LEGATUM CENTER FOR DEVELOPMENT & ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Our Professional Advisors
Andrea Kates (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Silicon Valley-based innovation advisor, former tech CEO, and author of the award-winning book, Find Your Next, a complete guide for transforming ideas into concrete actions. She is also the creator of the end-to-end leadership training program on strategic impact called Get to Next.
She advises large enterprises (Ford, Shimizu, Cisco), innovative organizations (Mayo Clinic, Stanford Center for Responsible Digital Leadership), governments (National Science Foundation, Copenhagen Fintech), and nonprofits (NextMedHealth, Arthritis Society Canada) to drive impact for their stakeholders, customers, investors, partners, and communities. For the past 20 years, Andrea has spearheaded significant transformation across multiple industries, including the future of finance, future of work, mobility, healthcare, manufacturing, energy, education, and technology across 5 continents.
Previously, she was the CEO of the Silicon Valley SaaS company that pioneered the application of the lean startup process with more than 13,000 corporate teams and R&D labs funded by the US Government I-Corps. Andrea’s original research has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Research and Technology Journal and Tid and Tendenser. A dynamic thought leader, Andrea is in high demand globally as a speaker and has delivered keynotes at some of the world’s most prestigious conferences, including the TED main stage, Business Ecosystem Alliance, Aspen Ideas Festival, Dubai2020, the Edison Awards, SoCap (social capital), Rueda de Innovación (Colombia), Nordic Fintech, OpenFinance Mexico, Innov8rs, and the CXO Forum in Tokyo. Andrea is Senior Fellow with The Conference Board.
Andrea’s university teaching includes the eLab at Princeton University, Stanford, UC Berkeley, USC, Notre Dame, Copenhagen Business School, Hitotsubashi University, and Singapore Polytechnic. She is an advisor to Copenhagen Fintech.
In the field of social impact and Ecosystems of Purpose, Andrea has been a pioneer in driving what she terms Ecosystems of Purpose—a structure that transcends profit + platform interoperability. She has served on the board of Embrace Global—frugal technology that saves the lives of infants and currently works with Virtual Reality pioneer Tom Furness to bring equity and access to education. Andrea co hosts a weekly panel show called What’s Your Idea For Change?
Channing Nesbitt was born and raised in Oakland CA. He joined Salesforce Ventures in 2022 and currently works as a portfolio development manager where he supports the growth for the firm’s portfolio companies by helping build strategic partnerships and new customer engagements. His focus as a portfolio & business development professional is rooted in creating value by helping to foster the adoption of emerging technology and software for the Fortune 500 partners that he serves.
Prior to joining Salesforce Ventures, Channing was a project & program manager at Tableau Software. Here I worked across the social impact arms of Tableau and Tableau Foundation, leading the $18M+ Racial Justice Data Initiative, providing funding, software and expertise for organizations across the US. He also co-lead the development of the Data Equity Hub, a platform built to support a community of data users that are focused on democratizing data & data analysis to enable everyone to be more equipped to leverage the power of public data.
Channing attended University of Washington for both undergraduate & graduate school, where he received a BA in economics/political science & an MPA from the Evans School, focused on Public Finance & management. Channing also played 4 years of NCAA D1 Baseball for the Washington Huskies during his time as an undergraduate student.
Heather Henyon is Founding Partner of Mindshift Capital, a global venture fund that invests exclusively in early stage women-led technology companies. Mindshift Capital has backed 17 companies led by 23 female founders in 5 countries. Heather has almost 20 years of experience in venture finance, entrepreneurship, emerging markets, angel investing, technology, credit and impact investment. With over 100 direct and fund investments, she is an active venture investor with a passion for women’s health and sports. In 2014, Heather started the Women’s Angel Investor Network (WAIN), the first and largest women’s angel investment group in the Middle East, and served as Interim CFO for Little Thinking Minds, WAIN’s first investment. She is a Founding Partner of Athena CFO, now known as Growth Partners, an outsourced CFO and finance advisory firm. Previously, she was Investment Director with Eureeca, a regulated global equity crowdinvesting fintech start-up, where she was responsible for curation, products, and investments. Heather founded Balthazar Capital, a social enterprise investment advisory firm for the Arab region in 2010. As the founding CEO of Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd, a social business jointly owned by Grameen Foundation and Abdul Latif Jameel Group, she originated, structured and closed $44 million in leveraged commercial debt financing for microfinance institutions in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Heather started her career on Wall Street where she worked for Standard & Poor’s as a corporate bond ratings analyst in the capital goods and auto supplier sector. Past roles include project finance, 3G wireless analyst for Middle East & Africa and Vint Cerf’s internet architecture group at WorldCom.
Heather is on the Investment Committee of US-based Next Wave Impact Fund; founding member and former Board and Investment Committee member of Dubai Angel Investors and Cairo Angels Investment Fund; and advisor to CoFund, a Dutch microfinance private equity fund. Heather serves on the Boards of Shiok Meats (Singapore), Wellbees (Turkey), QiDZ (UAE) and Little Thinking Minds (Jordan) and served on the Boards of NeedsList and Localized in the US. She is a mentor for start-up companies at Techstars, in5 Tech, Sheraa, Flat6Labs and the Dubai Technology Entrepreneurship Center (DTEC). She served on the Advisory Council of BR Microcapital, Cornell University’s microfinance fund, was Co-Chair of the Johnson Middle East Alumni Club; served as the Middle East Advisor to Cornell’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative; and is founder and past Chair of the Dubai Microfinance Club. Heather serves on the Board of Directors and is former Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee of the Sekem Holding Group in Egypt. She was a member of the Cartier Women’s Initiative MENA Jury in 2020. Heather has been nominated as “Investor of the Year” by Arabian Business in 2016 and 2017. Heather has lived and worked in the UAE, Egypt and Lebanon for 16 years, and speaks Arabic and French.
Heather holds an MBA in Finance & Entrepreneurship from the Johnson School at Cornell University, where she was a full-merit Park Leadership Fellow scholarship recipient, and a BA in Economics & Political Science from Oberlin College. Heather studied at The American University in Cairo (AUC), where she was a Presidential Fellow.
Blending a unique trifold experience from the business, non-profit, and governmental sectors, Irina’s expertise spans a diverse range of sectors, with a keen focus on innovation-driven entrepreneurship and sustainable development.
With a strong legal background (as a former Law Professor at both Law School and B School in Bucharest) Irina was one of the pioneers of legal advice for private equity and VC funds supporting entrepreneurial initiatives in the emerging South Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
After a year spent at Harvard Kennedy School, where she focused on academic exploration of VC’s role in spurring global entrepreneurship and innovation, Irina returned to Europe, where she managed the South Eastern European Private Equity and VC Association, and sat on the Representative Committee of the European VC Association (InvestEurope) for more than a decade. She was appointed as the President of the Romanian Innovation Ecosystem Commission, and she founded an NGO committed to championing projects centered around entrepreneurship, education, and leadership in the region.
Irina was selected in 2012 among the top 100 women in tech in Europe by Girls in Tech London. Forbes Magazine recognized her over the years as one of the most influential 50 women in Romania and she was included in top 100 Foreign Policy Romania.
At global level, Irina was recognized as an Eisenhower Fellow in 2008, became a Mason Fellow at Harvard in 2009 and was honored as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2014. In 2023 she received the Distinguished Fellow Award from Eisenhower Fellowship, being the first Eastern European and the first European Woman to receive this distinction.
When she is not traveling to support entrepreneurial projects around the world, Irina is living in Brookline, MA, with her husband (who is a serial entrepreneur) and her son (who dreams about his own donuts and lemonade stand).
Javier Lozano is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Clinicas del Azucar. Born and raised in Mexico, Javier founded Clinicas del Azucar in 2010. Prior to founding Clinicas del Azucar, Javier spent most of his time as an MBA student working on how technology and innovation can help patients with chronic conditions. Javier’s private sector experience includes management consulting with A.T. Kearney and as a continuous improvement manager with Verzatec, a multi-national manufacturer where he led the company’s innovation efforts for more than six years. Javier is an Echoing Green, GSBI, Ashoka and MIT Legatum Fellow and recipient of the MIT TR35, recognized as one of the top 10 innovators under 35. Javier earned a degree from the ITESM and MBA from MIT Sloan.
Jay Kothari is head of product management, Google Design Platform. Previously, he was the general manager, glass, at X: The Moonshot Factory, a cutting-edge division of Alphabet, the parent company of the search-engine colossus Google, which aims to link society’s big problems with radical solutions and breakthrough technologies. While on fellowship, he pursued interviews in India and Sweden, hoping to identify which technologies can have the most impact, and build a best-practices advisory council from technology leaders such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, to help developing countries such as India implement transformative
Jo Aggarwal is the founder and CEO of Wysa, which is solving global mental health using AI. Wysa has helped improve mental health for over 6 million individuals through 500 million conversations across 65 countries, and has the most proven outcomes and published evidence of any mental health app. In a world worried about the ethics of AI, Wysa has been for being the best of privacy by Mozilla Foundation and the best of safety by ORCHA.
Jo has been recognized by World Economic Forum as one of the Uplink Top Innovators and as one of the Business Insider’s Top 100 People in Artificial Intelligence in 2023. In 2022, Jo was listed as one of the Top 25 Women Leaders in Consumer Health Tech by The Healthcare Technology Report.
Previously, Jo was the founding director for Technology & Innovation for an UN-backed foundation and has been the managing director of Pearson Learning Solutions in the U.K. Her work on mobile employability helped connect over a million young people to skills and jobs, and won Silver at the Stevie Awards, as well as the Global Telecom Business Innovation award in 2013.
Marcelo, with Sérgio Pretto, is the co-founder of Nutec Informatica (1986). Acquired by Grupo Telefonica (Spain) in 1999, Nutec formed Terra Networks, the largest Internet company in Latin America at the time. At Terra, Marcelo served in various executive roles in Brazil, US and Spain, being responsible for acquisition and integration of the search engine Lycos in 2000.
In 1999 Marcelo co-founded F.biz, later acquiring a controlling stake in the company. In 2010 F.biz became the largest digital advertising agency in Brazil and was acquired by WPP Group in 2011. Marcelo and a group of executives retain a minority stake in the company.
Marcelo was a co-founder and served as an executive of Blue Interactive S.A., a cable company with operations in 24 cities across nine states in Brazil (2009). Blue Interactive was acquired by CLARO (America Movil) in January 2016.
In 2012 Marcelo co-founded Magnopus, a technology company based in Los Angeles. Magnopus is developing innovative software tools for the creation of immersive experiences, like the feature film The Lion King (2019). Marcelo serves as Chairman of Magnopus.
Marcelo is a former board member of Elemidia/Eletromidia S.A. (ELMD3, Bovespa), Carrefour Group Brasil (CRFB3.SA, Bovespa), São Pedro Capital Partners, and F.biz Agency. Marcelo also contributes as an Endeavor ambassador and advises a number of tech startups.
Marcelo (63) is married with two children and lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.
G. Nagesh Rao is a technology, policy, operations, process and systems expert with more than 20+ years of experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. He is an ethically driven seasoned cross-sector senior executive whom has developed numerous national and global programming ventures as well provided policy guidance on legislation related to innovation, technology, intellectual property law, venture capital and entrepreneurship.
He also has deep experience in project management, budget formulation, service forecasting, software development, hardware systems operations and overall IT management support as a former national security and international trade bureau CIO. Currently he serves as the Deputy Director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the U.S. Department of Commerce (Career Senior Executive Service Appointment).
Furthermore Nagesh has a wealth of experience working on IP-Portfolios, Global Strategies, Consumer Products and R&D, for a variety of leading SMEs and MNCs. Where in his current personal capacity he serves on the board of EnChroma, an optical solutions and materials science company and an investor in Ruvna, an emerging Safety-EdTech company.
A prolific writer in industry publications and frequent speaker on topics around law, policy, technology and innovation issues; Nagesh is a Mirzayan Fellow, an Eisenhower Fellow and a Marshall Memorial Fellow. His credentials include a BSc from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a MSc from Albany Law School-Union University, a MBA from University of Maryland-College Park and a Patent Bar license from the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Oluwasoga Oni is the CEO and Co-founder of MDaaS Global. Born and raised in Nigeria in a family of healthcare professionals, Oluwasoga deeply understands the challenges that healthcare providers and patients face in accessing quality care in Nigeria and across Africa. As CEO of MDaaS, Oluwasoga oversees company operations in both the US and Nigeria, with a focus on building strategic partnerships with equipment suppliers, funders, hospitals and clinics, employers, and health insurance providers. Prior to co-founding MDaaS, Oluwasoga worked as a software engineer at DELL-EMC for several years. He holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering from Covenant University, as well as a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Masters Degree in System Design and Management from MIT.
Ramakant is president and co-founder of Wysa, the world’s leading AI conversational agent for mental health.
Previously, Ramakant worked at Goldman Sachs in London with the COO team supporting the bank’s EMEA capital markets business, and at Barclays Capital in their global strategy team. He has also served as a Senior Advisor to a UN and World Bank-backed entity building a $100m+ impact investment portfolio, where his work has twice won the Thomson-Reuters Ethical Finance award and includes building the world’s first shariah-compliant crowdfunding platform, Somalia’s first bank, and the Arab region’s first youth microfinance fund.
Earlier, Ramakant was a management consultant with Booz & Co in London, where he won professional excellence awards for his public sector transformation work. Prior to this, he was with the leadership cadre of the $100B Tata Group (TAS) in India, where he held roles at the group’s venture incubator and in starting up India’s largest internet services firm.
Ramakant holds an MBA from the London Business School, where he was a merit scholar. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), in Kanpur, India.
Richard Rabbat is a product management executive, advisor, mentor and angel investor. He is the founder and CEO of Lighty AI, a startup building an AI personal assistant to improve productivity. He was a Vice President of Product at Twitter leading the Platform team. In his role, he focused on the serving stack at Twitter including storage, graph, compute, networking, data infrastructure and ML serving as well as privacy and security.
Richard previously ran the Data Platform product team at Twitter, with focus on big data analytics and ML infrastructure. Richard was co-founder, CEO of Gfycat, for which he raised $20 million, making it the largest GIF platform (top 60 US website, top 250 worldwide). Gfycat was acquired by Snap, Inc.
Richard had led ad monetization at a late-stage startup Tango and grew revenue from $0 to $30M ARR. Richard was a General Manager at Zynga, focused on monetization and platform, where he built the first SaaS platform for gaming. Richard started his career in product management at Google, where he worked on the search team as well as on Chrome.
Richard has a Ph.D. and an S.M. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds a Master of Engineering and a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer and Communications Engineering from the American University of Beirut. Richard was born in Beirut, Lebanon and lives in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.
Sonali Mehta-Rao, Founder of Ahaana Ventures, is an early-stage impact investor, start-up advisor, and leadership coach, working at the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental sustainability. She has over a decade of global entrepreneurial and leadership experience in social business innovation, building enterprises that expand access to finance for the underbanked and unlock global markets for marginalized artisan communities. In 2012, she Co-founded her first venture, Mela Artisans, a social enterprise working to provide a sustainable global market for Indian artisans. As President, she set up offices in New York and Mumbai, and led the company to significant revenue growth and a $3M Series A financing, and is currently on the Board of Directors.
Sonali also served as Co-founder, Chief Growth Officer (CGO) and Director at Awaaz.De, a B2B fintech social enterprise expanding access to finance for India’s underbanked through its SaaS platform for local vernacular (10+ languages) mobile communication to engage and acquire last-mile Microfinance customers. During her tenure with the company, Awaaz.De’s financial inclusion business launched and grew to reach ~10 Million monthly users, primarily low-income, rural women, through partnerships with leading financial institutions, including Axis Bank, Ujjivan, and LTFS. Awaaz.De is funded by the Aavishkaar-Intellecap angel network and IIM-A CIIE.CO.
Prior to Awaaz.De, she served as India Director for leading global fintech company Tala, which provides instant, personalized credit to underserved customers in emerging markets through their smartphone app and is backed by leading venture and impact investors including PayPal, Revolution, IVP, Ribbit Capital, Data Collective, and Lowercase Capital.
Sonali is an Acumen Fellow, Unreasonable Mentor, and serves on the Alumni Advisory Council for the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. She has also served on the Investment Committee of Cartier Women’s Initiative (CWI) and Beneficial Returns global fund for women entrepreneurs, and has been featured in YourStory Media’s 100 Emerging Women Leaders list. She is a Leadership Coach with training from leading ICF-certified coach training institute Leadership that Works.
Walid is an investment veteran with over 25 years of experience in investment, finance, management and operational roles across the Middle East, Europe, and the USA. His expertise and responsibilities span investments, business development and value creation. His operational and entrepreneurial background enrich his strategic insights and management support he can extend to companies he supports, invests in, and leads. Walid structured and developed successful investment strategies and platforms that were instrumental in raising several funds, including the very successful USD 400 mln North Africa Fund II with participation of global high-profile investors.
Walid is Managing Partner of Ripples Impact – a newly established boutique investment and financial advisory firm with a focus on growth strategies, restructuring and reorganization. His latest accomplishment was leading the successful acquisition of Egypt’s Five Stars Milling Group by Camel Flour Mills. Upon the successful completion of the landmark transaction in 2022, Walid took the helm at Five Stars as Chief Executive Officer and helped restructure its operations, hire the senior team, and revamp the facilities of Egypt’s largest milling group.
Walid has been a Managing Director with the Abraaj Group ($14 Bln AUM), where he led Abraaj’s Egyptian operations and was a senior member of the MENA investment team. During his tenure he led one of the most successful investment portfolios in Egypt with over USD 1+ Bln of NAV, and two of his investments ranked among the top Egyptian stock exchange performers. He was instrumental in establishing Abraaj’s $400m North Africa Fund, with a focus on healthcare, education, food & non-banking financial services.
Prior to joining Abraaj, Walid was a director with Riyada Ventures (A boutique regional investment bank), and previously Managing Director of Technology Development Fund (TDF, Egypt’s 1st VC fund). He started his career with AT&T in Kuwait and moved on to manage and establish several technology companies in France and the US.
Walid served, and continues to serve, as a director on the boards of local and regional companies across Egypt, UAE and Jordan. He also served as a Director on several public companies including ANMC (AMES.EGX), Egypt’s largest healthcare group CHG (CLHO.EGX) as well as Egypt’s largest education group CIRA (CIRA.EGX.
Walid is actively engaged with education and entrepreneurship initiatives in Egypt and served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and associations. He’s an active angel investor and startup mentor.
Walid has been selected as an Eisenhower Fellow in 2017 and a Kauffman Fellow in 2013. He holds a BSc in Engineering with top honors from Alexandria University.
Winston Chang serves as Snowflakes’ Global Public Sector CTO. He supports client’s strategic ideation in areas covering data, business value, and mission. His primary focus is helping government and educational institutions leverage the data cloud for maximum business impact.
For over two decades, Winston worked with multiple public sector agencies and commercial sector clients. Federal sector work revolved around technology strategy to amplify business impact, along with various IT/data enterprise modernization efforts. Specific projects include developing a national security IT strategy, designing tech optimized business processes, building a predictive neural network, launching a holistic risk management platform of applications, prototyping government business on blockchain, and more. Commercial sector projects include technology adoption advice, brand strategy, and financial modeling. His entrepreneurial history consists of founding two companies, a management consulting firm and a celebrity favorite couture fashion brand, Stevie Boi®. Before entering management consulting, Winston worked at a structured finance hedge fund, modeling various portfolios and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).
Winston volunteers his time with the Committee of 100 and Eisenhower Fellowships, sitting on various boards and as a chapter leader. His engagement in both organizations maintains an international network and supports global bridge building, with a focus on US-Sino relations. Winston is a graduate of the United State Military Academy. When he’s not enjoying time with his wife and young kids, he plays kendo and designs accessories.
Yaser Moustafa is the Chief Executive Officer of NBK Capital Partners and member of its Investment Committee. Prior to joining the firm in 2015, Yaser was the Managing Director of Alvarez & Marsal, responsible for private equity and corporate advisory in the MENA region. Prior to A&M, Yaser was an Executive Director and Head of Saudi Arabia Investment Banking for Nomura International. Prior to Nomura, Yaser acted as interim CEO for a leading support services company and for the largest restaurant operator in Qatar, amongst other roles. Yaser started his career at Lehman Brothers in investment banking in the U.S.