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Indego Africa is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering artisan women in Africa through employment opportunities and education. Our mission? To help artisans lift themselves and their families out of poverty and become empowered businesswomen. 

We partner with groups of women in Rwanda and Ghana to sell products that are designed by our Creative Director in New York City and handmade in Africa—combining traditional techniques, local materials, and genuine artisanal skill.

We provide our partners with fair, consistent income for their artistry, and invest all of our profits from sales, coupled with grants and donations, into business education and vocational training programs for the artisans who handcraft our products and the youth in their communities.

At  Indego Africa, we believe that women and youth around the globe have the capacity, creativity, and determination to uplift themselves, their families, and their communities—all they need are the resources. Through education and access to markets, our partners develop the knowledge and skills they need to grow their own enterprises, become confident entrepreneurs and leaders, and create brighter futures for themselves and their communities. 

OUR Zines

Winter Zine 2017

10th Anniversary Zine

Winter Zine 2016

Spring Zine 2016

Meet the team

The Board of Directors

Chris Birosak has over 30 years of Investment Banking, Leveraged Finance, and Private Equity investment experience. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of Indego Africa's Board of Directors (August 2017-present) and 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.

Kathleen Cronen is a retired Health Care Administrator. She spent the majority of her professional career as the CEO and Owner Operator of North Star Behavioral Health System. Prior to North Star, Kathleen worked as a CPA for Price Coopers (formerly Coopers and Lybrand) specializing in tax and small business growth. She currently enjoys teaching Health Care Policy, Economics and Finance, and Human Resource Management as an Associate Professor at Alaska Pacific University and an adjunct faculty member at University of Alaska. Kathleen also maintains a small consulting practice specializing in executive coaching, mentoring, as well as small business development and acquisitions.

As a former member of Indego Africa's Board of Advisors, Kathy taught a class at the Leadership Academy in 2015 and remains actively involved with the Board of Advisor's development of a project roadmap for the mental health workshop Indego plans to roll out in Rwanda.

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.

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.

Conor is in his second invigorating decade of being a business lawyer, social entrepreneur and policy wonk. He currently leads legal, regulatory and government affairs as GC of Funding Circle, the world’s leading lending platform focused exclusively on small business. Previously, Conor spent four years alongside Ben, Deirdre, Karen, Matt, Rosine and others building and scaling Indego Africa, where he served in various roles as CFO, COO and eventually CEO. He began his career as a corporate finance attorney at Latham & Watkins LLP. Active in the policy community, Conor is a Truman Security Fellow and has helped found the Marketplace Lending Association (a trade association supporting responsible financial innovation), the Responsible Business Lending Coalition (which authored the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights), and the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise (a global initiative supporting the artisan sector). He currently serves on the alumni board of NYU Law and the financial institutions committee of the CA bar, and was recently recognized as 2017 Bay Area Corporate Counsel of the Year. Conor received his JD from NYU Law and his BA from Georgetown. He is admitted to the CA, DC, MA and NY bars.

Kofi Fynn is currently the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Petra Trust Company Ltd, one of the largest pension fund management firms in Accra, Ghana. Prior to founding Petra Trust, Kofi was CEO in charge of Asset Management at Oceanic Capital Company Limited (“OCCL”) in Nigeria. Kofi joined OCCL in March 2008 from Wellington Management Company in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was an associate partner and the lead portfolio manager for central banks and international organization mandates. Before joining Wellington Management, Kofi worked at Blackrock Financial Management, a global asset management firm with over $3.6 trillion under management.

A native of Ghana, Kofi comes to Indego Africa with a career dedicated to improving people's lives through financial services. He earned both a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Jem is Vice President and Director of Engagement at Breckinridge Capital Advisors. She joined the firm in January 2016 and is primarily responsible for helping strengthen Breckinridge’s ESG and sustainability-related dialogue with a range of key stakeholders including issuers, clients, industry peers, and thought leaders. To this end, Jem leads Breckinridge’s issuer engagement efforts, develops thought leadership including the ESG Newsletter, and collaborates with various departments across the firm in order to bolster Breckinridge's sustainability-related efforts. Jem has over 11 years of financial services and sustainability experience, having previously served as CEO of Caldy Group, a boutique strategy consulting firm she founded to advise financial institutions seeking to expand their presence in sustainable investing. Before Caldy Group, Jem was a researcher with Professor Michael E. Porter at Harvard Business School and an analyst in Deutsche Bank's investment banking division. She serves as a steering committee member for High Meadows Institute’s Path to Value initiative and for the Wharton School’s Social Impact Alumni Group. She is also a senior alumni advisor to the Harvard College Impact Investing Group. Jem holds an AB from Harvard College and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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.

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 Outside Counsel (2007-2008), COO & General Counsel (2008-2011), CEO (2011-2012), and Vice Chairman (2012-August 2017). Ben is currently a corporate attorney at Mintz Levin in Boston, where he counsels clients across a range of industries in a variety of transactions and corporate matters, with a focus on early-stage and emerging companies. Prior to joining Mintz Levin, Ben served as Managing Director & General Counsel of MCE Social Capital, an investment firm that finances businesses concentrating on clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and financial inclusion in more than 35 countries across four continents. Prior to MCE, Ben served as Director of Small Business and Start-Up Development at American Express, where he led a team creating initiatives to fuel high-growth entrepreneurship in the U.S. Ben started his career as a litigation attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in NYC, where he represented corporations and individuals in major business disputes and government investigations. Ben received a B.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis in 2000, a J.D. from NYU 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 law, entrepreneurship, and innovation, and 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.

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
Lindsay Abrams
Hayley Doner
Amy Emel
Conor French - Chairman
Nancy Gendimenico
Randy Kaufman
Zachary D. Kaufman
Alex Kennedy
Lorraine S. McGowen
Jennifer McNulty
Jackson Muneza M’vunganyi
Suneeta Olympio
Nicole Pitter Patterson
Tayie Selasi
David Syed
Manasa Tanuku
Eric Vorchheimer