2016 Annual Gathering – Participants

The following entrepreneurs attended our 2016 Annual Gathering. This list includes alumni as well as upcoming members of our Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration. We’re excited they’ll be there and hope you’re able to meet them all over the course of the weekend.

Jeanine Ashforth, CEO of Student Veteran Housing Association of America (LinkedIn) – Spring Cohort 2016
Penny Hlavaty, Co-CEO of Solace Pty Ltd. (LinkedIn) – Fall Cohort 2016

Growing up in Papua New Guinea was a continuous childhood adventure and formative experience for Penny. She traveled widely with her family, by all means of transport, including canoe, copra boats, and small aircraft. Penny became a chef, working her way through Europe, then to Canada and the United States. With three children and nine grandchildren, she has a great investment in the future of the world, and believes it would be great to see more people prosper with wealth shared more evenly.

Penny has worked for over 20 years as a catering consultant and inventor, working in nanotechnology and thin films and developing new products with graphene and other forms of carbon. She has also been developing energy efficient cooking technology and heating elements. She has now joined forces with friends who are also involved in survival and alternative energy to form Solace, with the aim of inventing, developing or adapting new technology for improving life after natural and man-made disasters, and in all sunbelt areas for those who prefer to go off-grid.

Eric Katz, Operations and Logistics Director at Kulisha (LinkedIn) – Spring Cohort 2016  (Finalist)

Eric is an undergraduate student in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Eric is interested in how business can integrate strategies to alleviate social issues into their business, which can improve business and contribute to communities. He co-founded Kulisha, a for profit social enterprise that is developing a system to grow insects en masse as an alternative protein for the Kenyan animal feeds market. He developed the idea for the venture while working on the Quinault Indian Nation with his co-founder and learning more about the issues facing the animal feed, particularly aquafeed, after working on their salmon hatchery.

Eric is from Grand Rapids, MI and is also passionate about the revitalization of Detroit. He has worked on a variety of projects in the city including consulting for the an education non-profit about creating an alumni outreach program, translating for Spanish speaking Detroiters at an NGO that gives free legal services to immigrants, and working for a digital advertising startup.

Justin Karfo, Co-Founder of Bébé Burkinabè (Drink to Life) (LinkedIn) – Spring and Summer Cohort 2016 (Finalist)

Born and raised in Burkina Faso, Justin’s passion for social entrepreneurship and African development was first kindled when he worked with his dad to fund the construction of the only secondary school in their rural village. Justin’s commitment to academic excellence led him first to Davis United World College and then to Princeton, where he graduated with a degree in Operations Research and Financial Engineering. At Princeton Justin promoted Burkinabè and African initiatives as an active member of both the International Development Center and Rotary Club and then through his senior thesis, which attempted to digitize road networks in Burkina Faso.

After Princeton, Justin strengthened his involvement in international development by joining the United Nations Development Program to support their growing inclusive markets initiative. Justin then worked as an investment analyst for Goldman Sachs and Thomson Reuters in London before moving to the Ivory Coast and Kenya to focus on African private equity investment with Emerging Capital Partners. Currently, Justin serves as a private equity associate for the Wendel Group out of their Casablanca office.

Bebe Burkinabe is Justin’s third entrepreneurial venture but the first founded out of desire to give back to his home country. As co-founder, Justin combines his development and financial acumen to lead business strategy and growth at Bebe Burkinabe. He is excited to join Mentor Capital Network for their annual gathering and encourages other entrepreneurs to take advantage of MCN’s unparalleled feedback and network. When he is not in the office or strategizing for Bebe, Justin enjoys cheering on Chelsea FC (the best club around!), discovering new stand-up comedians, and volunteering with Self Help Africa.

Crispian Kirk, President and CEO of Pangea Markets (LinkedIn) – Spring Cohort, 2016

Crispian Kirk is a serial entrepreneur, and is currently President & CEO of OIC International whose mission is to alleviate poverty through workforce development. OIC International serves as the network integrator for over 20 locally owned OIC social enterprises. The OIC International network currently operates vocational training institutions, small farming enterprises, micro enterprise banks, a hotel, catering services, retail, appliance repair, and the recently established, Pangea Markets, a recycling consumer goods retail business, among other enterprises. Mr. Kirk regular meets with Country leaders, Business executives, and civil society to promote sustainable workforce development.

Prior to OIC International, Mr. Kirk served as the Managing Director of Bantu Consulting, an International Advisory, as well as the Owner of Partners Title a Real Estate Title and Escrow Company.  He served as Chief Legislative Counsel and Director of International Affairs for the NAACP. He also represented victims of apartheid before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation commission.  Mr. Kirk began his career in the private sector with the second largest commercial real estate company in the United States.

Mr. Kirk’s background includes extensive engagement in designing and implementing poverty reduction and infrastructure investment projects. It comprises over 15 years advising public and private sector partners on securing funding from banking institutions and multi-lateral agencies. He has a deep understanding of the infrastructure needs, financing structures, local government policies, licensing, and regulations, and relevant government capacity in Sub Saharan Africa.

Peter Pinchot, CEO of ECOMADERA FOREST CONSERVATION (LinkedIn) – Fall Cohort 2016 

Peter Pinchot is a forester and serial social entrepreneur.  He is co-founder and CEO of EcoMadera Forest Conservation, a community forestry enterprise that manages tropical forests and manufactures wood products in Ecuador and markets its products in the US.  EcoMadera’s mission is to create a scalable alternative to the continuing loss of tropical forests, which causes 15% of the carbon emissions leading to global climate change.  EcoMadera partners with tropical forest communities, and helps them establish a sustainable local economy based on conservation and restoration of their forests and local manufacturing of wood products.

Mr. Pinchot also works with the Pinchot Institute for Conservation.  He leads a research program in sustainable management of high biodiversity tropical forests and innovation of wood products that utilize a large variety of the tree species and thereby raise the value forests to local communities.  Earlier, Mr. Pinchot managed a research forest in Pennsylvania with a focus on sustainable forestry, open space conservation, wildlife management, and biodiversity restoration.  He received his Masters Degree in Forestry from Yale.

After college, Mr. Pinchot ran an organic dairy farmer in the Mohawk River Valley region of New York State.  He currently lives near New Haven, Connecticut with his wife and two younger daughters.

Ryan Powell, Co-Founder, Manta Biofuel (LinkedIn) – Spring Cohort 2016 (Finalist)

Dr. Powell is a co-founder of Manta Biofuel and the inventor of the ferromagnetic particle harvesting process and our low cost production system. Dr. Powell’s expertise is in harvesting microalgae for biofuel production. He also has a lifetime of experience in large scale agriculture from growing up on his family’s 2000 acre grain farm. The thousands of hours he has spent working with and repairing agricultural equipment is invaluable to Manta’s development. He has the necessary technical expertise to understand what has been done in algal harvesting, why a new approach is needed and how to scientifically develop a new approach. He also has the practical expertise to understand how equipment is built and what qualities that equipment needs to be successful when deployed in the field.

Jordan Sawadogo, Co-Founder of Bébé Burkinabè (Drink to Life) (LinkedIn) – Spring and Summer Cohorts 2016 (Finalist)

With parents from Midwest Iowa and Rural Burkina, Jordan Sawadogo spent his childhood shuttling back and forth between the United States and West Africa before settling in Maryland for high school and then attending Princeton University. At Princeton Jordan applied his longstanding interest in product design and chemistry to major in Chemical Engineering. From his senior thesis which examined novel desalination techniques to co-ops at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center which implemented new in-house analyses, Jordan brings a history of and passion for developing new technologies to Bébé Burkinabè

Post-graduation, Jordan worked as a field engineer in Ghana, Chad, and Equatorial Guinea before deciding to apply his engineering background in a more fulfilling manner through social entrepreneurship. Together with his classmate and co-founder, Justin Karfo,Jordan spent the past year traveling between Burkina Faso and the U.S. developing samples, completing field tests, securing vendors, and building a network of medical professionals who are just as passionate about improving maternal and child health as they are.

Jordan is currently pursuing an engineering MSc at Imperial College London as he continues to support product development at Bébé Burkinabè. He would also like to encourage other entrepreneurs (as well as mentors) to capitalize on MCN’s understanding of social enterprises, which has been instrumental in advancing Bébé Burkinabè’s mission.

Onur Unal, Co-Founder, Manta Biofuel (LinkedIn) – Spring Cohort 2016 (Finalist)

Born and raised in Turkey, Onur was always driven with passion to make a positive change that would affect many. He moved to the US for college to follow this dream. After studying genetics at UC Davis, Onur moved to PennState to do research in molecular biology. With a Master’s degree in Pharmacology and an MBA, Onur moved over to the business side and worked for various start-up biotechnology companies gaining valuable experience in management and entrepreneurship. He was quickly bitten by the entrepreneurship bug and went on to co-found start-ups in medical devices and software. Onur also worked in government and funding organizations, which he calls the “other side”.

At Manta Biofuel, Onur is now working towards commercializing a cost effective, renewable and carbon neutral replacement for crude oil, a precursor to most transportation fuels, essentially doing what he is most passionate about, making a positive impact.

David Wagstaff, Co-Founder and CEO of Alfrea (LinkedIn) – Fall Cohort 2016

David started his career as a financial analyst in alternative and green energy technologies as a subcontractor to the Department of Energy.

For the past couple of decades he has been helping companies grow profitability. He is gifted at being able to analyze data and make adjustments to product mix, expenses, infrastructure and marketing and growing revenue profitability. Customer have included pre-revenue startups and multibillion revenue companies including one of the largest agriculture and food companies in the U.S.

He has experience as senior management in a venture-backed startup that raised $15 million. Later, he became CFO of a social services agency with $5 million in annual revenue.  He has twice started and sold consulting businesses, and most recently has worked as Director of Operations for one of the 500 largest CPA firms in the US.

In addition to his business experience, David has had a lifetime interest in the environment and has held leadership positions in non-profit organizations, including both board positions and executive committee positions within those boards.