In 2011, our founding team came together at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency and saw first-hand the challenges that existed in the “business as usual” approach to agricultural development, for farmers, consumers and the planet alike.
Searching for better answers, we coincidentally visited the farm of Eliot Coleman, our "aha" moment. Eliot is a leading small-scale sustainable farmer and runs a farm that is immensely productive, is naturally organic, and uses almost no external resources. We finally found that a genuinely sustainable, high-yield agriculture model can be feasible and profitable, but only on small farms due to the reliance on hand-based techniques.
Our core team consists of the following individuals:
1. Eric Couper, Co-Founder & Director of Operations, former Technology Advisor at Abt Associates, Senior Program Associate at Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, and ICT Coordinator at Africa Soil Information Service; BA at Tulane University, MPA at Columbia' School of International Public Affairs (SIPA)
2. Sid Kamath, Co-Founder & Director of Business Strategy - former Manager at Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency focused on advising the CEO on organisational development, former McKinsey & Co consultant and McKinsey Global Institute Fellow; BSc Economics London School of Economics, MBA at MIT
3. Christina Zawerucha - Director of Permaculture, former Managing Director of Permaculture for Peace, former Director of Gypsy Wagon Farm; BA at Binghampton Univ, MSc Education at City University New York
4. Kristen Dormanen - Director of Product & Sales, former Bain & Co Senior Consultant specialising in sustainability, retail and private equity, BA Economics UCLA, MBA at MIT
This core team brings strong expertise in agricultural development, farming, start-ups, management consulting, economics, international development, resource sustainability and marketplace development, with a combined 10 years of experience in East Africa.
In addition, our broader team consists of a fantastic set of Ethiopian professionals, with a current total team size of 9. We see this team size growing to about 25 individuals in 2016, our first year of operation following our 2015 pilot year. Our objective is to build a strong Ethiopian management team within the organisation, and we will hire no more full-time expatriate staff. As the organisation grows, our current core team will focus on developing new operations across East Africa.
Our formal advisory board consist of Mirafe Marcos (Deputy CEO of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency), Joseph Shields (CEO of EthioChicken and Partner at Flow Equity), Eliot Coleman (Leading sustainable farmer and author), Avihai Ilan (Leading fruit tree agronomist) and Eden Getachew (Governance Advisor, Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative)
We also have an extensive network of pro-bono legal and strategic advisors from MIT, Harvard and the University of Michigan.