Our team’s diverse background as analysts, advisors and project managers—for multiple public and private sector organizations—allows us to offer clients a broad range of experience and understanding of the complex issues involved in working in developing country contexts. Our commitment is to bring a commercial and customized approach to projects and problems in a way that responds to our clients’ needs.
Anita is an economist with 30 years of experience in international and US finance and private sector development. She is a Rural and Agricultural Finance expert and has led Connexus since its inception in 2007. Anita has overseen several USAID-funded projects, including Connexus’ work on USAID/Ghana FinGAP and USAID/Rwanda’s Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth project and Huguka Dukore (Youth Development project). In Senegal, she led a team to conduct market research on small and medium enterprise (SME) finance. Previously, she managed the Financial Sector portfolio for Chemonics International, overseeing projects related to SME finance, insurance, leasing and investment funds, as well as regulation and supervision of microfinance institutions. As executive director, Anita transformed the MicroFinance Network into a leading policy institution by developing and promoting microfinance best practices. In Mali, she was the Associate Program Director for Peace Corps’ Small Enterprise Development program, supporting 60 volunteers who provided technical assistance to businesses and microfinance institutions. Anita has designed and led participatory trainings in English, Spanish and French.
Abby is a Project Manager with Connexus Corporation, providing logistical and administrative support for current and future projects, including the annual Cracking the Nut Conference. Prior to joining Connexus, she worked as an English Teacher in Ziguinchor, Senegal while on a Fulbright Grant and in Sens, France as part of the Teaching Assistant Program in France. She also has experience working as a Research Assistant at The George Washington University’s Institute for African Studies and as an Editorial Assistant for the academic journal Anthropological Quarterly. Abby holds a B.A. in International Affairs and French Language, Literature, and Culture, and she has a working knowledge of French.
An agricultural engineer by training, Absa has extensive experience in quality management and SME-focused supply chain development, particularly in the rice and horticultural value chains in Senegal. She currently serves as Agriculture and Market Systems Specialist for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. Prior to joining Connexus, she worked as Coordinator of the Federation of Self-Managed Perimeters (FPA), where she supported the research and organization of public and private financial resources and managed the human, technical, and financial resources of the FPA. Previously, Absa was a Supply and Quality Manager and Network Database Manager at Mamadou Ngoné Agro-industry Company (CMG-A), where she developed extensive quality monitoring and management skills related to the rice value chain, managed the development of supply strategies and agronomic monitoring procedures, and conducted trainings on best practices. She has a Masters in Agribusiness and Agricultural Value Chain Development and a Masters in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Thiès. She is fluent in French and Wolof and is proficient in Pulaar.
Adama Sarr is the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity, with 13 years of experience designing and implementing monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems for internationally funded projects. Trained as a statistician, she has a good mastery of data analysis and visualization tools and has applied her extensive knowledge to her previous work as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for the Feed the Future Nataal Mbay project and USAID Projet Croissance Economique (PCE). Adama also worked for the JICA-funded Projet du Developpement Rural Durable as a Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant, supervising the data collection and reporting for the project. She graduated from l‘Institut d’Etudes et de Formation en Statistique Appliquée et en Gestion et Evaluation de Projets (INEF SAGEP), with an Engineering Diploma in Applied Statistics, and holds a diploma to work as an IT technician. She is fluent in French and conversational in English.
Aiden is a Project Associate with Connexus Corporation, providing logistical and administrative support for current and future projects, including the annual Cracking the Nut Conference. Prior to joining Connexus, he served as a Legislative Intern in the Office of U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin, as well as a Constituent Services Intern in the Office of U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen. He spent a semester studying at the University of Nice – Sophia Antipolis in Nice, France, and is fluent in French. Aiden graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Government & Politics and French Language & Literature.
Alana is a Project Manager with Connexus Corporation, providing administrative and logistical support for current and future projects including the annual Cracking the Nut Conference. Prior to joining Connexus, she was a Compliance Coordinator for ACES, an international education organization working with high school exchange students on U.S. State Department Scholarships. Her experience and interest in International Development stem from her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer working on public health projects in Mali and Guinea. She holds a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Wyoming and has a working knowledge of French.
Alice is a Communications Specialist at Connexus, supporting the USAID/Zambia Accountable Governance for Improved Service Delivery (AGIS) project. Prior to joining Connexus, Alice served at a leading Zambian independent school, Chengelo, where she coordinated and implemented multiple marketing communications projects. She also worked as a Senior Consultant at the Zambian award-winning PR agency, Cutting Edge, catering to a complex client base that included the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, African Development Bank, United Nations Foundation, European Union Delegation to Zambia and COMESA, British Airways, Coca-Cola and the Duke of Edinburgh International Award for Young People. Alice holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Management from Edith Cowan University, a Certificate in Diplomacy, Protocol and Public Relations from the Zambia Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, and a Certificate in Crisis Communications from Fleishman-Hillard. In 2015, she was recognized as Emerging Public Relations Practitioner of the Year by the Zambia Public Relations Association.
Almaz is a Junior Staff Accountant at Connexus Corporation, providing financial support in AP entries, project invoices, and other financial and administrative activities. She has prior experience working in several financial positions for International Medical Corps’ Ethiopia Mission. As a Volunteer, she supported the financial department in their day-to-day financial activities. As a Finance Assistant, she supported proper handling of the company petty cash and payment processing. As a Finance Officer, she worked on document review and Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable. She holds a B.A. in Accounting and Finance from Admas University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Alpha is an experienced grant management specialist and currently serves as the Capacity Building and Grants Specialist for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. Before joining Connexus, he worked at RTI International as an Operations Officer and Local Partners Support Consultant, where he supported the Food Security and Agricultural team by coordinating local partnerships, developing procurement materials, managing human resources, and creating budget narratives. Alpha also served as a Program Development and Local Operations Consultant for TechnoServe, where he handled budget development and collection of local cost data. At IRD Bluement Inc, Alpha managed the implementation of sub-grants and the grants administrative process while providing financial and operational support to the organization. He has a Masters 1 in Trade of Financial Products and Services and he is fluent in French, English, Wolof, and Pulaar.
A seasoned communications specialist, Awa has over 10 years of experience in press relations, internal communication, social media, visual content production, editorials, gender mainstreaming, and project management and marketing. She currently serves as the Communications Specialist for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. Prior to joining Connexus, Awa worked as a Project Coordinator for Korn Ferry International, where she prepared, formatted, and proofread written documents, presentations, evaluations, and reports. She has also held various positions at Oxfam, including Gender Officer, Regional Media & Communications Assistant, and Administrative Assistant. In these roles she was responsible for company and project communications and social media content, supporting project teams in developing, formatting, and translating materials, and communicating across government agencies, research institutions and civil society organizations. Awa was also a Public Relations Manager at 54 Communications where she developed key communications strategies and adapted them to industry trends and client needs. She holds a Masters 2 in Communication and Journalism from L’Ecole des Techniques Internationales du Commerce, de la Communication et des Affaires (ETICCA). She speaks French, English, and Wolof fluently.
Emily is a Project Associate with Connexus Corporation, providing logistical and administrative support for current and future projects, including the annual Cracking the Nut Conference. Prior to joining Connexus, she studied French and Wolof in Dakar, Senegal as a Boren Scholar. She has experience working as a Research Intern for WATHI, a citizen-led think tank in Dakar, and as a Director’s Office Intern with the Wilson Center Africa Program in Washington DC. She also served as a Peer Advisor for the Department of Government and Politics and as a campus tour guide at the University of Maryland. Emily holds a B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, and she has a working knowledge of French.
Ernest serves as the Private Sector Specialist on the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Activity. He previously served as the National Team Leader in Sahel Consulting, Agriculture & Nutrition Limited, charged with implementing the Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria (ALDDN) program, a catalytic private sector-led, market-based dairy sector development program. Prior to this role, he worked as the Head of Agric Value Chain Finance and Investment Services at NIRSAL PLC, an agency of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He also worked at First Bank of Nigeria PLC for more than 15 years as an Agricultural Finance and Special Products Group Head among other positions. Ernest also co-founded and managed Cold Chain Supply Systems Limited Company, which selected and engaged vendors and technical service providers in infrastructure, logistics and management of integrated cold chain systems for smallholder farmers. Ernest holds an MBA, a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and the PRINCE2 Project Management Practitioner certificate. He is fluent in English, Igbo, and Nigerian Pidgin, and he has a working understanding of Yoruba.
Falilou is an international development and senior finance specialist. He has worked for more than 30 years in corporate banking and finance and has extensive experience in project management related to rural and agricultural market development and access to finance. Falilou served as the Senior Finance Specialist for the USDA Linking Infrastructure, Finance, and Farms to Cashew (LIFFT-Cashew) project and currently serves as Team Leader for Connexus on the AgResults Senegal Crop Storage Finance Challenge Project. He has a deep understanding of the West and Central Africa banking industry and his skill set combines consulting, international development, banking, and finance in a domestic and international context.
Henri is a skilled statistician economist and monitoring and evaluation specialist who currently serves as the Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Assistant for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. Before joining Connexus, Henri worked at Access Finance Management where he was responsible for the administrative and logistical management of the Agro Saafi unit, developing business plans for large enterprises, and evaluating the family security grant program. He also worked for STATINFO as a Statistician Economist, where he was involved in the M&E planning for several different projects in the nutrition, health, agriculture, and business sectors, including monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and agricultural households. Henri also served as a Trainer and Technical Assistant for STATINFO on the Feed the Future Senegal Naatal Mbay project, where he instructed database managers on the use of the CommCare platform and ensured that all monitoring and evaluation was carried out correctly. Henri has a Master 1 in Transport Logistics from the Business Administration Training Institute (IFFA), a Master 2 in Banking Econometrics and Quantitative Finance, and a B.S. in Economics and Management from Cheikh Anta Diop University. He is fluent in French and Wolof and proficient in English.
Ines is a Tunisian Finance Specialist with over 15 years of experience helping companies expand their activities and strengthen their business practices. She is also an expert in the development and implementation of investment and finance strategies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Ines currently supports the USAID Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) project as the Access to Finance Team Leader, where she works with the financial sector to increase access to capital (debt and equity) for SMEs in Tunisia. Prior to joining the JOBS project, Ines worked on several USAID projects as the Access to Finance Team Leader, including the USAID Middle East Economic Growth Best Practices Project (MEG) and the USAID Business Reform and Competitiveness Project (BRCP). Ines is also a Finance Lecturer at the Tunisian Exchange Training Institute (IFBT). She holds a Ph.D. in Management Sciences and is fluent in Arabic, French, and English.
Jerry currently serves as the Finance and Investment Director on the Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity. He has over 30 years of experience working in agricultural finance and investment, and he is an expert at coordinating investment in agribusinesses and improving access to finance for smallholder farmers. Jerry previously served as Head of Agribusiness at Stanbic IBTC Bank where he coordinated, promoted, and supervised the bank’s agricultural lending portfolio throughout Nigeria and developed financial products that meet the needs of agribusinesses. He also worked as Head of Agricultural Banking Sales and Distribution and Segment Head of Agricultural Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank where he effectively developed the bank’s agribusiness department, facilitated customer growth, and worked to create business opportunities for small-scale farmers. Jerry holds an MBA in Banking and Finance, a Post-graduate Diploma in Farm Management, and an Undergraduate Degree in Agricultural Mechanization. He is fluent in English, Mwaghavul, and Hausa.
John Berry currently serves as a Project Director for Connexus, supporting the USAID Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) project in Tunisia. He is a Financial Specialist with over 25 years of experience facilitating access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) worldwide specializing in financial analysis, credit risk management, and loan portfolio turn around. He has held management positions in Swaziland, Rwanda, Tunisia, and Niger and implemented short-term consultancies in more than forty countries across the globe. Previously, John served as the Chief Lending Officer for Business Impact Northwest, where he managed a microfinance portfolio focused on lending to under served women-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses. On previous assignments with Connexus Corporation, John conducted institutional diagnostics to strengthen lending practices and market research to expand SME and agricultural loan portfolios for commercial banks in Ivory Coast and the Congo. As a Microfinance Advisor at USAID, John supervised a major capacity building grant program and knowledge management project, and implemented financial due diligence assessments of microfinance institutions. John holds an M.A. in International Economics and Development from John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a B.A. in International Studies and French from American University. He is fluent in English, French and Spanish.
Kadija has over 7 years of experience working with international organizations and is highly skilled in administration, human resources, financial management, and accounting. She currently serves as Administrative Assistant for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. Prior to joining Connexus, Kadija worked as a Personnel Administration and Payroll Officer for Beltrans, where she managed and organized financial records, training schedules, and administrative files, and was highly knowledgeable of the company’s human resources and administrative procedures. During her time with Sentransco as an Administrative Manager, she organized personnel files, managed pay slips, employment contracts, pension, and sick leave, and tracked payroll deposits, advances, and account balances. Previously, as a Central Cashier at Soprodel, Ms. Thiam managed finances, accounting processes and sales, and monitored bank accounts and petty cash accounts to ensure that adequate funds were available and appropriately disbursed. Kadija holds a Master 1 in Business Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Cheikh Anta Diop University, and is currently working on her thesis for a Master 2 in Audit and Management Control. She is fluent in French, Wolof, Pulaar, and Soniké, and is proficient in English.
Laura is an economist by training with 20 years of experience providing technical assistance and support to small businesses. She has experience working on youth and extending financial services to them in Africa. Prior to serving as Connexus’s Vice President of Operations, Laura spent 10 years as an Economist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, working on pesticide and agricultural issues. Most recently, she was President of Shenandoah Brewing Company, a small, family-owned and operated microbrewery in Alexandria, VA.
Lotfi is an accomplished manager and private sector expert with 14 years of experience in sustainable partnerships, market assessment, finance and investment, government reform, and project management. He is currently serving as the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Director for the Feed the Future West Africa Trade and Investment Hub Activity. Based in Dakar, the PPP Director is catalyzing private sector investment in the region by working with leading buyers, processors, and producers to demonstrate the commercial viability of West African farmers and firms. Previously, Lotfi was the Regional Director for USAID’s LPFM II Program and World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, where he provided technical leadership, effective management and actively engaged with private and public actors. He also served as Program Director for USAID Trade Africa Côte d’Ivoire Program, which generated over $15 million in sales of livestock and agricultural products and facilitated over $16 million in investment in the cashew processing sector. While serving as Finance and Contract Manager for the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, he managed a $5 million budget to provide capacity building to producers, processers, and exporters as well as technical support to SMEs and financial institutions to improve access to finance and investment, grant disbursement to public partners, and international seller-buyer linkages. He is fluent in English and French and is highly proficient in Arabic.
Mamadou is an agribusiness and finance specialist with 12 years of experience strengthening agribusinesses and facilitating access to agricultural finance in Senegal and currently serves as Chief of Party for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. He previously served as the Director for the Agriculture and Agribusiness Division at Locafrique, and as the Finance and Investment Advisor for the Feed the Future Senegal Naatal Mbay project, where he established coaching and a financial education program for SMEs in order to make them eligible for finance. He also worked as a Capital Access Manager and Value Chain Specialist on the USAID Senegal Projet Croissance Economique (PCE), helping train partner institutions on financing models for various agricultural value chains and supporting USAID in setting-up and monitoring the DCA. Mamadou is an Agricultural Engineer with an MBA in Financial Engineering from the Institut Supérieur de Management, a Master’s degree in Management of Food and Agricultural Industries, and a Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy. He is fluent in French and English.
Mamadou is a skilled driver and general mechanic with more than 20 years of experience driving, including almost 15 years on three USAID projects in Senegal. As a driver for USAID projects, Mr. Ndiaye was an effective community liaison, responsible for performing administrative errands and chauffeuring project staff, consultants, and partners around Dakar and across all regions of Senegal while ensuring compliance with project guidelines and Senegalese laws. Additionally, he maintained daily vehicle logbooks, conducted daily and systematic maintenance and care of vehicles, and coordinated repairs in case of vehicle malfunction. Mr. Ndiaye was also a driver for Babacar Niang Company and CABEX for seven years in Dakar. Previously, he was a general mechanic at a vehicle garage for six years. Mr. Ndaiye holds a valid Senegalese driver’s license. His native language is Wolof and he is advanced in French.
Mariama is a seasoned Project Manager and Finance Specialist and currently serves as Deputy Chief of Party for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. As a knowledgeable administrative and financial leader, she has previously held positions including Regional Finance and Administration Director for an International Relief and Development (IRD) Project, and Regional Grants and Finance Manager and Chief of Accounts for World Wildlife Fund’s West Africa office. Through these positions, she ensured compliance with USAID and organizational policies and procedures, developed and maintained budgets, trained new staff members on procedures, and supervised monitoring, evaluation and learning, helping to develop indicators and log-frames and ensuring systematic data collection and accurate reporting. Mariama received her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and CPA diploma from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar. She is fluent in French, English, Pulaar and Wolof.
Medicke is a development and training specialist with over 20 years of experience working in finance and entrepreneurial training, with extensive experience in management and community-based organization related to rural and finance development. He served as a Finance Specialist on the USDA LIFFT Cashew Project in Senegal and currently serves as Technical Officer for Connexus on the AgResults Senegal Crop Storage Finance Challenge Project. His work with domestic organizations and USAID has taken him across southern Senegal and given him a deep understanding of the needs of micro and small enterprises in the region.
Mercy supports the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity as an Agribusiness Finance Specialist. Mercy has 10 years of experience on various development programs providing technical and management support for increasing access to markets, skills, and agribusiness finance, through supporting the development of inclusive business models and agricultural finance products for smallholder farmers (SHFs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in addition to increasing SHFs’ and SMEs’ access to digital agricultural information. Prior to joining Connexus, Mercy worked as a Senior Program Manager for the Access to Finance and Digital Extension Services Intervention for the DFID/Propcom Mai-karfi program. In this capacity, she provided strategic guidance and management for the access to finance and digital agricultural extension services intervention programs, including working with MSMEs to help them understand financial products and strengthening the capacity of financial institutions (FIs) to increase agricultural financing. Mercy has also worked with TechnoServe as an Agricultural Markets Manager. Mercy has a Master’s in Agribusiness Management from the Rome Business School, a Master’s of Business Administration from the Warwick Business School, and a Bachelor’s in Technology in Mathematics and Computer Science from the Federal University of Technology Minna. She is a Certified Expert in Agricultural Finance and a Certified Management Consultant. She is fluent in English and Hausa.
Mohamed Sami Maazaoui is a digital project management and marketing specialist with 20 years of experience in strategic marketing and business analytics in Tunisia. He has extensive knowledge in brand management, consumer analysis, and project development. He currently serves as Digital Financial Services Specialist on the USAID Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) project in Tunisia. Previously, he served as Digital Products and Services Manager at Enda Tamweel, where he supervised the Digital Products and Services Department in critical activities such as the implementation of the organization’s digital roadmap and the development of numerous digital product initiatives. Mr. Maazaoui also served as the Marketing Manager for the BITAKA Group, where he developed innovative branding and marketing strategies for new and existing products while continuously analyzing consumer trends. He has nearly 10 years’ experience with mobile operators (Ooredoo, Tunisia Telecom and Bravo Saudi Arabia). Mr. Maazaoui holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an Associate’s degree in Management from Tunisia Private University. He is fluent in Arabic and French and has advanced proficiency in English.
Olivia Hord is a Project Associate with Connexus Corporation, providing logistical and administrative support for current and future projects, including the annual Cracking the Nut Conference. Prior to joining Connexus, she interned with the international humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders in the Development Department. She has also interned as a Fundraising and Event Planning intern with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and Makindu Children’s Program. Olivia holds an M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution with a concentration in Inclusive Conflict Engagement from George Mason University and an M.A. in Mediterranean Security from the University of Malta.
Oluwaseun (Seun) Arigbede serves as the Agri-Finance Specialist supporting Connexus’ work on the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Activity. He has a profound knowledge of credit analysis, financial product development and portfolio management, with nearly eight years of experience packaging and facilitating access to finance for agribusinesses in Nigeria. Prior to his current role, Seun worked as the Regional Agriculture Finance Officer at Sterling Bank Plc, where he analyzed credit requests and made recommendations for agribusiness deals, created financial products, and provided advisory support for agri-credit transactions. In addition to working for the banking sector, Seun is a Ph.D. candidate in Agricultural Economics and holds a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics, both from the University of Ibadan, and a Bachelors in Agriculture, Agricultural Economics and Farm Management from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta. He is fluent in Yoruba and English.
Sabeur Gharbi is a banking specialist and experienced manager with almost 20 years of experience evaluating credit and risk, ensuring compliance with processes, policies, and regulations, and providing advisory services to executive management committees and boards of directors. He currently serves as Senior Banking Specialist on the USAID Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) project in Tunisia. Previously, he served as Senior Financial Consultant with Germela Germany and Germela BK Tunisia where he conducted pre-finance and investments due diligence including strategic analysis of financial health of potential partners and financing recommendations in Tunisia. Mr. Gharbi aslo served as Credit and Risk Manager and Middle Office Manager at ATIB Bank in Libya where he was a member of the executive management team responsible for developing policies and procedures for a new financial engineering initiative dedicated to the needs of small and medium enterprises, bank restructuration, and providing expertise in business, credit, and risk areas. He holds a Bachelor’s and Postgraduate Certificate in Monetary and Banking Economics from Tunis University. His native language is Arabic, and he is fluent in English and French.
Samba is a skilled driver and general mechanic with more than 14 years of experience driving. As a Senior Driver and Motor Pool Head for SAUDEQUIP, Mr. Ndiaye is responsible for performing administrative errands, chauffeuring authorized persons around Dakar while ensuring compliance with Senegalese driving laws, and overseeing other company drivers and vehicles. Additionally, he maintains daily vehicle logbooks, conducts daily and systematic maintenance and care of vehicles, and coordinates repairs in case of vehicle malfunction. Mr. Ndiaye was also a driver for International Relief and Development on a USDA-funded project for four years. Previously, he served as a personal driver and as an instructor at a driving school. Mr. Ndiaye holds a valid Senegalese driver’s license. He is fluent in French and Wolof, and has a basic knowledge of English.
Seynabou has more than 17 years of experience in agricultural value chain financing, investment financing, microfinance, and risk management, and she currently serves as the Agricultural Value Chain and Capital Access Specialist for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. Prior to joining Connexus, Seynabou worked as a Corporate Finance and Private Sector Expert with the Belgian Development Agency’s Rural Emigration Reduction Support Program (ENABEL/PARERBA), where she designed profitable and sustainable economic models for increased hydro-agricultural development, specifically for rice seeds, papaya, potato, and cashew nut value chains. She also served as Agricultural Value Chain Specialist for RTI on the Feed the Future Senegal Nataal Mbay Activity, where she increased the support of banks for the project’s priority agricultural value chains and facilitated the intervention of financial institutions through the development of programs and risk mitigation mechanisms. As a Project Manager for Finetech Senegal, she advised in the areas of agricultural finance targeting bottlenecks and priorities for agricultural, livestock, crafts, and fishing value chains. Seynabou holds a Master’s in Microfinance from the African Center of Higher Studies in Management, a Master’s in Management Sciences, and a Bachelor’s degree in Computerized Business Management from Gaston Berger University. She is fluent French, Wolof, and Pular.
Steve Norwood is the New Business Director for Connexus. He offers more than 20 years of experience in business and proposal development, as well as in overall marketing and analytical communications. Steve applies this experience to help generate new business by developing winning proposals, tracking and prioritizing new business opportunities, building relationships with key stakeholders and partners, strengthening new business systems, creating marketing and promotional materials, and supporting technical assistance assignments as needed. Steve’s goal is to ensure that Connexus offers the best possible client service by leading teams that put client interests first – in designing strategies to achieve client goals and in crafting staffing plans, management practices, and relevant credentials that all demonstrate that Connexus understands the client’s interests and needs. Prior to joining Connexus, Steve supported various other organizations in business development, including FHI 360 and AED, Abt Associates, International Relief and Development, American International Health Alliance, DAI, IBTCI, and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. He is fluent in business and proposal development and earned his B.A. and M.A. in International Studies from the University of South Carolina.
Thierno is an agronomist and agricultural engineer specializing in the structuring and development of agricultural value chains, access to finance, and capacity building. He is currently supporting the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity as an Agriculture and Market Systems Specialist. Prior to joining Connexus, Thierno worked for the Ministry of Livestock and Animal Productions on their Northern Zone support fund, where he managed fund activities, ensured correct implementation of credits, and monitored loan recovery. He also served as an Agricultural Value Chain Business Manager at LOCAFRIQUE, where he established structured financing mechanisms, particularly in horticulture value chains, and managed partnerships with institutions including USAID. During his time as Program Manager at FNDAPS (National Fund for Agrosilvopastoral Development), he actively participated in the development of various agricultural value chains in Senegal including the milk, banana, potato, onion, and poultry value chains. Thierno is a PhD candidate in Sustainable Development at the University of Thiès and he holds a Masters in Agronomy from the University of Abomey-Calavi and a Masters in Agricultural Engineering from L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agriculture de Thiès. He is fluent in French, Wolof, and Pulaar and he is proficient in English.
Thierno has over 14 years of experience in accounting, expense reporting, and budget preparation, and he currently serves as Accounting Assistant on the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity. Prior to joining Connexus, he served as a District Accounting Assistant for Abt Associates on the PMI Vector Link Project, where he ensured proper financial management of the project by monitoring expenses against the established budget. He also worked for RTI on Feed the Future Senegal Naatal Mbay as a Financial Assistant and for IRG on the USAID Economic Growth Project as an Assistant Accountant and Logistician, where he conducted financial reports, managed bank accounts, and facilitated payments to suppliers and service providers. Thierno was also an Accountant and Banana Marketing Officer for The Gambia River Valley Producers Association (APROVAG), where he managed the financial and administrative operations of the office, vehicles, as well as marketing for the Association. He holds a Professional Degree in Management of Development Projects from the Higher Institute of Local Development in Dakar and a BTS in Accounting and Management from the Professional Computer Training School in Thiès. He is fluent in French, advanced in Spanish, and proficient in English.
Thierno is a highly skilled driver and mechanic with over 12 years of experience working with domestic and international companies in Senegal. As Driver for the Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji Activity, he is responsible for performing administrative errands and chauffeuring project staff, consultants, and partners around Dakar and across all regions of Senegal while ensuring compliance with project guidelines and Senegalese laws. Additionally, he maintains daily vehicle logbooks, conducts daily and systematic maintenance and care of vehicles, and coordinates repairs in case of vehicle malfunction. Thierno previously worked as a Chauffeur for Helen Keller International (HKI), the ACRA-CSS Foundation, SAHEL 3000, the Bamtaaré Project, Saly Zet Loisirs, and Candalia. He is fluent in Wolof and Pulaar and advanced in French.
Todd Crosby is Vice President of Programs for Connexus. Previously, Todd was the Senior Technical Director for Resilience and Food Systems and Chief of Party for NCBA/CLUSA on Yaajeende, USAID Senegal’s flagship food security project in Senegal from 2010-2015. Yaajeende pioneered the “Nutrition Led Agriculture” methodology, a food systems approach to resolving issues of food security, hunger and malnutrition by strengthening local market actors, notably Community Based Solution Providers, to support the production, trade, and consumption of healthy foods. Todd holds an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and has over 23 years of experience working in community development in West Africa in Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, and Ghana. His technical expertise focuses on the use of private sector business approaches such as value chain, last mile agents, micro-finance, social marketing, and social franchising for community-based rural development.
Zied Ben Othman is a Finance and Equity Specialist with 16 years of experience in the Tunisian financial sector. He currently serves a Finance/Equity Specialist on the USAID Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) project, where he works with Tunisian financial institutions to increase financing for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Prior to joining the JOBS project, Zied worked for Neapolis Finance, a consulting firm he helped found, which also helps strengthened and facilitated access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in various sectors. He was also Co-founder and Managing Director at Builders Partners where he tailored his client’s investments using financial analyses and trends. Zied also worked in the private equity sector from 2003 to 2014 as an Investment Officer at SODICAB SICAR and Manager of Phenicia Seed Fund in Alternative Capital Partners (ACP). He holds a Master’s degree in Financial Engineering from the Tunis’ Higher School of Commerce (ESC), and a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the Institute of High Commercial Studies of Carthage (IHEC). He is a native Arabic and French speaker, and proficient in English.
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