Our Team

Who is SPRING?

EAST AFRICA

Kevin Thiong’o

Kevin has worked across East and Central Africa supporting the growth of scalable enterprises through acceleration programs, investment-readiness support and access to investments. He is a Growth Catalyst at GrowthAfrica, East Africa’s premier accelerator program that has supported over 1,500 across Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia. Kevin is SPRING’s Uganda Country Manager, assisting the companies in the transformation of the lives of adolescent girls. He is also a Facilitator of the Malawi Growth Accelerator program, an initiative of UNDP supporting the growth and scale of Malawian ventures. He has extensively worked with both early and growth stage businesses to develop innovative business models for renewed competitiveness.

Kevin has years of experience in management consulting, and is a a co-founder at Bloom Insight Ltd, a consulting firm that assists businesses boost their performance, improve key processes, and increase efficiencies. He worked with C4D Lab, the University of Nairobi’s business incubator for early-stage tech startups, focusing on attainment of product-market fit and optimum utilization of resources available.

Kevin holds an MBA (Strategic Management), a Bachelor’s Degree in Land Economics from the University of Nairobi, and is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Sylvie Richard Kinabo

Sylvie holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from The University of Manchester and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from United States International University (USIU). She worked as SPRING’s Uganda Country Manager from 2014 – 2016 Having successfully established programme activities in Uganda, from April 2017 her role evolved to Country Manager for Ethiopia and Kenya, working closely in ensuring smooth operations within three departments: programme recruitment, programme events and logistics. Her overall experience prior to GrowthAfrica has been with UK based Law Firms from 2006 to 2010. She then joined United Nations Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), The Hague from 2010 – 2012 and worked on the defence teams for the re-trial of the former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Idris Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. She has been involved with the general recruitment, selection, interviews and coordination of various programme activities ensuring top success for each programme. She is passionate about social justice, social change and entrepreneurship

Richard Obuobi

Richard has an inquiring mind with years of experience in analysing simple to complex deal structures, developing capital markets, supporting and leading policy initiatives by Governments, providing pricing guidance for multi-million dollar transactions and providing business advisory services to SMEs and large corporates across West, East and Southern Africa.

An international development professional with expertise in economics, investment, risk, development finance and private sector engagement, a Part Qualified Actuary and Risk Professional (Certified Financial Risk Manager, Certified Energy Risk Professional), Richard remains a generalist at heart, curious about all business issues and very open to sharing ideas and his experience. His international experience spans more than 20 countries in Africa and Europe. He’s also an entrepreneur who has set up businesses in Kenya and Ghana including Africa Risk Institute and Impact Risk Analytics.

PATRICIA JUMI

Co-Regional Lead, East Africa (Kenya)

Patricia has worked across Africa and Europe building international partnerships to help East African startups flourish. She is the Managing Director of GrowthAfrica, which has helped more than 1500 East African businesses scale through mentorship, training, and patient capital. She is an Acumen Fund East Africa Fellow and earned her BBA-Marketing from Makerere University in Uganda and her MBA from Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. Patricia leads and manages all Kenyan SPRING staff, operations, networks, and activities.

SARA LEEDOM

Co-Regional Lead, East Africa (Rwanda)

Sara Leedom is the COO of African Entrepreneur Collective with 15 years experience growing and managing social impact organisations, providing operations and fundraising strategy to growing nonprofits and social enterprises. Sara’s funded early stage tech startups in Ghana via SBS Venture Fund, and has developed affordable housing throughout the US. Former positions include: Interim Executive Director and Director of Strategy for the Level Playing Field Institute in California, MD of Inkomoko Accelerator in Rwanda, and co-chair of the Oxford Business Network for Africa. She has a BA in English with an emphasis on African literature, and an MBA from Oxford University.

SOUTH ASIA

Fahad Ifaz

Bangladesh Country Manager

After spending a few years at Katalyst; a pro-poor Market Systems Development program and at the World Bank, Fahad co-founded EDGE Consulting. EDGE specializes in economic, business and innovation at the bottom of the pyramid and works with major international development organizations, private sector and government clients. Fahad spent the last 2 years in Myanmar, supporting a large scale market systems development program. Fahad also co-founded Misfit Technologies, a company that has human centered design at its core and works on agritech, artificial intelligence and IoT solutions for complex problem solving.

Luna Shrestha Thakur

Nepal Country Manager

Luna is the Founding Director of ChangeFusion Nepal, a non-governmental organisation that nurtures aspiring change makers in diverse fields within social entrepreneurship. As an author of travelogue ‘A Journey to Self’, her book is an inspiration for young women who seek to pursue their dreams. She was the leader of Youth Action Fund Nepal for three consecutive years from 2011 and has been working closely with the youth and social change makers of Nepal. She has previously consulted with the British Council, and has worked with Save the Children and the Asia Foundation. She was named as one of five finalists for ‘Women Leader in the World’ by World Pulse magazine.

ZIA IMRAN

Pakistan Country Manager

Zia is an entrepreneur, inventor and startup adviser who is currently involved in a project building home automation and energy saving devices based on IoT technologies. He is the founding member of Plan9, one of the largest tech incubators in Pakistan. He has founded IT services and product companies, and has over 15+ years of Silicon Valley experience in product development and program management at companies including Oracle and Altera (now Intel). Imran is also a part-time farmer, helping manage his family farm. He believes in equality for children from early age to adulthood – providing equal access to education and healthcare throughout the life-cycle, leading to fulfilling and meaningful careers for adults in Pakistan and beyond.

CAROLYN SYANGBO

South Asia Coordinator (Nepal)

Carolyn handles and overseas operations for the programme across Asia. She has lived in Kathmandu, Nepal for over 20 years and is Managing Director of Durbar Associates, a film-handling and event management company. Often considered the “go to” person in Nepal Carolyn has managed a wide range of international film projects, ecotourism study tours, purchase and design guidance for products and services produced in Nepal and India, and logistical management for international events.

LONDON

Ramona Liberoff

Senior Advisor

Ramona has worked for 20+ years at the corner of innovation and globalisation, leading large global insight relationships for clients like Vodafone, Pepsico and HSBC, leading innovation teams for Unilever, and also acting as an investor for an angel portfolio of high growth change the world start-ups and occasional founder, most recently of a radically inclusive transport start-up.

Emma Davies

Technical Programme Manager

Emma Davies is a Technical Programme Manager with 13 years’ experience in strategic partnerships and knowledge mobilization within the international development sector.  Areas of expertise include innovation and technology, gender and inclusion, strategic planning, knowledge mobilization and communications

Joost Verwilghen

Chief of Operations

Joost has over 20 years of experience in managing large and complex international development programmes with numerous donors, including DFID, DFAT and EC. He started his career in South Asia where he worked and lived for more than 5 years. Joost is SPRING’s COO, responsible for programme delivery, budget management of the SPRING Accelerator and successful implementation of services by the SPRING team in collaboration with consortium partners, technical experts, and consultants.

Jessica Kempner

Programme Manager

Jess is responsible for managing SPRING projects, including Business Additional Funding (BAF) and capital raising support provision. Prior to joining the Economic Growth team at Palladium, she worked as Business Development Manager for The Social Investment Consultancy, a social change strategy consultancy specialising in impact. She conducted research for the Womanity Foundation, mapping trends in women’s media participation across the MENA region, and has done freelance translation work for BBC Newsnight. She holds an MSc in Middle East Politics from the University of SOAS, and a BA in French and Arabic from the University of Oxford.

Emily Waters

Monitoring & Evaluation

Emily is part of the SPRING Monitoring & Evaluation Team, helping to capture and interpret the results of our work. She has over 10 years of experience in research and M&E for development programs in the US and Africa, running the gamut from designing performance monitoring systems and qualitative research to managing randomized controlled trials. She enjoys working with businesses to conceptualize and demonstrate impact, adapting tools and methods to be relevant and practical given the topic and level of rigor required. Emily holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Colorado and an MPH from UNC Chapel Hill.  She has been with SPRING since its inception, first as part of the Nairobi team now as a consultant based in Kyiv, Ukraine.

ROBERT HAYNIE

CEO

Robert Haynie has over 17 years of experience leading initiatives that bring together governments, companies, entrepreneurs, foundations, and non-profit organisations to address complex global challenges. His passion and expertise focuses on using innovative, market-based approaches to drive social change and generate economic prosperity for communities in need. He brings experience from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Booz Allen Hamilton, FleishmanHillard, and Microsoft Corporation. As CEO, Rob oversees all aspects of SPRING programme delivery and works closely with the partner consortium to disseminate lessons learned from SPRING’s pioneering model.

REBECCA SPOHRER

Knowledge & Policy

Rebecca has 6+ years of experience in development program design, management and learning. Previously at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Rebecca provided technical and managerial support to a range of programs focusing on improving nutrition through market-based solutions across Africa and Asia. Rebecca has authored numerous publications on best practices and lessons learned, and is passionate about capturing what works, what doesn’t, why, and how. Rebecca holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA in management of international organisations from the University of Geneva.

CHARLOTTE BLUNDY

Operations

Charlotte is responsible for supporting the operational and financial management of SPRING. She has over five years of experience in the operational management of social and economic empowerment and governance programmes, with a focus on Southern Africa, North Africa and the Middle East. Charlotte has worked on a broad range of projects run by institutional donors, NGOs, INGOs and media networks, including Triple Line Consulting, WarChild UK and Al Jazeera. She holds an M.SC. in Violence, Conflict and Development, from the School of Oriental and African Studies and a BA Honours in Arabic Studies from the University of Manchester.

ADVISORS

DR. REBECCA CALDER

Technical Director

Rebecca is a thought leader and world-class expert in the sphere of economic empowerment of adolescent girls. She has more than 20 years of experience as a gender and social exclusion adviser and has produced a significant body of research that has informed policy for national governments and multilateral sponsors. Rebecca is an international authority and her on-going research into the inclusion and empowerment of adolescent girls continues to be on the cutting edge of gender-based development research.

SUZANNE BIEGEL

Investment Director

Suzanne has more than 30 years of experience in entrepreneurship, training and communications, and investing for social impact. Over the course of her career she has occupied executive, manager, board member, and team leader roles for multidisciplinary programmes, as well as a number of short-term consultancies on socially responsible business and social impact investing. Suzanne has trained hundreds of entrepreneurs on methods for raising capital and has designed and implemented investment programmes, networks, and partnerships in the US, UK, and Europe. She has been working to raise capital and the profile of impact investing for positive change for girls and women for more than five years.

FUSEPROJECT

YVES BÉHAR

Designer

Yves is the Founder of fuseproject and an award-winning industrial designer and entrepreneur. He has extensive experience in developing innovative product solutions and taking them to scale in emerging markets. Yves is a powerful advocate for design as an agent of change. Yves was the Chief Industrial Designer of the One Laptop Per Child XO laptop, which works to make educational devices that are affordable for those living in developing and emerging economies. His works are included in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, and he is a frequent speaker on design, sustainability, and business topics.