Expert Commentators

Expert Commentators for Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World that Works.

Meet our Expert Commentators who are all doing great work in the sector and sharing their insights, expertise and feedback right here on our competition discussion forum. We invite you to follow their contributions:


Agustina O'Farrell

Agustina O’Farrell is Program Manager for WomenChangeMakers, a new and unique global fellowship program that identifies, supports and connects leading social entrepreneurs addressing women’s access to education and healthcare, economic and political participation (see the four areas below). In doing so, it empowers them to build sustainable models, develop synergies and increase their impact, based in Buenos Aires. Agustina worked previously in the Philanthropy Services department for UBS in Switzerland. Prior to UBS, Agustina worked at the New York City Hall for Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a Research Assistant. Agustina was also involved in the social sector in Argentina. She worked for three years at Ashoka Innovators for the Public in the Search and Selection Program for the Southern Cone. In 2007, Agustina won the Chevening Scholarship issued by the British Council to pursue a masters in Social Policy and Development at the London School of Economics. She has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from New York University.

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Manoj Chandran

Manoj is the Marketing Director at Ashoka India. He brings in 16 years of experience in communication and marketing. He was until recently Senior Director – Marketing in MindTree Ltd., one of the most successful IT services companies in India. During his 7 year tenure as head of MindTree’s corporate marketing team, Manoj managed numerous roles including brand management, internal and external communications, content management and public relations. Prior to MindTree, Manoj was head of content at CyberMedia India Online, the largest technology portal in India. He was responsible for the creation and management of content and development of niche communities using emerging technological solutions and innovative practices. Manoj began his career as a lecturer in Physics and soon joined The Times of India in Mumbai, where, as Business Correspondent, he reported on several areas of the Indian financial and corporate world for the newspaper. He holds a masters degree in Physics and a post graduate diploma in mass communications.

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Raj Kumar Jani

Armed with a Masters degree in Business Administration, Raj has worked for 6 years in the for-profit and 13 years in the not-for profit sectors in India and Africa. He specializes in Micro-Enterprise (Livelihood) Development, wherein he has gotten diverse exposure to and experience working with trade associations, CBOs/NGOs, private exporters/traders, chambers of commerce and of late with meso level organizations in Cameroon viz. mixed farming groups, dairy cooperatives and honey-beekeeper associations. Technically, he has dealt in almost all aspects of developmental programs; writing project proposals for external funding, designing and implementing action plans coupled with monitoring/evaluation, working for various support agencies incl. governments and multilateral agencies like World Bank. In his present position, he is involved in capacity building for MSEs with a focus on creating market access and micro-credit linkages under SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, partnering with international support institutions incl. EU and FAO.

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Kim Pate

Kim Pate is CFED's Vice President for External Relations. Ms. Pate oversees [email protected], an effort to accelerate the evolution of the next generation of effective strategies to expand economic opportunity. Ms. Pate also coordinates strategic partnerships and communications across CFED priority areas of work - asset building, entrepreneurship, Tribal, state and local economic development and affordable home ownership. Ms. Pate is an attorney who has specialized in representing the interests of low-income women, families, Native Americans and disadvantaged communities. Ms. Pate has been a public speaker, trainer, technical assistance provider and writer on issues affecting economic opportunity for fifteen years. Her work at CFED enables her to conceptualize and provide leadership to initiatives for low-income people with the goal of improving their economic futures and promoting lasting change. Prior to joining CFED, Ms. Pate was the deputy director, National Projects for Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) in Washington, DC, a multiple-strategy women's employment organization that is recognized nationally for its skills training models, technical assistance and advocacy for women workers. She holds a Law Degree from University of California at Los Angeles School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from Stanford University.

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Rodrigo Brito

Rodrigo Brito is co-founder and CEO of Aliança Empreendedora (Entrepreneurs Alliance), an organization that develops innovative solutions for and builds a network of partners to support low-income micro-entrepreneurs in Brazil. Operating in thirteen Brazilian states and supporting more than 4,500 micro-entrepreneurs, Aliança offers access to knowledge, credit and markets for these entrepreneurs, expanding their opportunities for economic inclusion. Rodrigo is an Ashoka Fellow and has also been recognized by a number of other international networks and organizations including AVINA and the Clinton Global Initiative, and was named a World Economic Forum Yong Global Leader in 2010. Rodrigo is a graduate in Business Management from the Federal University of Paraná and has a certificate in Global Leadership and Public Policies for the 21st Century from Harvard’s Kennedy School.

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Cheryl Kiser

As Executive Director of The Lewis Institute on Social Innovation and The Babson Social Innovation Lab, Cheryl Kiser is responsible for leading a critical aspect of the growth strategy for Babson by promoting broad support for Babson's work in integrating social innovation and social entrepreneurship into its curriculum and co-curricular activities. Employing Entrepreneurial Thought & Action as Babson’s key methodology for spurring social innovation in all sectors , Cheryl is developing Babson as the “go to place“ for global social entrepreneurship resources, activities, relationships, networks, knowledge and convenings. Before coming to Babson, Cheryl was Managing Director of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. For more than 12 years she played a central role in creating the largest research center of its kind in the U.S. She is skilled at building new markets for social change organizations and developing communications and positioning strategies. She is a leader in corporate social responsibility and social innovation, and has won awards for her public affairs campaigns. Cheryl has a graduate degree in community organization and social policy and planning from Boston College.

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Paula Cardenau

Paula launched and leads the Social Business Initiative for Ashoka in Latin America, a platform that supports Ashoka Fellows with market-based approaches to scale up their social impact. Since joining Ashoka in 2001, she has held several different roles: she was Latin America Integrator and Ashoka Director for Argentina, Chile and Uruguay; she built the Ashoka Support Network in Argentina, a group of high net-worth individuals who committed their funds and expertise to support Ashoka Fellows; and she launched the Citizen Base Initiative (CBI) in the Southern Cone and was the regional coordinator for this program in South America. Before joining Ashoka, Paula worked for several years for Argentina’s Social Investment Fund, a government agency that developed community‑based, demand‑driven initiatives in rural, extremely low-income districts in Argentina. She is a well-known writer, focused on disseminating learning and best practices, and linking new actors to develop a stronger ecosystem for the growth of social business. She has a BA in Political Science and has completed graduate work in social development.

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Alan Harlam

Alan Harlam is the Director of Social Entrepreneurship at the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. In that role, he launched the Social Innovation Initiative (SII), that involves and educates students about social entrepreneurship through courses, internships, lectures and participating in student led projects; develops leadership by supporting students through the design & launch of innovative social ventures; and supports the sustainability, impact and growth of these ventures through mentoring, services and networks. SII has supported early stage ventures with strategic planning, organizational and governance design, communications plan, and funding – including three winners of the Echoing Green Fellowship in the past two years. Before coming to Brown, Alan consulted to Amos House to launch More Than a Meal, a catering micro-business with more than $500,000 in annual revenues. The business is a platform for that provides employment training and opportunity to individuals as they rebuild healthy and successful lives after returning to their community after being incarcerated or to sustain their recovery from addiction and other difficulties. His work as a social entrepreneur is informed by his 20 years as a consultant, turnaround manager, and community volunteer.  

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Randall Kempner

Randall Kempner is the Executive Director of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), which seeks to dramatically increase the amount and effectiveness of capital and technical/business assistance for entrepreneurs in developing countries. Randall has fifteen years of experience in the field of national and international business/economic development. Most recently, he served as Vice President for Regional Innovation at the Council on Competitiveness, a non-partisan think tank based in Washington. In leading the Council on Competitiveness' Regional Innovation Initiative, Mr. Kempner directed innovation-based economic development initiatives in nearly a dozen American regions and provided policy guidance and training to the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Labor. Prior to joining the Council in 2003, Randall served as Vice President of OTF Group, an international consulting firm that advises regions and nations on how to create competitive advantage. Randall was a co-founder of OTF, and played a lead role in its spin-out from Monitor Group, the international consultancy. With Monitor and OTF, Randall led comprehensive competitiveness projects in Bermuda, Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru. He also worked in a wide variety of industry "clusters" including agro-industry, apparel, biotechnology and tourism. Randall graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an M.B.A and an M.P.Aff. He earned his bachelor's degree in Government from Harvard College. In 2004, he was a German Marshall Fund-American Memorial Marshall Fellow.  

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Ana Estenssoro

Ana Estenssoro is the Executive Director of ENI Di Tella, an inclusive business center of Torcuato Di Tella University’s Business School which promotes the development of inclusive businesses through the generation and dissemination of knowledge and experience. Previously, Ana worked at Ashoka as Coordinator of Social Business Initiative for five years. During that period, she organized the first investment round table for social businesses in Argentina, and was a key actor during the launch in Brazil. Ana also worked for Fundapaz - an organization with more than 35 years of dedication to the development of small rural producers in northern Argentina. Before that, Ana had 15 years of experience transforming ideas into businesses: she founded E&E International S.A. distributer of convenience stores which started with 6 stores and reached 260 stores. Ana studied economics in UCA and has updated her knowledge through different executive programs of IAE Business School.  

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Rajiv Khandelwal

Rajiv Khandelwal is the co-founder and Director of Aajeevika Bureau which is among the first attempts in north India to provide support services to the millions of unksilled migrant workers who move seasonally across the country in search of work. Aajeevika Bureau provides a range of services including identity, skill training, employment counseling, legal aid, financial services and social security to migrant workers. The Bureau works with migrants at their rural source and in also their urban destinations - it has incubated several innovative solutions aimed to reduce the hardships associated with migration and employment in the informal sectors. Aajeevika Bureau's pioneering work has been replicated by several organizations across high migration states of the country - the Bureau provides technical support and guidance to these organizations through a Migration Resource Centre.


Rajiv is a graduate of the prestigious Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) and has led several important livelihood and poverty initiatives in western India. In recognition of his innovative ideas underlying Aajeevika Bureau, Rajiv was elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2005. More recently in 2010, Rajiv and his team won the Social Entrepreneurship of the Year Award by the Schwab Foundation.  

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Fan Li

Fan Li is co-founder and Executive Director of Global Links Initiative. Established in 2003, GLI is a leading organization aims to foster practical links among social entrepreneurial people around the world. In 2004, GLI first brought the concept of social entrepreneurship to China and is continue playing a key role in promoting the practices of social innovation in China as well as East Asia. Prior to GLI, Fan worked as program officer of international exchanges for Japan NPO Center in Tokyo from 2001 to 2003. She continued working from Japan as the Executive Director of GLI till the organization launched its China office in Shanghai in 2006. With 10 years experiences in civil society sector in both China and Japan, Fan’s articles appears in newspapers, journals as well as online in different languages. Fan is the editor of a ground breaking book: A New Horizon: 10 stories of Social Entrepreneurs in China (Hong Kong, 2010). She is also the co-author of the Rising Civil Society in China (Koseisha, 2008) and The NPOs in the UK (British Council, 2008). Fan holds an MA degree in International Relations from Waseda University.  

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Daniel Gonzalez

Daniel Gonzalez is Program Director for AVINA and is responsible for the Latin-American strategy and team for Migration. He is also part of AVINA’s Inclusive Markets team leading AVINA's work on Entrepreneurship in Latin America. He has 10 years of experience developing market-based solutions for sustainable development in the social, business and public sectors. He is a Board member of four social enterprises and two advisory councils. He is a former professor from de Universidad de los Andes Business School. Daniel holds a degree in Industrial Engineer from the same University. He is based in Bogotá, Colombia.  

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Kohl S. Gill, Ph.D

Dr. Kohl S. Gill is the President and Founder of LaborVoices, Inc., a start-up company providing information services to migrant workers and supply-chain managers. Dr. Gill served as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow for the U.S. Departments of Energy and State, most recently as the South Asia and Middle East Labor Affairs Officer for the Office of International Labor and Corporate Social Responsibility in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Prior to federal service, Dr. Gill was an Indicorps Fellow in the slum areas of Delhi, India, serving as a volunteer paralegal with local residents, using transparency legislation to fight both petty and grand corruption at the local level. Dr. Gill is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, for his work in quantum computing and semiconductor physics.  

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Gabriel Ribenboim

Gabriel Ribenboim heads the International Program at Fundação Amazonas Sustentável (FAS), a Brazilian private foundation dedicated to poverty alleviation and environmental conservation in the Amazonas state. In 2009, he developed the $30million Bolsa Floresta Association and Income Generation Project, financed by the Amazon Fund (BNDES) and FAS, to support and finance 15 local associations on a yearly basis, as well as social enterprises working in 15-state protected areas from 2009 to 2014. As project manager, Daniel also coordinated the development of the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve REDD Project, the world’s first gold level REDD project under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance. This project is designed to avert deforestation and improve local welfare, by paying for offsets for environmental services and supporting income generation through sustainable business development. He is member of the Committee for Social Environmental Principles and Criteria for REDD+ in Brazil, the Voluntary Carbon Market Committee at FIESP-Brazil, and is an observing member of the Business and Biodiversity Offset Program. He has BA in Biology from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil.  

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Andrea Krause

Ms. Andrea Krause is the Founder and Executive Director of the FYSE and leads the organizational development in Asia Pacific.


FYSE inspires the next generation of young changemakers and invests in, incubates, accelerates and mentors high potential social entrepreneurs in Asia Pacific to solve our most pressing social and environmental problems. Prior to FYSE, Ms. Krause worked as Head of Project Management and Outreach for Enterprise Asia, a leading regional think tank for entrepreneurship in Asia. As part of her role she developed the Young Entrepreneurs Fellowship in Asia and established Enterprise Asia’s presence in Indonesia.

Prior to Enterprise Asia, Ms. Krause worked with various social enterprises including The Hub, a social enterprise incubation center in Bristol/ UK and SISU Technologies Ltd, a social enterprise in the field of IT outsourcing in Bangladesh. She holds a Masters in East Asian Studies from the University of Bristol, England and is a graduate of INSEAD’s International program for Social Entrepreneurs.  

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Jana Svedova

Jana is a co-founder of Synergy Social Ventures, a Hong Kong based not for profit organization that provides capacity building and financial support to early stage social ventures in SE Asia and China. Synergy was created to fill the gap in support available to young social ventures in the region and also has a strong focus on knowledge gathering and sharing as well as creating resources for entrepreneurs tailored to the context of SE Asia. Prior to forming Synergy, she was an Investment Manager at an Asian Venture Philanthropy fund where she worked closely with social entrepreneurs helping them manage the unique challenges faced of business models focused on maximizing impact. Before deciding to focus on social finance, Jana worked in the financial services industry in Canada in areas ranging from wealth management to small business lending. She also has also previously worked as a researcher at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation conducting research in the areas of social finance and the social economy. Jana holds a BA in International Relations and an MBA from University of British Columbia.  

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Siddarth Sanghvi

Siddharth Sanghvi is the General Manager for Sustainable Commerce at eBay. Formerly, he was the co-founder and marketing director at World of Good Inc., a social enterprise founded in 2004 to connect artisans from developing communities with mainstream retail markets. In 2010, the World of Good brand and online marketplace was sold to eBay and the company's wholesale division to GreaterGood/Charity USA. World of Good built market access for 25,000+ global producers from more than 70 countries, with Fair Trade products sold at more than 1,200 retail locations around the country, including Whole Foods, Starboard cruise ships, and Hallmark and Disney stores.


Prior to World of Good, Siddharth worked at Informix Software (acquired by IBM) where he managed the company's international corporate web sites. Siddharth has a BA in Biology from Colorado College and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley.  

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Pooja Warier

Pooja Warier is the Co-founder and Director of UnLtd India that finds, funds and supports start up social entrepreneurs in India. She is also the Co-founder and Director of Journeys for Change that inspires leaders and social entrepreneurs to create more impact through learning from some of world’s most exciting change makers. She has a Masters in social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai.



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Gnylane Thiam

Gnylane Thiam is a Senegalese freelance consultant. She has over ten years of professional experience with HIV/AIDS issues and Management, working in private sector, multilateral, and civil society organizations in Senegal and West and Central Africa. Her domains of expertise are: facilitation, program management, capacity development, communication for development and training. As a UNDP Program Officer she was in charge of implementing UNDP's response to HIV/AIDS in Senegal by supporting the National Strategy on HIV AIDS in key aspects, including: resource mobilization, national and local capacity development, mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS into the national strategy for poverty reduction through planning, implementation, monitoring and support. She has also supporting the review of HIV and Human Rights policies. As a facilitator, and external consultant she is experienced in building partnership and empowering, civil society organizations, the media and the private sector.  

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