Rod Dubitsky - Executive Director
Rod joined the Financial Inclusion Forum in 2020 as its Executive Director. In this capacity, he leads the organization’s executive function from strategy to execution with support from the Board of Directors.
Rod has over 30 years’ experience in the financial and global economic development sectors. Rod’s work has spanned several financial crises as well as extensive work related to the Ebola crisis.
Prior to Rod’s recent startup work, he was Senior Advisor and Chief Knowledge Officer for BRAC USA. Prior to his work at BRAC, Rod was an Executive Vice President in PIMCO's Advisory group and was lead asset expert managing a team of 20 people. At PIMCO, Rod drove development of a macroeconomic forecast process that was far more quantifiable and precise than existing macro process. The process blended largely qualitative macro expert judgment approach, with a more quantitative approach thereby creating a direct, more precise link between PIMCO’s macro expectations and the behavior of specific consumer and commercial loan assets.
Prior to joining PIMCO in 2009, Rod was Managing Director and head of asset-backed securities research at Credit Suisse, where he helped create residential mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and Asset-Backed (ABS) surveillance and analytics systems. He was a leading ranked analyst in MBS/ABS by Institutional Investor magazine in 2002-2008. Rod’s prior roles included senior analyst for a major ratings agency as well an investment manager for both a small regional and large multinational bank.
Board of Directors
Paul Barnabas Blyth - Chair
Paul is an experienced Impact Investor and microfinance professional.
Paul has been working in microfinance investment for over a decade launching microplace.com in the USA (an SEC registered broker-dealer specialising in microfinance securities and part of eBay Inc and PayPal), then as General Partner of the Finethic microfinance fund which has leant >$700m since 2006, and most recently as Investment Director at Panahpur and Managing Director at Snowball. In October 2012 he co-published the Microfinance, impact investing, and pension fund investment policy survey.
Prior to 2007, Paul worked as an auditor and management consultant with PwC, and in various commercial finance roles in logistics, advertising, and retail.
Eugene Amusin is a Senior Vice President in Citi Inclusive Finance and engages with microfinance institutions, social enterprises, non-profits, multinational companies and investors to structure global banking solutions with a particular focus on enabling low-income communities to access essential products and services. Currently based in London, Eugene has held a number of product management and technology positions with Citi in London and New York.
Dr Phyllis SantaMaria
Phyllis' involvement with international development started as a US Peace Core Volunteer in Guatemala where she created "microfinance with threads" in the form of the first Mayam women's weaving groups still functioning decades later.
After careers in education and interactive multi media at the BBC, the EU and corporates, she has been Chief of Mission for PLANet Finance UK, an NGO for capacity building of microfinance institutions and consultant for designing MF capacity building programmes in India, Nepal, China, Ghana and eastern Europe. Co-ordinator for the UK National Committee for 2005 UN Year of Microcredit, for which the UK was one of 13 countries out of 101 to win UN and CGAP awards of excellence.
She is a Founder Director of the Financial Inclusion Forum and is a Director of Learning Without Borders, which offers leadership and innovation programmes for the Alternative Finance and other sectors. She is the author of 'Microfinance 3.0' in 'Microfinance, a Practitioner's Handbook' and a range of interactive multimedia programmes at the BBC, EU Lingua Project and the Open University of Germany.
Sam Mendelson is Financial Inclusion Specialist at the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) overseeing various research, knowledge, communications and sector-building across e-MFP’s different financial inclusion research streams, and supporting coordination of the annual European Microfinance Award, including as continued lead author of the annual European Dialogue and Financial Inclusion Compass series. For the previous five years, he was M&E and then Knowledge Specialist at Arc Finance, an international end-user energy finance organisation. Sam has led or co-led many projects across the sector, from the USAID-funded Energy Diaries to a 2016 FIEC research project on offshore incorporation of microfinance/impact vehicles to a new framework for Buyer Selection in Responsible Equity Exits, to developing the GOGLA Consumer Protection Code for the off-grid energy industry and the Lending Guidelines project in Cambodia. He has undergraduate degrees in Psychology & Laws from the University of Western Australia; a Master of Laws in Public International Law and a Master of Science in International Public Policy, both from University College London.
Giacomo is Manager in EY’s Financial Services practice, based in London. He provides advisory services to leading financial institutions with focus on complex business change impacting their operations.
Along with traditional client solutions Giacomo is promoting innovation in areas such as sustainability strategy and integrated reporting as well as financial inclusion. With respect to the latter, he contributed to establish EY’s internal network of professionals focused on inclusive finance and emerging low income customers. Purpose of the network is to facilitate the design and provision of EY services to impact investors and institutions, as well as to advocate financial inclusion globally
Ama Ocansey - Secretary
Ama is qualified solicitor of England and Wales. She studied Psychology BSc at Leeds University, before attending the London College of Law to complete her professional exams. Ama trained and worked at the law firm Linklaters LLP in both their London and Tokyo offices advising on cross–border capital market and securities transactions.
Ama is currently Senior Legal counsel at BNP Paribas London in their Corporate Investment Banking Legal department, working on Eurobond financing and debt restructuring transactions with a focus on advising sovereigns, corporates and banks in emerging markets. Being of Ghanaian origin, Ama has a strong interest in alternative finance and has participated in various microfinance projects in Ghana and London. She joined the Financial Inclusion Forum in October 2016.
Amalia is Head or Programmes at Hand in Hand International, where she oversees a portfolio of projects supporting enterprise development and job creation. She has spent the last 12 years working in international development, specialising in financial inclusion, enterprise development and rural livelihoods. Prior to joining Hand in Hand Amalia worked for Nathan Associates, where she led the organisation’s financial sector-focused work. She previously managed a series of financial inclusion programmes for Plan International UK and spent time at the OECD and in the UK financial sector.
Kate Hallam - Treasurer
Kate joined CDC Group plc, the UK development finance institution, in 2012 in the Financial Institutions team and covers equity investment and portfolio management of companies across Africa and South Asia, focusing particularly on microfinance and frontier markets. She has a range of financial experience in impact investing, capital raising, corporate finance, and field work in microfinance and social development. Prior to CDC, Kate worked for the UK charity Nesta as an impact investment analyst, at Citigroup in their debt capital markets team, and started her career in Ernst & Young’s transaction advisory services team.
Kate is a CA qualified accountant and holds an MPhys from Oxford University.
Michael is a FinTech entrepreneur who is committed to delivering financial inclusion through technology. The vision of his company “Flow” is to ensure that small enterprises always have sufficient working capital. Flow currently delivers instant e-money liquidity in Uganda and plans to expand globally focusing on developing/emerging markets.
Michael started his financial inclusion career at Citi Inclusive Finance. He then spent four years as a resident Financial Inclusion Adviser at the Central Bank of Uganda, where he focused on digital finance regulation for what is now one of the most vibrant digital finance markets in the world. After that, he went back to the private sector accompanying the growth of mobile payments and savings start-up from 30,000 to 300,000 customers in rural Uganda.
Michael has also consulted on FinTech and financial inclusion in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including for Central Banks, financial service providers, fund managers and leading development finance institutions such as KFW.
Lotte joined Microfinance Club UK as member in 2012 when she did her MSc. Development Economics at the University of Manchester and specialised in the performance of MFIs. Upon graduation, she joined German MSME finance consultancy firm LFS Advisory. Responsible for the portfolio buildup of AccessHolding’s greenfield banks in Zambia and Rwanda, she had the rewarding opportunity to finance over 200 MSMEs.
Following this invaluable experience, she contributed to Oikocredit International for 3.5 years, as a member of their Credit Management Team. She was part of strategic decision-making, managed improvement initiatives for the lending business and took care of relationships with institutional guarantors. In this context, she travelled extensively to work with local offices and MFIs across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Recently she moved to the UK and joined ESG research company Sustainalytics, serving large asset managers with ESG research to inform their investment decisions beyond financials. In this position, she’d like to connect inclusive finance and impact investing with the sustainable investment space, in order to reach the scale that is needed to deliver on the UN SDGs.
Johanna is currently Global Director of Impact at VisionFund International, the microfinance arm of World Vision. With a background in global banking and securities operations with Barclays and JPMorgan, Johanna joined VisionFund in 2009. She has had various operational roles, requiring considerable time in the field, and now leads VisionFund’s work to understand and demonstrate the changes that financial inclusion enables for communities and individuals living in poverty.
Johanna’s particular interest is women’s economic empowerment through a combination of finance, training, and advocacy to resolve the inter-connected causes that dis-empower women and perpetuate women’s poverty.
Johanna started her working life as an academic, teaching English Literature at Texas Wesleyan University. She has a BA from the University of South Carolina and an MPhil from Oxford University.
Elena Ponds is a Vice President of Insights and Impact on Citi’s Community Investing and Development team, a group that works across Citi’s businesses and functions to catalyse positive social impact in communities around the world through equity investing and innovative financing solutions. In this role, Elena manages strategic initiatives to measure, report and amplify the impact of Citi’s philanthropy, inclusive finance, and impact investing through flagship community programming, branded marketing, and thought leadership initiatives. Since joining Citi in 2013, Elena has held a number of communications and community development positions with Citi in New York and London.
Kelly has many years of experience working internationally and in multiple sectors. Recently, she served as Opportunity International’s Philanthropy Manager, responsible for working with individual donors and corporate partners to secure support for a range of financial inclusion programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to moving into the international development sector, Kelly had a 15-year career in international educational publishing for the EMEA region, working for Oxford University Press, National Geographic Learning and Capstone Publishers.
Kelly is a qualified English language teacher and holds a BA in Political Science and International Studies from The Ohio State University. She is currently finishing her MA in Education and International Development at UCL’s Institute of Education. She is passionate about matching the philanthropic interests of supporters with impactful microfinance projects that develop the lives and livelihoods of those living in poverty.
Sian Williams is Director of Innovation and Policy at the anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall in London’s East End, where she leads on ensuring people with lived experience of exclusion and hardship are directly involved in shaping better policy and practice solutions.
Sian is committed to the creation of a banking and finance sector that serves people and planet. She is Chair of the financial system and banking reform think tank, Positive Money, and Vice-Chair of the UK Financial Inclusion Commission. Sian also represents the interests of people at risk of exclusion on a range of advisory bodies, including the UK government’s Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, the Pay.UK End User Council, the Link Scheme Ltd. Consumer Council, and the UK Finance Consumer Advisory Group. Sian is also currently working on setting up a UK pilot of a no interest loan scheme and championing the roll out Request to Pay, both tools aimed at supporting financial resilience for people on low and unpredictable incomes.
William Derban is the Market Engagement Director for the Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation programme at the GSMA. The role entails working with mobile network operators and humanitarian organisations to find commercially sustainable solutions in complex humanitarian situations. Before joining GSMA, William worked in various senior roles in banking for over 20 years, including the head of community investment at Barclays for Africa, Middle East and Asia, and then setting up the financial inclusion department in Fidelity Bank Ghana.
William is the founder and chair of the Financial Inclusion Forum Africa. The forum brings together people who are passionate about financial inclusion across Africa. He also sits on the board of Access to Finance in Rwanda and has been a board member at Enhancing Financial inclusion and Access (EFInA) in Nigeria, Junior Achievement Africa, Airtel money Ghana and a steering committee member at the Smart Campaign. He was also a founding member of the Financial Inclusion Forum UK.
Christine Oughton is Professor of Management Economics at SOAS University of London and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (appointed 2006). She received her PhD in Economics from the University of Cambridge. Before joining SOAS she was Professor of Economics and Management at the University of Bolzano, Italy and Professor of Management at Birkbeck. She also held a Senior Lectureship at the University of Birmingham, where she was Director of the Research Centre for Industrial Strategy, and a Lectureship at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on financial diversity, innovation, environmental management, corporate governance, financial inclusion and growth. She was co-investigator on the ESRC Research Seminar Series, Complexity Economics for Sustainability that brought together, academics, practitioners and policy makers on environmental issues, and is currently working on two ESRC projects on (i) Financial Inclusion and Growth in Low Income Countries and (ii) the Financial System in China. Christine has published widely on innovation, environmental sustainability, governance, financial diversity, competitiveness and growth.
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