Strategic Initiatives Team

We believe in a sustainable world where all people in low-income communities have the opportunity to prosper.

That's why TechnoServe hires the brightest minds in business to tackle the challenging, fascinating, meaningful work of fighting poverty by harnessing the power of the private sector.

We are currently recruiting. Please click here for the job description and to apply.

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For over 50 years, TechnoServe has used business principles to achieve positive social change. Since then, we have been recognized as a world leader in developing inclusive, sustainable business solutions to help millions around the world.

Working with Nespresso to revive the coffee sector in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Developing online learning tools to digitize ecommerce retailers in partnership with Mastercard. Collaborating with Danone, Walmart, and strawberry farmers in Mexico to enable sustainable, regenerative production. Partnering with Anglo American and the Inter-American Development bank to create jobs across Peru, Chile, and Brazil — a program that was named one of five finalists for the P3 Impact Award for public-private partnerships.

All of these are recent projects designed by TechnoServe’s Strategic Initiatives team, as we partner with multinational corporations to use business solutions to solve poverty. Aligning the interests of these companies with those of local people working to escape poverty creates self-sustaining relationships that deliver lasting value – both for the companies and for the enterprising women and men they work with.

FT

“One of the world’s top five non-profits for corporate partnerships”
–Financial Times

Coca

“TechnoServe has changed the calculus for poverty alleviation and changed the world in the process – one project, one partner, one life at a time,”
–Muhtar Kent, Former CEO, The Coca Cola Company

Harward

“A new type of NGO…that understands the importance of productivity and value creation”
–Harvard Business Review

GM

“TechnoServe is unique: it understands what innovation means and it is a proven leader in organizing and implementing scalable partnerships with private companies to achieve win-win results.”
–Peter Erickson, Former EVP Innovation, Technology, & Quality, General Mills

“Working for the Strategic Initiatives team was one of the best decisions I made professionally and personally. I had the opportunity to work with major corporations like Nespresso and Anglo American to develop inclusive agricultural supply chains across eight countries in rural Africa and Latin America — and make meaningful friendships around the world.”

–Hadia Shah, Strategy & Operations, Google (Former Strategic Initiatives team member; McKinsey Engagement Manager)

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Impact Spotlight

We are committed to quantifiable impact for the clients we serve. For example, since 2011 we have partnered with Anglo American to support: 

About Strategic Initiatives

Since 2012, the Strategic Initiatives team has led TechnoServe’s work with multinational corporations to design inclusive and profitable corporate business models that improve incomes for farmers and small businesses. 

TechnoServe then replicates the most successful models across geographies, developing systems to drive even more impact for farmers and small businesses.

These new business models cannot happen in isolation from the broader community context– partnerships are key to making them work. TechnoServe engages local and national governments to ensure these new approaches align with government priorities. We identify and work with local finance institutions to ensure farmers and entrepreneurs are able to invest and grow their businesses. Finally, we strengthen local organizations to ensure that new business models reinforce local community structures and do not replace them.

The Strategic Initiatives team works closely with TechnoServe’s experts in the following key areas:

Project Descriptions

No two projects are alike, and the specific nature of projects depends on the evolving needs of our corporate partners and the communities in which they operate. However, projects often include climate change considerations (e.g., regenerative agricultural practices), technology (e.g., geo-spatial mapping, chatbots), and consortium building. Typical projects include:

  • Supporting development of strategies to drive poverty reduction and resilience to climate change
  • Conducting diagnostics to develop the business case and implementation plan for specific projects around the world
  • Supporting our implementation teams in ensuring projects generate both impact and value

“I will always be deeply grateful for my time at TechnoServe and the SI team. It was challenging but incredibly rewarding – working with multinational corporations, food processors, mom and pop shop owners, and farmers in 8 different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The work has led me to Stanford GSB and Harvard Kennedy School, where I continue to build on what I learned from my time at the SI team”

-Juli (Hye Ryeong) Cho, Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA ’21 / Harvard Kennedy School MPA ’22 (Former Strategic Initiatives team member)

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Meet some SI team members

Strategic Initiatives team members combine top-tier business advisory / management consulting experience with a commitment to our mission. We are a global team that works in close collaboration with TechnoServe offices across Africa, Latin America, and India.

Miriam

  • Location: Madrid, Spain
  • Joined TechnoServe: 2014 (Fellow in 2006/07 in Guatemala)
  • What did you do before joining the Strategic Initiatives team?
    • I was a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company for five years, where I advised top management of $10 billion agribusiness and consumer good corporations and public sector clients on emerging market growth strategies, partnerships for economic development, and sales and operations transformations. Projects spanned across the Americas and Sub Saharan Africa. 
  • Why did you decide to join TechnoServe and the Strategic Initiatives team?
    • My dream job was to work in a corporate environment building inclusive supply chains, but those jobs were scarce 10 years ago. I reconnected with TechnoServe almost by chance, and it happened to be precisely at the right time. They were building a team to drive growth of corporate partnerships through shared value and were looking for former consultants with experience in economic development.
    • I was totally bought into TechnoServe’s vision to take 500 million people out of poverty by embedding their small businesses into corporate supply chains, whether as suppliers or end consumers. It was exactly what I had left McKinsey to pursue. This role would allow me to work closely with multiple companies leading in the space, getting exposure to different value chains and geographies. I was also attracted by the nature of the team: mission-driven, smart and humble former consultants, eager to apply their skills and knowledge to the most complex challenges in our world, to ending poverty.
  • What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
    • It is tough to choose one. Every project relates to people, and every one is unique in its own way, but I do have a special bond with the Nespresso Zimbabwe Reviving Origins Program, partly because I’ve seen it grow from a concept on PPT slides into real, physical upgrades on people’s houses and farms [as a result of income improvements]. And it’s partly because of the speed at which this impact has materialized – in just one or two years, you could already see communities transformed.
    • I led the initial diagnostic that validated the opportunity to “save” a coffee origin that was literally about to disappear, while also uplifting the families that grew that coffee. I felt I was in a movie as I heard firsthand stories from 80-year old coffee growers and saw the light in younger coffee farmers’ eyes getting brighter as we talked about the potential of supporting them to recover their farms.
    • I was extremely touched when I was welcomed back with singing and dancing two years later, and people remembered me by name. A woman called Anna held my hand and took me to see how she had cemented the floor of her kitchen and installed a toilet, thanks to her coffee earnings. 
    • I am inspired by the fact that the son of one of the farmers we visited during the diagnostic is now an agronomist on the TechnoServe team, teaching hundreds of other farmers about coffee, inspiring other youth to start their own coffee farms, and crafting a very promising career for himself.

These are the kinds of things that get me out of bed every morning.

  • How have you applied your consulting skills to your work on the Strategic Initiatives team?
    • I use the consulting skills I gained at McKinsey every day in my work. I would highlight three key aspects:
      • Core consulting toolkit (approach to problem-solving). It’s critical to building the business case for shared value (value to the company and impact to the communities). Simple things like 80/20 mindset: figure out what is the 20% that drives 80% of the answer, and focus on solving that vs. trying to learn everything you can. 
      • Top down, simple, crisp, communications, using their own business terms. It’s critical to bring our corporate partners on board, and not lose them with development jargon and long-winded analytics. In many cases, telling the story through visuals (images combined with key figures or strong charts) can be even more powerful. 
      • Building relationships. Scaling our partnerships with corporates requires much more than a business case. It requires people to trust you as an individual, to welcome you to be part of their team and to want to share experiences with you. And in that process you get to know what inspires them, understand their business, identify the value drivers and strategic objectives, and who and how decisions are made. 
  • What aspect of your job do you find most fulfilling?
    • If I had to choose one thing, I’d say the chance to build something from scratch (e.g. a concept on a slide) and be part of its growth, witnessing the real impact on the ground, on people with names and faces that I can recognize. Anna in Zimbabwe, Jose in Puerto Rico, Bilha in Kenya, Hundatu in Ethiopia, Rejina in South Sudan, and many more.

 

Thiago

  • Location: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Joined TechnoServe: 2020
  • What did you do before joining the Strategic Initiatives team?
    • I worked for four years at Bain & Company in South America and had experiences in international development working with the public sector in Ethiopia, and with local NGOs in Zimbabwe and Laos. I also have a master's degree in Global Affairs from Tsinghua University in China.
  • Why did you decide to join TechnoServe and the Strategic Initiatives team?
    • I have always wanted to work with social impact, but I hadn't come across an organization that created positive impact in such a sustainable and scalable way as TechnoServe does. On the Strategic Initiatives team, we have the dynamic, results-oriented, data-driven, and collaborative environment of a management consulting firm, but we deal with problems that I feel truly passionate about solving. Close contact with TechnoServe's program teams in Latin America and Africa makes the work much more tangible and real, and we also have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork, making the job really rewarding and unique.
  • What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
    • I was very lucky to have had the chance to work with several of our key corporate partners, across different value chains and geographies. It is not easy to pick my favorite, but I think I would say the work TechnoServe does with Nespresso in Zimbabwe. As the Strategic Initiatives Manager supporting the program, I have helped design solutions to improve the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe and ensure the industry is growing and thriving. To mention a few examples: we designed a fertilizer scheme to ensure farmers have access to affordable agricultural inputs, and we assessed the business case of weather-based crop insurance to smallholder farmers, to protect them from hurricanes and other climate disasters that have been hitting the region more frequently in the last years.
  • How have you applied your consulting skills to your work on the Strategic Initiatives team?
    • Our corporate partners are used to the analytical approach adopted by consulting firms and the high-quality outputs they produce. On the Strategic Initiatives team, we want to set the same standards and ensure our work is translated into results on the field. We often have to work on complex analytical models in Excel or develop executive presentations to the senior leadership team of our partners, and the consulting skills come in very handy in these moments.
  • What aspect of your job do you find most fulfilling?
    • I love speaking with the program managers of projects we are supporting to hear stories about the real, on-the-ground impact our work has made on the individual lives of smallholder farmers or micro-entrepreneurs participating in TechnoServe's programs. This brings me closer to the purpose of our work and energizes me to achieve our mission.

 

Hannah

  • Location: New York, US
  • Joined TechnoServe: 2021
  • What did you do before joining the Strategic Initiatives team? 
    • Management consultant at L.E.K. Consulting for three years
  • Why did you decide to join TechnoServe and the Strategic Initiatives team? 
    • I've always wanted to work in international development and had a particular interest in the private sector as a driver of economic growth. When I discovered Strategic Initiatives, it was the perfect intersection of my interests and opportunity for me to apply my skills! Also, it doesn't hurt that everyone on the team is so cool 🙂
  • What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
    • My favorite project so far has been working on developing an e-commerce digital training for micro- and small enterprises as part of the Strive Community initiative in partnership with Mastercard.
  • How have you applied your consulting skills to your work on the Strategic Initiatives team?
    • I find myself relying on my consulting skill set every day, from project management to slide-making to analysis to client management. Like consulting, the work at SI is also fast-paced and often requires getting up-to-speed in brand-new areas, so experience working on diverse challenges definitely helps.
  • What aspect of your job do you find most fulfilling?
    • Hearing from the beneficiaries of our work! While I joined SI during COVID, I've gotten messages and calls from people who have been impacted by our work saying how much they appreciate what we're doing. That always makes my day!

 

“I left SI to pursue my MBA & MA in International Studies at Wharton / Lauder. The strategic and on-the-ground experience I gained while on SI has been extremely useful in an academic context. For example, I'm writing my Masters' thesis on sustainability in the coffee industry!”

-Ginny Maceda, MBA/MA Candidate at The Wharton School & The Lauder Institute (Former Strategic Initiatives team member, Bain & Co. Consultant)

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“On the Strategic Initiatives team, we have the dynamic, results-oriented, data-driven, and collaborative environment of a management consulting firm, but we deal with problems that I feel truly passionate about solving. Close contact with TechnoServe's program teams in Latin America and Africa makes the work much more tangible and real, and we also have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork, making the job really rewarding and unique.”

– Thiago Chang, Manager, Strategic Initiatives (Former Bain & Co. Consultant)

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