The organisation is guided by a robust governance structure comprising our board of directors, an advisory council and the management team.

Laila Macharia


Raised in Kenya, Namibia, and Somalia, Dr. Laila Macharia is the Chair of the Africa Leadership Initiative – East Africa. She has been recognized as a Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Investor in education, health, financial inclusion, new media, and data solutions.


Laila currently also chairs the boards of the Africa Digital Media Group. She is a non-executive director of the Absa Bank of Kenya and of Centum, both listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Admitted to practice law in Kenya as well as Maryland and New York (USA), Laila holds a BA in Planning & Public Policy from the University of Oregon, a JD and LL.M from Cornell University, and a Doctorate in Law (JSD) from Stanford University. Laila was honored in 2010 as a Fellow of the third class (Third Dimension Uwepo) of the Africa Leadership Initiative-East Africa and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. In 2012, she was named one of the Top 20 Women to Watch in Africa by the Times of London.

Palkesh Shah

Palkesh Shah is an executive Director of Spin Ventures Group (SVG) based in East Africa and Zambia. The Group is a family-owned and managed business involved in various business activities mainly in agro and agro-processing, manufacturing, and real estate.


The group currently employs over 3000 people within the region and continues to expand into other sectors such as the food, health, and hospitality sector. Palkesh holds a BSC in Business Management from the University of New Hampshire.


He has actively participated on various committees in community schools and has been an Executive Board member of Oshwal Community, Nakuru. 


Palkesh is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Africa Leadership Initiative-East Africa and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Mariam Luyombo

Mariam Luyombo has over 20 years of experience in academic and business leadership. She is one of the educational entrepreneurs who started the trend of private schools in Uganda. Within the space of 10 years, she founded and directed 4 private schools in Uganda including her very own Taibah International Schools. She has won multiple prestigious awards in education and business innovation. Mariam has also done consultancy work in education and business and is a member of several boards and associations. She previously has been nominated as one of Africa’s Most Influential Women by CEO Global. She is also a moderator of values-based leadership seminars internationally for The Aspen Leadership Institute. Mariam holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education and a master’s degree in Education.


She is a fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. 

Awel Uwihanganye

Awel Uwihanganye is recognized as a social entrepreneur, a public servant, and a social justice champion. He is a native of Uganda and a citizen of the world. He currently serves as the Founder & Senior Director at the LéO Africa Institute. 


Awel is an entrepreneur and communications specialist, he has over the years built a successful career in the non-profit and knowledge sectors, especially supporting the growth and development of young people. He is also a co-owner of Tetea Communications, & Silverback Travel Company, a specialized Safari company.


He has previously served as the Country Programme Coordinator for the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Uganda and South Sudan and has previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and served on numerous boards.

Richard Mugisha

Richard Mugisha is the managing partner of Trust Law Chambers, which he founded in February 2004. Prior to establishing the firm, he was the director of procurement policy and legal affairs at the Rwanda National Tender Board.


He has been a member of the Financial Sector Development Steering Committee and the National Regional Integration Committee, which led to Rwanda’s accession to the East African Community, as well as the chairman of the Commercial Law Reform Task Force.


He has taught at the National University of Rwanda and Kigali Institute of Management, Science, and Technology. He is a member of the governing council of the Rwanda Bar Association and the Disciplinary Committee of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Rwanda. He also serves on the board of directors of Banque Commerciale du Rwanda. Richard holds an LLB from the National University of Lesotho and an LLM from New York University.

Patrick Obath

Patrick is a consultant in Energy, Extractives, and Engineering with a special emphasis on Leadership, Governance, and Sustainability. Patrick has wide experience in management at the international level and extensive experience in social, government, and development issues.


Patrick has been involved intimately in the business community in Kenya and East Africa at the top level since 2005 and is a past chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), sits on the boards of several Business Member Organisations. He holds a BSc. in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University and is a Member of the Energy Institute (UK), the Petroleum Institute of East Africa, and the Institution of Engineers in Kenya.


He is Chairman of Adrian Kenya Limited, PZ Cussons EA Ltd, African Alliance Kenya Investment Bank, Java House Africa, and is a Non-Executive Director in companies involved in manufacturing, international development, automotive, FMCG, and ICT sectors. He was awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW) in 2009 and the Order of the Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS) in 2011. 

Catherinerose Baretto

Working at the nexus of the future of work, innovation, and gender, Catherinerose has more than 10 years of work experience in human capital, Learning & Development, Design Thinking, and Entrepreneurship. She is Co-Founder of 10, an engineering venture working to close the technical skills gap for employers in Africa through project-based, hands-on industry engineering, and training.


Prior to this, she Co-Founded Tanzania’s first privately funded innovation and technology hub called Kinu, which successfully ran between 2011 – 2017. In 2017 and 2018, was the Chair of the Rotary Dar Marathon. An initiative by eight Rotary Clubs in DSM to raise USD 1.5 million for the CCBRT health facility. Enabling them to provide increased, quality health care services for people with disabilities. 


Catherinerose is a country expert for the World Mobile Summit Awards; a mentor for the East Africa Women’s Feminist Leadership and Mentoring Initiative; she is the Founding Curator of the Dar es Salaam Global Shapers Hub, a WEF initiative. She is also a board member of the Alliance Francaise Tanzania and Jambo Bukoba.

Maria Odido

Maria Odido is the Chief Executive Officer of Bee Natural Uganda Ltd. The company’s flagship product is honey. It also processes propolis and carries out value addition to beeswax. Maria played a leading role in having Uganda registered in the European Food Commission as a country exporting honey to the EU. This resulted in Uganda being granted a license in 2006 to export honey and other bee products to the EU market.


Ms Maria is not only an accomplished entrepreneur, spanning a total of 28 years in business, but she is also a distinguished luminary. She has received several awards in the course of her career.  She received the Presidential Order of the Crested Crane – the highest civilian award for meritorious service and contribution to the courses of humanity and national development. First Prize – RABO Bank Incubator Award (2010). Recognition for mentorship of youth in business in the Young Achievers Award (2009). Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Uganda Investment Authority (2004). First Prize in Presidential Exports Award from Uganda Export Promotion Board (2004). Investor of the Year Award from the Uganda Investment Authority (2004).

The team provides support to the Board of Directors. It comprises of highly esteemed leaders of good standing, experience and insight.

Mukui Mbindyo

Partnerships Manager

Wangechi Ngatia

Programs Associate

Daniel Ayelabola

Head of Programs