Dorothea Arndt

Dorothea joined Hand in Hand International in 2013 as Head of Communications. In 2015, her role expanded to include Corporate Partnerships, and for the year ending February 2018 she was Co-CEO responsible for Hand in Hand International’s UK operations. Before joining Hand in Hand International, she managed sales and communications teams at companies including Shell and PwC, and transitioned to not-for profit at the British Red Cross.

Read Dorothea’s case for the role livelihoods programmes in the coronavirus recovery in Business Fights Poverty.

Dorothea is available to speak to the media about development, job creation, microfinance and women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, India and sub-Saharan Africa. To arrange an interview, or to speak with another one of our experts, please contact Ann Dickinson.

Albert Wambugu

Albert joined Hand in Hand Eastern Africa in 2012 as Head of HR & Administration, and has served as CEO since February 2017. He has played a major role in the creation of more than 300,000 businesses and 400,000 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, financing and women’s empowerment in eastern Africa. To arrange an interview, or to speak with another one of our experts, please contact Ann Dickinson.

Seema Ghani

Seema is winner of Bond’s Outstanding Individual Award, 2017

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 26,500 businesses, 30,500 jobs and 198,000 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, has not lost her optimism.

“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).