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Our mission The Team Board of directors ^Top

#INDEGOAFRICA

We are an innovative nonprofit social enterprise & lifestyle brand that supports women in Rwanda through economic empowerment and education. Our mission is to break intergenerational cycles of poverty by providing female artisans with the tools and support to reclaim their own futures, flourish as independent businesswomen, and drive development in their communities.

Economic Empowerment - We partner with cooperatives of female artisans, and sell their beautifully handcrafted products through our e-commerce site, boutiques worldwide, and collaborations with independent designers and brands. Our on-the-ground Rwandan staff works closely with our artisan partners to provide practical, hands-on training in quality control, design, and product management.

Education - We pool 100% of profits from sales, donations, and grant support to fund job skills training programs for our artisan partners in business management, technology, entrepreneurship, and English & Kinyarwanda literacy. Through these tailored education programs women develop the knowledge and skills to engage independently with global markets and grow their own businesses. On October 1st, 2014, we opened a Leadership Academy in Kigali, Rwanda, dedicated to building powerful businesswomen, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

Meet the team

The Board of Directors

Tara Abrahams is a visionary social sector leader with more than 15 years of experience in strategy consulting, philanthropy, program implementation, and change management. Currently, Tara serves as an advisor and consultant to Empowered World Ventures, a technology company whose mission is to entertain, educate, and empower girls around the world. Formerly, Tara served as President and Deputy Director of Girl Rising, a global movement and innovative feature film that aim to raise awareness about the importance of educating girls in the developing world. Previous roles in the nonprofit sector include: founding New York Director of Health Leads; Managing Director of Acelero Learning; consultant at The Bridgespan Group, and Founding Director of the Maverick Capital Foundation. Tara graduated from Harvard College and completed her MBA at the Harvard Business School.

Chris Birosak has over 30 years of Investment Banking, Leveraged Finance, and Private Equity investment experience. He currently serves as a Senior Advisor and Investment Committee member of Star Mountain Capital, an investment firm focused on growth capital investments in small and medium sized US businesses. His career includes former work as Managing Partner of North Cove Partners and as Managing Director of Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity where he served on the investment committee and was responsible for investments in the Health Care and Energy sectors. Across his career, Chris has worked with early-stage businesses, middle-market companies as well as Fortune 500 companies having completed over 150 transactions. In addition to his corporate board experience, Chris has extensive experience in the non-profit sector and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and the Board of the Student Partner Alliance, an organization enabling inner-city youth to attend parochial schools. As a long time resident of Summit, NJ, Chris formerly served on the Board of the Summit Area YMCA and was a former President and Board member of the Summit Educational Foundation. Chris graduated from Wayne State University with a BA in economics and from the University of Detroit Mercy with an MBA in finance.

Stephanie Cordes is Vice Chair of the Cordes Foundation and works alongside her parents, Ron & Marty Cordes, to drive the vision and work of their family foundation. Stephanie currently leads the Foundation’s philanthropic and investment portfolio in women and girls empowerment, specifically looking at market-based innovations in ethical fashion and sustainable supply chains. She also spends a large amount of time focusing on the Foundation’s work in millennial engagement and has been invited to speak at the White House, Capitol Hill, the World Economic Forum, among many other convening’s on the topic of millennial engagement in philanthropy and impact investing.

As a savvy investor, Stephanie serves as a member of the Foundation’s investment committee and co-directs its impact investing strategy by leveraging catalytic capital to sustainable enterprises at the bottom of the pyramid.

Ms. Cordes previously worked as a Publishing Associate at Conde Nast and within the luxury fashion industry at brands including Maiyet and Alberta Ferrett before transitioning full-time to her family foundation.

Kathy Crost is a partner in the New York office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP specializing in structured finance. Kathy has traveled extensively to work on women’s issues. She served on the Board of Directors of the Women's Refugee Commission, an international research and advocacy organization that identifies issues that affect women and children refugees and advocates for policy changes to address those issues. Kathy was involved in research for the Women’s Refugee Commission in Ethiopia and led a large team in conducting research on the treatment of unaccompanied minors in the United States, also for the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Jen Field is Director of the Social Impact practice at the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) in New York City. From 2008 through 2012, Jen was a Vice President in the Office of Corporate Engagement at Goldman Sachs, which encompasses the Goldman Sachs Foundation. In this capacity, she was Senior Program Officer and Acting Program Manager for 10,000 Women, a $100M initiative of the Foundation to provide 10,000 underserved female entrepreneurs around the world with a business and management education. Jen obtained an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management with a focus in Social Enterprise and a BA from Yale University.

Steve Foresta is a managing partner at the international law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in New York and is the firm-wide leader of the Litigation Practice Group. Steve also devotes a substantial amount of time working with community service organizations. During the summer of 2009, Steve traveled to Rwanda with his son Michael to work with Indego Africa’s staff, artisan partners, and Generation Rwanda interns, and he’s been a devoted Indego Africa supporter ever since. Steve also serves as Chair of the New York Board of Advisors of Disability Rights Advocates. Steve graduated from Fordham University School of Law in 1987 and received his undergraduate degree in 1984 from the University of Virginia, where he was an Echols Scholar.

Dr. Zachary D. Kaufman chairs Indego Africa’s Board of Advisors and serves on the organization’s Board of Directors. He is currently a Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Visiting Fellow at Yale University (at both Yale Law School and Yale University’s Genocide Studies Program). In addition, he is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project.

Dr. Kaufman is the founder, president, and chair of the Board of Directors of Intare Tech and the founder and CEO of Lion Coders. These organizations are bringing technology education and employment opportunities to Rwanda. From 2001 to 2015, Dr. Kaufman served as the founder, president, and chair of the Board of Directors of the American Friends of the Kigali Public Library. He also serves on boards of Genocide Watch, the Association of Marshall Scholars, Humanity in Action, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

He received his PhD from the University of Oxford, his JD from Yale Law School, and his BA from Yale University.

Ryan is a Vice President in the Regulatory Audits & Inquiries group at Goldman Sachs & Co. He formerly practiced law for seven years in the New York office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. Before joining Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Ryan worked with several international governmental organizations devoted to international lawmaking, governance and enforcement, including the United Nations Liaison Office of CARE International in New York, the Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in New Delhi, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna. Ryan received a B.A. with highest honors in Political Science and Film at Vassar College in 1997; an M.A. in International Affairs at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs in 2001; and a J.D. at Stanford Law School in 2002, where he served on the Executive Board of the Stanford Journal of International Law.

Matt has a longstanding interest in African development, stemming from his six years living in Nigeria and his personal experience working with African women. Matt began his professional career as a practicing attorney at Akin Gump LLP in Washington, DC where he advised on infrastructure projects in developing countries such as Bolivia, Morocco and Congo. In August 2011, Matt joined Google's People Operations function where he has managed university outreach programs across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. He currently leads Google's programs to develop and educate students from backgrounds underrepresented in the technology industry. Matt's honors include Fellow of the Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics (2007), StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation Fellow (2007), 85 Broads' "Guy Who Rocks" (2011), and Devex 40 under 40 International Development Leaders in London (2011). Matt graduated magna cum laude from American University's Washington College of Law in 2003 and earned a bachelor's degree in economics and history from Washington University in St. Louis in 2000.

Tom has spent eleven years of his 40-year career as a manager and consultant living and working in Africa, notably in Angola and Nigeria. He is currently Co-Director and lecturer at the University of Houston Graduate Certificate program in Global Energy, Development and Sustainability which focuses on Africa. As an independent consultant for the last ten years, Tom provides high-level commercial and governance advice to governments and government oil companies in Angola and Tanzania with respect to natural resource development projects, and to public companies on cultural aspects of conducting business in Africa. He was formerly the chief financial officer responsible for corporate policy-making, governmental interactions, and financial planning and compliance for the African subsidiaries of Chevron, a major natural resource company. In this role, he helped lead Chevron’s effort to establish a joint project with the USAID and UNDP to provide development banking to under-served communities in Angola and represented Chevron in its community outreach and development programs. As a community leader, Tom has served as chairman of the board for international schools in Lagos and Luanda, as a board member for a project to provide mosquito nets to communities in Angola, and currently is a board member for a U.S. charitable foundation with a focus on projects in developing countries.

Joe comes to Indego Africa after over 30 years at American Express where he held leadership positions in finance, business transformation and reengineering, and revenue development. Most recently, he was Vice President, Strategic Transformation for American Express Global Business Travel, one of the largest corporate travel management companies worldwide. Prior to that, Joe was CFO of Global Business Travel. He has held cross product line CFO positions in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. During his career with American Express, he has lived in Bangkok, Rome, London, Frankfurt and Miami, as well as his base in New York. Joe holds an MBA in finance and accounting from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, and a BS in Economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Joe is an active member of the alumni board of the Owen School at Vanderbilt. He resides in Brooklyn.

As one of Indego Africa’s original architects, Ben has helped drive the organization forward as Chief Volunteer & Outside Counsel (2007-2008), COO & General Counsel (2008-2011), CEO (2011-2012), and Vice Chairman (2012-present). Ben is currently Managing Director & General Counsel of MCE Social Capital, an impact investing firm that uses an innovative loan guarantee model to mobilize capital for hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs in more than 30 countries in the developing world. Ben started his career as a corporate defense attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in NY, where he managed multi-million dollar representations of accounting firms, technology manufacturers, energy companies, and individuals. Ben has also led various initiatives at American Express to help entrepreneurs in the U.S. scale their businesses.
Ben received a B.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis in 2000, a J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2004, and in 2010 completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship. Ben is a regular public speaker on leadership, social innovation, entrepreneurship, impact investing, marketing, and law. Ben is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Selom is a Vice President in the Technology Division at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He has extensive experience in management consulting having served clients for Ernst & Young LLP, Capgemini and Deloitte Consulting LLP. His industry experience spans across Financial Services, Technology, Healthcare, Energy and Consumer Business advising and executing on Transformation and Integration initiatives. A native of Ghana, Selom has always had a keen interest in giving back to his country and the continent as a whole and brings a unique perspective to programs and strategy.

Selom obtained a BSc. in Computer and Electrical Engineering, an MSc. in Electrical Engineering from the Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science and an MBA from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

Alia has been a passionate advocate for the community of women entrepreneurs that Indego works with, applying her deep knowledge and experience to the cause of empowering women. She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2001, where she won recognition as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Alia has held a series of executive positions in the private sector, including Vice President of Business Development for Nourish Capital; Vice President of Business Development at Yorkshire Global Restaurants and Worldwide Director of Contemporary Jewelry at Phillip de Pury and Company. From 2009 to 2011 she served as Partnership Advisor at the United Nations Office for Partnerships, where she promoted and developed new United Nations partnerships and alliances and facilitated the collaboration between the private sector, foundations and the United Nations in furtherance of the Millennium Development Goals.

Leveraging a 24-year career with Merrill Lynch, Karen joined Indego Africa in March 2012 as Chief Financial Officer, assumed the Chief Operating Officer role in June 2012 and was promoted to CEO on January 1, 2014. Karen was drawn to Indego Africa for both its mission, which intersects with her passion for education and helping women achieve financial independence, and for Indego Africa’s entrepreneurial culture. Karen was Managing Director of the US Business Selection and Conflicts group within Investment Banking at Merrill Lynch. Previous roles at Merrill included debt markets finance, investment banking business management and corporate budgeting. Karen received an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and her B.A. from the University of Michigan.

The Board of Advisors

Ambassador Michael R. Arietti
Conor B. French
Natasha Goldstein
Zachary D. Kaufman (Chair)
Randy Kaufman
Deborah Kaye
Alex Kennedy
Lorraine S. McGowen
Jackson Muneza M’vunganyi
Elchi Nowrojee
Amy Poster
Taiye Selasi

Learn more About Indego

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