Founder, Chief Executive Officer – Benjamin West
Professional Summary: After earning his MBA from the University of Oregon, Ben managed the turnaround of StoveTec. Ben overhauled the staff, relaunched the company’s website, and implemented accounting practices. Dramatic sales growth and sound business practices pushed the company to breakeven in the first quarter of 2010 after a significant loss in 2009. Ben developed StoveTec’s strategies and business models, while installing the financial processes and controls needed to succeed. Obtaining exclusive rights to developing countries markets from the Aprovecho Research Center in April of 2011, Ben started EcoZoom to continue what he started at StoveTec, the mass distribution of improved cookstoves around the world.
Co-Founder, Chief Operations Officer – Philip Ferranto
Professional Summary: Before earning his MBA from the University of Oregon Phil was an Operations Officer for a 100-person US Coast Guard tactical law enforcement team; conducting missions in the poorest regions of Western Africa, Caribbean, and Latin America. Most recently he was General Manager of BooShoot; a plant biotechnology firm implementing its technology to meet the growing demand for bamboo products in the paper pulp and textile industries.
Co-Founder, Chief Communications Officer – Amanda West
Professional Summary: Amanda holds a Masters in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from the University of Oregon. She has experience in journalism and advertising, strategic planning for public and private entities, project management for social, environmental and technical planning and public policy projects, primary data collection: survey design and implementation, interviews, focus groups, and Spanish language skills. Amanda started with EcoZoom in April of 2011.
Business Development – Kevin Wambugu
Professional Summary: Kevin graduate with honors from Kenyatta University in 2010. Since then he’s been in the NGO and cookstove space doing sales, marketing, sales agent training and project evaluation and monitoring. He brings great insight and market knowledge to the table and is EcoZoom East Africa’s first staff member. Kevin started with EcoZoom in February of 2013.
Director of Developed Countries – Tom Pritchard
Professional Summary: After earning his MBA from the University of Oregon, Tom worked for an online retailer in the Outdoor industry managing vendor marketing and sales relationships for more than 100 brands sold on the website. Most recently he worked as an Account Manager for a digital marketing agency and also has experience in project management, sales, and brand marketing. Tom came aboard in March of 2013.
Systems Manager – Varick Schwartz
Professional Summary: After completing an MBA degree at Portland State University Varick returns to Kenya, having spent the summer of 2012 working there as a Kiva Fellow with microfinance institution Juhudi Kilimo. Previously he spent several years at Wells Fargo, using SAS software to analyze credit and portfolio risk. He has extensive background with data mining, models and neural networks and enjoys the new opportunities created by Kenya’s expanding data infrastructure. Varick joined the team in June of 2013.
Kenya Country Director – Oli Raison
Professional Summary: Oli has extensive experience in third party logistics managing the performance of a variety of distribution operations on behalf of both SME and ‘blue chip’ customers. On completion of his part time MBA at Aston Business School he left the UK logistics industry to do a stint in international development where he worked as a management advisor to a technical training institution in rural Kenya. Oli started with EcoZoom in July 2013.
Office Manager & Bookkeeper – Samir Sayed
Professional Summary: Sam worked as an accountant for 4 years with a polythene bag manufacturing company. He subsequently moved to a Micro-Franchise institute and worked on developing a distribution platform for agricultural products to small scale farmers in the rural areas and created an accounting system to track the company’s progress. He is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Business Administration and other financial diplomas. Sam started with EcoZoom in September 2013.
Communications Manager – Meg Mosman
Professional Summary: After graduating with her MBA from Marylhurst University, Meg sought to bridge the gap between her business degree and her non-profit (Community Action) work experience with a career in social enterprise. She is a Teach for America – New Mexico alumna, and has experience in journalism, marketing, curriculum design, training and quality improvement. She graduated with honors from Brigham Young University-Hawaii in International Cultural Studies. Meg started with EcoZoom in October 2013.
Sales Associate – Karin Benjamin
Professional Summary: Karin is a graduate of Kenyatta University. Since 2010 Karin has played various roles in business development, relationship management, sales and marketing with experience spanning IT, Hospitality and FMCG/Service industries, creating recurring success while working in the cookstove industry, at XRX Technologies (Xerox Distributors-Kenya) & The Village Market Management. He brings great insight and market knowledge to the table. Karin started with EcoZoom in February of 2014. Karibu Karin!
Sales Associate – Caroline Matilu
Professional Summary: Caroline is the latest member of our EcoZoom East Africa sales team. After graduating with a Diploma Certificate in Hospitality management in 2000, she concentrated on sales and marketing for various companies, with experience spanning over 10 years. In 2012, she joined the clean cookstove industry and performed multiple functions – including sales, marketing, and training. She brings to the team extensive field experience with end-user training and feedback, such as assisting cooks to make the transition from traditional cookstoves.
Project Manager – Mary Lugano
Professional Summary: Mary has experience in vendor selection, sourcing strategy, supply chain, logistics, production and operations management. She graduated cum laude from the University of Florida in Civil Engineering and has worked on various water and sanitation projects in Kenya. She is a Teach For America – Houston alum. Mary joined Ecozoom in April 2014.
Board of Advisers
Dave’s had positions all over the world-ranging from high-school physics teacher to chief engineer to CEO for a variety of companies, including a Taiwanese boat builder, a robotics company, and an oil and gas company. He was CEO of ShoreBank Pacific where he led the bank – focused on a triple-bottom-line approach to business – to profitability, growing the bank’s assets from $10 million in 2000 to $155 million in 2006, and its loans grew from $2 million to $166 million in the same time frame.
Bill is a former Senior Executive at EcoSecurities. He is a finance professional with 25 years of experience in investment banking, structured finance, derivatives and environmental markets. During his time at EcoSecurities, the company grew to be the foremost aggregator in the international carbon markets, publicly listed its stock, and initiated principal transacting activities in compliance, voluntary and forestry markets around the world.
Niki is the Managing Director and Co-founder of ARC Finance. She brings over 17 years’ experience in microfinance throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Prior to founding Arc Finance in 2008, she served as the Director of Linkages and Learning at Women’s World Banking.
Jeff spent 20+ years at Adobe Systems performing numerous management roles within the Global Supply Chain. During his time at Adobe, Jeff spent 2 years in Singapore, setting up Adobe’s supply chain operations for the entire Asia-Pacific region. Subsequently, Jeff managed supplier start-ups in the Czech Republic, Russia, and Germany. Jeff also oversaw the global New Product Release Key Milestones for the launches of Creative Suites 3, 4 and 5, comprised of 17 product lines in 22 languages shipping in over 40 countries, and he drove Adobe’s adoption of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition code of conduct (eicc.info)
as Adobe’s Supply Chain Social Responsibility framework. Outside of Adobe, Jeff’s passion for helping people in extreme poverty has led him to extensive volunteer involvement, most recently as co-chair of the successful 2011 conference “Bottom Billions / Bottom Line : The Role of Business in Ending Global Poverty” (spu.edu/bottombillions)
. Jeff also is co-author of the book Our Day to End Poverty: 24 ways you can make a difference
(2007, Berrett-Koehler Publishing).
Preston spent over 20 years with The Boeing Company where he held senior leadership positions in Supplier Management, Quality Assurance, Production Operations, Business Operations and Research & Development. Upon leaving Boeing, Preston helped form Ayni Education International in Afghanistan to create quality educational experiences that empower and inspire children and their families to build peaceful, just and life affirming communities. His travels to Afghanistan cemented his commitment to build bridges of understanding between countries and to engage, educate and empower the world’s poorest people. Preston has worked with EcoZoom on strategic initiatives related to supply chain production capacity, cost, delivery and quality. He is active throughout the Seattle business and nonprofit community as board president of the Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS) and as a partner of Social Venture Partners (SVP).
The SII provides social venture startups with capacity, community, connections and creditability. EcoZoom had an amazing first year in SII. It helped us understand a new set of hurdles and a new set of opportunities as we looked to stay on our current growth trajectory in year 2. We didn’t want to put on the brakes and SII provided the resources, expertise and support to keep accelerating. EcoZoom is looking forward to all the things we’ll accomplish in our second in SII’s Vector Program.
EcoZoom was pysched to be accepted into the StarveUps community. Starve Ups is an exclusive founders-only group serving idea and early stage entrepreneurs who provide each other their insights, resources and networks at no cost in order to provide peer mentoring at the highest level. In turn Starve Ups is a virtual incubator and accelerator with its cornerstone as peer mentoring, which is exactly what Starve Ups stands for, excels at and focuses on as a group. Of the 7 founding companies all have reached profitability, 6 became multimillion dollar revenue generators, 2 have been acquired for positive investor returns and 1 became an Inc. 500 company. Results with subsequent members have been equally as impressive.