Steering Committee

The premise of establishing this Steering Committee is to collaboratively draw on the wealth of knowledge and advice that this group can proffer towards the development of the platform.

The objective of this Steering Committee is to effectively advise and guide the SME4H project to ensure that it effectively harnesses the capabilities and goodwill of the world’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) for the achievement of better humanitarian outcomes.

The Committee convenes quarterly to keep track of progress of the project’s implementation and help overcome any arising issues. General matters that the Committee addresses include:

  1. Exploring the context – understanding the current obstacles to greater engagement between SMEs and key stakeholders in the humanitarian ecosystem
  2. Types of support SMEs should be able to provide and/or seek via a platform such as #SME4H
  3. Ways to ensure SMEs are more effectively supported by the world’s humanitarian system and have greater access to participate in related projects
  4. Understanding the relationship between SMEs and Aid Agencies during humanitarian crises
  5. Recommendations on the potential role of large businesses – including those with large SME supplier bases – in a platform such as #SME4H
  6. Recommendations on the ideal phasing for the development and roll-out
  7. Selection of a technological partners
  8. Recommendations on the potential piloting of the concept in a specific geographical area or involving a specific type (or types) of business
  9. Opportunities for integration or coordination with other national, regional and international initiatives seeking to achieve similar or compatible outcomes.

Biographies *alphabetical order by last name

Mohamad Abdulkader Agha
Crescent Enterprises

Senior strategist with 20+ years combined experience with shape-shifters who contributed to market transformations in Americas, Asia and MEA. Started his career in business advisory with Ernst & Young in 2000, then moved to international affairs in 2007 with the United Nations. In 2017, Agha joined Crescent Group, the multinational oil and gas, aviation, mining, port management, healthcare and private equity conglomerate.

Executive member of the global team that placed the "Digital Economy" on Australia G20 Summit agenda, a culminated lobbying effort with the European Union, ASEAN, League of Arab States, Organization of American States as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council. Custodian of the 2015–2021 strategy implementation under the Dubai based Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives, within which he was the architect of strategic partnerships with MasterCard, UPS, Airbus, the Clinton Global Initiative and formulated the 2016–2018 engagement with the World Economic Forum with focus on knowledge exchange, innovation and private sector partnerships.

Introduced country-level private sector support to the 2010 UN Leaders Summit in New York and was named UNDP’s MENA Champion for resource mobilization in 2007–2012. Awarded the "2012 Top Three Most Communicative Networks" rank by the Office of the UNSG Ban Ki-Moon in Rio+ 20, which is based on an 8000 corporate signatories survey in 135 countries.

Laith Al Jazi
Operations Manager, Tazweed

Laith Al Jazi is the Operations Manager of Tazweed (a Jordanian venture capital firm that is a subsidiary of the leading Kuwaiti company Mezzan Holding). Laith is currently leading the operations of the company’s investments made into, inter alia, humanitarian aid projects in partnership with UN agencies and International Aid Organizations, including the pioneering food retail outlets in five Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Kurdistan Iraq with UN WFP – a first-in-kind process for refugee camps where advanced payment methods such as an e-voucher system and “eye-pay” iris scans are being implemented; and ii) Humanitarian Relief Contracts, mainly for Internally Displaced People inside Syria and Iraq by means of air-drop and land cross-border operations.

Laith is driven by projects with social impact, he believes committing to responsible investing is a key to success for these projects, and has demonstrated this approach throughout his career to date. Prior to Tazweed, Laith held senior positions in several reputable organizations within their Information Technology (IT) departments, e.g., Greater Amman Municipality and Networks Exchange Technology in Jordan. He holds Bachelor degree in Business Information System from University of Jordan.

Philip Chow
Co-Founder and CEO, Humanitas

Philip Chow is a technologist, storyteller, and community volunteer. Philip is the co-founder and CEO of Humanitas.AI -- a social enterprise leveraging machine learning to dramatically improve humanitarian and development decisions. His current focus is alleviating the inequities in Europe and Middle East driven by the refugee crisis. Previously, he had worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Office of Robert Parker, and FiscalNote -- all of which he had focused on US-China philanthropic endeavors.

Philip serves on the advisory board of Lean In China -- a community of 100,000+ women from 100+ universities & 30+ cities. In Philip's spare time, he ponders about the intersection of direct democracy and systems practice. Philip graduated with Honors from Western University, Canada, and had pursued advanced studies at Stanford University and Singularity University.

Sherine El Taraboulsi-McCarthy
Research Fellow, ODI

Sherine is an expert on aid, conflict and security in the Middle East and North Africa and Europe, with over a decade worth of experience in the sector. Her career has engaged extensively with the challenges of marshalling evidence to improve development and humanitarian policy and practice in the Arab region, with a strong focus on Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt and the Gulf region. Her research interests include non-Western political theory, state formation and fragility, terrorism and extremist violence, humanitarian action in complex emergencies, state donors and non-state philanthropy in conflict, and the politics of communal loyalty and transnational networks in peace building and protection. She is a current member of the Yemen Safe Passage Group. Her PhD at the University of Oxford is a socio-historical examination of the role of Libya's indigenous social capital in state formation and erosion in the period between 1911 - 1969.

Oliver Freeman
Corporate Social Responsibility Executive NRS International

Oliver Freeman is a sustainability expert and programme manager with ten years of experience across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Oliver has completed diverse sustainability projects for international organisations, government entities and private sector companies in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Formerly a lobbyist at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Oliver later worked on the UK Government’s corporate social responsibility and commercial diplomacy agendas. In his present capacity with NRS International, he manages a broad portfolio of sustainability projects. These include, inter alia, GHG emissions reporting, renewable energy feasibility studies and global advocacy activities. He currently sits on the SMEs for Humanity Steering Committee and UN Global Compact UAE board.

A bilingual English/French speaker, Oliver possesses a BA with Honours in European Studies from King’s College London and an MSc in Management from the University College London School of Management.

Alex Georges
Co-Founder, Enersa

Alex Georges is the Co-Founder of ENERSA, a leading solar company in his native Haïti. After graduating in Entrepreneurship and Management at HEC, in Montreal, Canada, he partnered with his friend, Jean-Ronel Noël, a mechanical engineer from Polytechnique University. Their aim: to transform Haïti’s energy challenges into wealth and job creating opportunities.

ENERSA started in 2007 and followed a growth path until the ravaging 2010 earthquake. But, even though the demand became high for its products, the donations of solar products and importation by NGOs almost killed the company. From an average sales of $80K US a month, ENERSA’s sales dropped to $15,000 in six months. It’s hard to compete with free! It was a painful process renew with growth; convincing NGOs that while they were helping in the emergency humanitarian disaster, they were killing the local economy that can help the country recuperate from the economic disaster. Before going back to Haïti, Alex Georges worked as a business start-up advisor. He is an advocate of development through responsible investments, economic growth and citizen participation.

Ayman Ismail
Assistant Professor, American University in Cairo

Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship and Assistant Professor at the American University in Cairo School of Business and the founding Director of the AUC Venture Lab, which was recognized as a high impact university business incubator in Africa (2014) and MENA (2015) by UBI Global.

Dr. Ismail is a former Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He received his PhD in International Economic Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also holds a bachelor degree in engineering and an MBA from the American University in Cairo, and a master degree in city planning and geographic information systems from MIT.

In 2012, Dr. Ismail was selected as a Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum (WEF). He is a co-founder and member the Board of Directors of Nahdet El-Mahrousa, a leading non-governmental/non-profit organization incubating social entrepreneurs and community initiatives targeting social, economic and cultural development in Egypt. He is also an active Endeavor mentor, advising high-impact entrepreneurs and their startup ventures in Egypt. He is also a co-founder, angel investor and board member of a number of fast-growing startups in mobile payments, logistics, bio-technology, and digital advertising.

Alexandra Lopoukhine
Director, Partnerships and Influence, Mercy Corps

As Mercy Corps' Director of Partnerships and Influence, Alexandra leads on building a network of strategic partners with key global actors, including engagement with the Canadian Government and various foundations and private sector actors in the Gulf. Previously, she worked at the World Economic Forum as the Community Lead for Civil Society, helping to ensure a more social justice agenda became mainstreamed throughout the Forum's work. Prior to that, she worked for as Director of Communications for Amnesty International Canada, CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada and the Canadian Red Cross. Alexandra's expertise lies in strategic communications and diplomatic engagement with multi-stakeholders working towards a more just world for all.

Brian Nugent
Director, Coaction International

Brian is a Director of COACTION, a company dedicated to providing services which support localised and community-led development in humanitarian and international aid. Brian has over 25 years’ experience leading humanitarian crisis response and development programmes for a variety of international and regional NGOs in Africa, Thailand/Cambodia, Vietnam and the Middle East (Jordan, Yemen, Gaza).

Within this sphere, areas of specialty and preference include management; programme design and implementation; strategic planning; personnel management; mentoring and coaching. In his native Ireland, for several years Brian also led social partnership company in Dublin Ireland which sought to develop the economic growth of disadvantaged communities. The work entailed many sectors and incorporated Public Private Partnership arrangements. Brian is highly experienced international facilitator in Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and a strong proponent of applying a strengths based approach to move from the more traditional ‘needs-based’ approach still characterising much of development.

Brian specialises in economic development and livelihoods programming and currently is innovating a large enterprise and community development programme for UNHCR in Somali refugee camps in SE Ethiopia. Brian is a keen advocate for increased collaboration with business and SMEs and how they can contribute to shaping humanitarian responses and moving communities from aid dependency.

Suleiman Oweis
Founder and GM, Family Supermarket Jordan

Suleiman is an Electrical Engineer and Business Development Manager with 10+ years in Telecommunication Industry. Suleiman held a number of positions in Jordan, UAE, and USA. (1992-2007) Jordan Ministry of Defense, (2007-2014) Operations and Sales Manager at Scope Middle East – Dubai, (2014-2016) Scorer at Pearson Education – Iowa City, (2014- up to date) Founder and GM of MEARNA Company. During his professional life career, he was Coordinator of German Jordanian Friendship Association, Member of Catholic Church Youth Society, Active member of Jordanian Red Cross and Red Crescent, and Member of the Jordanian Engineering Association.

Suleiman is managing a SME Family Business in Ajloun Governorate- Jordan since 2009 - up to date. His family invested and established a Supermarket in 2009 in order to work with the World Food Program (WFP). The store helps in providing more than 6000 Syrian refugee families living in Ajloun. The store is in convenient shopping location, clean, and fully equipped. Being part of a humanitarian supply chain, Suleiman helps in maintaining strong relations with the major food suppliers in order to maintain high quality and affordable food prices.

Berna Ozsar
Secretary General, World SME Forum

Berna Ozsar Kumcu is the Secretary General of the World SME Forum. Reporting directly to the CEO, Berna shapes and scales World SME Forum’s agenda, staff, partnerships and collaborations.

Berna has vast experience in the insurance sector. Prior to joining WSF, she was the Deputy Director of SEGEM, Turkey’s leading insurance training organisation. Previously, she worked as the EU & International Affairs Coordinator of the Turkish Insurance Association representing the Association in international platforms such as Insurance Europe, the European Commission, the World Bank and OECD; followed up and managed EU and international funded projects and programs. Before joining the insurance sector, Berna had also worked as a Consultant on EU Affairs at a Brussels based consulting firm, CPS Advisory Group, for the EU harmonisation process of Turkey’s leading Fortune 500 companies.

Berna completed her undergraduate studies in International Relations (major) and Political Sciences (minor) at the Middle East Technical University. As a Jean Monnet scholar, she received her LL.M. (Master of Laws) degree in European Law from the University of Nottingham, UK. Berna completed her Ph.D. studies in 2009 at the Marmara University, Institute for Banking and Insurance, where she’s been lecturing since then. Berna has authored many books, as well as articles published in national and international journals.

Stefanie Leigh Plant
Technical Advisor for Enterprise Development and Employment, International Rescue Committee

Stefanie works to smooth the transition from basic needs-based humanitarian assistance to longer term development through the design of initiatives centered around entrepreneurship, microfranchising, private sector partnerships, job skills training, and financial inclusion—all aimed to improve the livelihoods of displaced persons, impoverished host communities, and those still remaining in a conflict or disaster setting.

Her background working with social enterprises, non-profits, and NGOs is complemented by a wealth of experience across the developing world, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to IRC, Stefanie worked to improve health infrastructure in Tanzania as a Program Director with the Touch Foundation, served as a strategy and implementation consultant to NGOs and non-profits in human rights, advocacy, healthcare, and education with the firm CCS, and managed an international industrial supply chain and distribution operation in the private sector.

Stefanie holds a B.A. in Economics from Harvard University and an M.B.A with concentrations in Strategic Management, Entrepreneurship, and Marketing from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Machadevan Ramachandran
Director of Supply Chain, World Food Programme

Mack Ramachandran has recently been appointed as the Chief of Supply Chain Planning and Strategy at United Nations World Food Program. He has been with the WFP in various countries over the last 19 years (minus the 2 years when he set up/ran his social enterprise in New York).

Earlier he was the global head of procurement at their HQ in Rome, Italy and prior to that, worked in senior management positions in Sudan, Zimbabwe, and DPR Korea. He has also worked in Cambodia, Thailand, and Panama being posted there, also for UN World Food Program. He has a Ph.D in Economics from Clark University in the USA and is married and lives with his wife in Rome, Italy.

Shabnam Shalizi
PhD Researcher and Global Development Impact Advisor, University of Southern California

Shabnam Shalizi specializes in aid effectiveness. Building on her applied expertise leading performance measurement and impact optimization work in the humanitarian sector as a former management consultant with Deloitte and Booz Allen Hamilton, Shabnam’s background lies at the intersection of corporate citizenship, donor performance and social impact. Currently a PhD Candidate at USC, Shabnam is leading groundbreaking research on how women-owned SMEs in developing countries can break into the value chains of major firms and multinational corporations. She has advised a range of institutions including USAID, the World Bank and Fortune 500 corporations.

Having worked globally, her portfolio spans multiple countries and sectors, including women’s economic empowerment, climate change, rule of law, food security and public financial management. Shabnam's work examines levers for change in how business and aid can work symbiotically to build and maintain lasting, sustainable impact for people and their communities. For decentralized and/or collaborative partnership-based development activities, this includes how personnel, processes and systems in headquarters and the field can align to increase impact and facilitate ownership.

David Sharrock
Member, Communications Advisor, Cabinet of Vice President Kristalina Georgieva, European Commission

David currently works at the European Commission and was until recently a member of Vice President Kristalina Georgieva's cabinet as communications adviser. He has worked for several UN agencies, including UNICEF as its Chief of Communication in South Sudan, and last year was Principal Writer of the report of the UN Secretary-general's High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, "Too Important to Fail: Addressing the Humanitarian Financing Gap".

Prior to joining the UN he was Spokesperson for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response at the European Commission. He has more than 25 years’ experience as a journalist working in conflict zones and fragile states as a staff correspondent for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The (London) Times. He has worked extensively in broadcast media, closing his journalism career as Senior Foreign Editor at ITN. He holds an MA from St John's College, Cambridge in English.

Barri Shorey
Enterprise Development and Employment Senior Technical Advisor, International Rescue Committee

As Senior Technical Advisor, she supports enterprise and employment based programming in IRC’s Syria Response portfolio focusing on the progression from meeting basic needs to more livelihoods based humanitarian responses.

Barri began working at IRC in 2006 at the very beginnings of the livelihoods and economic programming sector, previously serving as youth and livelihoods advisor providing support to IRC’s West Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, Haiti and Kenya programs with a specific focus on curriculum development, microenterprise development and private sector partnerships.

Barri also served as the Child and Youth Protection and Development Officer in Sierra Leone, in which she managed the IRC’s first microfranchise pilot. Barri has a master’s degree in international education from the George Washington University and a bachelor of arts in philosophy and religion from Colgate University.

Ayman El Tarabishy
Executive Director, International Council for Small Business (ICSB)

Dr. El Tarabishy is also the Executive Director of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), the oldest and largest non-profit organization across the globe devoted to advancing small business research and practices. ICSB is a coalition of more than a dozen national organizations across the globe and represented in over seventy countries. Dr. El Tarabishy created and managed the Global Entrepreneurship Research and Policy Conference ( that is hosted at the George Washington University. The GW October conference connects the latest and most cutting edge of entrepreneurship research to the most pressing and important national and international policy to promote entrepreneurship and SMEs. The intersection of these two important topics makes the conference vital for global development. Dr. El Tarabishy published his new book titled – Information Technology for Small Business – Managing the Digital Enterprise by Springer publishing company. The book covers digital innovation and use of social media for small and medium businesses.

Karim Tabah
Managing Director, Levant Medical Technologies FZC

Karim Tabah is a Syrian Entrepreneur with seventeen years of experience in founding and managing small and medium-sized companies in the UAE and Syria. He is currently the Managing Director of Levant Medical Technologies FZC, a UAE-based company that is active in providing medical equipment and services to countries that are currently in crisis conditions. Levant Medical Technologies is the regional partner of leading European and Japanese manufacturers of hospital equipment. In 2015, Karim expanded the scope of business of his company to cover healthcare professional training. Karim is involved in several civic initiatives related to youth and entrepreneurship. He holds a BSc in Management Studies from Royal Holloway University of London and MSc in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is currently studying for a doctor degree in business administration at the University of Liverpool (online studies). His thesis is about the survival of small businesses during an economic slowdown.

Claude Voillat
Economic Voillat, ICRC

Claude Voillat is economic advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). For the past 10 years, he has been responsible in particular for the development of the ICRC's relations with businesses operating in conflict zones. In this capacity, he has regularly engaged with companies in the extractives sector and has participated as an observer in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights initiative (VPs). He has steered the publication of a booklet ‘Business and International Humanitarian Law’ and participated, along with other organizations, in the development of the VPs ‘Implementation Guidance Tools’.

On behalf of the ICRC, he is now leading a major joint project with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) under the tile ‘Addressing Security and Human Rights Challenges in Complex Environments’ – a project focusing on the production of practical guidance and tools for the management of companies’ security and human rights issues. Prior to this, Claude Voillat spent over 10 years in management positions in various ICRC missions abroad (principally in the Middle East and in Africa). He holds an MA in political sciences from the University of Lausanne and has completed in 2007 an MBA (specialization 'entrepreneurship') at the University of Geneva.

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