A SUPPORT TEAM OF STARTUP MENTORS, ADVISORS & EXPERTS
Mentors

Faustina Fynn-Nyame

Executive Director Africa - CIFF

Born in Ghana, Faustina’s family migrated to the UK at the age of seven. She began her career as a nurse, a role that has had a significant impact on her ever since. Her career has evolved from private health care management in London to Founder of Marie Stopes Ghana, Senior West Africa Advisor, Country Director of Marie Stopes Kenya, Director of the Women’s Health Project for PSI, leading PSI’s Reproductive Health and Rights portfolio in 25 countries in Sub Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

In her current role as the Executive Director for Africa and Child Health and Development, she leads on strategy, continental partnerships and CIFF investment portfolios in Africa. She oversees a vast portfolio from Child Nutrition, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Climate and Adolescent Reproductive Health.

Faustina is a champion and advocate for women and girls’ rights and has worked to change policy on access to reproductive health services in West and East Africa. She believes harnessing the potential of the girl child, through improved health, education and economic opportunities to contribute to a thriving self-determining  Africa.

Dr. Placide Tapsoba

Regional Advisor - Buffett Foundation

Placide Tapsoba, MD, MPH, is the Regional Advisor for Francophone and West Africa for Susan T. Buffett Foundation based in Accra, Ghana. Formerly, Population Council’s Country Director for Ghana and Senior Associate for the Reproductive Health Program, Dr. Tapsoba is a Medical Doctor with a public health training. He has amassed a considerable experience addressing sensitive public health issues in conservative settings, including work with policy decision makers, communities involving traditional and religious leaders in areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

 

 

Dr. Karima Ladhani

Founder & CEO - Barakat Bundle

Dr. Karima Ladhani is the Founder & CEO of Barakat Bundle, a non-profit that creates life-saving bundles for mothers and newborns in South Asia, and Giving Cradle, a social enterprise that creates safe, sustainable newborn products that give back. She is also the Assistant Director of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program, where she works with government ministers to support transformational human development. She currently serves on the board of Eco.Logic, a non-profit that inspires people to join the environmental movement. Karima followed a non-traditional path to her current roles, completing Bachelors degrees in Math and Business Administration from the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, followed by Master of Public Health and Doctor of Science degrees from Harvard University. She is committed to giving every mother and newborn an equal chance and is particularly passionate about human-centered design and ethical interventions for populations in need.

Senam Beheton

Entrepreneur

With an education in law, political science, international development and instructional technology, Senam has a unique gift for proposing common sense solutions to positively transform communities, businesses and individuals. He is helping a generation of young African entrepreneurs build valuable and lasting businesses through programs addressing critical issues such skills gaps, funding, mentoring and networking. As an entrepreneur, he has founded or invested in over 35 companies/organizations in the past 20 years, most of them in the technology sector.

Senam is also Co-Founder of Noru Capital, a venture fund, Co-Founder of TEKXL, a startup studio that launched several companies with some successful exits, and the Founder of EtriLabs, an innovation lab with operations in Benin and 8 other African countries.

Senam graduated Summa Cum Laude with BAs in Political Science and French from the University of the District of Columbia. He holds a Master of Arts in International Development from American University and a Master of Education in Instructional Technology (Phi Kappa Phi Honors) from the University of Maryland University College.

Dr. Tanya Jones

President - Aya Global

As President of Aya Global, a philanthropic advisory practice, Dr. Tanya Jones offers strategic guidance to donor institutions and non-profit organizations to enable them to reach their philanthropic goals. For 20+ years, Jones has worked to improve health systems in low-resourced countries as an implementer, fundraiser and funder. Her expertise is on the delivery of primary health care in rural communities of sub-Saharan Africa.

As a Fellow at Dartmouth College, Jones furthered work on her book manuscript titled, Health Equity for the Millennium: the Ghana Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Initiative at Scale, which explores institutional change in Ghana through a historical case study of CHPS policy. At Dartmouth, Jones taught an undergraduate course in the Sociology department: Global Health Systems.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Jones served as Portfolio Manager at the Barr Foundation, where she led the foundation’s community health portfolio and exploratory grantmaking for a Women and Girls portfolio in East Africa and India. Previously, Jones served as Staff Associate at Population Council working with Ghana Health Service policy leaders to pilot and scale up the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative, which in the last decade has become a model for rural health delivery and health systems strengthening. Following her contributions to health policy translation in Ghana, Dr. Jones joined Pathfinder International as a resource development professional supporting Pathfinder’s field offices in Africa and South Asia to raise philanthropic funds from corporations and foundations.

Dr. Jones earned a Bachelors’ degree from Brown University, a Masters’ degree in Public Policy from Princeton University and a Doctoral Degree in Sociology from The University of California, Berkeley. Jones was most recently a Fellow at Dartmouth College and Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

Dr. Jones serves on the Board of Directors of PRX and World Education. She is on the Advisory Board of Boston University’s Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health.

Sam Fandohan

Finance & Analytics and Compliance Leader

Finance & Accounting Professional with over 15 years of experience (including ~ 10 years with Fortune 500 Companies), Sam has worked or led teams in over 15 countries (Across Africa, Europe, North & South America, Asia Pacific and India). He is a seasoned Finance and Compliance Leader with extensive experience in Controllership & Decision Support, Growth Strategy Development, Performance Measurement, Global Compliance & Risk Management, Resource Management, and Development.

Sam is a Talent Developer and Angel investor. He trains and supports startups on various financial aspects (Financial Planning, Startup Valuation & Equity Allocation, KPI’s establishment, Measurement, Operational Management, etc.) to help them get investment-ready.

Marie Ba

Director - Ouagadougou Partnership Coordination Unit

Marie’s experience with the West and Central Africa region spans across twelve years of program management throughout Washington, DC, Senegal, and the nine francophone West Africa OP Countries, with multiple technical assistance assignments in Rwanda, Burundi, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

She holds extensive experience in building partnerships, and managing health programs including communications and advocacy, financial management and oversight of grants and contracts, as well as program planning and implementation.

She is currently Director for the OP Coordination Unit. As such, Marie works to facilitate relationships and interface with the OP’s donors as well as coordinate the collaboration with OP strategic partners at the global, regional and country levels by creating better synergies between stakeholders in the OP 9 countries all the while aligning their support with countries priorities as defined by the ministries of Health and their Costed Implementation Plans. She represents the Partnership at key partners’ events and international/regional conferences, especially when related to advocacy and youth.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social & Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland-College Park and a Master’s Degree in International Development and Peace / Conflict Resolution from the American University in Washington DC.

Medea Cesar Degbe

Senior Consultant - Program and Project Management

Medea Cesar Degbe is an expert in telecommunications, networking, and IT project management.
Graduate of École Polytechnique de Montréal and Concordia University, he has held various positions in engineering and planning of telecommunication services. In 2012, he created DoHo Inc, a company that provides IT and telecommunication services consulting to businesses.

Medea has always shown a real interest in the major challenges of telecom and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is chairman of the Benin Business Angel Network board of directors.

Nènè Fofana-Cissé

Engenderhealth West and Central Africa region Director

Nènè Fofana-Cissé, is an innovative, energetic public health, and sustainable development professional. She is experienced in fundraising, strategy design, implementation,  and evaluation of reproductive health programs. She currently serves as Engenderhealth West and Central Africa region Director. She has worked in several regions of the globe, including East, Southern Africa, and Asia. Prior to her current role, she has served as a West Africa Regional Advisor, Program Manager manager. She was also a Technical lead at Population Services International, and community health worker at Lead Safe DC among other roles. 

She defines herself as a women’s health & rights activist, and a strong believer in “integrated programming that serves the women.”  She holds a Masters’ in Public Health from George Washington University. She is fluent in Bambara, French and English.

Intrepid Entrepreneurs Founders

Lindsey Simmonds

Co-Founder & CEO Intrepid Entrepreneurs

Lindsey Simmonds has nearly 20 years of experience in international development focused on women’s issues, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. While living in Jordan, Simmonds focused on advancing women’s issues during her time working for the largest social development agency in the country. Later, she served as the Academic Director for an American study abroad program in Jordan and Syria. Most recently, Simmonds enjoyed 15 years working in philanthropy at the Buffett Foundation, where she oversaw tens of millions of dollars annually and designed programming for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programs in Africa. In addition to service delivery programs, Simmonds also created and led leadership and innovation programs for the global advancement of SRHR.

In 2020, Simmonds’ entrepreneurial spirit led her to transform her love of jigsaw puzzles from a hobby into an international business. Simmonds also established Intrepid Entrepreneurs with her co-founder. After nearly two decades in global development and SRHR, Simmonds is certain the talent to advance SRHR, equality, and employment exists among the youth and women of Africa.

Senam Beheton

Co-Founder & Chief Catalyst Intrepid Entrepreneurs

With an education in law, political science, international development and instructional technology, Senam has a unique gift for proposing common sense solutions to positively transform communities, businesses and individuals. He is helping a generation of young African entrepreneurs build valuable and lasting businesses through programs addressing critical issues such skills gaps, funding, mentoring and networking. As an entrepreneur, he has founded or invested in over 35 companies/organizations in the past 20 years, most of them in the technology sector.

Senam is also Co-Founder of Noru Capital, a venture fund, Co-Founder of TEKXL, a startup studio that launched several companies with some successful exits, and the Founder of EtriLabs, an innovation lab with operations in Benin and 8 other African countries.

Senam graduated Summa Cum Laude with BAs in Political Science and French from the University of the District of Columbia. He holds a Master of Arts in International Development from American University and a Master of Education in Instructional Technology (Phi Kappa Phi Honors) from the University of Maryland University College.