Global Lead, Data-Driven Digital Agriculture, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank
Parmesh Shah is the Global Lead for Data-Driven Digital Agriculture at the World Bank. He provides leadership to Bank’s work in these areas and supports the development of global knowledge and learning to offer solutions to clients and other development partners. His current areas of interest are making markets and public services work for the poor, social entrepreneurship, digital and data-based innovations in agriculture and rural development, climate-smart agriculture, Agriculture and technology-enabled start-ups, venture and patient capital for innovation, promotion of on-farm, off-farm, and digital jobs and public-private and people partnerships for rural poverty reduction. He is currently involved in developing a global program on scaling up data-driven digital agriculture involving data platforms and establishing ecosystems for innovation, entrepreneurship, and incubation. He holds a D Phil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a B Tech degree in Agricultural Engineering from Pantnagar in India.
Program Director, Mercy Corps AgriFin, Kenya
Leesa Shrader is the Program Director of the AgriFin Accelerate (AFA) and AgriFin Digital Farmer (ADF) Programs at Mercy Corps. AFA is a 6-year, $24 million program funded by the MasterCard Foundation, while ADF is a 2-year $5 million program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand smallholder farmer access to technology-enabled financial and information services across Africa. Ms. Shrader joined AgriFin from CGAP, where she served as the Senior Digital Financial Services Expert for Asia. She has over 20 years of global experience working in financial inclusion with leading banks, mobile network operators, and institutions such as CGAP, the World Bank, GiZ, KfW, and Women’s World Banking. She has significant expertise in digital financial inclusion, as well as agricultural finance, wholesale and retail micro banking, market research and product development, ratings, and technical assistance. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Shrader worked to build innovative commercial banking technology platforms utilizing branchless and mobile phone channels to serve low-income markets in Indonesia and the Philippines. She has worked on mobile and development deployments in 16 countries around the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. As the AgriFin Program Lead at Mercy Corps, she has led the program to reach over 14 million smallholder farmers with digitally enabled services in Africa. Ms. Shrader holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and is based in Nairobi with her family, leading programming across Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Zambia
Agricultural Transformation Office Coordinator, Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya
A self-described person on a mission, Thule (pronounced too-le) Lenneiye began her career in Zimbabwe as part of a start-up that implemented the first e-Voucher program on the continent – the precursor to the very successful Zambian e-voucher program. During that time, she gained unparalleled hands-on experience in what would become ‘the digital transformation’ space; and over the years she has established herself as a sought-after thought leader. Currently working as the Agriculture Transformation Office (ATO) Coordinator for the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Thule is charged with driving the transformation agenda in the Agriculture sector through fostering partnerships and embracing digital innovations that can make a tangible difference in how the ministry operates, is viewed and interacts with the wider community. For Thule, watching the old guard become the vanguards in the digital transformation of Agriculture, is a reward in itself.
Director-General, Consumers International, Switzerland
Helena Leurent is Director General of Consumers International, the membership organization for over 200 consumer advocacy groups in more than 100 countries around the world. Consumers International works with members and partners in government, civil society, business, and academia to empower and champion the rights of consumers everywhere and to drive change in the marketplace on global consumer issues including the future of food, finance, e-commerce, sustainability, product safety, digital access and rights. Consumers International is the consumer voice in international policy-making forums and the global marketplace to ensure consumers are treated safely, fairly, and honestly worldwide. Prior to joining Consumers International, Helena worked for the World Economic Forum developing global partnerships and programs with government, business, civil society, and academia on issues such as advanced manufacturing, sustainable agriculture, and humanitarian assistance. She has worked for Tesco Stores Plc, Unilever, McKinsey & Co, and The LEK Partnership. Helena holds an MA from the University of Oxford and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. She lives in Switzerland with her husband and two children.
Chief Executive Officer - Twiga East Africa, Twiga Foods, Kenya
Yebeltal Getachew (YG) is the Chief Executive Officer of Twiga East Africa, a B2B e-commerce company that focuses on food and grocery in informal retail. Twiga currently employs 1,000 people and has 100,000 customers, delivering to about 10,000 every day. The Company was voted as the 35th Most Innovative Company Globally by Fast Company and selected as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, both in 2020. A true East African citizen of Ethiopian origin, YG has over 20 years of commercial and franchise leadership experience gained through leading business operations in East Africa, as a Country Manager in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and Mozambique, and later as a Managing Director / Vice President in the Nigeria business for the Coca-Cola Company. He was instrumental in driving commercial excellence, revenue growth management, and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Coca-Cola, YG spent five years in the logistics sector rising to the position of Operations Director for Urgent Cargo Handling. YG has a Bachelor of Science in International Business Administration from USIU, a Master of Business Administration from Edinburgh Business School, and an Executive Coca-Cola Signature MBA from Harvard Business School.
CEO, Kalgudi, India
Raj is a serial entrepreneur passionate about digital transformation at the grassroots. His early steps towards this include a noteworthy contribution in building iAgriMarC, an Agri produce marketing automation platform implemented across a few states in India. This enabled farmers to realize better prices for their produce compared to other states. His current focus is on Kalgudi.com, a deep tech digital convergence platform for agriculture & rural livelihoods. Kalgudi connects all the stakeholders, makes sure everyone is informed well, and enables intelligent input, output & consumer marketplaces for them. Raj's foundation in technology has been through his work at technology giants like Honeywell, Microsoft & Google. He also co-founded a content engineering services company called ROFOUS and lead it to a successful exit. He is an avid traveler, a knowledge seeker, and a stickler for all things traditional and rural.
Director, DigiFarm - Safaricom PLC
Omondi Kasidhi is currently Director of DigiFarm Kenya Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Safaricom PLC, with a mission to create wealth for smallholder farmers. He is accountable for the strategy and execution of DigiFarm’s agenda, as well as engagement with stakeholders internally and externally to communicate and deliver the company’s mission. Prior to this role, Omondi was the Head of Sustainable Agriculture Sourcing for DIAGEO PLC in Africa. In this role, he managed the strategy and execution of local sourcing initiatives for Diageo across 8 African markets (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and South Africa). During his time, Diageo grew local sourcing to 80% of their agricultural raw materials locally from 80,000 farmers – nearly doubling the volumes of locally sourced material within 5 years. During his time in Diageo, Omondi also set up Diageo’s local sourcing program in Ethiopia, working with 6,000 smallholder farmers to source over 8 tons of barley within 3 years. Prior to joining DIAGEO PLC, Omondi worked with the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), a unit set up by the Ethiopian Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to accelerate Agriculture Transformation in Ethiopia. At ATA, Omondi led the set-up of the Maize, Wheat & Barley teams, working closely with Federal and Regional Agencies, Donors, Farmer Groups, and Private Sector players to unlock core challenges within these sectors. Omondi’s experience spans over 15 years within Africa, working across Non-Profits such as the William J Clinton Foundation, business consulting with Dalberg Development Advisors, and within the Public Sector. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Grinnell College, Iowa, specializing in Economics and Computer Science. He is a Thomas J Watson Fellow, and in his spare time likes to run or code.
Xin Yi Lim
Executive Director, Sustainability and Agricultural Impact, Pinduoduo, PRC
Xin Yi Lim is the Executive Director, Sustainability and Agricultural Impact at Pinduoduo. She is responsible for Pinduoduo’s international corporate strategy efforts and innovation in sustainability and agri-tech. Before joining Pinduoduo in late 2018, she worked for Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, in both its Singapore and New York offices as a technology and media analyst in its Public Equities division. Xin Yi holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oxford and a Master’s degree from Harvard University
Global Sector Lead, Agricultural Inputs and Supporting Technology, IFC
Adam Struve is the global sector lead in IFC for agricultural inputs and supporting technology, primary production, and processing of agricultural commodities. IFC’s loan and equity portfolio in these sectors is about US$1.5 billion to about 50 companies that are either operating globally or whose operational focus is one of over 40 Emerging Market countries. Adam joined IFC in the late 1990s working on investments in manufacturing and service sector companies before focusing over the past ten years on working with client companies in the agribusiness and forest products sectors. His transactional experience spans privatizations, mezzanine finance, limited recourse finance, corporate finance, structured finance, and loan syndications. Before the current global role, Adam’s work had been more focused on transactions in specific regions that over the years has included Southeast Asia, Central Europe and countries of the Former Soviet Union, and most recently, Latin America. Prior to joining IFC, Adam worked with Ernst & Young, earned a BA from Binghamton University (USA), went to Austria on a Fulbright exchange, and earned an MBA from Georgetown University (USA).