Our Team


Cherie Blair

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.


Clare Twelvetrees

Interim CEO

Clare joined the team in 2016. She has over ten years’ experience in international development in a variety of strategy, planning and programme management roles across the charity and public sectors. She previously led on strategic planning at the Fairtrade Foundation. Clare holds an MSc in Information Systems from Brighton and a BA Hons in International Relations and French from Sussex University.

Laura has over ten years’ experience of building partnerships that drive income and social impact for ambitious organisations on issues from economic empowerment to gender and human rights. She previously worked at human rights organisation Reprieve, and before that managed the fundraising for a number of theatrical ventures focussed on women’s educational theatre in Botswana and Mozambique. Laura holds a BSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics as well as 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. She has 15 years’ experience in international development across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Her areas of expertise include: entrepreneurship, women’s and youth participation, civil society capacity building, and monitoring, evaluation and learning. She has worked for a range of organisations in the not-for-profit and private sectors. Most recently, she was Chief Performance Officer at Insaan Group, a philanthropic investment fund that supports innovative social enterprises. 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 Foundation in 2011. She has scaled our pioneering mentoring model to reach thousands of women, mentors and partners in over 90 countries, developed web applications to support participants and enable knowledge-sharing, and ensured the programme impacts the women entrepreneurs we support. Allison brings over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector, with expertise in strategy, M&E, partnership development, communications, volunteer engagement and project management. She holds degrees from the London School of Economics and Macalester College.

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.

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.

Eva joined the Foundation in 2016 after graduating in African Development (MSc) from the London School of Economics. She has a deep interest in women and youth empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa and has previously worked on a related consultancy project for CARE International UK. Eva brings experience in administration and recruitment. She holds a BSc in International Relations from UWE Bristol and a masters in Social and Political Sciences from Sciences Po Strasbourg. Eva is also fluent in German and French.

Anna Nichol

Events Manager

Anna joined the Foundation in 2016 and brings with her ten years of comprehensive international event and conference management experience in the not-for-profit sector. She previously worked for Consumers International on a high profile event in partnership with the Ministry of Justice in Brazil. Anna holds a BA Hons in Latin American Studies.

Ella joined the Foundation in 2017 on an interim basis. Since graduating with a BA in English Literature from the University of Oxford in 2013, she has worked as a Communications Consultant, providing services to a number of charity clients, particularly in the environmental sector.

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.

Kirsty joined the Foundation in 2017. She brings almost ten years of fundraising experience and joins us from Christian Aid, where she worked as a Trusts and Foundations Officer. Kirsty previously spent over three years working in Sierra Leone, where she is the founder of a charitable primary school for girls. She holds an MA in Social Anthropology from the University of Aberdeen.

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.

Sofia joined the Enterprise Development Programme team 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.

Deepika joined the foundation in May 2015, bringing 8 years of management experience across multiple sectors including international development, non-profit management, corporate philanthropy and insurance. She has strong experience in guiding enterprises, developing women’s self-help groups, capacity development and driving financial inclusion programmes in South Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. She has an MBA from the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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.

Philippa is a mobile development professional who has experience in researching, designing, rolling out and evaluating mobile tools in developing markets. She joined the Foundation after spending five years in Mexico working firstly in mobile agriculture for an agricultural research centre (CIMMYT) and then later with women whilst owning her own consultancy Cade Bosch Consulting. Prior to this, she worked on the Mobile Health team at the GSMA in London and for other trade associations in Brussels.

Emily joined the team in 2015. She brings experience from both local and international organisations, and has worked in youth programming for Free The Children and as a researcher covering humanitarian crises. She holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and a BA from McGill University.

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.

Celia joined the team in 2016. She has a range of management experience from working in education, commercial property, and the not-for-profit sector. She has a keen interest in international development and has previously worked with UN Youth and a variety of refugee empowerment initiatives in New Zealand and Palestine. She has an Honours degree in Political Studies from the University of Otago.

Kate joined the foundation in January 2016 and has a keen interest in issues affecting women in the developing world. She was previously the Volunteer Manager for a social inclusion project for women and girls in South London, has held a voluntary role at Action Against Hunger and lived and worked in Namibia, India and South Korea.  Kate holds an MA in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh.

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.

Fiona joined the Foundation in 2016. Previously, she worked for an international development research organisation where she evaluated the impact of aid programmes on health, nutrition, income and livelihoods in Bangladesh. She also founded and managed a social enterprise that connects trained workers to jobs in the apparel sector. Fiona holds a BA in Economics from Mount Holyoke College.

Katrina Struthers

Mentoring Programme Officer

Katrina joined the Foundation in October 2016 after working in the community and charity sector in support and advocacy roles. Prior to this, she worked in East Africa as a photographer for sustainable development organisations, after co-founding a social enterprise. Katrina also brings experience of international development in India and Uganda. She holds a BSc in Human Rights with Photography and is currently studying part-time for a MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.

Tim has been providing software development and coding support to the Mentoring Programme since early 2014 through our ongoing partnership with Make More Digital. Tim works to refine and advance our code base and online platform, which enables us to run the programme through our bespoke UMS and offer a range of key learning and peer-to-peer knowledge resources to our mentees and mentors . He holds a National Diploma for IT Practitioners (Software Development) and has been coding for almost 10 years.

Evangeline Arethwala

Mentoring Programme Officer

Evangeline joined the Foundation in February 2017. She has previously worked in the development sector in India at both grassroots and managerial levels, where she worked extensively on issues related to child sexual abuse in the tourism sector, women’s rights and youth mentoring. She holds an MA in Development Studies from the University of Sussex and an MA in Social Work from the University of Mumbai.


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.

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.

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.

Rajesh Agrawal

Rajesh Agrawal is a successful entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist. Born in India, Rajesh moved to live and work in the UK in 2001. He founded Rational FX in 2005, providing the UK’s first online currency exchange system for private individuals offering real-time prices. As a philanthropist Rajesh is passionate about promoting entrepreneurship, creating opportunities for young people and empowering women. In addition to being a Trustee of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Rajesh is Chair of Oxfam’s Enterprise Development Programme, which supports entrepreneurs in some of the most deprived areas of the world. He has been a Patron and volunteer mentor for the Prince’s Trust for many years, Patron of the Loomba Foundation and Champion of Women Empowered.

Chris Lane

Having been a lawyer for an international law firm for a number of years, Chris has now worked in the not-for-profit sector for five years, for a human rights organisation based in sub-Saharan Africa and then global humanitarian agencies Save the Children and Merlin, before being asked to start up a new charity, the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, as Director of Global Operations. Chris is passionate about equipping people in developing or vulnerable countries to survive and thrive and, in particular, the role played by women. Chris is also a trustee of the Royal Pinner Educational Trust.

Enterprise Development Steering Committee

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.

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.

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.

Mentoring Steering Committee

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.

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.

Mobile Steering Committee

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.

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.

Seema is the Head of Mobile Money at the GSMA, responsible for defining the strategy and quality of delivery for the Mobile Money programmes. Prior to joining the GSMA in March 2009, Seema managed a large portion of the Retail savings P&L for one of the UK’s largest retail banks. She was also Manager at Accenture, within their strategy consulting division, where she focused on Financial Services. Seema completed two secondments to Accenture Development Partnerships, a non-profit arm of Accenture that provides business consulting to NGOs and donor organisations, and has worked in Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, and India. She holds a First Class Honours degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University.