Ben became convinced of the power of small business to transform poor communities in Mexico, where he co-founded CityGolf Puebla, a miniature golf course and family recreation center. After working as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Office of Management and Budget, he left to attend business school and launch Agora Partnerships. Since graduating in 2005, Ben has been named a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Entrepreneur, a BMW Foundation Young Leader, and an Ashoka Fellow. He was a Social Venture Network Innovation Award honoree in 2009 and named one of 2010′s top 40 under 40 development leaders in Washington, DC. He earned an MBA from Columbia University, where he was awarded the inaugural alumni social innovation award, and an MSFS with distinction from Georgetown University. Ben has a BA with high honors from Haverford College, where he co-founded Tres Nacos Quesadillas Delivery and the Lighted Fools improv troupe. A native of Cambridge, Mass., Ben lives in Washington, DC with his wife and three children.
Ricardo is the co-founder and Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Agora Accelerator. A recognized leader in Latin American early-stage entrepreneurship, Ricardo is a fellow of the inaugural class of the Central American Leadership Initiative (CALI) of the Aspen Institute and was a member of the 2010 Class of the Yale World Fellows Program. In March 2011, the World Economic Forum named Ricardo to its Young Global Leaders network.
Prior to co-founding Agora, Ricardo launched and ran several companies and non-profit organizations, including an Internet satellite company, a women’s clothing franchise, and the Association of Young Nicaraguan Entrepreneurs. He holds an undergraduate business degree in Marketing and Economics, and Masters of Science in Foreign Service, both from Georgetown University. Ricardo lives in Managua, Nicaragua, with his wife, Isolda, and two children, Ricardo Antonio and Catalina.
After working on a variety of international development projects in Africa during his undergraduate studies ranging from educational initiatives to aid distribution, Jesse was hired as a marketing consultant for a small-business development project called Africa B2B that extended mid-range loans to companies in Uganda. It was here where he discovered the importance of SGB growth to international development efforts. After attending graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill for Journalism & Mass Communication and working as a social media specialist at a record label, Jesse joined the staff of Agora Partnerships as the Director of Marketing and Communications.
Antoine recently completed a Master in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a focus on Economic and Political Development. Previously, Antoine has held several positions in the financial industry, first at AXA and then at J.P. Morgan where he worked on project finance and as an investor specialist within the Private Bank. He also holds a Master in Science of Management from the Solvay Business School. When he is not at work, Antoine enjoys spending time with his wife in Mexico City where they live, touring the city on an ecobici and going back and forth to their favorite bars, café-libraries, restaurants, and other climbing gyms.
Dana graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in international studies and environmental studies. Immediately following graduation, Dana worked in Guatemala as a Frontier Market Scout for Pomona Impact, an angel impact investment group. While in Guatemala, Dana saw first-hand the transformative power of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. A Chicago native, Dana enjoys traveling, hiking, playing sports, sailing, and relaxing in hammocks.
Karam double majored in Business Administration and Mass Communications at Yonsei University in South Korea. Following graduation, she worked in Private Equity division at Hana Daetoo Investment Bank. She was involved in valuation, financial structuring, and management of existing portfolio. To make smoother transition to impact investment sector, she gained hands on experience at Delight, a social enterprise which manufactures hearing aids. As a CFO, she negotiated investment terms and conditions, developed financial forecast and obtained B Corp certification. Prior to joining Agora, she was at the Happiness Foundation where her primary role was to manage impact investment. She reviewed business proposals and evaluated their value in terms of financial sustainability and social impact. Karam enjoys art exhibitions and has two cats.
Laura graduated from Durham University, England with a degree in Modern Languages and her sights set on Central America. After roles with European Union mobility projects and non profits, she found her passion for entrepreneurship whilst working on business stimulation around renewable energy projects in rural Nicaragua. Laura joined Agora in 2013 and is excited to be supporting the remarkable entrepreneurs that take part in Agora’s Accelerator. She likes walking, sunsets and rosquillas.
Thembi Mdachi is originally from Malawi, but spent most of her childhood years in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College (2012), and is interested in designing innovative, effective and sustainable economic empowerment programs that address the root causes of poverty. She brings a strong background of conducting research and establishing metrics to track the social impact of microfinance on social and economic development in developing nations, as well as hands-on experience and training in empirical and quantitative research and analysis. Recently, Thembi became the first Malawian to become an Atlas Corp member, a global network of non-profit leaders around the world. As an Atlas Corp member, she will continue working with Agora Partnerships.
Joana became convinced of the power of SGB and Social entrepreneurship in Mexico where she participated at the launching of the first mapping of Impact Investor Sector (GIIMAP) project. Joana is determined to bring the finance skills she developed as a financial controller at various European industrial companies in France, Hungary, and Spain to the emerging social entrepreneurship space. Joana holds a BA in finance from Rouen Business School, an MBA from EGADE Business School, and is currently studying at Upeace, the UN University, to earn a MA in sustainable peace in contemporary world. When she is not working or studying, Joana enjoys traveling, climbing, and team sports.
Daryl began his career as an Electrical Controls Engineer, designing control systems for projects in more than 30 countries. His work brought him face-to-face with inequities all over the developing world, driving him to repurpose his technical skills through an MBA focused on Nonprofit Management and Finance from Schulich School of Business. Daryl now uses his control systems background as a lens for viewing social systems and impact. Daryl holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering from the University of Toronto, and has an ongoing personal mission to make the perfect shot of espresso.
Maria was born and raised in Nicaragua in a family of entrepreneurs where she witnessed first hand the endless potential of a well-run business. While pursuing her MBA at Hult International Business School in San Francisco she had the opportunity to work in strategic projects with high tech startups and venture capitalist partners, experiencing both the passion and pragmatism that every new business must strive to balance if it is to be successful. Prior to her MBA, she worked as a financial auditor at PwC Nicaragua and PwC Panama. She has a BS in Accounting and Marketing. In her free time she likes to dance, do yoga, learn new languages, and experience new cultures.
Mary’s interest in financing and market strategy for impact companies grew throughout years of experience working with growth-stage entrepreneurs in Mumbai, Chicago, and the Bay Area. While completing her MBA/MS at the University of Michigan, Mary was an Associate with the UM Social Venture Fund and consulted with Criterion Institute (ongoing), Acumen, KPMG, REI, and Ford Motor Company. She holds a BA from Beloit College. When she finds spare time, Mary enjoys running, backpacking, board games, and snowboarding poorly.
Tatiana graduated from the University of Central America (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua with a degree in Translation with a distinction in English. She has also studied implementation and application of quality standards in accordance with ISO and has more than eight years of experience working with small and medium-sized businesses, including Cadin – BID. development projects. Tatiana received a scholarship from the German Academic Foreign Exchange Service (DAAD) to study German.
Vanessa studied Business Administration and Marketing at Universidad Americana. While working for Cargill, she discovered that the corporate world was not for her and ventured into social work while becoming involved in the organization AIESEC; where she has taken leadership roles that have helped the growth of the organization in the country. She is passionate about leaving a positive social impact in her community and to travel around world as an ambassador for her country.