Media centre

Hand in Hand in the media

Why investing in women small and micro business owners will help the global economy recover – World Economic Forum
If if is broke, do fix it – Business Fights Poverty
Rebuild better. Rebuild now – Business Fights Poverty
Want to halt climate change? Empower women – Wired
Hand in Hand fundraiser: why I love my job – Guardian
Hand in Hand’s Seema Ghani wins Outstanding Individual award – Thomson Reuters
Safaricom Foundation and Hand in Hand Eastern Africa partner with Sh20m fund for the unbanked – Standard Media Kenya
Percy Barnevik interview – The Social Enterprise Podcast
Pauline Ngari appears on Power Breakfast – Kenya Citizen TV
Percy Barnevik: How to Eliminate Extreme Poverty – Milken Institute: The Power of Ideas 2016
Pauline Ngari: Let’s talk about poverty (International Women’s Day) – Huffington Post
Pauline Ngari: What does Davos mean for women in Kenya? – Huffington Post
Percy Barnevik: How to reduce the number of refugees in Europe – City A.M.
Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild of EL Rothschild talks Hand in Hand International – Spear’s
Microfinance for employment and security – European Microfinance Platform
Tackling poverty with savings, training and microfinance – (Microcredit Summit blog)
Interview with Hand in Hand International CEO Josefine Lindänge – Business Fights Poverty
Pauline Ngari: women’s empowerment in Rwanda – Huffington Post
Solving unemployment in Afghanistan – Thomson Reuters
Transforming Afghanistan with women’s economic empowerment – The Solutions Journal
Why micro-businesses are so important for Afghanistan – Forbes
Percy Barnevik’s bet on poverty reduction – Forbes
Seema Ghani TV interview – BBC World News
Interview with Hand in Hand Afghanistan CEO Abdul Rahim Nasry – The Guardian

Our speakers

Percy Barnevik |Co-founder and Honorary Chair, Hand in Hand International

Percy Barnevik

Hand in Hand International Honorary Chairman Percy Barnevik knows a thing or two about enterprise. Before co-founding Hand in Hand with Dr Kalpana Sankar in 2004, a move that would catalyze the creation of millions of small businesses, Barnevik ran some of the biggest companies in the world.

In Europe, he was Chairman of Swedish construction giant Skanska, Swiss engineering firm ABB Ltd and UK-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca plc. In the US, he sat on the boards of DuPont and General Motors.

“Even when they’re undernourished, downtrodden and illiterate, [our entrepreneurs] have an enormous will. When they get a chance, they’re not letting it go by,” says Percy Barnevik. “These women can move mountains.”

That belief, since borne out by millions of grassroots entrepreneurs, continues to underpin our work. So too does Barnevik’s firm preference for decentralization and speed, one of his hallmarks as a Chairman and CEO. In his 2013 book ‘On Leadership’, Barnevik describes his dream company as “highly decentralized". Our network – with operating headquarters in India, Afghanistan, Kenya and South Africa, and support offices in Sweden and the UK – is exactly that. Without “superfluous levels”, says Barnevik, “we run at a very high speed, at a very low cost – and the speed is accelerating all the time. We’re now up to almost 1,000 new or expanded business every working day.”

Percy Barnevik enjoys sharing his experience as a philanthropist with an eye on the bottom line, and his perspective on leadership in the commercial and not for profit sectors. Following the publication of his book ‘On Leadership' in 2013, Barnevik's speaking engagements have ranged from an exchange on international development with statistics guru Hans Rosling to sharing his perspective on social impact investment alongside Novel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

To arrange an interview, or to speak with another one of our experts, please contact Ann Dickinson (below).

Seema Ghani

Seema Ghani’s story begins like millions of others: on the crowded road out of Afghanistan at the outset of war. But the path she took was utterly her own.

Seema fled Afghanistan for London in the 1990s during the country’s 20-year Civil War, and went on to build a career working with some of the City’s biggest Fortune 500 companies.

A life of comfort, hard-earned in the private sector – that was the plan.

Then came 11 September 2001, and plans changed.

Seema moved back to Afghanistan just weeks after the Taliban was toppled, eager to help her country rebuild. In 2002 the BBC caught wind of the quixotic City consultant in war-torn Kabul, and profiled her on the evening news.

“I’m very optimistic,” she told them. “I don’t think anyone will give up on Afghanistan again, whether they’re Afghans or not.”

Seema certainly didn’t. Today, she can claim to have made a lasting impact on tens of thousands of lives throughout the country, among some of Afghanistan’s poorest residents. But her efforts started rather more modestly – and closer to home – with the adoption of 16 children aged 3 to 17, all orphaned by war and vulnerable to disease, hunger and exploitation.

“It’s a family I’ll be living with forever and ever,” says Seema.

Outside of her extraordinary home Seema was growing more and more fed up with the corruption that mars so much of Afghanistan’s public life. With her background in business she founded the People’s Movement Against Corruption in Afghanistan, and in 2008 joined Hand in Hand Afghanistan as Chair.

Second only to Syria, Afghanistan compels more refugees into Europe than any other country, according to the Financial Times.

“You can’t force people to stay in the country. If they need jobs and there’s unemployment they will end up leaving,” explains Seema. “In the worst-case scenario they join the Taliban, because the Taliban supports people.”

But where others see poverty Seema sees grassroots entrepreneurs, full of energy and ideas. Under her guidance, Hand in Hand Afghanistan’s formula of business skills training and asset transfer has led to the creation of more than 22,500 businesses, 26,000 jobs and 166,000 improved lives for job holders’ dependents. That’s thousands of families less likely to leave the country, thousands of men and boys less susceptible to Taliban recruiters.

Women’s empowerment has been another key feature of Seema’s leadership. Hand in Hand’s female participation rate in Afghanistan is 50 percent – significantly higher than the national rate of 16 percent. In some projects, the rate has surpassed 70 percent – an achievement one independent evaluator called “incredible”.

Afghanistan is the world’s most dangerous place to do aid work, according to the Aid Worker Security Database. Seema, however, remains optimistic.

“At the end of the day you can’t live without hope,” she says.

Seema is available to speak to the media about job creation, the refugee crisis and insecurity in Afghanistan. To arrange an interview, or to speak with another one of our experts, please contact Ann Dickinson (below).
Josephine Lindange | Chief Executive | Hand in Hand International

Josefine Lindänge Gutman

Josefine was appointed as CEO of Hand in Hand International in February 2014. A family background in entrepreneurship and a passion for development led Josefine to start her career at the United Nations Global Compact,a platform for the UN to engage with global business.

After some years in the private sector, she joined Hand in Hand in 2008. After playing a decisive role in establishing Hand in Hand Eastern Africa, she was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Hand in Hand International in 2011. She holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Development Economics and International Economics from Lund University in Sweden and studied strategic leadership for microfinance at Harvard Business School.

Josefine Lindänge is available to speak to the media about equitable growth and the role of business in development. She wrote about how private, public and NGO actors can best collaborate to promote micro-enterprise in Bond's magazine. As a young woman CEO, she is also particularly interested in the role women play in development. Josefine is speaking at the 2014 European Microfinance Week.

To arrange an interview with Josefine about job creation, empowering women and all things Hand in Hand International, please contact Ann Dickinson (below).
Portrait of Abdul Rahim Nasry | Country Director | Hand in Hand International

Abdul Rahim Nasry

Abdul Rahim Nasry knows first-hand the struggles faced by Hand in Hand’s members. In 1982, as the Soviet war in Afghanistan spread across the country, a 16-year-old Nasry fled his native Parwan Province to neighbouring Pakistan. Far from home and with little hope of returning, he and his family had no choice but to start from scratch.

“My schooling in Parwan was interrupted by the fighting, so I completed my last year of high school at the refugee school in Peshawar,” he says.

Twenty-two years, two degrees and several program management jobs later, Nasry moved back to Afghanistan with his wife and five children to help rebuild the country, managing an education training program for US non-profit Management Sciences for Health before taking control of the Afghan government’s National Skills Development Program. A subsequent stint as Strategic Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Labour Affairs – where he helped shape government policy on vocational training, employment strategy and job creation – led Nasry to Hand in Hand Afghanistan, which he joined as Country Director in early-2012. Under the first two years of his leadership, more than 2,500 enterprises and almost 4,000 jobs were created in some of the country’s most heard-to-reach post-conflict areas. Major new funding was secured from the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust and the Delegation of the European Commission to Afghanistan.

“Security has been a big challenge for us as it makes travelling to and between rural areas costly and risky,” Nasry told The Guardian in 2013. “However… unemployment is a key reason for people fighting, so we see our job creation as having a positive impact on security.”

Abdul Rahim Nasry is available to speak to the media about security, development and job creation in Afghanistan. To arrange an interview, or to speak with another one of our experts, please contact Ann Dickinson (below).
Dr. Kalpana Sankar | Chairperson and Managing Trustee, Hand in Hand India

Dr Kalpana Sankar

Most Hand in Hand leaders have backgrounds in finance or development. Not Hand in Hand co-founder Dr Kalpana Sankar, who earned her PhD not in economics or development studies, but in nuclear physics.

“Right from the beginning, Hand in Hand presented a strong rationale for any funding we sought from donors,” says Kalpana, explaining the link between splitting atoms and splitting savings funds. “Scientific thinking underpins our work.”

In 2006, Kalpana Sankar was invited to provide advice to the South African government on a job creation initiative, ultimately leading to the establishment of Hand in Hand Southern Africa two years later. In 2007 she oversaw the launch of Hand in Hand Afghanistan. And in 2009, with financing from the Inter-American Development Bank, she advised on applying the Hand in Hand model in Brazil.

“I am immensely proud that we have been able to provide financial inclusion to one million poor people,” says Kalpana, who has been honored by the US Congress for her work as a social entrepreneur. “The fact that we have created 1.5 million jobs as validated by an external rating agency, M-CRIL, is a testimonial to the hard work of my colleagues.”

Dr Kalpana Sankar is available to discuss Hand in Hand India and financial inclusion, a subject she has discussed at European Microfinance Week and other venues. She recently spoke to Forbes magazine about Hand in Hand’s global ambitions, and staying humble. To arrange an interview, or to speak with another one of our experts, please contact Ann Dickinson (below).

Albert Wambugu

has served as CEO since February 2017. He has played a major role in the creation of more than 235,000 businesses and 315,000 jobs in Kenya, as well Hand in Hand’s expansion into Rwanda to help create 115,000 jobs. Before joining Hand in Hand Eastern Africa he spent 13 years in senior roles with CIC Group, one of Kenya’s fastest-growing insurance companies, including five years as HR Manager.

Albert’s belief in Hand in Hand Eastern Africa’s mission – fighting poverty with jobs – goes all the way back to childhood. Growing up on the slopes of the Aberdare Mountains in central Kenya, he split his time between school and the family farm – not unlike many of our members’ children today. “It was a very rustic community, but very close,” he says. “Everybody was brought up in the spirit of having to work hard.”

That spirit, combined with a decades-long history of volunteering in his local community, is what led him to Hand in Hand Eastern Africa.

“You cannot fail to see the difference Hand in Hand Eastern Africa makes in the lives of people who are socially and economically excluded,” said Albert. “I am honoured to be appointed CEO. I have faith in the Hand in Hand Eastern Africa team and believe in the transformative power of our model. We shall continuously challenge ourselves to deliver appropriate and innovative interventions in every session with our clients.”

Albert received a Mastercard Foundation scholarship to attend the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management’s Leadership Winter Academy 2017.

Albert Wambugu is available to speak to the media about development, microfinance, job creation, rural development and women’s empowerment in eastern Africa. To arrange an interview, or to speak with another one of our experts, please contact Ann Dickinson (below).

Arrange an interview

For all media and events enquiries, including interviews with our speakers, please contact Head of Marketing and Communications, Jen Glyn

Head of Marketing and Communications

Jen Glyn Head of Marketing and Communications

Jen is responsible for our public profile in the media and at events. If you would like to interview someone or if you would like us to speak at an event then she would be delighted to hear from you.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7514 5091