Speakers' Bios

Speakers' Bios


Ahmed Dermish

Ecosystem Specialist, Digital Finance, MM4P

Ahmed was recently the Director of Financial Inclusion Policy and Ecosystem Practice at Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA). This practice area at BFA focused on the development of an enabling environment to support the emergence of greater financial inclusion and support decision makers to leverage their strategic value. The team used tools such as market diagnostics, strategic advice for policy (or business) development, and data analytics for executive level decision making. The Ecosystems team’s ability to apply these tools originated from intimate knowledge of policy environments, understanding of financial service business models, and broad exposure to the various challenges facing deepening access and usage of finance services globally. The practice area exceled at navigating the changing nature of the financial services environment and identify their respective opportunities to contribute (and benefit) from its growth. Beneficiaries of these skills include public sector stakeholders, such as regulators and international organizations as well as private sector institutions interested in extending financial services to the under-served.

Prior to joining BFA in 2009 Ahmed was a bank supervisor and policy advisor at the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (formally the Financial Services Authority (FSA)). As a supervisor, Ahmed was responsible for oversight of several medium sized banks and building societies during the liquidity crisis in 2007-2008, monitoring institutions struggling to navigate the liquidity landscape in difficult market conditions. Prior to his role as a supervisor, Ahmed was a policy advisor in Operational Risk, providing policy advice regarding electronic money regulations in the UK and EU. While at the FSA, Ahmed was seconded to CGAP to assist in the development of regulatory policy for mobile banking and supervision of electronic money institutions.

Ahmed holds an MSc in Development Economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Diploma in Financial Crime Prevention from the University of Manchester Business School. 


Beth Porter

Policy Advisor, Financial Inclusion, UNCDF and the Better Than Cash Alliance

Beth has over two decades of experience in financial inclusion throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America.  At UNCDF she provides policy guidance on financial inclusion, particularly to advance responsible finance and promote financial access of women and youth.  She also supports the transition of payments from cash to electronic as an advisor to the Better Than Cash Alliance.  Beth is on boards of the SMART Campaign, International Child and Youth Finance International, and CRECER, and was a founding member of Women Advancing Microfinance.  Beth holds a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins SAIS and a Bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.  She speaks English, French, and Spanish.



François Coupienne

Team Manager, Digital Finance, MM4P

François joined the MM4P programme of UNCDF in January 2013. He is responsible for developing and overseeing the work in five countries (Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal and Uganda) and supports the development of additional countries in Africa and Asia. François brings a wealth of experience in branchless and mobile banking.

His career includes work related to distribution in the retail sector, which he then translated into his work with BNP Paribas Fortis looking at alternative payment channels— internet, phone and electronic vouchers. From 2008 to 2012, he worked on the development and implementation of branchless and mobile banking efforts in several countries in Africa including those led by banks and mobile network operators (MNOs). Most recently, he has worked and assisted in the development of agent networks including working with MFIs.


Jaspreet Singh

Regional Technical Specialist, Digital Finance, MM4P - Lao PDR and Nepal

Jaspreet is a currently working in capacity of Technical Specialist for UNCDF in Asia and has hands-on experience in the space of Digital Financial Services Domain. He is a banker and financial consultant with eleven years of experience working with worked with over 50 institutions spanning donors, banks, telcos, consultancies, livelihood promoting agencies, micro-finance institutions and technology firms across countries in South Asia, South-east Asia, Pacific and Africa region. He specialises in managing projects including fund raising. Providing advisory support in the areas of Digital finance, G2P Payments, Payments System, Value chain development and banking operations. Jaspreet has also worked with ICICI Bank in India. Through his tenure in the bank he has drawn diverse work experience across multiple fronts, from alternate banking channels and agriculture value chain finance to Corporate, SME finance and Investment Banking.


Karima Wardak

Knowledge and Communications Senior Associate, Digital Finance, MM4P

Karima Wardak is a KM and marketing and communication professional with 20 years experience. She  worked 7 years in the microfinance sector, where she served as Head of the corporate communication department at Oikocredit international. Recognized for her leadership and communication skills, Karima coordinated a broad network of professionals spread across the 4 continents. Amongst other things her function entailed the definition and implementation of Oikocredit’s corporate communication strategy and tools including training programs for volunteers and staff. Besides her experience in microfinance, she spent some 11 years in advertising and web consultancy agencies in Europe and West Africa (Guinea and Senegal). Self-starter she developed her own business while living in Guinea, producing and directing institutional films for the World Bank and private companies. Later she joined McCann-Erickson in Senegal where she successfully managed the privatization campaign of the national telecom company. Most recently she worked for Emakina, a leading web agency in Belgium, as a digital strategist where she served clients such as Unilever and ING. Today she is the knowledge manager of three global thematic initiatives at UNCDF: MicroLead, Mobile Money for the Poor and YouthStart. 


Nandini Harihareswara

Regional Technical Specialist, Digital Finance, MM4P - Malawi and Zambia

Nandini is a Digital Finance Technical Specialist, responsible for the implementation of MM4P’s country strategy in Zambia, leading a team focused on increasing financial inclusion through digital finance. She is also assisting MM4P’s efforts in Malawi.

She was a founding member of the Digital Development Division in 2011 and served as the Strategy & Operations Chief, managing budget, staffing and operations. She also helped to found the Better than Cash Alliance, one of USAID’s flagship partnerships. Concurrently, as a Senior Advisor to the Digital Financial Services team, she worked with more than 30 USAID Country Missions and private corporations to advance access to finance and financial inclusion. She launched the USAID Portfolio Acceleration initiative, an effort to advance USAID’s development objectives in Agriculture, Humanitarian Assistance and Power using Digital Financial Services. She also lead a research effort to better understand what role public actors should play in building critical digital infrastructure, such as payment systems, broadband connectivity and data systems.

Prior to working for the Digital Development team, Nandini worked as an Investment Officer for the USAID Development Credit Authority Office, structuring more than 25 loan guarantees totaling about $360M. As a Presidential Management Fellow at the US Department of Transportation and World Bank, she structured and studied large-scale transportation finance projects, leveraging millions of dollars in private capital investments and public transit projects. As an intrapreneur, Nandini has worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors and enjoys bringing people from different backgrounds together to craft innovative solutions to development challenges.

Nandini has a MBA and Masters in International Trade and Investment Policy from the George Washington University. She also holds a BS in Psychology and a BA in Political Science from the University of California at San Diego. 


Sabine Mensah

Regional Technical Specialist, Digital Finance, MM4P - Benin, Liberia and Senegal

Sabine is a bilingual English-French Digital Financial Service specialist with a remittance background and 19-year private sector business development experience in money transfer, payments and mobile money across Africa, the United States and Canada.

Sabine started her career in remittances in 1998. Over a span of 14 years with Western Union she built a solid expertise in agent network management, product design, go-to-market and customer activation strategies for scale. Sabine notably contributed to the launch of the Western Union brand and the development of the Over-The-Counter OTC Money Transfer business model in West Africa. From 1999 to 2005 in the US, she drove Alternative Distribution Channels’ strategy, African diaspora remittance corridors’ development and grassroots marketing outreach programs for Western Union North America. As a Regional Director in Canada, Sabine contributed to the expansion of global remittances and payments working with key banks, mass merchandisers and independents agents, She was also involved in numerous digital venture cross functional projects covering Direct-to-Bank, online and mobile remittance as well as bill payment and prepaid products.

In mid-2013, Sabine relocated to Kenya and transitioned to DFS consulting with the Anthemis Group and Digipact International focusing on financial inclusion through branchless and mobile financial service initiatives. In that capacity, she engaged with leading MNOs across Africa on DFS projects ranging from feasibility studies, consumer research, regulatory framework assessment, agent network strategy to cross border mobile remittances, mobile payments and micro lending / savings product design.

Sabine joined UNCDF in July 2015 as a Technical Specialist Digital. In this role, Sabine is tasked with working with regulators, governments, service providers and donors to accelerate the development of DFS ecosystems in Senegal, Benin and Liberia to bring branchless and mobile financial services to low income, women and rural households in target markets.


External Speakers

Adrine Muhura

Market Engagement Africa, GSMA

I am the Connected Women Engagement Manager for Africa at the GSMA. I work with mobile operators their partners and stakeholders to address the barriers to women accessing and using mobile internet and mobile money services. Together we can unlock a substantial market opportunity for the mobile industry, deliver significant socio-economic benefits and transform women’s lives. I have over 10 years working experience having worked in both the Telecommunication and FMCG industry with Safaricom Ltd, Nestle EAR, Reckitt Benckiser & Brookside Dairy Ltd in both Sales and Marketing capacities. I hold a Degree in Business Administration, Marketing Major from Africa Nazarene University and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Management from the University of Nairobi in Kenya.



Aissatou Nanette Mbengue

Senior Project Manager in Mobile Banking, Orange Senegal

Aissatou Nanette Mbengue SONKO married with 2 adorable little girls aged 4years and 17 months.

I am actually managing a team of PMOs working essentially on Orange Money. I am native speaker of Senegal speeking wolof (local langage), French and English.

After a master in Telecom Engineering, I joined Orange group in 2010 as Project Manager. Orange Money was launched in Senegal in the same period and I have essentially worked on mobile money projects. I launched the IRT: Interegional transfert, bank-to-wallet, etc. At the end of 2014 I decided to leave the technical team and joined the marketing one as Manager of Service, “Pilotage des projets Orange Money”, where I have had the chance to work on digital finance with a marketing approach.


Julie Zollman

Senior Associate at Bankable Frontier Associates and Independent Consultant

For the past six years, Julie Zollmann has been studying the financial behaviour and needs of low income households and small businesses, working closely with financial service providers to incorporate these insights into their businesses.  Among other projects, Julie led the Kenya Financial Diaries project, a two year investigation into the cash flows of 300 low income households.  She holds a Bachelors in Anthropology and International Relations from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and a Masters in Development Economics and International Business from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.




Marc de Courcel

Co-founder and COO of Optimetriks

Marc de Courcel is one of the co-founder of Optimetriks and the COO. At Optimetriks he is in charge of the field operations and community management. He guarantees the high quality of our on ground survey deployments across Africa. 
Prior to co-founding Optimetriks, Marc worked as a consultant on several telecommunication projects both in Africa and Latin America. He has graduated with an Msc in Engineering, Statistics and Economics from ENSAE-ParisTech in Paris along with a Master in International Affairs from Sciences-Po Paris. Marc is passionate about finding cutting-edge solutions to optimise and increase our scalability in challenging environments.


Image resultMaria Kiwanuka

Senior Presidential Advisor Finance, Uganda

Born in Kampala, she had worked for more than ten years with the Word Bank, as an Economist and Financial Analyst for the East Asian and Southern African regions. She served as a Minister of Finance in the Cabinet of Uganda from 27 May 2011 to 1 March 2015.  Kiwanuka also served as Governor at African Development Bank and Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank and as a Member of Governing Council at East African Development Bank until February 02, 2015. Since 2015 she has been Senior Advisor to the President of Uganda on financial matters and responsible for the Bretton Woods Institutions. She holds an MBA from Makerere University and Bachelor in Communications from University of London.


Paul Langlois-Meurinne

Co-founder and CEO of Optimetriks

Paul Langlois-Meurinne is one of the co-founder of Optimetriks and the CEO. Prior to that, he has worked 5 years in Africa in the mobile money sector, for Millicom/Tigo in Chad where he successfully launched the mobile money service from scratch and for Airtel in Uganda where he expanded the Airtel Money service to a 3.5 million monthly active subscriber base, and as a consultant for Altai Consulting. He has graduated with a Msc in Management from Essec Business School in Paris. He is a French citizen, with a wide international experience and passion about using analytics for distribution management in developing countries.


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