Funders & implementing partners

Funders & implementing partners

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


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.

SPRING is thankful for the support of our pro-bono partners, offering added value which allow the Programme to have a more lasting and sustainable impact. Partners are essential in helping the SPRING participating businesses overcome barriers to launching their products and services, and scaling.

We are proud to work with the below corporate partners, who provide low-bono and in-kind technical expertise and other resources.



Hogan Lovells is a leading global law firm providing business-orientated legal advice and high-quality service across its exceptional breadth of practices to clients around the world.

Find out more about SPRING’s partnership with Hogan Lovells, our first corporate partner.

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank provides commercial and investment banking, retail banking, transaction banking and asset and wealth management products and services to corporations, governments, institutional investors, small and medium-sized businesses, and private individuals. Deutsche Bank is Germany’s leading bank, with a strong position in Europe and a significant presence in the Americas and Asia Pacific.

Deutsche Bank is committed to supporting the long-term success of small and early-stage enterprises that create social good. Made for Good applies our business know-how to help these ventures achieve lasting change in society.


SheSays is an award-winning global organisation offering free mentorships, networking and events to women in the creative industry. They are mainly supporting us on the organisation of the International Day of the Girl 2017.
Read our blog article on our kickoff event.


The Yard Creative is a privately owned, award winning design studio based in South London.
Their core design services include interior design, graphic design, strategy, branding and research.

Smart Impact Capital

Smart Impact Capital, part of Duke University Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, addresses the needs and common pitfalls of impact entrepreneurs seeking to raise investment capital. Through action-oriented online resources, Smart Impact Capital allows entrepreneurs to access the right information at the right time.

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 leading African business scale-up accelerator. They grow local and international startups and businesses into exceptional enterprises through business acceleration activities, strategic advice and access to investments. 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)
Learn more
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.
See Patricia on LinkedIn


Co-Regional Lead, East Africa (Rwanda)
Learn more
Sara Leedom is the COO of African Entrepreneur Collective with 15 years of experience in 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.
See Sara on LinkedIn

Kevin Thiong’o

Country Manager, Uganda
Learn more
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. He is also a Facilitator of the Malawi Growth Accelerator program, an initiative of UNDP supporting the growth and scale of Malawian ventures. Kevin has years of experience in management consulting and is the consulting Co-Founder at Bloom Insight Ltd
See Kevin on LinkedIn

Sylvie Richard Kinabo

Country Manager, Kenya and Ethiopia
Learn more
As  the Country Manager for Ethiopia and Kenya, Sylvie works towards ensuring smooth operations within three departments: programme recruitment, programme events and logistics. She is also a Programme Support Lead at GrowthAfrica – a leading acceleration and growth partner for African entrepreneurs. Prior to that, she worked with UK based law firms and joined United Nations Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the The Hague from 2010 to 2012 to work the defence teams on the re-trial of the former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Idris Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj.
See Sylvie on LinkedIn

Rizwaan Khambata

Country Manager, Rwanda & Tanzania
Learn more
Rizwaan Khambata works with SPRING’s Tanzania and Rwanda businesses as they built their prototypes, explore investment opportunities and grow. He also works with The Next Economy program, supporting business incubators and accelerators across Africa to develop strategy and programs that are community-based and increasingly sustainable. Rizwaan has worked on diverse economic development and civil society initiatives with partners such as Oxfam-Novib, Cordaid, AKF, VC4Africa and


Fahad Ifaz

Country Manager, Bangladesh
Learn more
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.

See Fahad on LinkedIn

Luna Shrestha Thakur

Country Manager, Nepal
Learn more
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.
See Luna on LinkedIn

Jo Hill

Country Manager, Nepal
Learn more
Jo Hill is SPRING’s Nepal Country Manger. Previously, was the Executive Director of Waste Ventures Charities, a non-profit in India. In the UK, Jo worked as the Director of Ventures at UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs. She raised £10 million to pilot and roll out the Big Venture Challenge programme to support the most ambitious social entrepreneurs in the UK. Jo started her career in the international development sector with Save the Children. She has spent the last 12 years supporting entrepreneurs and set up her own outdoor fitness business, Open Gym.


Country Manager, Pakistan
Learn more
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.
See Zia on LinkedIn


South Asia Coordinator, Nepal
Learn more
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.
See Carolyn on LinkedIn


Oiza Nicholson

Project Director
Learn more
Oiza is Palladium’s Nigeria Country Manager where she leads a portfolio valued at over £350million pounds. She is an expert in design and implementation of large and complex multiyear development projects across governance and social development sectors, and has led teams that have secured multimillion pound development projects. As DFID’s Programme Manager in Nigeria, she led its governance and social development portfolio expansion and the development of high value multiyear business cases approved by DFID ministers, increasing its GSD portfolio to over £70million pounds annually.
See Oiza on LinkedIn


Learn more
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. 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.
See Rob on LinkedIn

Joost Verwilghen

Chief of Operations
Learn more
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.
See Joost on LinkedIn

Emma Davies

Technical Programme Manager
Learn more
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.
See Emma on LinkedIn


Senior Advisor, Monitoring Evaluation and Learning
Learn more
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.
See Rebecca on LinkedIn

Emily Waters

Monitoring & Evaluation
Learn more
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 randomised 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.
See Emily on LinkedIn

Sabrina Snell

Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser
Learn more
As an M&E adviser to SPRING, Sabrina brings 8 years’ experience in development research, M&E system design and programme monitoring. With a deep love for data—in all its qualitative and quantitative forms—she has worked in a variety of contexts and countries across the four hemispheres, starting her journey in astrometry but ultimately choosing to explore the human side of data. She holds a PhD in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex) and BA and MA degrees in Anthropology from Yale University.

Jessica Kempner

Programme Manager
Learn more
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.
See Jessica on LinkedIn

Julia Hanne

Senior Communications Manager
Learn more
Julia is SPRING’s Senior Communications Manager. Prior to joining SPRING, she worked at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) – the UK’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues – where she managed the  research and policy communications for the institute’s portfolio in development and public finance, growth, poverty, inequality and economics.
See Julia on LinkedIn

Rebecca Hills

Event Manager and Knowledge & Strategic Communications Adviser
Learn more
Rebecca is responsible for SPRINGs events and close-out communications. With 7 years experience in events and communications, she has undertaken various roles on creative teams, including overseeing marketing and communications, events and digital media. She has worked with NGOs, the private sector and government agencies across Australia, the U.A.E and the U.K, supporting domestic initiatives, and programmes across emerging markets. Her expertise is in the design of effective communications, and high-impact stakeholder and client events.
See Rebecca on LinkedIn

Audrey Wong

Project Associate
Learn more
Audrey is responsible for supporting the operational and financial management of SPRING. She is also project managing HDIF currently, a challenge fund which aims to identify and support innovations that have the potential to create social impact in education, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) across Tanzania. Previously, she has managed a DFID global rapid response Business Environment Reform facility.
See Audrey on LinkedIn

Carmen Chapell-Elkin

Project Officer
Learn more
Carmen works in the operational management for SPRING, particularly focusing on the responsible management of grants. She has previous extensive project management experience in Beijing and Shanghai. She holds an MsC in Migration, Mobility and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and a BA Honours in Chinese Studies from the University of Manchester.
See Carmen on LinkedIn


Learn more
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.
See Charlotte on LinkedIn


Ramona Liberoff

Senior Advisor
Learn more
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.
See Ramona on LinkedIn


Technical Director
Learn more
Rebecca has over 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.
See Dr.Rebecca on LinkedIn


Investment Director
Learn more
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.
See Suzanne on LinkedIn



Learn more
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.
See Yves on LinkedIn


Creative and Business Leader
Learn more
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.
See Roo on LinkedIn