Mehdi Kocakahya specializes in the intersection of strengthening private and public institutions. He gained experience in development work in West Africa. With over four years of professional experience in the private sector, he has worked in the fields of digital transformation, technology management, and project management.
Mehdi is about to obtain a master’s degree in international affairs and obtained a prior master’s degree in digital project management and a bachelor’s degree in international business management
Anu Jain is the Controller at J.E. Austin Associates. He is a technically skilled accountant known for accuracy, attention to detail and timeliness in managing disbursement functions for diverse-industry employers. His accounting career spans 20 years of experience in implementing financial systems, strategies, processes and controls that significantly improve P&L scenarios. Backed by solid credentials and proficiencies in generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP) as well as Deltek Cost Point 7, Timberline, Peachtree, QuickBooks, MS Office and Excel. He is an expert in establishing accounting functions, systems and best practices; cost-reduction, automation and tax strategies; and lasting business relationships to ensure goal-surpassing fiscal performance.
Madison is a graduate student in the Global Human Development program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He specializes in Environment & Climate, and Food, Agriculture, & Rural Livelihoods. In addition, Madison is pursuing certificates in Social Innovation and Diplomacy. Madison holds two BAs from the University of Denver. His past experiences include work with the World Bank’s Agriculture and Food Global Practice, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Americorps.
Juan Fernando Ramirez is a last semester Law student from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. He is also minoring in Public Management and has an interest in Private and Transactional Law. Since his involvement with J.E Austin Associates he has participated in projects in Nepal, Myanmar, Ghana, and Honduras. Also, he has helped write proposals for projects in Central America, Colombia and Macedonia.
Adedasola is an associate project manager with J.E. Austin Associates. She is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in International Affairs with a minor in Economics at the George Washington University. Her interests include economic development and financial inclusion.
Akot Lonah O is an intern with J.E Austin Associates. She holds a law bachelor’s degree from Uganda Christian University, Kampala, Uganda. She is currently pursuing a postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre, Uganda. She is passionate about advocacy, with an interest in the private sector, and has an in-depth knowledge of the law combined with strong analytical skills allowing her to negotiate complex legal issues.
Donald has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and proven experience in banking and logistics. He has a passion for project management, business development impact investing, process improvement, and customer service. He is always seeking new challenges and opportunities to expand his knowledge and interest in social entrepreneurship and transnational development. As a new intern JAA, he is excited to bring his expertise to the table and collaborate with the team to achieve the company’s goals.
Tanja Stojkovic is a Project Management Specialist with J.E. Austin Associates. She is currently managing several projects in western and central Africa and southeast Asia. Prior to joining J.A. Austin Associates, she worked as a financial and administrative lead on several USAID economic development projects in Serbia. She has developed in-depth knowledge of USAID administrational and financial regulations. During her extensive career, she organized and managed operational and administrative functions in the field offices, managed office staff, equipment and finances, handled HR procedures and coordinated and managed numerous overseas and international travels, study tours, seminars, trainings and events. Ms. Stojkovic is Economist for Tourism by vocation with several years spent in travel industry.
Anneliese is an Intern with J.E. Austin Associates. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in International Development at American University with a professional focus in Economic Development. Her interests include economic development, community development, advocacy and conflict resolution.
Breah Dean is a Project Manager with J.E. Austin Associates. Her project portfolio includes agribusiness, small and medium enterprise, women and youth empowerment, and institutional systems strengthening projects in Western and Central Africa, MENA, Southeast Europe, and South Asia. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and dual Bachelor’s degrees in Organizational Development and Romance Languages from the University of Michigan. Prior to working at J.E. Austin Associates, she lived in Colombia for two years as a Fulbright Fellow.
Mr. Isahakyan has 20 years of experience successfully contributing to a succession of competitiveness projects in the Europe and Eurasia Region, including Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia. He serves as Director of the E&E Region for J.E. Austin Associates, the company that introduced competitiveness initiatives to USAID in 1998. He has worked with 15 industry clusters including the information technology sector in Ukraine, Bosnia, Kosovo, Moldova, Armenia, the tourism cluster in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Tanzania, and creative and furniture sectors in Ukraine. He is also skilled at facilitating public-private dialogue having helped in the formation of the Tax Council in Armenia and most recently the Strategic Council on Creative Economies in Ukraine. He co-facilitated intensive training for Ukrainian leaders on comprehensive economic reform. Mr. Isahakyan is currently leading the competitiveness component under the Competitive Economy program in Ukraine. Experience in Eastern Europe is informed by lessons from outside the region in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. He holds an MBA from American University of Armenia and completed certificate program on Leadership and Interest based Negotiations at Harvard University.
Kylie Grow is a Project Manager with J.E. Austin Associates. She manages diverse projects across multiple geographies, including North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. Kylie has training in econometrics, monitoring and evaluation for international development and management of international teams. Her current portfolio at JAA includes work on market systems, value chains, financial inclusion, workforce development and agribusiness. She holds a master’s degree in International Development Policy from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy as well as bachelor’s degrees in Global Development Studies and Spanish from the University of Virginia.
Joe Lowther has 20 years of experience as an executive and project director and was a practicing commercial lawyer for 11 years. He is a leading expert in competitiveness and policy reform, and has managed innovative projects in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Serbia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ukraine. He has been Chief of Party for five successful USAID projects. As Chief of Party for the USAID Serbia Business Enabling Project for six years Mr. Lowther applied an innovative methodology to help transform Serbia’s business environment and increase access to finance for SMEs, leading to sustained economic growth and record foreign investment. Mr. Lowther has conducted comprehensive business environment assessments in South Africa, Uganda, and Pakistan, and conducted a global evaluation of IFC’s business entry projects. He has written manuals and guides on policy implementation for the OECD, World Bank, and IFC, including the Public Private Dialogue Handbook, and Guide to Contracting Out Government Services. Mr. Lowther has helped local and national governments develop and implement strategies and systems for economic development and financial markets and business environment reforms in Bulgaria, Croatia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Ukraine. Mr. Lowther has designed and conducted training for national and local governments, business associations, and business service providers on policy reform, advocacy, public-private dialogue, and many other topics. Mr. Lowther has Juris Doctor and M.B.A. degrees from Whittier College, and a B.S. in Business Administration from University of Southern California.
Michael Buret is J.E. Austin Associates Regional Director for North Africa and the Maghreb region, focusing primarily on economic growth, entrepreneurship, vocational training, youth, gender, finance, grants and administration, business development, and implementation of a wide range of development projects, always with a results-oriented project management style. Mr. Buret possesses a unique perspective grounded not only in his experience managing USAID, USDOL, MCC, UNICEF, MEPI, World Bank, NGO and direct local government projects, but also in his experience in business and human resources as a private sector employer. With over twenty years of experience, Mr. Buret initiates and manages effective partnerships with senior government officials, businesses and corporations, local associations, and NGOs focused on private sector development, economic growth, entrepreneurship, education, training, governance, monitoring & evaluation, institutional development, and strategic planning. Throughout his career, Mr. Buret has built close and effective relationships with a diverse array of international donors, national and local government entities, educational institutions, CSOs and the private sector, winning and managing a portfolio of over $100 Million throughout the region. Mr. Buret’s multi-cultural, inter-personal and supervision skills and understanding of “win-win” solutions are evident in his leadership and management style. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Mary Washington, a Master’s degree in International Commerce & Policy from the George Mason University, and a second Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Capella University. A native speaker of English and French, Mr. Buret is also fluent in Moroccan Arabic.
The purpose of this toolkit is to assist World Bank and IFC staff when contemplating export competitiveness. The toolkit provides a framework and key instruments on clusters, outlines key instruments that can be used to initiate a cluster-based analyses and dialogues, and offers case studies on good practices and lessons learned. It has been written from a non-technical perspective to be as practical as possible. This toolkit should be relevant to a broad audience working on the export competitiveness of developing countries: policy makers, business associations and leaders, and international development agencies.
This Guide to value chain approaches provides the user with actionable methods and tools to design programs and investment projects that aim to increase the productivity and performance of sub-Saharan African agriculture. The Guide provides new frameworks for policy professionals to design and evaluate investments in commercial agriculture.
The Business Growth Initiative’s (BGI) Entrepreneurship Toolkit was developed to help USAID Mission and U.S. Embassy officers in the field in the design, implementation, and monitoring of entrepreneurship development programs. The BGI team examined entrepreneurship by utilizing a six-pillar framework: identify, train, connect and sustain, fund, enable, accelerate. BGI also developed a seventh category titled “Mixed Models” for those organizations that are primarily operating in more than one of the components. This toolkit provides readers with a wealth of useful information that can be easily used to guide strategic decision making. BGI also developed a seventh category titled “Mixed Models” for those organizations that are primarily operating in more than one of the components.
In this report, a four-part taxonomy of city competitiveness was developed and applied to case studies of 33 cities. The report also identified six global “megatrends” especially relevant to cities (1) urbanization, demographics and the emerging middle class; (2) rising inequality; (3) sustainability; (4) technological change; (5) industrial clusters and global value chains; and (6) governance. Led by urbanization, they condition the greater operating environment for cities around the world.
This Sourcebook discusses agro-territorial development policies and programs aimed at: (i) promoting spatially defined agribusiness/agro-industrial investments and (ii) strengthening agribusiness and agro-industrial competitiveness. It analyzes a set of agro-territorial planning and policy instruments: economic corridors, clusters, special economic zones [SEZs], industrial parks and incubators. The Sourcebook highlights what each instrument is designed to achieve and the conditions that will enable it to deliver the expected outcomes.
J.E. Austin Associates, Inc. deployed a three-person team to undertake the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s first value chain specific political economy analysis (PEA). The PEA assessed the coffee, soybean, and dried bean value chains in South Kivu, with a focus on the Territories of Kabare, Kalehe, and Walungu.
This report presents lessons learned from various models that public and private sector programs use to stimulate growth of agro-processing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through linkages to larger firms in developing countries. The study considers the unique barriers that SMEs face and the market driven approaches spurring SME growth by facilitating linkages to lead firms in challenging development contexts which might serve as a reference for policymakers, development practitioners, and private sector actors.
This interactive Guide gives development professionals the necessary theoretical background, concepts, approaches and practical tools to strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems in developing countries.
David Rinck is an agricultural economist specialized in agri-enterprise and trade development, and agricultural finance and policy. His work focuses on adapting innovative commercial approaches to the needs of emerging market economies in order to generate economic growth and improved incomes. He has over 25 years of commercial and international development experience in over 100 countries around the globe and has served in long-term positions such as a Regional Technical Specialist, Chief of Party and Project Director, as well as on frequent short-term missions as Team Leader or Technical Expert. Over the course of his career, Mr. Rinck has worked with international enterprises and agencies including the USAID regional mission in Kenya where he helped establish and manage the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA). He was also the Market Systems Expert at the ILO Business Development (BDS) Seminars between 2002-2008. His publications include “Implementing Sustainable Private Sector Development in Crisis-Affected Economies” 2006 and “Market Development in Crisis-Affected Environments: Emerging Lessons for Achieving Pro-Poor Economic Reconstruction” 2008. Mr. Rinck holds an MA from the University of Chicago, and a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of California at Davis. He has also studied economics, languages and sociology at many locations worldwide including Beijing University, as well as in the Middle East at Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a.
Quynh Anh Nguyen is the Southern Vietnam Program Manager for JAA’s Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (Swiss EP), through which she is building a network of partners to drive the creation of jobs generated by high growth, tech-enabled companies. Ms. Nguyen is an experienced financial professional with a background in valuation, funding, strategy & management, focusing on early stage companies. Together with the Swiss EP team, Ms. Nguyen has contributed to the creation of more than 2,000 startup jobs in Vietnam since 2015. She has been instrumental in setting up new angel groups, designing and implementing various programs to fill in the ecosystem’s gap, particularly addressing early-stage financing. Ms. Nguyen plays an active role in the Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) as Director of Investment and Acceleration where she extends the network of investors, mentors and experts, as well as working directly to grow women founders and their businesses. Prior to joining Swiss EP and WISE, she worked extensively in alternative investment due diligence and trading. She holds an MBA in Finance & Global Strategy from Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business.
Tran Tri Dung is the Program Manager for Hanoi and Central Vietnam on JAA’s Swiss Entrepreneurship Program. Dung joined JAA’s global team in 2014 as an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Specialist. He has been providing Vietnam’s leading private enterprises with business advisory services since 2004, focusing on investment, financial planning, and globalization and innovation strategy. For JAA, Dung has helped to accelerate entrepreneurship ecosystems in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, with a particular focus on building mentor communities. Dung also serves as Executive Secretary of the Vietnam Mentors Initiative (VMI) and Permanent Vice President of the Vietnam Startup Mentors Alliance (VSMA) under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
Hub Langstaff is an international executive with experience in building organizations from concept to sustainability, with a special passion for healthcare and social enterprise. He has founded and sold his own startup and worked successfully in for-profit and non-profit environments, bridging both. Hub has experience in developing markets and startups with 6 years in Vietnam working in impact investing and capacity building for the entrepreneurship ecosystem. He is currently the Country Director for J.E. Austin Associates’ Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (Swiss EP) in Vietnam, a partnership with The Economic Cooperation and Development Division of the Swiss government (SECO) and Swisscontact.
Cheryl Wojciechowski has worked in international science diplomacy since 2006. Serving in several capacities with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and as a government contractor, she has extensive experience working with scientists and government personnel in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Central Asia on collaborative cross-border research. She is currently the Chief of Party of USAID’s Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program technical services contract. The MERC Program funds peer-reviewed research grants from joint Arab-Israeli teams of scientists working on regional problems such as agricultural viruses, water scarcity and health threats. The goal of the program is to create and implement solutions to development challenges. One of her major roles on this program is to conduct thorough peer review panels to assess proposed work.
Prior to her work in Washington DC, Cheryl Wojciechowski held simultaneous positions at the Museum of Science, Boston, and Harvard University Extension School. At the Museum she was responsible for explaining scientific advances to the public through exhibits, presentations, and television appearances. At Harvard she taught the Biochemistry I and II courses.
Cheryl started her career with research on small molecules produced by plants for communication of other physiological processes for undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Boston College in 2002 working on antibiotic resistance and enzymology. Her post-doctoral research at Harvard Medical School’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute involved natural products and their effect on cancer cells. Cheryl continues her interest in plant derived, naturally produced compounds and their ability to have a positive impact on health and wellbeing through her company, White Rose Apothecary.
In addition to her career, Cheryl is an avid cyclist, boxer, and Mom to two kids.
Mike Ducker is the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Global Entrepreneurship Program, part of the Egyptian Competiveness Project in Egypt, a USAID funded program. He has been supporting and working for entrepreneurs for 17 years with a focus on market development, new product development, investment strategies, and institutional development to support entrepreneurs and innovation. Mr. Ducker’s previous work includes designing a business plan for a Center of Entrepreneurship Excellence in Pakistan, managing an investment project in Egypt that helped facilitate $6 million of financing to entrepreneurs, and developed concept papers for innovation centers in Bosnia. Mr. Ducker has created training courses that showed entrepreneurs how to reach local and export markets in Armenia and Kosovo. He has presented his research on entrepreneurship and ICT development to USAID, the UN, and the greater development community. Mr. Ducker was also an ICT advisor in Kenya for 2 years and in 1998, Mike helped set up and invested into an e-learning business in China. Before his work in development, Mr. Ducker worked in the private sector for 9 years including working as a marketing director for small entrepreneurial high tech firms in which he was able to land new sales to fortune 500 companies. Mr. Ducker started his career in accounting/financial management and was part of a management staff that turned around a distribution company from losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to profiting $1 million. He has created several training courses on entrepreneurship and ICT that he has taught internationally and in the US. He earned his MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and is a former Certified Management Accountant. Mr. Ducker reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and finished 7 marathons, including the Safaricom Marathon in Kenya which is ranked by Running World Magazine as one of the top endurance marathons.
Ben Nussbaumer is a Technical Lead with J.E. Austin Associates specializing in strategy, competitiveness, and private sector development. He is experienced working on assignments to support functional market systems, strengthen public and private institutions, and create new economic opportunities for a variety of multilateral, bilateral, and private clients in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean. He holds a master’s degree in international political economy and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Oregon.
Thalia Navia is a Project Manager with J.E. Austin Associates. Her project portfolio at JAA includes youth and women empowerment projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, tourism initiatives, and the USAID MERC activity. She holds a bachelors degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and certificates in U.S. Intelligence Studies and Political Science from Florida State University.
Martin Webber is a strategic management and management consulting professional with twenty-five years of experience in economic growth, enterprise development, trade and investment and agribusiness. A leader of JAA’s work in competitiveness, value chain development, public-private dialogue and institutional change, he has worked with more than 50 industry clusters and sectors, and more than 100 business associations and many public and private organizations in more than 40 countries. A key figure in competitiveness and value chain development in countries such as Armenia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Georgia, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, and Uganda, Mr. Webber guides and facilitates business-led initiatives and policy improvement. He has helped devise strategies to improve the quality of dialogue between the private and public sector and to improve the development of the investment and trade environment for industry clusters. He has prepared and supervised case and similar studies of many companies and organizations. Mr. Webber is a frequent advisor, speaker and writer on issues of competitiveness and business-led economic growth. Prior to J.E. Austin Associates, Mr. Webber worked in senior positions with Louis Berger International, Inc. and Apogee Research. These were management and economic consultancies, with particular emphasis on infrastructure and related services, and economic growth. A Canadian from Montreal, residing in Washington, DC, Mr. Webber obtained an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University. Mr. Webber was the 2005 co-recipient of the first “Making a Difference Award”, presented to alumni of the Harvard Business School.
Dr. James E. Austin, referred to by the London Financial Times as the “Harvard Business School’s guru on developing countries,” currently holds the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School as a Professor Emeritus, where he created the Management in Developing Countries course. For more than twenty years, his research has been dedicated to strategic management in developing and emerging economies. Dr. Austin served as the Director of Agribusiness Programs at the Central American Management Institute (INCAE). In 1980, the World Bank commissioned him to write Agroindustrial Project Analysis, a book that is still in use today. In addition to teaching and writing, Dr. Austin has worked to strengthen management schools around the world. He is internationally recognized as a leading authority on strategic management and provides consulting services to a wide variety of clients. He is the co-chairman of Harvard’s Social Enterprise Initiative.
Kevin Murphy is a business/sectoral strategy and competitiveness expert with twenty-five years of experience in enterprise development, strategic management, competitiveness analysis, investment and trade, and related executive-level training. Mr. Murphy provides strategic management services to corporations and advises governments and donor agencies on fostering economic development and foreign investment strategies. He has directed numerous international projects focused on competitiveness, privatization, agribusiness development and enterprise development. Mr. Murphy has authored or supervised the development of over one hundred business case studies on competitiveness, investment, and trade and strategy issues in developing countries. Mr. Murphy is also the co-author of the Manual for Action in the Private Sector (MAPS) methodology, a strategic tool for assessing constraints and opportunities for private enterprise and industry development in Africa. MAPS exercises have been implemented in over fifteen countries in Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Mr. Murphy is a graduate of Harvard Business School, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the University of Louvain, Belgium, and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.