WEI Team of Experts


Dinah Bennett – Global Lead, Entrepreneurship

Dinah has been a supporter of women’s economic empowerment for over twenty five years. Twenty years ago she initiated a UK best practice initiative for supporting women’s entrepreneurship based on the concept of developing and growing social capital. As the founder of International Consultants for Enterprise Entrepreneurship (ICE) Dinah designs and delivers business and entrepreneurial development programmes internationally. ICE’s aim, to help institutions and individuals understand the small business community in order to introduce effective enterprise strategies and polices. She is also Co-director of the Societal Innovation and Enterprise Forum (SIEF) at Durham University UK. Dinah is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts and the Higher Education Academy. She is co-founder and Vice-Chair of the UK Women’s Enterprise Policy Group and an Honorary Fellow of the UK Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs. In 2005 Dinah won an individual Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion and in 2011 awarded an OBE for her work supporting women’s entrepreneurship

Technical CV here.



Yolanda Gibb – Lead, Trade

Yolanda has over 30 years experience of working with individuals, educational institutions, MSME, members of the business support ecosystem, policymakers and international institutions. Her work and research interests primarily revolve around fostering entrepreneurship, internationalisation and SME competitiveness; the impact of digitalisation, leveraging intangible assets in companies and regions; and improving the investment climate. Understanding how creativity, social capital and digital inclusion can enhance individual and organisational learning is a key interest. Yolanda has designed and delivered programmes to facilitate women’s paths into enterprise, including start-up, growth and internationalisation; and had an active role in the management of local networks / associations for women entrepreneurs & professionals. Yolanda is co-founder and director of SIEF, a social enterprise spun out of Durham University, which celebrates the contribution of the independently owner managed business to local communities and society and engages with business and the wider community as well as the academic and student body to address some of today’s socio-economic challenges through innovation and enterprise. Yolanda works internationally and in a number of languages, including English, Spanish, German, French and Russian.



Noreen Cesareo – Trade

Noreen Cesareo MA BA is an experienced international specialist in marketing, brand and communications. She has over 30 years’ experience working with global brands and businesses across industries, including financial, technology, travel, supply chain and professional services. In 2007, she set up Market Accents, a WE Connect International Certified woman-owned business. A Masters in Marketing, she channels her knowledge and experience to provide big company expertise to businesses. Together with her team, Noreen helps them achieve sustainable growth using smart marketing strategies and effective branding and integrated communications. Noreen is passionate about new technologies, educating and empowering women in enterprise, collaboration and communities. She works across cultures and speaks a number of languages. She is actively involved in a number of international initiatives, boards and working groups. These include: Trustee, The Commonwealth Girls Education Fund (CGEF); Director, The Malta Business Network (MBN); Ambassador, Pink Shoe and TeamEB Lead, Marketing and Markets (Exports). TeamEB is building the first UK Economic Blueprint for SMEs and women-owned businesses. She also sits on the All Parliamentary Party Group (AAPG) for Women and Enterprise where she is a lead in the International Trade and Connections sub-group.


Nicole Pitter Patterson – Trade

A senior international development advisor with 20+ years of expertise in both the public and private sectors, Nicole has focused her career in the areas of communitybased entrepreneurship, SME growth and social enterprise development. Nicole has successfully designed and managed a combined portfolio of US$20 million, with agencies such as USAID and the United Nations working with public and private sector partners in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. She has undertaken significant work on the development of women-owned businesses and emerging SMEs in the creative industries, and facilitating business development through local, regional and international industry platforms. As an Independent Development Adviser and Co-Founder of SheLeadsIt a social enterprise focused on women’s economic empowerment since 2017, she has launched a Caribbean wide innovative initiative supported by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for young women and girls in tech, as part of a woman led consortium; serves as Adviser to Ghana National Board for Small Scale Industries developing a specialized program for women’s economic empowerment; serves as Speaker at international conferences and is an Advisory Board Member of INDEGO Africa a social enterprise for artisans; she is the Board VP – Partnerships at Overseas Women in International Trade (OWIT), Geneva; and is a Volunteer with Nations Ladies UK – a BAME charity supporting girls. Nicole has worked with international donor agencies – USAID Washington/Caribbean and the UN in Switzerland, with implementation in the Caribbean, Africa and Mongolia. She holds a B.A. in Economics at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica and an M.A. in Regional Economic Development at Northeastern University, U.S.A. with training in Residential Interior Design at the Art Institute, U.S.A.


Gerald Chirinda – Co-Lead, Youth

Gerald Chirinda an entrepreneur, is the Founder of Tapiwa Capital, an African focused Investment Holding and Advisory Company with a focus on start-up and early stage companies. Tapiwa Capital focuses on building sustainable enterprises and unlocking real value in Zimbabwe and the African continent. The company takes businesses from concept to market and believes in ideas and concepts that are scalable, impactful, innovative, and will generate good returns. Gerald is also the co-founder of Educate, which is a specialist education finance provider in Zimbabwe that partners with schools at home and abroad. The core goal of Educate is providing financial access through the issuing of loans within the education ecosystem. He recently founded Future Africa Forum, a community of young African thought-leaders and actors from across the world, convening to discuss our continents future, it’s most pressing challenges and offering solutions for the challenges. Gerald has worked in Financial Advisory where his responsibilities were but not limited to, Mergers & Acquisitions, Disposals & Carve outs, Financial Modelling, Valuation and Research. In his spare time, Gerald loves to travel, network and be involved in projects for social good.



Mireille Toulekima – Co-Lead, Women in Non-Traditional Sectors

Mireille Toulekima is an Award-Winning Entrepreneur and Global Energy Adviser specialised in developing and emerging markets. A petroleum engineer who gains her experience working in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia in a range of technical and leadership roles, she is the Managing Director of the independent oil and gas consulting company MT Energy Resources Ltd based in Perth (Australia), a board member, an Ambassador, a Global Executive Mentor and Partner to several global ventures and organisations.

Known globally for being an inspirational multi-skilled woman, Mireille is also a published author, international speaker, part time columnist, host of Global Online show “The Greatness Engineering” and the founder and ambassador of “The Greatness Engineering movement”. A woman who enjoys big challenges, she embodies authenticity, leadership, diversity, positivity, spiritual strength and real womanhood. She is part of the new wave of women who have embraced non-traditional industries, globalisation, innovation and digital disruption and who dare to risk high and dream big.

Mireille speaks several foreign languages of which Fluent English and French, conversational Spanish and Malay and basic Portuguese. She is a Global Tech Leader as part of the Global Tech Women project since 2015 and a champion for women working in non-traditional industries that are predominantly male dominated. She contributes to a number women leadership and technical groups around the world and has been identified and recognised as one of the women of influence in the energy sector and leadership sphere globally.


Mike Wamaya – Entrepreneurship, Non-Traditional Sectors

Michael Wamaya teaches dance in Kenya’s Kibera and Mathare slums by combining arts skills with social skills.  He was a Top 10 Finalist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize for his unique and extraordinary approach to empowering slum children through ballet. 

He is the founder of Project Elimu.  This non-profit organization champions quality education for children living in informal settlements by providing extra-curricular activities, demonstrating the importance of  arts inclusion to standardised curriculum, and equipping teachers with tools to develop and incorporate 21st-Century skills in classrooms. Being able to dance gives children he works with confidence, helps raise their aspirations, and increases motivation for school. For those who have different skills [and interests?] the organization is extending extra-curricular activities to include other arts, creative writing, theatre, voice, music poetry stagecraft and production.

Our program explores individual human potential and creativity in a much broader sense: who children are, what they think and believe, what they want for their futures.  Placing children at the center brings them confidence and self-esteem. 

In Kibera, home to over 700,000 people, the most unlikely setting for a ballet school. But with the help of Michael’s dedicated teaching, under the tin roofs of community buildings students here have become accomplished dancers.

Technical CV here.



Dr. Mable Kipenda – Co-Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa

Dr. Mable Kipenda has over 5 years of experience in the field of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Women Empowerment in Zambia. Currently, Dr.Mable is a physician at NDOLA TEACHING HOSPITAL and a co-founding member of Copper Rose Zambia focusing on Menstrual Hygiene Health, women’s Empowerment, Family planning and Maternal and Child Health. She has professional experience in training and advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights among young adolescents in her community. Dr. Mable holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Biology and a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery. Mable is passionate about giving back to her community because of the help she has received throughout her journey to get here. She is motivated by Women leaders making change in their communities and is committed to working with young women to help make the world a better place through Health and Empowerment.

Technical CV here.


Dr. Alice Ojwang – Co-Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenyan born, Alice Achieng Ojwang, is a Nutrition and health professional with a doctorate in Dietetics from Centre of Excellence for Nutrition, North-West University, South Africa. During her profession straddling up to 20 years, as nutrition and dietetic consultant – She has been instrumental in shaping the direction of nutrition and dietetics profession in Kenya.

She created the first mentoring program for young nutrition professionals in Kenya- to share and spread the knowledge of nutrition and health across the country and help the nutrition and dietetic professionals to focus their goals on a common agenda and speak the same language. She also actively participated in curriculum development of nutrition and dietetics training for institutions of higher learning. She developed national in-service training materials in nutrition and HIV/AIDs and toolkits currently in use in HIV/AIDS programs in Kenya.

Dr. Ojwang has also worked closely with the private sector in developing programs to increase productivity levels at the workplace, reduce absenteeism, and improve the quality of life of obese and chronically ill employees. As a private practitioner, Dr. Ojwang set up the first, dietetic practice in Kenya and created awareness of obesity and its associated risk factors through training health professionals and outreach to the public, throughout the country. She also created and actively promoted health promotion audios, videos, and posters, which is in circulation across Kenya and neighboring countries.

With a Doctoral degree in dietetics, her areas of focus include dietetic related research and health education/promotion in obesity and metabolic syndrome, diet and its influence in women’s economic empowerment, worksite wellness interventions, the economic burden of obesity and its related risk factors, impact of diet on health as well as prevention and management of chronic conditions. She continues to mentor young nutrition/dietetic and health professionals in Africa and share herself to develop and grow professionally with her peers. Dr. Ojwang serves as a lifestyle activist to prevent chronic diseases and improve quality of life by creating awareness of diet and health. She is a lecturer at the Technical University of Kenya, Nairobi-Kenya.

Technical CV here.


Yemisi Akinbobola – Advocacy: The role of the media

Dr Yemisi Akinbobola is an award-winning journalist, academic, and media entrepreneur. A Nigerian living in the UK, her work is Africa focused, covering stories from rape culture in Nigeria, to an investigative and data story on the trafficking of young West African football hopefuls by fake agents. The latter won the CNN African Journalist Award 2016 (Sports Reporting). Yemisi holds a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies from Birmingham City University where she is the Award Leader for MA Global Media Management, and her research interest is in digital journalism and African feminism. She is the founder of Stringers Africa, which connects freelance journalists in African countries with newsrooms worldwide, and she runs the African Women in the Media group. Founder also of IQ4News, a multimedia production company, she has freelanced for publications including the UN Africa Renewal magazine. Yemisi has worked in the charity sector where she has several years’ experience in communication management.



Graciela Hijar Santibanez – Advisor

Graciela Hijar Santibanez is a human rights lawyer and a women’s advocate. She holds a Bachelor of Law (Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru) and a Master of Public Administration (Syracuse University – De Sardon Glass Fellow). Currently, she works as a Consultant for the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion, where she focuses on improving interventions towards rural women in Peru. She has work experience in Peru and the US, including with UN Women, the Ministry of Women of Peru and the Oil Trade Association. Throughout her career, Graciela has provided technical assistance to develop, coordinate and monitor policies to protect women from violence, empower rural women and promote women’s inclusion in the private sector. Among her academic work is her dissertation on the gender perspective of the Peruvian Reparations Plan for victims of sexual violence during the armed conflict, and the assessment of Conditional Cash Transfers in women’s economic empowerment. She is passionate about feminism, reproductive justice, sustainable development and education.


Dooter Malu – Legal, Regulatory & Policy Frameworks

Dooter Malu is an attorney with many years of experience in law reform, financial institutions, human rights and international humanitarian & criminal law. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he previously worked with the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia where he was involved in the prosecution of suspects responsible for the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya and the Srebrenica massacre in the former Yugoslavia respectively. Dooter also worked as a Principal Legal Officer with the Human Rights Commission in Nigeria and served as Head of the Freedom of Information Department. Dooter previously served as an in-house counsel for Keystone Bank in Lagos where he coordinated the legal work of 35 branches of the bank. He has served as a delegate at the Nigeria-Switzerland Political Dialogue on Human Rights and a reader for the Mandela Washington Fellowship 2015 & 2016. He is currently a Senior Manager with Kings & Goodman where he leads its strategic engagement in North America. He is a licensed attorney in New York and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He currently resides in Washington DC.


Gabriel Nagy – Communities and Sustainable Development

With a background in architecture, urban planning & economics and management, Gabriel is a multifaceted developer and hands-on executive, with global experience in planning, structuring, managing and executing complex and large scale, profitable and successful public and/or private projects. His priorities include designing more attractive, economically and environmentally sustainable communities. He has pioneered alternative service-delivery (public-private partnership) and financing models (value capture) while incorporating project management rigor and best practices to deliver high quality, cost-effective and socially responsible for-profit and donor-funded real estate, infrastructure and community projects focusing on: poverty alleviation, planning, zoning, public housing, economic development, redevelopment, climate change adaptation, post-disaster/conflict aid and recovery assistance, municipal finance, land/property development project in LAC, Asia, Eastern Europe, USA and the Middle East. He is fluent in Spanish (native) and English. He is a member of the International Research Foundation for Development’s (IRFD) advisory council, member of the Colombian Builders Association (CAMACOL), member of Lupien Rosenberg et Associés professional network, certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) and lecturer at the Urban Management Program at Universidad del Rosario. He currently lives in Chicago.



Ali Matalon – WEI Intern

Ali is a second-year Masters candidate at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Ali studies Public Administration with a focus on Economic and Political Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to returning to school, Ali served as an Advocacy Support Specialist with the Secretariat for the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment.Throughout her undergraduate career, Ali invested her time working in the social enterprise and microfinancing space to understand how business can be recommitted or repurposed to address societal needs more directly. In keeping with this, she strives to connect her work, in all fields, to Jamaica (her home country) and the Caribbean more broadly. She believes strongly in the need to break down barriers impeding women’s advancement in the region and the world. She is committed to serving as a Youth Champion for the Women’s Economic Imperative.






Emily Villalta – WEI Intern

Emily is a college student studying international relations and communications. She is multilingual – fluent in Spanish and English and at an intermediate level in French and American Sign Language. She enjoys travel, reading, and music. She aspires to be a diplomat.







Angela Yang – WEI Intern

Angela Yang is an incoming fourth year student at the University of Toronto, currently pursuing a B.S in Environmental Science and International Development Studies. In previous years she has served in various national parks around the United States with the Student Conservation Association, developing skills in environmental protection and advocacy. Her research interests include hydropolitics in the MENA and South Asia regions, as well as economies of public health in Latin America. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, English, and Spanish, and proficient in Modern Standard Arabic. She also has basic knowledge of Latin and Urdu.










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