innovation africa staff israel

Sivan Ya'ari

Founder and CEO

innovation africa staff usa

Sivan Ya'ari is the Founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa, a NY based nonprofit that brings Israeli solar, agricultural and water technologies to rural African villages. She was born in Israel, raised in France, and educated in the United States with degrees in Finance from Pace University and a Masters in International Energy Management and Policy from Columbia University. At the mere age of 20, Sivan identified an opportunity for a more sustainable energy solution, and developed the groundwork for what would become Innovation: Africa. Having worked in Africa for over 20 years, Sivan has vast knowledge, experience, understanding and love for the African continent. Through her work, over 1,000,000 lives in the most remote villages have been impacted, thanks to Israeli innovation. In addition, Innovation: Africa has received many awards, including the Innovation Award from the United Nations. Most recently, Sivan has been recognized as one of the "40 Under 40 Most Promising Israelis" by Globes magazine and one of the "50 Most Influential Women in Israel” by Forbes Israel, and one of the "Top 10 Most Influential Israelis in International Business, Science and Culture 2017" by NoCamels. Aside from running Innovation: Africa, Sivan is a prominent business woman in Israel. In 2010, Sivan opened the first chain of nail salons in Israel. By the time she sold the chain in January 2018, iSpa Express was operating in 10 locations throughout the country and employed 160 female workers. Sivan lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and 3 children.

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Michal Benari

Executive Assistant to Founder and CEO

innovation africa staff israel

Michal, born and raised in London, completed her BA in Political Science at the University of Birmingham after which, she qualified as a Teacher on the Teach First Leadership Development program, where she taught students from underprivileged backgrounds. Michal spent many summers traveling and volunteering abroad, where she taught English to orphans in Nepal and victims of human trafficking in Thailand. Combining her passion for Israel and volunteering, Michal made Aliyah in 2017 and joined the Innovation: Africa team.

Bar Riese

Director of Africa Programs

innovation africa staff israel

Bar’s passion for Human Rights first started in her home country of Israel, where she worked on different campaigns for the rights of refugees, and grew into a love for International Development when she traveled and worked with underserved communities in the Brazilian Amazon and Kolkata, India. Bar gained work experience with Amnesty International and conflict resolution non-profits before joining Innovation: Africa in 2011. Building iA’s Programs Department since its early days, Bar has overseen the organization’s expansion across Sub-Saharan Africa and managed its growth to over 200 projects. Bar has directed the department from Innovation: Africa’s New York and Tel Aviv headquarters as well as from Tanzania, where she lived in 2016-2017. Bar is a certified TEFL teacher, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Columbia University, and is a graduate of the Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders at Stanford University.

Director of Communications

innovation africa staff israel

Genna grew up in Virginia Beach, but a passion for soccer and Israel brought her to Israel in 2011. Genna played soccer professionally in Israel for 3 years during which time she volunteered with the Peres Center for Peace. Genna joined Innovation: Africa’s Israel team as the Communications Manager in October 2013, and has since developed the iA Volunteer and Ambassador community in Israel, and hosted the organization’s first Israel based events. Genna holds a BA in Communications and Marketing from The Ohio State University and an MA in Political Science from Tel Aviv University.

Tara Shtauber

Africa Programs Associate

innovation africa staff israel

Tara was born and raised in heartland of Oklahoma. During her university years, Tara studied abroad in East Africa and the Middle East to become familiarized with third-world development and politics in each region. In the years following, Tara moved to Israel, first as a volunteer and then as a Master's student of Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Hebrew University. She is married to an Israeli and they have a daughter together. Joining the team at Innovation: Africa has allowed her to combine her two great loves, Africa and Israel.

Africa Programs Associate

innovation africa staff israel

Following her volunteering experience in India, Hagar found her passion in both politics and culture, and decided to study international relations and art history at the Hebrew University. During her studies, her interest in Africa grew, and she started leading educational trips to the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, examining issues of post genocide and development.


While her interest in post conflict issues grew, she started working on a legal assistance team for refugees in Jerusalem. She has recently graduated from the Glocal MA program of international development at the Hebrew university, after fulfilling four months internship in Uganda, conducting monitoring and evaluation for a local reproductive health NGO.

Program Associate

innovation africa staff israel

Juliana, originally from Colombia, has built her life around many different places, making her develop an insatiable curiosity to explore new cultures and people.


She obtained her BA in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, including a year abroad at the Sorbonne University, after which she moved to Israel to pursue an MA in Conflict Resolution and Cultural Mediation at Tel Aviv University.


Through UN models and leadership youth associations, Juliana traveled around the world and has so far lived in four continents, including Africa. In love with Israel since an early age, Juliana finally made Aliyah in 2017, after which she spent a year in Sierra Leone working in Protection and Early Recovery projects. Upon her return to Israel in 2018, she joined Innovation: Africa to keep discovering the continent while delivering Israeli technology to communities in need.

In House Engineer

innovation africa staff israel

Meir is an Electrical engineer and a graduate of Tel Aviv University. Meir worked for Intel Israel, National Semiconductor and for the Israel Electric Company in the Business Development Unit where he was responsible for project design and implementation. For the last year and a half, Meir Co-founded Ulysses solutions, a software company who develops an impact management platform for the developing world.

Software Engineer

innovation africa staff israel

With a computer engineering degree obtained in 2016 at EPITA university (Paris), Jeremy worked as a Business Analyst for a management consulting firm where he participated in the analysis and the suggestion of improvement in companies information systems. Pushed by his future wife, Jeremy made Aliyah in 2017 and worked as Full-Stack Developer for a start-up, where he deployed server infrastructure, website, and mobile application presenting data analysis. Strong of his knowledge in telecommunication technologies, Jeremy joined Innovation: Africa in 2018 in order to help the integration of new technologies in iA projects.


Bruce Gimpel

Chief Financial Officer

innovation africa staff usa

Bruce Gimpel is a senior executive from the financial services industry. Mr. Gimpel is a CPA having worked at Ernst & Young for eight years, specializing in taxation and then for eighteen years in various capacities at the Permal Group, a global asset management group specializing in alternative investments with over $22b in assets under management and nine offices worldwide. At the Permal Group, Mr. Gimpel was involved in a variety of initiatives over his eighteen years including implementing a robust infrastructure and operations as the Permal Group grew significantly during the period as well as integration activities as the Permal Group was acquired by Legg Mason, a publicly traded investment management firm. Mr. Gimpel started his career at the Permal Group as Chief Compliance Officer and left the group in January 2018 as Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Gimpel is currently a consultant to the financial services industry and is involved in a variety of non profit activities including serving as a volunteer EMT in the State of New York.

Emily Schoenfeld

Office Manager

innovation africa staff usa

Emily grew up in NYC and received her B.A. in Sociology from Johns Hopkins University. As a Social Policy Fellow at Hopkins, Emily worked as a research assistant on multiple urban housing and development studies. After completing her degree, she moved to Tel Aviv to work at an Israeli-based NGO, where she found her passion for sustainable development. Now back in her native New York, Emily is thrilled to join the team at Innovation: Africa as Office Manager & Bookkeeper, where she will continue to pursue her goal of helping to generate social impact.

Robert Khakhosi

Project Manager, Uganda

Robert Khakhosi was born and raised in Mbale, Uganda. After studying sustainable agriculture in KULIKA Charitable Trust, Robert worked as an agriculture extension worker with Heifer International and as an agricultural trainer with World Vision International. Robert has also volunteered as a community health worker with the Abayudaya Congregation and Foundation for Development of the Needy Communities in Mbale, Uganda. Robert speaks fluent English and Kiswahili as well as eight Bantu languages.

Sarah Gimono

Field Officer, Uganda

Sarah Gimono a female Ugandan, born and grew up in Mbale, a Bamasaba ethnic community around Mt. Elgon. Studied in different fields of Uganda and earned a degree in Information Technology. She taught computer skills in a community computer training centre and later volunteered with Uganda Revenue Authority where she worked as secretary e-tax until joining the Innovation: Africa team in 2013. Sarah speaks English, Kiswahili and many bantu languages. She has a passion for supporting vulnerable people and rural communities to enable sustainable livelihood.

Ibra Lemye

Agriculture Development Officer, Uganda

Ibra Lemye was born in Kaliro district of Uganda, raised and attended high school in Mbale region. Later on, he joined Makerere University and acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Engineering which equipped him with the necessary skills in irrigation, agricultural extension and crop handling for community sustainability. These skills enabled him to work with Smallholder Fortunes and Thermogenn, which is a non-governmental organization. Ibra worked as a Sales Engineer for “EVAKUULA”, a locally made milk refrigerator, which can be used without electricity for small scale farmers rearing animals to earn more from their milk. This increased his passion for working with communities. Ibra later joined Innovation: Africa as a Volunteer in order to pursue his career. Currently, Ibra is working full-time with Innovation: Africa. He speaks English, Kiswahili and most Bantu languages from East and Central regions of Uganda.

Richard Mangali

Agriculture Development Officer, Uganda

Richard Mangali, as our local Agronomist, his expertise lie in agriculture and heath within rural communities across Uganda. Richard trained in Japan under the Japan International Corporation (JAIC). He returned to Uganda as an Agricultural Coordinator for JAIC and with a focus on youth empowerment, trained high-school dropouts in specific agricultural techniques. As our most recent Ugandan team member, his knowledge has already proven to be valuable to Innovation: Africa. Richard’s extensive field work with the Foundation for Needy Communities (FDNC) has equipped him with the knowledge and experience needed to work within our communities.

David "Wakale" Wangale

In-House Engineer, Uganda

David "Wakale" Wangale was first an Innovation: Africa contractor, our go-to water engineer for all water projects. With the number of projects growing so rapidly in Uganda, and with Wakale's outstanding dedication and quality of work, he joined our team as a full-time employee. His background not only lies in Engineering, but as a volunteer and community trainer. Throughout his career, Wakale has made it a point to train and sponsor orphans who may not have the necessary guidance and access to gaining such a skillset.

Charles Losike

Karamoja Field Officer, Uganda (Karamoja Region)

Charles Losike was raised in Karamoja, Uganda and attended both primary and secondary education in Karamoja region. Charles was awarded The Uganda Certificate of Education after graduating secondary school and speaks fluent English, Ngakarimojong, Kiswahili and Ateso languages. Charles has experience working with many organizations such as: The Red Cross Society serving as a Volunteer then later became a staff member, Samaritan's Purse as a Food Distribution Monitor, Concern Worldwide as a Community Health Educator, Mbarara-Mulago teaching hospitals HIV/AIDS joint program, and finally with (M-JAP) as a community HIV/AIDS Counselor, until his current role with Innovation: Africa.

Sserunkuma Dennis

Engineer, Uganda

My name is sserunkuma Dennis. I was born in nakaseke district but largely grew up and lived in Kampala. Had my high school in Kampala and later went to Uganda Technical College - Lira for a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering. Living in lira increased my love for villages due to my volunteering with Watoto Church were we always reached out and involved with communities. I have worked with some electrical and building and construction companies on part time basis. I always looked out for work that would enable me travel in different parts of the country.I have worked with Masrcorp Ltd a company the produces solar cooking stoves which is so good in providing clean energy and very less fuel consumption. I had an inspiration from my elder brother  an agricultural engineer who works with Davis and shirtliff about water systems and irrigation systems then I picked great interest in water systems and constantly followed his work and installations. When I got a chance to volunteer with Innovation Africa I had no second thoughts. Ican speak English and Luganda fluently coupled with some Swahili and other Bantu languages. I am so thrilled to be a part of this organization.

Lerian Moshi

Project Manager, Tanzania

Lerian was born and raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. After studying she completed her Advance Diploma in Information Technology at Learnit Institute of Technology. She then began working as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for an NGO, Building Rural Incomes Through Enterprises until she joined Innovation: Africa in July 2017.


Lerian speaks both English and Swahili and some bantu languages.

Erick Ng’oro

Project Officer, Tanzania

Erick was born and raised in Ruvuma, Tanzania. He received his Diploma in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at Sokoine University of Agriculture Morogoro-Tanzania. After graduating, Erick worked as Assistant Marketing Officer at Njombe Region Cooperative Union Limited (NJORECU LTD) and then as a District Field Coordinator on Farm to Market Alliance in Njombe Region to promote rural/urban development. Erick joined the Innovation: Africa team in September 2018 with the goal of working with rural communities to help them successfully  solve their challenges. Erick speaks English, Swahili and some local languages.

Mohamed Nwajasho

Field Officer, Tanzania

Mohamed was born and raised in Tanga, Tanzania. After he completed his Certificate in Computer Studies at the Vocational Educational Training Authority, he began working as a Declaration Officer for an NGO until 2012 and then joined Goodman Industries as a Mechanical/Electrical Technician in Houston, Texas. He also worked at Satake USA Inc. in Stafford, Texas until he returned to Tanzania to work with Innovation: Africa to apply the skills and training he gained over the years. Mohamed’s ambition to help support rural communities and enable sustainable livelihood for the people of Tanzania is what makes him passionate about the work he does with Innovation: Africa. Mohamed speaks both English and Swahili and some native languages.


Filipo Mwale

Project Manager, Malawi

Filipo Mwale was born in Lilongwe, Malawi. He studied International Development and Sociology and studied at The Open University UK. He began working with Innovation for Poverty Action followed by a Program Manager position for Murphy Mucrea Project prior to joining the Innovation: Africa team. Filipo is a father of two kids: a son and a daughter. He speaks fluent English, Chichewa and Tumbuka.

Rebecca Chuma

Field Officer, Malawi

Born in Mangochi, Rebecca’s home is just next to the famous lake Malawi. Growing up, she attended the University of Malawi, and received her BA in Irrigation Engineering from the College of Agriculture. With a vast experience working on community development issues through agriculture, Rebecca joined the Innovation: Africa family, moving to the vibrant capital city of Lilongwe. Rebecca says she wanted to work with iA as she is passionate about working with rural communities, while also being part of a community herself. In her free time, Rebecca loves gardening, using her professional expertise in her own home, as well as watching movies.

Faith Kwalimba

Field Officer, Malawi

Faith was born and raised in Blantyre, Malawi. She attended Malawi Adventist University and obtained a BSC in Public health from University of Eastern Africa, Baraton and has worked as an Environmental Health Officer for a number of years where she did field work on public health services and trained others in environmental health services. She worked with World Vision International as a WASH Development Facilitator where they provided water, sanitation and hygiene and other services in communities, schools and health centres in Malawi. With her passion for community development and belief that everyone deserves a happy, healthy and environmentally friendly community, Faith joined the Innovation: Africa team in 2018 to serve communities in Malawi. She enjoys traveling, learning new cultures, and supporting others in need.

Mphatso Nkhoma

Field Officer, Malawi

Filipo Mwale was born in Lilongwe, Malawi. He studied International Development and Sociology and studied at The Open University UK. He began working with Innovation for Poverty Action followed by a Program Manager position for Murphy Mucrea Project prior to joining the Innovation: Africa team. Filipo is a father of two kids: a son and a daughter. He speaks fluent English, Chichewa and Tumbuka.

Mercy Tayim

Project Manager - Cameroon

Mercy Tayim is a 6 time Champion of Female Table Tennis in Cameroon and has represented her country in several international Table Tennis competitions. She is also a teacher by training and has taught Biology to High School students for the last decade. She recently graduated from Peking University, China with a Master’s in Management and Public Policy. Currently working for Innovation: Africa enables her to pursue one of her passions -- contributing to improve the living conditions of the less privileged.

Issa Lucien

Field Officer - Cameroon

Lucien Issa was born and raised in Cameroon. He is a graduate from the University of Yaoundé, where he studied Fine Arts and Art History. He worked as a designer and infographer for many local enterprises. Passionate with creative arts, he had the opportunity to visit several African countries where he took part in cultural events as an Administrative Manager of a local association (Compagnie ANNOORA). His passion for 3-D design and technical engineering made him the 2018 Best Regional Inventor for Cameroon Far-North at the National Days of Excellence in Scientific Research and Innovation (JERSIC). Issa feels comfortable working with social programs such as assistance of orphans and HIV victims, empowerment of girls and women rights, assistance for the elderly and disabled. Thanks to the experience he received working among vulnerable people for more than ten years, he intends to use his numerous skills and passions for the support of rural communities while working at Innovation: Africa.


Issa speaks French, English, Fulfulde and some local languages.


Serge Mbaïnassem

Field Officer - Cameroon

Serge Mbaïnassem was born and raised in Maroua-Cameroon. Since his childhood, he has had a passion for the arts. The poor living conditions and lack of social good wealth in his surroundings increased his passion for social work. That is the reason why he created the Salam Art Company  to promote peace through arts and improve disabled people’s living conditions. Thanks to his actions, many peoples’ lives have been impacted and they can now have hope for a better future. Joining the Innovation: Africa team will enable him to accomplish more good deeds at the favor of local communities. Serge speaks English, French, and some Cameroonian languages.


Nozipho Mahlalela

Field Officer, Eswatini

A last born in a family of six, Nozipho was raised by a single parent: her mother. She was born and bred in the eastern part of Swaziland along the Mozambican border. She completed her high school education in Lomahasha before she enrolled at the University of eSwatini in 2006 where she studied journalism and Mass Communication. She joined AMICAALL, an urban AIDS response NGO as a communications volunteer before she was promoted to the Communications Officer. While at AMICAALL she fell in love with Community Development programming after she was assigned to coordinate a project focusing on Sexual Reproductive Health among young people. She joins Innovation Africa from SAfAIDS a regional NGO where she worked on several projects, engaging communities on health issues, behavioural change and service uptake. She has worked in all the 55 constituencies implementing several project activities. She is passionate about community development and she wants to be part of positive change in communities of eSwatini.

Mkhosi Bandile Mdluli

Field Officer, Eswatini

I was born in Mbabane and raised in Ngwenya community. I have lived in many different areas around the country for school and work purposes. I studied Economics and Statistics for my undergraduate degree at the University of eSwatini. After that, I worked for a number of development NGOs in the country, the last one being at World Vision where I worked as Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator. I left the position in 2016 to do a Masters’ Degree in Agricultural Economics in Taiwan, at the National Taiwan University.


Recently joined the Innovation: Africa team as Field Officer. I have a passion for Community Development and hope to play a role in the betterment of the lives of the vulnerable people of eSwatini.

Menzi B. Mawelela

Water Engineer - Eswatini

This gentleman was born in the dry Lowveld of eSwatini, where water scarcity is a major problem on land, which is very fertile. After high school, I obtained a Degree in B.Sc. in Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering for the University of eSwatini. Furthermore, I also acquired various technical expertise in my field of study in Civil, Portable Water and Agricultural Engineering in various projects such as Irrigation, Borehole drilling and Solar installations, Commercial farming and Construction. On my spare time, I fix furniture in schools, which have been damaged, especially during exam preparation and I also am a player-coach for the University Squash team. I speak French, English and Siswati

Abraham Ngobeni

Regional Director - Mpumalanga, South Africa

Abraham Ngobeni, born in Mozambique but raised in South Africa. He holds a BA in Social Work from the University of Venda and Certificate in Advanced Management from the Turfloop Graduate School of Leadership. He has vast experience of community development from the South African government as a social worker for 9 years throughout Mpumalanga Province. He also worked as a District Manager for an NGO - Society for Family Health funded by USAID for Sexuality Education and HIV prevention.


Mr. Abraham Ngobeni fluently speaks 7 of the 11 South African languages: Xitsonga, Siswati, Sepedi, Tshivenda, IsiNdebele, English and IsiZulu. He dreams of Africa without poverty, no wonder he works hard.

Warren Khosa

Field Officer - South Africa

Warren Khosa was born in the late 90s at the far-end of the Mpumalanga province in the village called Huntington near the famous Kruger National Park. He is an honours graduate in Bachelor of arts, Youth in development. During his university period, he volunteered in the Swavana youth centre in their programmes. He was a beneficiary of the Community leaders Education Fund with the Africa Foundation for 3 years. After completion, he worked as a quantitative research fieldworker with the MRC/Wits Agincount health and population unit. He has a keen interest in the field of community development and services.

Thakhani Theobald Mudau

Field Officer - South Africa

Thakhani Theobald was born in Limpopo Province South Africa in a rural area called Ha.l-Masia Vyeboom village. He was raised by his Grandmother. He studied Youth Development at University of South Africa, furthering his studies with UNISA studying BA in Social Work as part time student.He has an in-depth understanding of the NGO sector and has worked with several organisations on various projects. His expertise lies in children and care givers, focusing primarily on projects that address parenting skills, nutrition and HIV education.


He belives in the power of the community and works to do his part in developing it.

Thandeka Khosa

Field Officer - South Africa

Thandeka Khosa was born in South Africa andI grew up in a village called Edinburgh in Bushbuckridge municipality. She is a qualified social worker and obtained her honours degree in 2014 at the University of Venda. She worked as a community worker for a number of years and was responsible for monitoring projects and worked to empower victims as a programme manager. She has a passion for working with members in the rural communities and is excited to join efforts at Innovation: Africa in South Africa.

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