Abdulsamod Balogun is a communications and marketing professional with over six years of experience leading end-to-end content storytelling and digital marketing (search, social and email) campaigns in the nonprofit, financial services, venture capital and technology sectors in Africa. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, and is trained in product marketing and growth marketing by Product Marketing Alliance UK and CXL Institute US respectively. He is the director of partnerships at Vibrant Girls Development Initiative, a social enterprise that has empowered over 300 girls in semiurban areas of Lagos with soft and digital skills, and provided career mentorship to 90 girls. Previously, he was a communications and marketing fellow at VestedWorld, an impact-focused African VC, where he raised newsletter open rate to over 40% and executed content marketing strategies that grew Linkedin followership by 115%, engagement by 1100% and unique visitors by over 70%. He also led communications for Leonine, a financial services firm, where he helped over 20+ social entrepreneurs get investor-ready and raise external capital. He also executed tailored B2B and B2C content marketing strategies that helped increase the firm’s web traffic by 300%, Linkedin page followers by 70%, enterprise client pool by over 60%, training pool by over 150% and originated deals worth over $1million. He is one of 5 Agora Fellows trained in communications by Young Voices UK in 2019 and has coordinated marketing for LEAP Africa SIPA and SocialGood Summit Lagos. Through these experiences, he has developed strong skills in content, digital and event marketing. Abdulsamod enjoys launching initiatives and dissecting issues in youth development, entrepreneurship, gender, and education.
Alisson Sakina Figueroa EspinozaNicaragua
Alisson Figueroa has worked in community social development with NGOs and private companies for over 10 years. Nicaragua is going through different social, economic, and environmental challenges and as a game changer, she feels the responsibility to make a positive contribution. That is why she is interested in being part of the Virtual Leadership Institute because she knows with this program she will have all the necessary tools for her professional development and to be able to implement her inclusive recycling proposal. Through this program, she will be able to find a community network in which she can maintain her development focus and involve local corporations to be part of the change as well. The result of her proposal is that families have a second source of income and that it can be a model for other communities in the country.
Benedicta Dawson-Amoah is a monitoring and evaluation professional with five years of experience in youth advocacy, gender, and rural development in the nonprofit sector. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Statistics from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. While working as the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Coordinator at Plan International Ghana, she led in tracking project outcomes and conducting surveys for evidence-based advocacy on the She Leads Project. Over the past three years, Benedicta has advocated for the meaningful engagement of young people in leadership and decision-making by supporting Restless Development Uganda and the Mastercard Foundation to deliver compelling research on Young People’s priorities under the Youth Think Tank project. Benedicta has contributed to the academic research paper “Making a Living: A Young Employment Agenda” by Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, and she continues to volunteer as a youth researcher for civil society organizations, including Restless Development USA, Mastercard Foundation, and the ILO. Through these experiences, Benedicta has developed strong skills in youth leadership, data analysis, and communication skills for project management. Benedicta envisions a world where data can be used to make better decisions, improve lives, and make lasting impact for development.
Divya ChhabraIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Divya Chhabra is an AIF Fellow working with SAFA India, based in Hyderabad, Telangana. She is focused on developing local employment opportunities by incubating micro-entrepreneurs and creating an ecosystem for micro startups. She holds an integrated degree in BCom LLB from Tamil Nadu National Law University, Tiruchirappalli. During her academic pursuits, Divya gained valuable experience interning with various organizations, including the People’s Union of Civil Liberties in Jaipur, Majlis Legal Centre in Mumbai, and Jagori Rural Charitable Trust in Dharamshala. Through these internships, she gained knowledge about litigation and violence investigation while developing her passion for the development sector. Divya believes in effective communication with communities to understand their needs and bring positive change. She is determined to use her Fellowship as a stepping stone toward starting her own social enterprise or NGO. When she is not working, Divya enjoys reading and traveling.
Hamsini BalajiIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Hamsini Balaji is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Fellow for the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society and she will be helping build a social enterprise to brand the products of Self-Help Group (SHG) Members to increase access to larger markets and create sustainable livelihoods. Hamsini values curiosity and community, which has led her to the development sector to apply systems thinking to identify interdisciplinary and cyclical solutions to development challenges. Hamsini’s prior experience has involved serving as a Technical Program Officer and Measurement Advisor for a USAID nutrition, WASH, and women’s empowerment program. She holds a Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California and has designed and developed two social enterprises during her graduate career. Personally, Hamsini is exploring what it means to be a woman, the power of women, and their ability to organize for social change. Through the Fellowship, she hopes to co-design a solution with rural women and understand the operational and field realities of the development sector. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, spending time in nature, reading, and dancing.
Maryangel Alemán is a fully trilingual professional with a strong academic background in Global Business and Innovation with more than three years of experience in the areas of research, team leadership, and entrepreneurship. She has a broad expertise and knowledge in managing, monitoring, and evaluating projects with social impact in Central and South America. Some of the organizations she has worked with are the Organization of American States (Peru), Techo Costa Rica, AIESEC Brazil, World Vision, Global Shapers, and Thrive Nicaragua. Through her professional experiences, she has been able to connect with social entrepreneurs, key partners, and donors from the United States and Europe. Furthermore, her strong educational background in business and professional experiences provided her with a broad knowledge in Project Management, Partnership Development, and Administration. Her postgraduate in Innovation gave her strong creativity skills and an excellent entrepreneurial mindset.
Shaidy Jennipher Baltodano SilvaNicaragua
Shaidy Baltodano is passionate about assisting entrepreneurs in the creation, management, and growth of their businesses. She pursued an MBA and a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation as part of her personal development and to better prepare herself to mentor others. She also worked as an Electronic Engineer. Her current occupation is Intellectual Property Engineer. She has prior experience analyzing inventions to determine whether they are novel or not.
Cadiz Clavijo SolizBolivia
Cadiz Clavijo earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Communication from the University of San Francisco Xavier in Chuquisaca and completed postgraduate studies in Strategic Marketing at the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar. Most recently, Cadiz worked at a nonprofit institution called PRODECO, where she worked as a communications consultant for a project focused on indigenous access to health care and traditional medicine. In the past, she was part of the “Instituto Nacional de Estadística,” where she worked in rural areas and led a survey team that updated citizen data and created mapping of designated communities. Cadiz also worked for two years at Plan International Bolivia in the area of sponsorships and communications, where she ensured the safety of sponsored children by controlling the standards of incoming and outgoing communications. She found her first job at the Tribunal Electoral Departmental de Chuquisaca, where she registered and trained elected citizens as electoral jurors. During her studies, she worked as a volunteer at the Red Cross Chuquisaca, an NGO called “Realidades,” and AIESEC MKT. She has been involved in many youth groups. Today, she is a member of “Sinchi Imillas”, a group of young women that revalues indigenous music through women’s rights.
Jerome Amedo is a consultant with eight years of experience in business development, market research, and consulting in the private sector. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of Ghana. For the past five years, Jerome has impacted entrepreneurs and businesses by creating market research reports, identifying business opportunities, and facilitating match-making programs between businesses and investors. Previously, as a senior operations analyst at Asoko Insight, he built and managed a portfolio of about 5000 companies and exposed them to investment and growth opportunities through his market research and business development activities. He also led high-level meetings with executive management of targeted local companies and multinationals, to form partnerships, and assess their need for investment and the possibilities for partnership. Previously, Jerome worked as an agro-business client advisor with Procredit Savings and Loans, where he provided financial services to a portfolio of agricultural enterprises, and disbursed a total of about $100000 in loans over 15 months. As a result of his experiences, he has developed strong business development, market research, and consulting skills. This has led to a strong interest in entrepreneurship and Agriculture, and a focus on achieving tangible social impact by improving access to finance and opportunities for affiliated enterprises.
Wardah Iftikhar, with a Master of Science in Gender and Women Studies, is a staunch believer in women’s empowerment and thinks that women are the catalyst of socio-economic change in any society. She is currently leading the project Fostering Critical Thinking and Entrepreneurship Skills in Young Women for Gender Inclusive Socio-Economic Development which works with four public sector female universities in Pakistan to train the students on social cohesion, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and economic empowerment. She has provided consultancy to UNICEF Pakistan on social protection and gender-responsive programming, which includes advocacy for public financing for children and capacity building of MoPDR for district-level SDG scorecards. She has worked extensively with the SDG Secretariat at the National Assembly of Pakistan to conceptualize, develop and lead the work plan for the Secretariat with close coordination with PMU, donors, parliamentarians, and standing committees. She is part of the Community Engagement Exchange Program selection committee for the last three years, where she helps select global civil society community members to undergo training in the US. Wardah is an alumna of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) on women in politics and civil society whereby she explored practices in promoting women’s contributions to social and political affairs and examined legal, regulatory, and policy issues. She was also awarded Emerging Young Women Leader’s Award supported by the Australian High Commission. With her work at ‘Women Can Do,’ she has traveled to 20 districts of Pakistan and has worked with more than 5,000 women from women’s universities and seminaries to develop their entrepreneurial skills.
Saad Athar SheikhPakistan
Saad Athar Sheikh has over a decade of experience serving as a policy advisor to various donor organizations such as the British Council, USAID, GIZ, and the government of Punjab, including Chief Minister Office, CM Special Monitoring Unit, Chief Minister Inspection Team, Punjab Board of Investment & Trade & Commissioner Lahore. Moreover, he spearheaded TEVTA’s organization restructuring (communication, innovation, digital transformation, and policy domains) as well as restructuring the Population Welfare Department Communication Domain. He was responsible for setting up an apprenticeship system, drafting a skill policy, and drafting the investment and trade promotion strategy for Punjab. Previously, he was instrumental in looking after environmental and social repercussions of major initiatives such as CPEC with the execution of over 40+ mega projects worth over PKR 900 billion for premier international clients such as ADB, DOLSAR, Japan Techno, CMEC, Zonergy, StormHarbor, Solution De Energy. Local clients include Lahore Waste Management Company, Urban Unit, Energy Department, Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, Lahore Development Authority, and Punjab Saaf Paani Company. He has been recognized as a National Hero by Pakistan Television Network on the 75th Independence Day. He currently heads Skillnopolis, a venture development firm, and serves governments in various capacities.
Dr. Rabia Rasheed has completed her Doctorate in SMEs Finance from Universiti Utara Malaysia (AACSB accredited university) after her MBA and her Bachelor of Science (BSc) from Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan. She’s currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Iqra University Karachi Pakistan with 16 years of teaching, research, and professional experience in various national and international organizations. In addition to being a member of various learning organizations, she is an Associate Fellow at the Center for Sustainability Research and Consultancy Pakistan. Rabia focused on sustainable development goals, particularly exploring the issue of inclusive finance and women empowerment in emerging economies. Moreover, she is working to establish a research and action center to enhance the capacity building of women entrepreneurs in the digital arena, especially in South Punjab, Pakistan. She is part of the editorial board and reviewer of distinguished research journals. In addition to her efforts towards SDGs, she’s further extending her research endeavors in the area of digital finance for vulnerable sectors in developing countries. She’s a dedicated partner to university programs and outreach events that help promote learning and support the community.