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 Sr. 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 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.
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.
Alana is a Sr. Project Associate 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.
Alby is a Project Manager at Connexus Corporation, contributing to logistical and administrative support for current and potential projects and consultants. Before joining Connexus, Alby worked for UCP Wheels for Humanity, where she was responsible for the organization’s fundraising activities. She also worked as their Administrative Assistant, where she fielded staff and assisted with home and field office logistics. Her interest in development stemmed from her service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, where she served as an Early Childhood Education Specialist also taking on Agricultural Projects within her community. She received her Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies and Sociology from UCLA and her Master’s degree in Public Administration and Non-Profit Management from Cal State, Northridge. Alby is fluent in Spanish 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.
Anna is a Project Associate with Connexus Corporation, providing logistical and administrative support for current and future projects, including the annual Cracking the Nut Conference. She has prior experience working as a Press Intern for the Office of U.S. Senator Angus King, and as a French Tutor for the GW Department of Romance, German & Slavic Languages & Literatures. She recently graduated from the George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs and a minor in French Language, Literature, and Culture. She also spent a semester at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, or Sciences Po, as part of the GW Paris Study Program, and she has a working knowledge of French.
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.
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.
Kingsley supports the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity as an Agribusiness Finance Officer. For more than six years, he has actively supported access to finance and capacity building for agribusinesses in Nigeria, as well as helped to fix broken agricultural value chain linkages. Prior to joining the Agribusiness Investment Activity Project, Kingsley worked as a Retail Finance Supervisor with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Plc under the Agricultural Value Chain Finance and Investment Services business unit. Kingsley also worked with Sterling Bank Plc as a Regional Agric-Finance Officer supporting the Abuja and North-Central regions, and with Diamond Bank Plc as a Regional Agric-finance Support Officer supporting the North region. During his career, he has worked closely with the public and private sector agri-value chain actors, local, international and agric interest organizations/groups, financial institutions, agro-dealers and exporters. Kingsley holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Technology in Agricultural Extension from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria.
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.
Mehdi is a banking, access to finance and business development professional with 8 years of experience working with leading financial institutions. He currently serves as the Banking Specialist on the USAID Jobs, Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) project in Tunisia. Previously, Mehdi worked as a Relationship Manager with Citi where he worked with government entities, top tier local companies, and Financial Institutions. He was also a consultant and an M&A specialist, involved in projects aimed at increasing access finance for small and medium sized enterprises and delivering innovative models to financial intermediaries. Mehdi earned an MSc degree in Management from EMLyon and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting Sciences from IHEC. He is fluent in Arabic and French and proficient in English
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.
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.
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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