Who We Are

Who We Are

DFID, Nike Foundation, USAID and Girl Effect collaborated to create a pioneering business accelerator that represents the shared belief that providing economic empowerment to girls is a critical step for ending global poverty.

Who is Funding SPRING?



The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme global poverty by creating jobs and building vibrant local economies.



The Nike Foundation, inspired by Nike’s belief in human potential, supports charities and non-profit organisations delivering positive change in communities. The Nike Foundation invests in and supports the Girl Effect and girls’ unique potential to end poverty for themselves and the world.



The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provides economic, developmental, and humanitarian assistance to help end extreme global poverty.

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The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)’s purpose is to help make Australia stronger, safer and more prosperous by promoting and protecting our interests internationally and contributing to global stability and economic growth. The department provides foreign, trade and development policy advice to the government. We work with other government agencies to ensure that Australia’s pursuit of its global, regional and bilateral interests is coordinated effectively.

Who is delivering SPRING?



African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC) is a network of business accelerators in East Africa with the goal of job creation through youth entrepreneur development. Locally branded as “Inkomoko” in Rwanda and “Anza” in Tanzania, AEC provides more than 100 entrepreneurs annually with capacity building, mentorship, technical support, and access to low-cost finance.



Global experts in Human-Centred Design. fuseproject designs brands and gets products to market, from game-changing startups to world icons like One Laptop Per Child. Clients include Facebook, Pepsi, Paypal, Google, and General Electric.



A business incubation hub in East Africa that works with local and international companies to grow their businesses Africa. GrowthAfrica was founded on the desire and mission to proactively contribute to the social and economic growth of African economies through strengthening of the competitiveness of local enterprises.



Palladium develops and delivers solutions that create positive impact for communities, businesses, societies and economies. For 50 years, Palladium has supported the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of development projects and has extensive expertise in the empowerment of girls and innovative market reform to improve lives worldwide.

Who is SPRING?




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.



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.



East Africa Coordinator (Kenya)

Charity handles and overseas operations for the programme across East Africa. She is a seasoned administrative, logistics and operations professional with over 10 year of experience in her field. Prior to joining SPRING, Charity was a direct selling representative and worked with the Capital Markets Authority, Kenya for over five years spearheading their investor education and market development initiatives. She has a Bsc in Business Administration from the United States International University, Africa, and also holds a Higher Diploma in Human Resources Management.


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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.


Minhaz Anwar

Bangladesh Country Manager

Minhaz has over ten years of experience working on innovation and technology projects. He is a founding member of the Bangladesh StartUp movement and BizCube, Chief StoryTeller at BetterStories Asia, Bangladesh Director at the Founder Institute (the world’s largest entrepreneur and startup launch program) and Founding Advisor at Future Strategy Group. He has delivered a number of projects in collaboration with the British Council, Save the Children, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, London Fashion College and Oxfam on a wide range of subjects from policy, fashion, inclusive business, entrepreneurship and sexual health.



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.



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.





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.




Janet comes from a mixed background of international development and business, and has experience working in Asia, Africa and Latin America. She previously worked on DFID’s Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and most recently for Atkins management consultancy focusing on public sector procurement, business and process improvement, and strategy development. Janet is passionate about sustainable holistic initiatives that bring real change and positive impact to communities and society.

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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 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.


Aurelie Faugier


Aurelie is an established NGO and corporate manager with 10 years working experience from multinational firms to start up NGOs, and from government to social businesses, in Europe and India. She enjoys multicultural fast moving environments that share her passion for increasing opportunities for marginalised communities around the world, especially women and girls.
In previous lives, Aurelie was posted in India, Operations & Comms manager for a start-up NGO, and in Barcelona, as a first generation digital marketer. Aurelie holds an MSc in management.




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.



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.





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.



Creative and Business Leader

Roo works at the intersection of business innovation and entrepreneurial methodology. As a consultant to executive leadership teams, Roo has created transformative growth strategies across financial, CPG, technology, and sustainably-focused industries, including Pepsi, Alliance Bernstein, LinkedIn, MySpace, GE, and Seventh Generation. His focus is on delivering holistic solutions that combine creative and business thinking to help clients tap into the entrepreneur’s “challenger” mindset. He has a prioritised focus on activation, understanding that good ideas and good businesses don’t mean anything unless they succeed in the marketplace.