Nicholas Colloff – Chair of the Board of Directors
Nicholas Colloff is the executive director of the Argidius Foundation, a family foundation, that focuses on supporting innovative business development services in emerging markets as a tool for poverty reduction. Prior to this he was the Director of Innovation at Oxfam GB, the founder of two successful small enterprise banks in Eastern Europe and the co-founder of Basic Needs that has pioneered social franchising its groundbreaking model for community mental health in low income countries.
Dr. Michele Bruni – Co-founder and Technical Director
Dr. Bruni holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Agricultural Science and Technology. He has a strong drive to explore solutions that serve the public good and meet the challenges of base of pyramid actors. Dr. Bruni’s passion for exploring global challenges has taken him from his home in Italy to live and work in over twenty-eight countries over the past ten years. This has inspired him to work with business partners and networks to build an enterprise around developing technical solutions to some of the most complex social and economic problems he encountered along the way. These solutions combine technological components with sound business acumen, political astuteness and an uncommon capacity to admit to occasional failure. A thought leader in the rural development sector, Dr. Bruni is a published writer with more than a dozen papers and book contributions on topics ranging from ecosystems and markets to climate change. He currently resides in Italy with his wife and two young children.
Tim Chambers – Co-founder and Managing Director
Tim, a Zimbabwean, co-founded InspiraFarms on the back of ten years of collaborative R&D projects in technology and agribusiness across the tropics. With a background in business (MBA, London), science (MSc, UCL) and sociology (BA, UCT), Tim has founded successful (and unsuccessful) tech and advisory companies and supported entrepreneurs around the world through research and coaching. Tim manages the company and its operations in between spending his time with his wife and son in Sevenoaks in the UK.
Seth Silverman – Investor & Director
Seth Silverman is Venture Manager and Director of Africa Operations with Factor[e] Ventures, a venture impact investing fund that seeks to improve lives in developing countries through increased access to sustainable energy and related services. Seth is responsible for building and deepening Factor[e]’s presence in sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, Seth managed Kenya operations for the One Acre Fund, a social enterprise that supplies smallholder farmers with the financing, inputs, and training. Seth has a J.D. from NYU School of Law, M.Sc. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University, and B.A. from Stanford University.
Emmanuel Beau – Investor & Board Observer
Emmanuel is Investment Manager & Co-founder of Energy Access Ventures, venture firm that invests in dynamic and innovative companies working in energy access in Africa, having as sponsor and investor the French multinational Schneider Electric and investors such as CDC Group (UK), the European Investment Bank, the Fonds d’Investissement et de Soutien aux Entreprises en Afrique (FISEA) the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). Emmanuel has broad experience in Cleantech, Infrastructure, SME’s development and renewable energy finance projects in African countries. Emmanuel holds a Masters degree in Territorial and Urban Strategies from Sciences Po, Paris. He also studied Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis, California.
Ben Gomes-Casseres – Senior Advisor
Ben Gomes-Casseres is a professor at Brandeis University International Business School and previously was a professor at Harvard Business School. Before that, he was an economist at the World Bank. He is an expert on partnership strategy and management, having studied, taught, and consulted on these topics for thirty years. His newest book is “Remix Strategy: The Three Laws of Business Combinations”, published by Harvard Business Review Press. His two previous books on the topic are “The Alliance Revolution” and “Mastering Alliance Strategy”. His research also appears in numerous articles, handbook chapters, blogs, and videos, and has been cited in the business press; see www.alliancestrategy.com. Ben consults widely with companies seeking to create value from external resources and to improve the way they manage business partnerships. He earned a DBA in international business from Harvard, an MPA in economic development from Princeton, and a BA in history and in economics from Brandeis. A native of Curaçao, he speaks four languages.
Caroline Bressan – Special Advisor
Caroline Bressan is the Portfolio Manager of Open Road Alliance where she works to provide both grant and loan contingency funding to social organizations who hit unexpected roadblocks. Previously, she was an Investment Principal at D. Capital, the investment advisory wing of Dalberg where she built a pipeline of impact investment opportunities in Africa and worked on designing impact bonds. Prior to that, she worked as an Investment Officer at Calvert Foundation, where she managed its $20 million portfolio focused on financial inclusion and sustainable agriculture in Latin America. Caroline received her MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.
Trista Vincent – Special Advisor
Trista Vincent is a writer, creative director and communications strategist. With 18 years of experience in journalism and advertising and a body of award-winning work that spans five continents, numerous brands and most media, you could say she is something of a traveller. Her latest explorations have taken her away from global ad agency networks, toward helping big companies become more socially responsible and socially responsible companies become big. Trista holds a B.A. Journalism from Toronto’s Ryerson University and an MSc. Advertising from Dublin’s DIT. A citizen of Canada and the UK, she can usually be found in her adopted home of Dublin, Ireland.
Brenton Nestler – Special Advisor
Brenton is an internationally certified facilitator and coach through, amongst others. the NeuroLeadership Group as a Results Coaching Systems Executive, Team and Life Coach, and the Learning Performance Institute as a Certified Online Learning Facilitator, which enables delivery of facilitation and coaching through online connection tools to an audience that can be anywhere in the world where the Internet is available. He specializes in helping leaders, teams and organizations develop their Sales, Customer Service, Communication and Coaching capabilities, where it’s far more effective and productive to talk With others, instead of At them. Brenton is based in South Africa but works with a global client base. Two of his favorite sayings are “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” and “It’s never too late, to have a happy childhood!”
Ruth Knagg – Special Advisor
Ruth Knagg is a freelance fundraiser, acting as a voluntary advisor to Inspira Farms. She studied maths at university that she’s only ever used in a brief stint teaching maths in a rural Zimbabwean school that, in itself, was an escape from 6 years of marketing the UK consumer magazine “Which?”. For the last 20 years, Ruth has been focussed on fundraising and communication for charities, 14 of those years spent on international development projects, and 4 in the UK arts festival sector, before she turned freelance in 2013. Most recently, Ruth set up a new voluntary organisation where she lives in Somerset to launch a community share scheme to buy 35 acres of meadow pasture.
Mengnan(Cliff) Zhu – Special Advisor
Mengnan(Cliff) Zhu, a chartered Project Management Professional(PMP), holds a Master Degree in Finance from Brandeis University in Boston, and an MBA focused on international business. Cliff has 4 years of experience working with an investment company who actively involved in the development of clean energy industry in China. With solid knowledge and practice in both financial and operational risk management, Cliff specializes in project evaluation, risk-adjusted capital budgeting and quantitative modeling. Cliff is currently studying PhD at Brandeis University and lives with his wife in the United States.
Paula Rodriguez – Community & Business Development Manager
Paula holds a BA in Political Science, and Master of International Relations from Javeriana University of Colombia, and holds a Master of Public Administration from SDA Bocconi of Italy. Paula has experience in developing technology and market-based solutions for the base of the pyramid. She has extensive experience in rural micro enterprises development, rural youth empowerment, crowd-funding and poor’s financial inclusion, having participated in diverse projects and initiatives across Latin America. Paula was born in Colombia and now resides in Italy with her husband and her young child.
Luke Davey – East Africa Manager
Luke is a Kenyan citizen who has lived in Africa since birth bar a short stint in the UK to attend university. Having lived on farms in Kenya & Zambia, Luke is at home in the fields and sincerely wishes he could spend more time on the small farm he owns with his wife Chloe in northern Kenya. Luke is a qualified Equine Dental Technician with a small business covering Eastern Africa which he oversees whilst developing his qualifications in project management and working with the InspiraFarms team in East Africa. Luke was enticed by the off grid capacity of the InspiraFarms modules as he personally has a farm that is completely off grid and understands the frustrations of other remote farmers and the benefits that InspiraFarms can offer.
Fernando Cojulun – Central America Director
Fernando is leading the country operations in Guatemala and the entire region. Is was in charge for the pilot operations of InspiraFarms in Guatemala, and looking for the business expansion in other nearby countries. Fernando has ten years of experience working with large scale rural development programmes involving global food supply chains, and is particularly experienced in working directly with smallholder farmers in the field. Fernando holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and post-graduate qualifications in project management and agriculture. Fernando is based in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Giovanni Gallina – Technical Operations/Structures Lead Engineer
Giovanni’s motto is “engineers are to solve problems”. With a MSc in Structural Engineering and Materials’ Engineering leads the technical designs and supports all materials sourcing and industrial manufacturing processes. He has a broad technical bacKground ranging from wooden structures to being a chartered electric and electronic technician. He lives in Italy and has to survive daily contact with Michele, being a First Series Rugby Player manages that quite well.
Caroline Wanjiku Waithera – Finance Manager
Caroline has a background experience in private sectors which their primary activities were importation of medical equipment and supply of foods and vegetables to the government and other parastatals. She has also worked the real estate as an accountant. She has a work experience of 5 years. Being brought up in a poor background, Caroline understands well the difficulties and struggles such communities undergo and she is focused in ways and means of improving the living standard of her community, country and the whole world at large. She is a Certified Public Accounts (CPA) Holder and in the process of enrolling for her degree in the local university. She is the mother of two toddlers. Caroline is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Jack Luft – Special Projects & Corporate Engagement Specialist
Jack has a Masters in Development Management from Georgetown University and the University of San Martin (UNSAM) in Argentina. He has extensive experience researching and writing on sustainable development and financial inclusion challenges in developing countries. In that role, he has led research and writing on projects with leading global foundations, investor platforms, and business forecasting companies. Originally from Chicago, Jack is currently based in New York.
Alessandra Quartesan – Finance and Administration Manager
Alessandra holds a MSc degree in Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning from IUAV University in Venice in Italy, and is an Italian Chartered Architect and Planner. She has been working with Multilateral Development Banks from 2006 to 2010. With thirteen years of experience in Architectural design, local economic development, and cultural topics, Alessandra shares with the InspiraFarms Team her working experience in public and private sectors in three different continents. Alessandra is author of books and papers on local economic development and poverty reduction strategies. Currently, she lives in Italy with her husband and their two young children.
Elisabetta Stufera – Financial and Logistic Support Officer
Elisabetta holds a BA in Communications, her passion for travel has always pushed her to work in tourism and airport industry both in Italy and abroad. Last April she undertook the adventure of working with Enterprise Projects Ventures Italy as support in administrative and logistic area. She resides in Italy with her husband and two kids.