Leading Queen’s Counsel, wife of the former British Prime Minister and committed campaigner for women’s rights, Cherie set up the Foundation in 2008 to help women build small and growing businesses in developing and emerging markets so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies.
Cherie is actively involved in the foundation, generously and tirelessly giving her time and resources to ensure its success. Travelling internationally, visiting projects and speaking on behalf of women around the world, our founder is an ambassador for women entrepreneurs everywhere, encouraging other non-profits, corporations and governments to do more to support women business owners.
Cherie was an Ambassador for London 2012, supporting the bid to host the Olympics in the UK and was awarded a CBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List for services to women’s issues and to charity in the UK and Overseas.
Martin was previously Head of Risk Management, and a Client Relationship Lead Partner, at BDO LLP, one of the world’s largest accountancy networks. Martin was with BDO LLP for 19 years, during which time he ran two major business units, chaired the firm’s pension scheme trustees and served on the firm’s Partnership Council, Audit Committee, and Management Executive. As well as acting as a Trustee for the Cherie Blair Foundation, Martin is a non-executive director of a Pension Trust Company.
Sara has devoted many years to charity work, raising money for various charities in the UK and Italy. In addition to serving as a Trustee for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and being the Founder Chairman of the London Committee of Sargent Cancer Care for Children (now Clic Sargent), Sara has volunteered with many other charities in the UK, including the NSPCC, Imperial Cancer Research, RNIB, and the Royal Academy, where she was Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee. Since 2009 Sara has been Contributing Editor for Tatler. In 2011, Sara was awarded the ‘Ufficiale all’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana’ medal, literally Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, one of the country’s highest Orders.
Jessica is a solicitor and (non-practising) barrister specialising in employment law and executive immigration. She is dual qualified in the United Kingdom and in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago where she was born. Jessica is a Governor of Brookfield School and UCL Academy and is Chair of the Safer Neighbourhood Panel in her local community.
Lesley is a Director of the Money Advice Service, with specific responsibility for corporate services and for the Service‘s crisis debt programme in the UK . Her background is as a chartered accountant with many years experience as a commercial operating officer in fast-moving consumer goods, leisure, media and ICT companies, and specializing in change management. She spent seven years working in Sub-Saharan Africa running an ICT company with direct operations in 12 countries. She is also a non-executive director of LIFEbeat, a charity for teenagers and acts as Treasurer for a not-for-profit women’s network in the UK.
Joana has over 20 years’ experience in the arts, including publishing, film, co-producing and marketing of cultural television, including the Southbank Show in London, New York, Los Angeles and Munich. She is the author of ‘Verrückt nach Troja’ and founded her production company, Mind the Gap Productions, to focus on cultural ‘gaps’. Joana was a Programme Contributor for cultural diplomacy for the inaugural Edinburgh International Culture Summit, is a member of the International Development Council of the British Film Institute and sits on the Strategic Advisory Board of the Delfina Foundation. She is also a Trustee of the Kartika Soekarno Foundation UK and a WOW (Women of the World) Patron.
Sevi has over ten years of global public policy and financial sector development experience gained in over 50 countries across the globe through work at the World Bank Group and the private sector. Her expertise includes business and financial regulation, institution and capacity building, women’s entrepreneurship, emerging markets and results measurement. Sevi has an LLM from Georgetown University.
Giulia joined the team in 2010 and has been an integral part of the Foundation’s growth. Giulia as Mentoring Director pioneered an innovative online platform that crosses borders to reach entrepreneurs around the world and led the Foundation for 4 months as Interim CEO in 2013. She also serves as Women Working Group Chair for the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs. She is now realising her goal of supporting many more entrepreneurs through her Director of Strategy role at the Foundation. She holds an MSc in International Relations from the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Laura is Fundraising and Partnerships Director at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. With a background in fundraising and partnership development, she previously worked at human rights organisation Reprieve, and managed the fundraising for a number of theatrical ventures – most recently focussed on women’s educational theatre in Botswana and Mozambique. Laura holds a BSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a Graduate Diploma in Law.
Elaine joined the Foundation in 2014 following seven years at the domestic violence charity, Refuge, where she managed the organisation’s communications and policy activity. Previously she worked as a journalist. Elaine holds an MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities from the London School of Economics.
Marilyn joined the Foundation in April 2015, bringing eight years’ charity finance experience and a number of years’ commercial finance experience. Most recently she worked for Papworth Trust, a charity supporting disabled people, and previously for Emmaus UK, a charity working in the homelessness sector. Her expertise includes financial and management accounting, business planning, HR management and process development. Marilyn is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
Annabel joined the Foundation in 2014 with over 10 years’ experience in social development across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Her areas of expertise include: entrepreneurship, education, women’s and youth participation, civil society capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation. She most recently worked as Chief Performance Officer at Insaan Group, a non-profit that supports innovative social enterprises that create opportunities for the poor with a focus on the Indian Ocean Region. Annabel holds an MA in International Studies from the University of South Carolina and an MSc in Social Research Methods from the London School of Economics.
Allison joined the Mentoring Women in Business team in 2011. She has helped to develop the Foundation’s pioneering online mentoring model, expand its reach to over 80 countries and ensure the programme has an impact on the women entrepreneurs we support. Allison’s work focuses on programmatic strategy and management, monitoring and evaluation, development of our knowledge-sharing and networking platform, partnerships and communications. She previously worked in project management and institutional advancement roles in the post-conflict reconciliation and peacebuilding sectors. She obtained a BA from Macalester College and an MSc from the London School of Economics.
Saloni joined the Mobile Technology Programme team in 2013. Saloni has a background in management consulting where she acquired strong project management and consulting skills. She brings experience in international development from her previous work with GSMA in South Africa. Saloni holds an MBA from the University of Cambridge.
Kozeta joins the team as Finance and Grants Officer. She will add value to our organization as she comes with a wide range of experience in the financial management sector having worked for Donor Funded programs in Kosovo, Cyprus and Albania, thus reporting to the World Bank, EU, and US Aid sponsored projects. Her most recent experience was with SAVE – Supporting Activities that Value the Environment, a USAID funded project focusing on protecting the cultural heritage and environment in the northern part of Cyprus while trying to create bridges between the two divided communities. She has obtained an MBA from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh in 2004.
Emily joined the Foundation as Office Manager and PA to the CEO in 2014. She brings over 10 years of administration, fundraising and public relations experience within the education and charity sectors, including supporting the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics. She holds a BA Hons in English and American Literature from the University of East Anglia.
Olivia joined the Foundation in 2015 . She has previously worked in Italy and India where she focused on infant trafficking and women exploitation. She holds an MSc in South Asian Studies from the University of Oxford.
Sarah joined as the Fundraising and Partnerships Coordinator in 2013. She brings over 10 years’ experience of working in trusts, foundations and institutional fundraising. Sarah previously worked for The Family and Childcare Trust as well as a broad spectrum of other charities ranging from smaller youth centres to umbrella bodies, such as the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey, LVSC, Refuge and Help the Aged.
Ellenor joined the Foundation in 2014 bringing with her over seven years of fundraising experience, she previously worked at EveryChild an international children’s charity. She also has experience working abroad in Chile and Mexico and is fluent in Spanish. She holds a BScE in International Development Studies and Spanish from University of Swansea.
Nick joined the Foundation in 2015. He holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Bath and an MSc in Emerging Economies and International Development from Kings College London. Nick is fluent in Spanish and has previously worked for the Bank of England and held voluntary roles with Teach A Man To Fish in the UK and Progressio ICS in Honduras.
Henna joins us with experience in client development at Sotheby’s and donor strategy at the Smithsonian. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a Research Fellow at the Aspen Institute where she conducted research on the economic impact of the artisan sector. Henna holds an MSc in Culture and Society from the London School of Economics and a BA from Bucknell University in Economics and Art History.
Lowri joined the Enterprise Development Programme team in 2014. She is an experienced project manager with 10 years working in international development and in public, private and not for profit sectors. Lowri has worked on civil society, community empowerment, gender, governance, and institution building projects in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Deepika has built a career in the development sector and has contributed to social impact initiatives focused on women’s empowerment. She has strong experience in guiding enterprises, developing women’s self-help groups and driving financial inclusion programmes across the world. She led a management consulting start-up focused on providing strategy and implementation support to social enterprises, CSR programmes and international development organisations in India. Most recently, she was Grant Manager at the C&A Foundation. She has an MBA from the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Sofia joined the Foundation as Enterprise Development Programme Officer in 2014. She has a background in the not for profit sector, working with international programmes focusing on gender and environmental issues, and has particular expertise in the area of women’s rights. Sofia holds an MSc in Globalisation and Development from School of Oriental and African Studies.
Marion has joined us with international development experience implementing youth and gender equality projects in Africa, Asia and Europe. She has held roles in US Congress and UK Civil Service. She is currently a Queen’s Young Leader Runners Up Fellow and holds an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy from the University of Oxford.
Keith joins us as a senior manager at Accenture, with over 10 years’ experience in programme delivery. As part of Accenture’s Skills to Succeed programme, he leads their pro-bono consulting support to the Foundation for our Skilling for Change project working with women entrepreneurs in Rwanda.
Alicia joined the Mentoring Women in Business team in 2012. She brings experience in international development from her previous volunteer work with KAFA in Lebanon and Christian Aid. Alicia holds a BA in Linguistics from the University College London and an MA from City University London in International Politics and Human Rights.
Elizabeth joined the Foundation as Mentoring Programme Officer in 2014. She previously worked for Steve Reed MP, and has held voluntary roles with the Refugee Council and the Foundation. She holds a BSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and is a former Student Fellow of International Relations with Civitatis International.
Previously a volunteer for the Foundation, Lucy joined the team in 2015. She has experience in fundraising from her time at university working with the Alumni Relations and Development Office. She holds a BA in English and Italian Literature from the University of Warwick.
Eleanor joined the team in 2015. She previously worked for the Migration and Refugee Review Tribunals and the Australian Red Cross in Sydney, and has a particular interest in sustainable development. Eleanor holds an MSc in Global Health and Development from University College London and a BA in Development Studies from Macquarie University.
Matthew joined as a Mobile Technology Programme Coordinator in 2013. He has experience of implementing mobile technology in East and Sub-Saharan Africa, including mobile money and SMS broadcast in remote regions. He is currently studying part-time for an MBA.
Claudia joined the Foundation in 2013. She has experience in communications and has worked with various charities on issues of gender, child safeguarding and domestic violence. She holds a BA in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Exeter and takes an interest in the relationship between religion and politics.
Soraya Salti is Regional Director, for Injaz Al-Arab, a not for profit organisation, which harnesses the mentorship of Arab business leaders to help inspire a culture of entrepreneurialism and business innovation among Arab youth. Soraya was acknowledged as the key to the organization’s continuing success. She joins a prestigious group of 72 honoured ‘Skoll Social Entrepreneurs’, representing 59 organizations involved in tackling the world’s most critical social and economic challenges.
Linda Scott is DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Scott is best known for her creation of the concept of the Double X Economy – a perspective which describes the global economy of women in both the developed and developing world, and the roles of women not only as consumers, but as investors, donors and workers.
Joni Simpson is the Global Coordinator & Specialist on Women’s and Youth Entrepreneurship Development at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. She provides technical support to ILO constituents and field staff on promoting entrepreneurship education in schools, vocational training institutions and universities, as well as targeted measures and gender mainstreaming for developing women’s entrepreneurship development as part of the broader agenda for decent work creation. Joni has over fifteen years of experience as a practitioner. She has been a strong advocate for inclusive, adapted and accessible services in Entrepreneurship Development. She has headed a women’s entrepreneurship development centre, worked in micro-finance, social economy and youth employability. She jointly launched a women’s enterprise fund. She holds a Master’s degree in Cultural anthropology and an Education degree and comes from the West coast of Canada. She has lived and worked in Iran, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, before moving to Switzerland. Ms. Simpson has been on boards as a volunteer of regional enterprise funds, Canadian Community Investment Network Cooperative, the United Way and the Women’s Economic Council.
Jessica Deluca, is an entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of Cult Beauty, an online Beauty website. The website is quite young but has had a number of investors, and recommendations e.g. Jessica was in the Management Today and Sunday Times 35 Under 35 List 2010, it was named Best Beauty Website, Sunday Times Style Awards 2010, and Enriched List 2010, American Express and the Telegraph. Before setting up her own business she was a Management Consultant for many years.
Deirdre Latour is the Senior Director, External Communications at GE. She is responsible for building and executing a communications strategy to enhance and protect the reputation of GE including financial communications, issues and crisis management and executive communications for the CEO and other executives.
Before joining GE nine years ago, Deirdre worked for the global public relations firm Edelman, where she was a vice president, responsible for a variety of corporate communications, brand, cause, consumer and entertainment marketing efforts for clients such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, ACUVUE and GM.
Deirdre has been recognized by the industry including being named the Corporate PR Person of the Year by PR News and one of the 40 under 40 Influencers by PR Week. Deirdre is also a member of the Arthur W. Page Society’s Page Up program.
Nominated for the Asian Woman of the Year Award in 2007, Janvi is co-founder and a director of Halebury an innovative entrepreneurial law firm providing services to clients such as Nike, BSkyB and Enterprise Rent a Car. Janvi is primarily an employment lawyer, but as a director of Halebury she manages a team that provides legal services to in-house legal teams. Janvi has written articles for a number of leading publications such as Personnel Today, Better Business and the HR Magazine and she is a regular speaker for legal and industry audiences.
Ritu Kumar is Director of Responsible Investment at Actis. Ritu believes that rigorous environmental and social standards and robust corporate governance go hand in hand with great returns. Born in India and having worked across Africa, Asia and Latin America, she knows the challenges and scope for positive change that characterise these markets. Ritu joined Actis in 2006, following 15 years with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, the Commonwealth Secretariat and Social Accountability International. Ritu has an MA in Economics from Delhi University, and an MSC in Economics from the London School of Economics.
Jack McGourty PhD is Director of Community and Global Entrepreneurship at the Columbia Business School and a faculty member teaching courses in entrepreneurship, venture creation, and product innovation. Prior to this, Jack was Vice Dean for Columbia’s Engineering School. During his career he has launched the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center, and been the driving force behind Venture for All® and In-V-Ent-Ed®, programs designed to educate aspiring entrepreneurs.
Jack received his Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from Stevens Institute of Technology with a focus on the management of technology and innovation. Prior to coming to Columbia in 1998, Jack was a senior executive and board member for a large publicly traded company. He was also the managing principal of Assessment Alternatives Inc., a consulting firm providing programs and services to medium and large technology companies on innovation and product realization best practices. Jack serves on several nonprofit boards and committees and runs a family owned foundation called Venture for Kids™.
Shareefa Fadhel is an accomplished entrepreneur and visionary with a history of pioneering new programmes and opportunities among women in Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council. She is currently the Co-Founder and CEO of the nonprofit, Roudha Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (RC). Shareefa is the driving force behind RC successes, from a research idea to a fully fledge center touching the lives of over 6,000 women in Qatar.
She has been nominated by Arabian Business as one of the “ Top 100 Powerful Arab Women” for 2014.
Shareefa is an enthusiastic and dedicated professional with passion for entrepreneurship and innovation, and SME businesses, as well as having extensive telecom experience in sales, marketing management and customer care acquired from a diverse and rewarding career.
Shareefa holds an MBA in Management and Marketing Strategies and a Diploma in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Carnegie Mellon University Qatar.
She is a motivational leader who is adept at managing, motivating and developing successful and productive teams to ensure full delivery of company objectives.
Shareefa works directly with organisations that advocate for women and women’s economic development as well as cutting-edge companies providing consulting, marketing and business development for their women product groups.
She also acts as a consultant for women in the retail sector and has initiated the Johara Initiative in Vodafone Qatar to help women obtain skills to become entrepreneurs, through selling Vodafone products from home to their surrounding network.
Kaj-Erik Relander has over 25 years of experience in Telecommunications, Information Technology and Institutional investing. He is the Chief Investment Officer (Telecom, Media and Technology) and a member of the management board and the investment committee of the Emirates Investment Authority (EIA) in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Before joining EIA in 2009, Kaj spent eight years as a General Partner with Accel Partners, a leading private equity and venture capital fund in London focusing on the telecom and media sectors.
Prior to becoming an investor, Kaj was the President and CEO of Sonera Corporation, formerly Telecom Finland Limited, where he spent seven years as Head of International, Group CFO and Group CEO. During his career, Kaj has served on the Board of Directors of over twenty private and public companies.
Kaj holds a Masters in Economics from the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration and an MBA from the Helsinki School of Economics and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net, devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world, and has spent the last 19 years working on projects in Africa. His early research resulted in the development of FrontlineSMS, an award-winning text messaging-based field communication system aimed at grassroots non-profit organisations. In 2009, Ken was named a Laureate of the Tech Awards, an international awards program which honours innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity. He was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in May 2010 and an Ashoka Fellow in 2011, and is the recipient of the 2011 Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest. Ken was also a member of the UK Prime Minister’s delegation to Africa in July 2011. His work was initially supported by the MacArthur Foundation, and he is the current recipient of grants from the Open Society Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, HIVOS, the Omidyar Network and the Hewlett Foundation.
Ken graduated from Sussex University with honours in Social Anthropology with Development Studies, was awarded a Stanford University Reuters Digital Vision Fellowship in 2006, and named a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow in 2008.
Gavin Krugel is the Chief Strategy Officer at Visa Inc. subsidiary Fundamo, where he leads the Customer Strategy and Market Activation division. Prior to joining Fundamo, Gavin founded TroyTyla, a diversified group of entrepreneurial companies in the professional services, online media, mobile application design, and wholesale food and drink industries. Gavin was also a Senior Director at the GSMA, the global body that represents the interests of the worldwide mobile industry, where he has led the mobile industry’s efforts to enter adjacent industries such as financial services and healthcare. His career includes financial institutions such as Standard Bank Group (the largest Banking Group in Africa), Barclays subsidiary Absa Bank, Investec Private Bank, MasterCard Worldwide, global services provider EDS, and start-up Cointel/Simplus.
Gavin has been recognized as one of the Global Telecoms Business ‘top forty industry leaders under the age of forty’ for two years running and is predicted to be one of the executives who will run telecoms by 2020.
As an executive leader of digital businesses, Maria Thomas has led several media and commerce companies from their earliest stages through high growth phases to profitability. Maria is known for building brand-based experiences that consumers love and developing business models that create lasting value. She began managing Internet-based businesses in 1999 at Amazon.com and went on to lead for nearly seven years NPR’s highly successful digital efforts in both news and music.
From 2008 to early 2010, Maria was CEO at Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, leading it towards top profitability and top line sales of nearly USD200 million in less than two years. In 2010, Maria formed Axios Ventures to help entrepreneurs and legacy organizations alike crystallize ideas and build foundations to support lasting businesses. Her consulting clients include Living Social, National Geographic, About.com, American Express, Knight Foundation, Relay Rides and others.
Prior to the commercialisation of the Internet, Maria spent seven years as an investment officer at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank. She holds a M.B.A. degree from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BS in Accounting from Boston University.
The Foundation is fortunate to have first class professionals who care passionately about the women entrepreneurs they support. It is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated and knowledgeable team.
– Jessica Learmond-Criqui, Trustee
I love getting to work with forward-thinking, inspiring colleagues across a host of ground-breaking projects, and on top of that, with partners and supporters who are equally invested in women and innovative in their approaches.
– Laura Stebbing, Fundraising and Partnerships Director
Working for the Foundation combines my interests in technology and international development to manage projects with real impact.
– Matt Strickland, Mobile Technology Programme Manager