A key element of the program is the ability to create business models and necessary technical interfaces between partners to build “bundles” of services for farmers on unified platforms, therefore building the relevance and value proposition of mobile-based services to promote mass uptake. Due to the wide variety of skills, experience and relationships needed to make this approach successful across a multi-country approach; the Agri-Fin Program has a team of talented and experienced team members.
Ms Lesley Denyes is the Mercy Corps Program Director based in Zimbabwe. She has worked in the financial services sector for the last 10 years; specifically in the areas of financial analysis, strategic planning, market research and product development and channel management in Asia & Africa. She previously worked with Canadian investment and financial services companies, as well as working as a Senior Ratings Analyst for a leading microfinance rating agency in India. Lesley has worked with commercial banks, mobile network operators, NGOs and consulting companies to reach unserved markets through technology and mobile and branchless banking, including research and program development centred on innovative products for financial inclusion. Ms. Denyes is the Program Director for the SDC funded Agri-Fin Mobile Pogram; a unique approach to bundling agriculture services with financial services through mobile platforms in Zimbabwe, Uganda & Indonesia. Prior to Agri-Fin Mobile, Lesley worked with the MAXIS Program, a $19.4 million USD program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation centred on financial and technology innovation for low end markets, where she was based first in Indonesia and then the Philippines as the Program Manager. Lesley is a Canadian national and has a Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Economics from Dalhousie University, Canada, and a MBA from Edinburgh Business School, UK.
Amy English is currently the Senior Technical Advisor for Global Agriculture and Economic Development for Mercy Corps. Amy’s responsibilities include technical advice and support to Mercy Corps global agricultural programs, field strategy development, business advice for small to medium enterprises, proposal design, and building field staff capacity. Before becoming a technical advisor, she was the agriculture advisor for Mercy Corps Guatemala for two years based in Coban, Guatemala and for one year based in Indonesia. Amy comes to Mercy Corps from a diversified background in international development work in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Lebanon Ecuador, Indonesia and Central America. Fluent in Spanish, she worked for IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture) in Guyana, South America, three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador and as a development consultant in Belize and the Eastern Caribbean. Amy holds a B.S. in International Agriculture Economics from the University of Vermont and an International MBA from Portland State University.
In Indonesia the Program is coordinated by, Andi Ikhwan. Mr Ikhwan has over 15 years of experience in credit and finance for SMEs, agricultural and other rural enterprises. As Mercy Corps’ M&E Manager for the Maximizing Financial Access and Innovation at Scale Program (MAXIS), he experience in M&E works for the program and provides technical guidance on the introduction of new financial products, including ICT-based solutions such as payment system and loan collection module. He has trained MFIs and MFI associations, including farmer groups, on marketing and electronic data capture, and advises Bank Andara on the implementation of Andara Link. Mr. Ikhwan brings the relationships and familiarity with Indonesia’s financial, MNOs and Agriculture stakeholders. He liaised with the Ministry of Agriculture to develop an ADB project loan proposal for a rural micro finance project. Mr. Ikhwan’s professional expertise is a natural extension of his relevant educational background. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Agriculture Economics from Bogor Agriculture University and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Business in Bogor Agriculture University. Mr. Ikhwan is a native speaker of Bahasa and speaks English with advanced professional proficiency.
In Uganda, Stephen S. Musoke is the Program Coordinator who is a self-taught software engineer, and IT Business analyst with over 10 years' experience in design, development and delivery of custom web based software solutions to customers in government, finance and agriculture sectors. As a consultant he worked with customers to identify user and business needs, define technical specifications to meet the needs, evaluate vendor capability, and supervise implementation of complex IT systems while incorporating hands on knowledge transfer to client staff as a critical aspect of engagements. He is passionate about making sense out of data and leveraging mobile technologies to improve efficiency and service delivery using tried and tested solutions to solve old problems in new and innovative ways. As a member of the IT community he works hard to share his knowledge and experience as a means of encouraging growth and giving back. Stephen holds a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from Makerere University.
The Communication and Monitoring and Evaluation for the program is handled by Richard Nyamamnhindi. Mr. Nyamanhindi is based in Zimbabwe and has over 10 years experience in the communications and knowledge management field. Richard has worked in the media as a journalist for three years, academia for two years and the NGO sector since 2007. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economic History and Development Studies and a Masters Degree in Communication and Media Studies. His interests are mainly focused on Communication for Development, the use of the media in spurring development especially among the poor and vulnerable and the development of communication tools that make it possible to share valuable and useful information to various stakeholders including donors and communities. Richard has a passion for social media and the impact it has had on Monitoring and Evaluation and on development work in general.
Ms. Leesa Shrader is the Mercy Corps Senior Director for Financial Innovation and is a technical Advisor for the Agri-Fin Mobile Program. Ms. Shrader has over 20 years global experience in microfinance working with institutions such as CGAP, the World Bank, GTZ, KfW, Women’s World Banking and others in areas including wholesale and retail microbanking, market research and product development, ratings, technology implementation and overall technical assistance. Over the past five years, Ms. Shrader has initiated and managed programming funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to build innovative commercial banking technology platforms utilizing branchless and mobile phone channels to serve low income markets in Asia. Partner banks under that program in Indonesia and the Philippines now reach more than 3 million low income end clients in urban and rural areas with new services, incorporating these technologies. With an extensive background in financial product development for the poor, she is now leading Mercy Corps activities around financial and mobile technology services for small holder farmers worldwide. Ms. Shrader holds a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.