innovation africa staff israel

Sivan Ya'ari

Founder and CEO

innovation africa staff usa

Sivan Ya'ari is the Founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa, a NY based nonprofit that brings Israeli solar, agricultural and water technologies to rural African villages. She was born in Israel, raised in France, and educated in the United States with degrees in Finance from Pace University and a Masters in International Energy Management and Policy from Columbia University. At the mere age of 20, Sivan identified an opportunity for a more sustainable energy solution, and developed the groundwork for what would become Innovation: Africa. Having worked in Africa for over 20 years, Sivan has vast knowledge, experience, understanding and love for the African continent. Through her work, over 1,000,000 lives in the most remote villages have been impacted, thanks to Israeli innovation. In addition, Innovation: Africa has received many awards, including the Innovation Award from the United Nations. Most recently, Sivan has been recognized as one of the "40 Under 40 Most Promising Israelis" by Globes magazine and one of the "50 Most Influential Women in Israel” by Forbes Israel, and one of the "Top 10 Most Influential Israelis in International Business, Science and Culture 2017" by NoCamels. Aside from running Innovation: Africa, Sivan is a prominent business woman in Israel. In 2010, Sivan opened the first chain of nail salons in Israel. By the time she sold the chain in January 2018, iSpa Express was operating in 10 locations throughout the country and employed 160 female workers. Sivan lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and 3 children.

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Tara Shtauber

Executive Assistant to Founder and CEO

innovation africa staff israel

Tara was born and raised in heartland of Oklahoma. During her university years, Tara studied abroad in East Africa and the Middle East to become familiarized with third-world development and politics in each region. In the years following, Tara moved to Israel, first as a volunteer and then as a Master's student of Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Hebrew University. She is married to an Israeli and they have a daughter together. Joining the team at Innovation: Africa has allowed her to combine her two great loves, Africa and Israel.

Michal Benari

Executive Assistant to Founder and CEO

innovation africa staff israel

Michal, born and raised in London, completed her BA in Political Science at the University of Birmingham after which, she qualified as a Teacher on the Teach First Leadership Development program, where she taught students from underprivileged backgrounds. Michal spent many summers traveling and volunteering abroad, where she taught English to orphans in Nepal and victims of human trafficking in Thailand. Combining her passion for Israel and volunteering, Michal made Aliyah in 2017 and joined the Innovation: Africa team.

Bar Riese

Director of Africa Programs

innovation africa staff israel

After completing a two-year military service in her native Israel, Bar went traveling and spent time working and volunteering with local communities in the Brazilian Amazon and Kolkata, India. Eight years ago, Bar moved to New York to attend Columbia University and worked with human rights and conflict resolution non-profits before joining Innovation: Africa, where she was thrilled to combine her Israeli background with her passion for development work. Now back in Tel Aviv, Bar continues to oversee Innovation: Africa's programs across Sub-Saharan Africa. Bar graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in philosophy, is a certified TEFL teacher and has studied six languages. Relocating to Tanzania soon, Swahili is next on her list.

Director of Communications

innovation africa staff israel

Genna grew up in Virginia Beach, but a passion for soccer and Israel brought her to Israel in 2011. Genna played soccer professionally in Israel for 3 years during which time she volunteered with the Peres Center for Peace. Genna joined Innovation: Africa’s Israel team as the Communications Manager in October 2013, and has since developed the iA Volunteer and Ambassador community in Israel, and hosted the organization’s first Israel based events. Genna holds a BA in Communications and Marketing from The Ohio State University and an MA in Political Science from Tel Aviv University.

Africa Programs Associate

innovation africa staff israel

Following her volunteering experience in India, Hagar found her passion in both politics and culture, and decided to study international relations and art history at the Hebrew University. During her studies, her interest in Africa grew, and she started leading educational trips to the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, examining issues of post genocide and development.


While her interest in post conflict issues grew, she started working on a legal assistance team for refugees in Jerusalem. She has recently graduated from the Glocal MA program of international development at the Hebrew university, after fulfilling four months internship in Uganda, conducting monitoring and evaluation for a local reproductive health NGO.

In House Engineer

innovation africa staff israel

Meir is an Electrical engineer and a graduate of Tel Aviv University. Meir worked for Intel Israel, National Semiconductor and for the Israel Electric Company in the Business Development Unit where he was responsible for project design and implementation. For the last year and a half, Meir Co-founded Ulysses solutions, a software company who develops an impact management platform for the developing world.

Africa Programs Manager

innovation africa staff usa

An international body, Morag was born in South Africa, grew up in Botswana with her heritage lying in Zambia and Scotland. With a life's mission to address the various forms of inequality across Africa, Morag completed her MA in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University where she focused on sexual violence in African settings. Alongside her work with women's rights, Morag has also worked closely with various causes, mainly advocacy for the refugee cause in partnership with the UNHCR; the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Uganda and Botswana, and child trafficking in the United States. A true foodie and yogi-wannabe, Morag is delighted to work with Innovation: Africa in the Africa Programs Department.

Emily Schoenfeld

Office Manager

innovation africa staff usa

Emily grew up in NYC and received her B.A. in Sociology from Johns Hopkins University. As a Social Policy Fellow at Hopkins, Emily worked as a research assistant on multiple urban housing and development studies. After completing her degree, she moved to Tel Aviv to work at an Israeli-based NGO, where she found her passion for sustainable development. Now back in her native New York, Emily is thrilled to join the team at Innovation: Africa as Office Manager & Bookkeeper, where she will continue to pursue her goal of helping to generate social impact.

Leland Malkus

Director of Resource Development

innovation africa staff usa

Leland has worked as fundraising professional for a range of social service agencies and university faculty and was a social worker with the US Department of Veterans Affairs earlier in his career. He spent six months in rural Uganda as part of research for an M.A. in anthropology at Boston University, with a focus on the politics of international development projects and African culture, and speaks broken Luganda.

Robert Khakhosi

Project Manager, Uganda

Robert Khakhosi was born and raised in Mbale, Uganda. After studying sustainable agriculture in KULIKA Charitable Trust, Robert worked as an agriculture extension worker with Heifer International and as an agricultural trainer with World Vision International. Robert has also volunteered as a community health worker with the Abayudaya Congregation and Foundation for Development of the Needy Communities in Mbale, Uganda. Robert speaks fluent English and Kiswahili as well as eight Bantu languages.

Sarah Gimono

Field Officer, Uganda

Sarah Gimono a female Ugandan, born and grew up in Mbale, a Bamasaba ethnic community around Mt. Elgon. Studied in different fields of Uganda and earned a degree in Information Technology. She taught computer skills in a community computer training centre and later volunteered with Uganda Revenue Authority where she worked as secretary e-tax until joining the Innovation: Africa team in 2013. Sarah speaks English, Kiswahili and many bantu languages. She has a passion for supporting vulnerable people and rural communities to enable sustainable livelihood.

Ibra Lemye

Agriculture Development Officer, Uganda

Ibra Lemye was born in Kaliro district of Uganda, raised and attended high school in Mbale region. Later on, he joined Makerere University and acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Engineering which equipped him with the necessary skills in irrigation, agricultural extension and crop handling for community sustainability. These skills enabled him to work with Smallholder Fortunes and Thermogenn, which is a non-governmental organization. Ibra worked as a Sales Engineer for “EVAKUULA”, a locally made milk refrigerator, which can be used without electricity for small scale farmers rearing animals to earn more from their milk. This increased his passion for working with communities. Ibra later joined Innovation: Africa as a Volunteer in order to pursue his career. Currently, Ibra is working full-time with Innovation: Africa. He speaks English, Kiswahili and most Bantu languages from East and Central regions of Uganda.

Richard Mangali

Agriculture Development Officer, Uganda

Richard Mangali, as our local Agronomist, his expertise lie in agriculture and heath within rural communities across Uganda. Richard trained in Japan under the Japan International Corporation (JAIC). He returned to Uganda as an Agricultural Coordinator for JAIC and with a focus on youth empowerment, trained high-school dropouts in specific agricultural techniques. As our most recent Ugandan team member, his knowledge has already proven to be valuable to Innovation: Africa. Richard’s extensive field work with the Foundation for Needy Communities (FDNC) has equipped him with the knowledge and experience needed to work within our communities.

David "Wakale" Wangale

In-House Engineer, Uganda

David "Wakale" Wangale was first an Innovation: Africa contractor, our go-to water engineer for all water projects. With the number of projects growing so rapidly in Uganda, and with Wakale's outstanding dedication and quality of work, he joined our team as a full-time employee. His background not only lies in Engineering, but as a volunteer and community trainer. Throughout his career, Wakale has made it a point to train and sponsor orphans who may not have the necessary guidance and access to gaining such a skillset.

Charles Losike

Karamoja Field Officer, Uganda (Karamoja Region)

Charles Losike was raised in Karamoja, Uganda and attended both primary and secondary education in Karamoja region. Charles was awarded The Uganda Certificate of Education after graduating secondary school and speaks fluent English, Ngakarimojong, Kiswahili and Ateso languages. Charles has experience working with many organizations such as: The Red Cross Society serving as a Volunteer then later became a staff member, Samaritan's Purse as a Food Distribution Monitor, Concern Worldwide as a Community Health Educator, Mbarara-Mulago teaching hospitals HIV/AIDS joint program, and finally with (M-JAP) as a community HIV/AIDS Counselor, until his current role with Innovation: Africa.

Robert “Mpagi” Bakulumpagi

In-House Electrical Engineer, Uganda

Robert “Mpagi” Bakulumpagi is the first full-time Electrical Engineer to perform solar installations at schools and health centers with Innovation: Africa. He was born and raised in Kisubi - Entebbe, Uganda. After attaining a certificate in Electrical Engineering, he continued to Karadea, Tanzania and received a Certificate in Solar Power Installation and Maintenance. He worked in a number of companies in Kampala before joining Eastern Sunrise Power Systems Ltd in Mbale located in the Eastern part of Uganda as a Technical Manager. Robert is currently Innovation: Africa's In-House Electrical Engineer. He works hand-in-hand with David Wakale and Meir Yaacoby in the Electrical  and Remote Monitor department. He is fluent in English and many Bantu languages.

Sserunkuma Dennis

Engineer, Uganda

My name is sserunkuma Dennis. I was born in nakaseke district but largely grew up and lived in Kampala. Had my high school in Kampala and later went to Uganda Technical College - Lira for a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering. Living in lira increased my love for villages due to my volunteering with Watoto Church were we always reached out and involved with communities. I have worked with some electrical and building and construction companies on part time basis. I always looked out for work that would enable me travel in different parts of the country.I have worked with Masrcorp Ltd a company the produces solar cooking stoves which is so good in providing clean energy and very less fuel consumption. I had an inspiration from my elder brother  an agricultural engineer who works with Davis and shirtliff about water systems and irrigation systems then I picked great interest in water systems and constantly followed his work and installations. When I got a chance to volunteer with Innovation Africa I had no second thoughts. Ican speak English and Luganda fluently coupled with some Swahili and other Bantu languages. I am so thrilled to be a part of this organization.

Lerian Moshi

Project Manager, Tanzania

Lerian was born and raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. After studying she completed her Advance Diploma in Information Technology at Learnit Institute of Technology. She then began working as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for an NGO, Building Rural Incomes Through Enterprises until she joined Innovation: Africa in July 2017.

Lerian speaks both English and Swahili and some bantu languages.

Filipo Mwale

Project Manager, Malawi

Filipo Mwale was born in Lilongwe, Malawi. He studied International Development and Sociology and studied at The Open University UK. He began working with Innovation for Poverty Action followed by a Program Manager position for Murphy Mucrea Project prior to joining the Innovation: Africa team. Filipo is a father of two kids: a son and a daughter. He speaks fluent English, Chichewa and Tumbuka.

Rebecca Chuma

Field Officer, Malawi

Born in Mangochi, Rebecca’s home is just next to the famous lake Malawi. Growing up, she attended the University of Malawi, and received her BA in Irrigation Engineering from the College of Agriculture. With a vast experience working on community development issues through agriculture, Rebecca joined the Innovation: Africa family, moving to the vibrant capital city of Lilongwe. Rebecca says she wanted to work with iA as she is passionate about working with rural communities, while also being part of a community herself. In her free time, Rebecca loves gardening, using her professional expertise in her own home, as well as watching movies.

Mphatso Nkhoma

Field Officer, Malawi

Filipo Mwale was born in Lilongwe, Malawi. He studied International Development and Sociology and studied at The Open University UK. He began working with Innovation for Poverty Action followed by a Program Manager position for Murphy Mucrea Project prior to joining the Innovation: Africa team. Filipo is a father of two kids: a son and a daughter. He speaks fluent English, Chichewa and Tumbuka.

Mercy Tayim

Project Manager - Cameroon

Mercy Tayim is a 6 time Champion of Female Table Tennis in Cameroon and has represented her country in several international Table Tennis competitions. She is also a teacher by training and has taught Biology to High School students for the last decade. She recently graduated from Peking University, China with a Master’s in Management and Public Policy. Currently working for Innovation: Africa enables her to pursue one of her passions -- contributing to improve the living conditions of the less privileged.

Daniel Nengovela

Project Manager - South Africa

Daniel, who is a native of the Limpopo Province in South Africa, comes to iA with an impressive resume clearing showing his dedication to the development of his country. His career has focused on empowering communities through agriculture. Having worked with NGOs as well as the local municipality, Daniel is the perfect person to tackle our new venture in South Africa.

Abraham Ngobeni

Regional Director - Mpumalanga, South Africa

Abraham Ngobeni, born in Mozambique but raised in South Africa. He holds a BA in Social Work from the University of Venda and Certificate in Advanced Management from the Turfloop Graduate School of Leadership. He has vast experience of community development from the South African government as a social worker for 9 years throughout Mpumalanga Province. He also worked as a District Manager for an NGO - Society for Family Health funded by USAID for Sexuality Education and HIV prevention.


Mr. Abraham Ngobeni fluently speaks 7 of the 11 South African languages: Xitsonga, Siswati, Sepedi, Tshivenda, IsiNdebele, English and IsiZulu. He dreams of Africa without poverty, no wonder he works hard.

Warren Khosa

Field Officer - South Africa

Warren Khosa was born in the late 90s at the far-end of the Mpumalanga province in the village called Huntington near the famous Kruger National Park. He is an honours graduate in Bachelor of arts, Youth in development. During his university period, he volunteered in the Swavana youth centre in their programmes. He was a beneficiary of the Community leaders Education Fund with the Africa Foundation for 3 years. After completion, he worked as a quantitative research fieldworker with the MRC/Wits Agincount health and population unit. He has a keen interest in the field of community development and services.

Thakhani Theobald Mudau

Field Officer - South Africa

Thakhani Theobald was born in Limpopo Province South Africa in a rural area called Ha.l-Masia Vyeboom village. He was raised by his Grandmother. He studied Youth Development at University of South Africa, furthering his studies with UNISA studying BA in Social Work as part time student.He has an in-depth understanding of the NGO sector and has worked with several organisations on various projects. His expertise lies in children and care givers, focusing primarily on projects that address parenting skills, nutrition and HIV education.


He belives in the power of the community and works to do his part in developing it.

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