanda, DFID
Mike is Head of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Rwanda office. He has been in post since August 2012. DFID is working with the Government of Rwanda to develop programmes supporting the country’s nutrition programmes through its work in the agricultural sector. Prior to this, Mike headed DFID’s offices in Zambia, Uganda, Ghana and the Evaluation Department. He has also served in South Africa and the Pacific and Caribbean regions. Mike has helped introduce a wide variety of policy interventions around nutrition and food security, most recently supporting the Government of Zambia with its SUN programme.
Partner & Director: Agriculture & Food Security, Dalberg Global Development Advisors
Angela is the Director of Dalberg’s Agriculture and Food Security Practice. She has served clients in Europe, North and South America, Asia and North, West, East and Southern Africa, including the World Bank, IFC, IFAD, FAO and WFP. Angela has extensive experience working with multinational agribusinesses, indigenous agriSMEs and private equity investors. Her recent work focuses on developing innovative models for financing smallholder farmers. Angela holds an MBA from a joint program at the University of Cape Town and Columbia Business School. She is a contributing author to the book Corporate Citizenship in Africa: Lessons from the Past, Paths to the Future.
Senior Technical Advisor, NCBA/CLUSA
Brook is a Senior Technical Advisor with NCBA/CLUSA, currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. With a Master’s degree in Forestry from Oxford University, he has 20 years of experience working on natural resource management, food security, and agribusiness issues in Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Gabon, Liberia and Indonesia. NCBA/CLUSA manages the ARZIKI program in Niger, and the USAID Yaajeende program in Senegal.
William Carlton Jones Jr.
Associate Director, Monitor Deloitte South Africa
Carlton is an International Management Consultant with over 20 years of experience working in the fields of economic growth, industry and cluster competitiveness, trade and investment, and value chain development. He looks after Monitor Deloitte’s African Economic Development and Competitiveness Practice from Johannesburg, South Africa. As a Development and Trade Economist, Carlton worked in 22 African countries. He has consulted, implemented projects, evaluated and advised various governments, international donors, NGOs, foundations, and private sector clients throughout the world.
Country Manager, Starbucks
Julianne has been the Country Manager for Starbucks Farmer Support Center, Rwanda since 2011. She heads the program whose major focus is ensuring sustainability practices among coffee farmers, processors, and exporters through efficient implementation of C.A.F.E. Practices standards. Before joining Starbucks, Julianne worked with ACDI/VOCA Rwanda in improving the country's food security. She consulted on different environmental impact assessments for USAID projects, and prior to that, she worked as Rural Finance Specialist for USAID Rwanda. Julianne holds a Master's degree in Natural Resources Development, from Texas A&M University, a Certificate in Advanced International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, and a Bachelor's degree in Law from the National University of Rwanda.
Managing Director, Sustainable Agribusiness, Amiran Kenya Ltd.
Yariv is the Deputy Managing Director of Amiran Kenya Limited as well as the Managing Director Sustainable Agribusiness (Food Security and Livelihoods) for the Balton CP Group. He has over thirty years of experience in the agricultural sector. Yariv invented the Amiran Farmers Kit which was awarded for its efforts towards eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (Millennium Development Goal Award MDG1) in 2010 by the UNDP. Prior to his arrival in Kenya, he worked for Makteshim Agan for 19 years, serving in various positions as a Field Agronomist, Herbicides Products Manager and Technical Manager for the company’s operations in Latin America. Yariv holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Master’s in Agriculture Field Crops and Genetics, both from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Rural Finance & Marketing Advisor, Global Communities
Waringa is a development professional with over 18 years of experience in microfinance and promoting sustainable livelihoods. She has worked in both Kenya and Rwanda with various organizations such as Faulu Kenya, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA), Strathmore University. She currently works with Global Communities Rwanda on the USAID funded Integrated Improved Livelihoods Program (IILP) commonly referred to as USAID Ejo Heza. Waringa serves as the Rural Finance and Marketing Advisor, promoting access to and supply of financial services and the promotion of enterprise to rural and agricultural communities in Rwanda. She holds a BA degree in Mathematics and Economics and an MSc in Entrepreneurship.
Mike de Klerk
Facilitator, Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A)
Mike is veteran lecturer in economics and business economics, lecturing first at the University of the Witwatersrand and then at the University of Cape Town for 20 years. His consultancies as a lecturer focused on land reform, agriculture and rural development in South Africa. Post-academic positions include high-level positions at the Land Bank, Human Sciences Research Council, ComMark Trust/Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies and the National Agricultural Marketing Council. Since 2010, as an independent professional consultant, he has undertaken assignments, mainly in the fields of agricultural/rural finance strategy and small farm development. Mike has a B.Com., B.A. Hons with majors in Economics and Mathematics and an M.A. in Economics (with distinction) from the University of Cape Town.
Principal Founder and Managing Director, BFC
Consulting (BFC). As a senior expert in development finance, his key qualifications include strategic and turnaround management, MSME lending development, agricultural and rural finance, product innovations, market research and financial due diligence. He has led and supervised the implementation of numerous MSME downscaling projects, capacity building assignments, and development finance programmes, along with a large number of microfinance and feasibility studies around the world.
Senior Private Sector Advisor, CARE International UK
Alessandra works as Senior Private Sector Advisor (Africa) with the Private Sector Engagement team of CARE International UK. Alessandra has a background in economics with a specialization in sustainable value chain development. She has 18 years of field experience in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia, focusing on enterprise development, the smallholder economy and trade-related issues. Previously she worked with international and local NGOs, micro-finance institutions, the United Nations, the European Union, and academia - as both staff and independent expert. Alessandra speaks fluent English, French and Portuguese, as well as basic Arabic and Ki-Swahili.
Coordinator, Cooperative Development Program, Land O'Lakes
Mary is currently the Enterprise and Co-operative Development Program Leader for Land O'Lakes International Development, based in Kenya. Previously, she served for five years as the Value Chain Coordinator for the USAID Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program (KDSCP), which was implemented by Land O'Lakes. A native of Kenya, Mary has more than 25 years of value chain and business and co-operative development experience. She is a tireless mobilizer who champions the business development service approach to effectively engage all actors along the value chain, including women. Mary is also an accomplished dairy farmer and co-operative member in her own community.
Technical Assistant, USAID FEWS NET Rwanda, Chemonics International
Nadia Musaninkindi is a Technical Assistant for FEWS NET Rwanda, She worked for the National Institute of Statistics as an Agriculture Statistician. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Soils and Environmental Management as well as a Master’s degree in Integrated Soil Fertility Management.
Value Chains Manager, East Africa Exchange
Tim is an experienced manager with over 15 years of experience with a record of increased responsibility working with non-profit organizations and private firms. He is currently working as a value chains manager at the East Africa Exchange, a newly formed regional commodities exchange. Tim is customer-focused with diverse industry experience including agribusiness development, financial management and business development consulting, non-profit management and small and medium enterprise development activities. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, majoring in organizational development and behavioral change.
Lead Social Organizer, Aga Khan Foundation
Elizabeth is a Lead Social Organizer with CRSPT with over 25 years of experience in mobilizing, motivating and organizing communities to engage in rural development activities. Elizabeth, a Tanzanian, joined CRSPT in 2009 and is responsible for facilitating farmers and other stakeholders to engage in the rice and sesame value chains in southern Tanzania. Her role entails creating business opportunities for the private sector by mobilizing and training smallholders to engage effectively and efficiently in new producer-buyer relations.
Senior Nutrition Specialist, Global Communities
Jeanne is a Senior Nutrition Specialist for the USAID Ejo Heza program for Global Communities. She is an employee of Save the Children International Rwanda. Jeanne has 24 years of experience as a nurse and is a veteran trainer and public health professional. She has extensive experience working with international NGOs and within the Rwandan Ministry of Health in both emergency and development contexts. Her work primarily focuses on designing and managing nutrition interventions for the most vulnerable target groups. Previously, she worked in different positions with focuses on program development, evaluation, capacity building and establishing working relationships with stakeholders. She has a Master’s in Public Health from Bugema University, Kampala, Uganda.
Head of Retail Banking, KCB Bank Rwanda
As Head of Retail Banking at KCB Rwanda, George has the responsibilities of achieving financial and non-financial broad objectives around customer service, products and services offering, personal banking and mortgages, functions of branch network, alternative channels development, marketing and communication, staff development, financial inclusion of micro businesses, SME and agribusinesses. After a short stint teaching Mathematics at the University of Nairobi, he joined banking. He has worked in banking for 15 years. George holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Studies and a Master’s in Pure Mathematics, from the University of Nairobi. He also holds a post-graduate Diploma in Corporate Governance (2011) from KCA University in Kenya.
Head of Human Development, Doreo
Chinwe has over seven years of professional experience in international development, having worked with various international organizations including the UN, World Bank, and the Earth Institute. She leads the Human Development Team for Doreo Partners, which includes building capacity of franchised farmers and their field agents. Chinwe has consulted on policy reform as it relates to gender inclusion in education, agriculture, health and governance sectors. In addition, she has experience working with Nigerian SMEs as a Program Coordinator responsible for leadership training and SME development for LEAP Africa. Prior to joining Doreo, she worked as a Business Development Analyst at Google Nigeria.
Microfinance Advisor AIM Youth, Freedom from Hunger
Maazou has served as the Technical Advisor for Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth at Freedom from Hunger since March 2012. He is the primary regional contact with partner organizations of the youth microfinance initiative in West Africa and oversees the coordination and monitoring of all regional activities related to the project. He has nine years of experience in the microfinance sector. Before joining Freedom from Hunger, Oumarou was the Manager of a microfinance cooperative named Niyya. Previously has served as a Branch Manager at the MFI, Asusu Ciigaba, Microfinance Advisor at Plan International in Niger, and Health – Microfinance Project Manager at PlaNet Finance. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a specialization in Management from Ahmadu Bello University Nigeria. He speaks French and English.
Program Manager, Coffee Initiative, TechnoServe
Nupur is TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative Program Manager in Rwanda. Prior to her current role, she served as the program’s Monitoring and Evaluation Manager. Nupur has strong technical skills in monitoring and evaluation methods and has been instrumental in driving a number of innovative IT initiatives that leverage cellular technology to create systems of accountability and transparency at the wet-mill businesses. Before TechnoServe, she worked at Ernst & Young as an international tax consultant. Nupur holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and International Development from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Smith College.
Lead Investment Manager, Karisimbi Capital Partners
Jon is the Lead Investment Manager for Karisimbi Capital Partners, an investment firm based in Kigali, Rwanda. Through a combination of financial capital, management expertise and on-the-ground insight, KCP is unlocking sustainable value for the Rwandan economy by propelling Rwandan enterprises toward the summit of their potential – one company at a time. Before leading Karisimbi Partners’ investment efforts Jon worked for several years as a Lead Consultant for Karisimbi Partners’ consulting arm and prior to that, he worked with Mercer Consulting, a top global consulting firm in their Los Angeles office. Jon graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in International Business and Global Development.
Senior Manager, Monitor Deloitte South Africa
Pradeep is a Senior Manager with Monitor Deloitte. He has deep experience and expertise in designing and implementing market-based solutions for social change and has worked extensively in the Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. He has been advising a number of private foundations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and development finance banks/organizations on their strategies and on ways in which they could leverage private sector to address development challenges. Over the last two years, Pradeep has been focused on helping a number of African governments design private sector investment strategies in the agriculture sector. He has experience in agriculture development, water and sanitation and public health.
Director of Youth Microfinance, Freedom from Hunger
Rossana is the Director of Youth Microfinance at Freedom from Hunger. She has 12 years of experience linking financial services to low-income communities. Her primary areas of expertise include youth-inclusive financial services and financial education, training, market research and program assessments. Rosanna has extensive experience with project management and qualitative analysis. She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, a Master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and French from Rice University. She speaks fluent Spanish and English, and is proficient in Portuguese and French.
Adil is a seasoned microfinance practitioner who rose through the ranks of Zakoura, a Microfinance Institution (MFI) in Morocco, which tops the MIX Global 100 list. Since 2002, he has been consulting with a range of microfinance institutions, donors and microfinance network organizations throughout Africa and the Middle East. Adil has significant experience as team leader designing and launching microfinance programs, including developing a branch network, designing, pilot-testing and rolling out new products, human resource strategy development and performance indicator monitoring. Adil is a solid trainer who has been providing training in numerous microfinance training modules and is certified in social management and social audit for microfinance institutions.
Chief of Party, USAID Akazi Kanoze, Education Development Center
Melanie is highly experienced in designing and implementing programs for youth livelihoods development and entrepreneurship. She currently serves as Chief of Party of the Rwanda Youth Project, AKAZI KANOZE, launching EDC’s youth workforce development activities in Rwanda. Prior to that, she served as Project Director for the EQUIP3 IDEJEN project in Haiti, a USAID funded youth education and workforce development project targeting 13,000 marginalized 15-24-year-old youth. Prior to joining EDC, Melanie launched and managed an international network of young social entrepreneurs, the Common Futures Forum in Washington DC. She has Master’s degrees in Business Administration and European Geopolitics.
Country Project Manager, MEDA
Catherine is an international development professional with over 25 years of NGO experience, primarily around implementing economic development projects geared towards women’s economic empowerment in post-conflict countries like Bosnia, Eritrea and Afghanistan. Catherine worked for 14 years with CARE managing their economic development and microfinance projects in the Philippines, Eritrea and Afghanistan. At present, she is connected with MEDA as Country Project Manager for their $20M CIDA-funded Food Security Project in Northern Ghana. Before Ghana, she managed the Through the Garden Gate Project of MEDA in Afghanistan.
Belgian Development Agency BTC, Program Co-manager
Raf Somers holds a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Ghent University in Belgium. He is currently the co-manager of a Belgian-funded program on seed and advisory service with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda. He worked in Vietnam for ten years as coordinator of a research program, co-manager of a dairy development program, and managing director of an agricultural service company. Raf has a keen interest in increasing the income of smallholders by promoting the use of good agricultural practices. The program he is currently managing in Rwanda is working with 2500 facilitators who reach out to more than 200,000 households.
Director, Karisimbi Business Partners
Hunter is the Director of Karisimbi Business Partners, a management consulting firm based in Kigali Rwanda. The firm has worked with more than 60 Rwandan organizations across almost every sector of the economy to provide strategic analysis, financial analysis, and program planning and implementation. Prior to his time in Kigali, Hunter worked as a Vice President at Capital One Bank in the United States, leading teams focused on operational strategy and customer experience, and worked as a Senior Consultant for Dominion Digital, Inc., a Virginia-based consulting firm.
Country Director, Kenya, Global Communities
Kimberly is the Country Director for Global Communities in Kenya where she design and helped oversee the Protecting and Restoring Economic Sustainability to Ensure Reduced Vulnerability (PRESERV) program. The program worked with smallholders in the arid/semi-arid areas of eastern Kenya to recover from years of successive droughts while improving their long-term food security by maximizing value of agricultural assets through increased productivity, nutrient balanced diets and improved market linkages. She has over 20 years of experience in economic strengthening and livelihoods development including financial services, working in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
M&E Officer, Fortis Microfinance Bank
Joseph is a veterinary doctor and Monitoring /Evaluation Officer in the Agriculture Finance Department of Fortis Microfinance Bank PLC. He is responsible for analyzing applicants' financial status, as well as credit and property evaluation as part of the loan process. He also monitors and manages the agricultural loan portfolio of Fortis, ensuring minimum Portfolio at Risk (PAR) levels. His past experiences include working in Rudof Farms Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and Ndiagu & Hu Farms Abakiliki, Ebony. Joseph has been trained in various courses that include Agriculture Extension Services, Credit Analysis and Agriculture Value Chain management.
Head Bank PLC, Abuja, Fortis Microfinance Bank
Ucha is the Head of Business Development Finance at Fortis Microfinance Bank PLC. She is a Microfinance Trainer certified by Central Bank of Nigeria and the World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center. Ucha holds certificates from Columbia Business School Executive Programme New York, West London College London, School of Applied Microfinance Kenya, Ateneo de Manila University Philippines, ICECD India and the ILO’s “Making Microfinance Work”. She is a 2010 MasterCard of Canada Foundation Scholar, and part of the core team that initially set up Fortis Microfinance Bank PLC, Fortis Academy and recently Fortis Mobile Money.
Nathan Van Dusen
Africa Director, Carana Corporation
Nathan is an international development expert with 13 years of experience in democratic, social and economic development. As the Africa Director for CARANA Corporation, he oversees a portfolio of projects covering 24 Sub-Saharan African countries, where CARANA is empowering communities to take advantage of market opportunities that have a dramatic impact on their livelihoods. He has served as a technical advisor on projects in Eastern Europe and Africa for the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of State, World Bank, World Trade Organization, U.K. Department for International Development, Canadian International Development Agency, AusAID, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and U.N. Development Program. Prior to joining CARANA, Nathan served as Deputy Director for Africa at the International Foundation for Election Systems, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the administration of free and fair elections worldwide.
Sr. Technical Advisor MF Africa, CRS
Guy is Catholic Relief Services’ Senior Technical Advisor for Microfinance in Africa. In this role, he is responsible for strengthening the capabilities of CRS and partner staff, reviewing and adapting best practices in rural finance, and working with the regional team to integrate microfinance activities into other CRS programs. Guy developed CRS’ Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) model and supported its roll-out in more than 34 countries reaching over 1.2 million members. He also developed a market-based delivery model, called Private Service Providers (PSP), whereby communities pay a fee for SILC training. Fluent in Dutch, French and English, Guy grew up in Keerbergen in Northeast Belgium. He holds a Master’s of Science in Applied Economy from Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Moritz Waldstein Wartenberg
Transparency Innovations Manager, TechnoServe
Moritz is TechnoServe's Transparency Innovations Manager for the coffee sector. He is tasked with developing and marketing new transparency solutions for the coffee sector with a focus on East Africa. Prior to his work for TechnoServe he co-founded Coffee Circle in Berlin, Germany. Since 2010, Coffee Circle has worked exclusively using a direct trade model, offering specialty coffees primarily sold via the Internet. Moritz was named the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) Young Entrepreneur of the year 2012. Previously, he worked as a management consultant for Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and co-founded the NGO PROJECT-E, focusing on vocational training for girls in Addis Ababa. Moritz studied History at the University of Vienna, before obtaining an MSc in International Management from ESCP Europe. He is an Austrian national and based in Addis Ababa.
Deputy Director, Financial Inclusion, The MasterCard Foundation
Lindsay is the Deputy Director, Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation. She brings over fifteen years of experience in economic development, having lived and worked in numerous countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. She recently led the Economic Growth Team of the UK Department for International Development’s Rwanda office where she established a large microfinance support project along with a portfolio of growth-related projects in agriculture, land tenure reform, and trade. Lindsay holds a Master’s in Economics from the University of Toronto, a Master’s of Public Policy from Carleton University, and an undergraduate degree from McGill University.
Maurice Wiener is a Haitian Enterprise Development and Market Promotion Specialist with more than 25 years of experience in strengthening a variety of value-chains throughout East-Africa and Haiti including coffee, cocoa, tea, mango, pyrethrum, cut flowers and passion-fruit. His experience in technical and management roles includes Chief of Party for the USAID Agribusiness Development Assistance to Rwanda (ADAR) project. He provided technical assistance, training and financial support for the construction of 28 coffee washing stations, helped participating coffee farmers double revenues, established linkages between Rwandan private investors and American/European coffee importers/roasters, and spearheaded Rwanda’s entry into the specialty coffee market, mainly Starbucks.
Senior Household Economic Strengthening Advisor, USAID
Jason is Senior Household Economic Strengthening Advisor with USAID's Office of HIV/AIDS, where he supports PEPFAR country teams, projects, and partners to improve the economic circumstances of families affected by HIV and AIDS. Previously he served for five years with USAID’s Microenterprise Development office promoting inclusive value chain development, managing the Enterprise Development Implementation Grant Program, contributing to knowledge management and collaborative learning efforts, and coordinating special initiatives with youth, HIV/AIDS-affected households, and conflict-affected environments. Jason has 15 years of experience designing, managing, and assessing market development and technology transfer projects in 45 countries, with a particular emphasis on poor, rural, and marginalized communities.
Communications & Outreach Specialist, Landesa
Bee is a Communications Specialist with Landesa, where she directs the Focus on Land in Africa project. Landesa is a global nonprofit that works to attain secure land rights for the world’s poorest people, as a tool to provide opportunity, further economic growth and promote social justice. Previously, Bee was Senior Vice President of Social Impact with the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, where she worked closely with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on communications for agricultural development. Bee also served as Vice President, Global Health and Development, at Burness Communications, where she worked for ten years.