Pauline Njiru

Pauline is a production assistant. She started her career in Sales and Marketing, specialising in cooking oil and maize flour. Driven by curiosity and passion, she made a career shift to the production team, dedicating six years to understanding the intricacies of processing these commodities. Along the way, Pauline studied food science and earned a degree in Marketing and Public Relations.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Pauline finds joy in cooking, cultivating the land, and she has a newfound interest in beekeeping.

Cristian Bello

Cristian is driven by a desire to use technology for the greater good. Since 2014, he has dedicated his career to social impact companies, initially in educational technology and currently in agricultural technology. Continually curious, Cristian enjoys exploring new ways that technology can positively influence lives.  Outside of work, he’s busy doing sports, mainly surfing and tennis

Zena Kassim

Zena Kassim is a Youth Coordinator at Rungwe and Busokelo Tea Cooperative Joint Enterprise (RBTC-JE) in Tanzania. With a Diploma in Agricultural Production from Mati-Inyala College, Zena has turned her love for farming and animal rearing into a career.

In her role at RBTC-JE, Zena is dedicated to uplifting smallholder farmers, by enhancing production and boosting their incomes. Taking the lead on a honey project, specifically a beekeeping initiative, she extends her impact across eight cooperatives nestled in villages with tea farmers.

Zena is dedicated to ensuring that farmers and beekeepers transition into modern agricultural practices. A transition that will elevate the quality of production and their financial well-being. Her commitment is centered on creating positive changes in the lives of those she works with within the farming community.

Byarugaba Remigio

Byarugaba Remigio is an organic farmer with a passion for cultivating coffee, bananas, and poultry. As an agri-entrepreneur, Byarugaba Remigio is the driving force behind Birara Eco Agribusiness and Birara Coffee.

Inspired by a vision of sustainable farming, Remigio co-founded the Mpororo Farmers Network and the Rukungiri Young Farmers Advocacy Organisations. These initiatives focus on uplifting the livelihoods of youth and women, identified as vulnerable groups, through practical agriculture and environmentally friendly farming methods.

Remigio holds a Diploma in Secondary Education from Kyambogo University, a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Rural Innovation from Makerere University, and a Master’s degree in Agroecology.

Remigio is currently the Sales Lead in Uganda, heading our sales commercial teams at Producer’s Direct in Uganda. In this position, he leads the sales team to support smallholder farmers in accessing markets and transforming farming into a sustainable business. Remigio is dedicated to the sustainable development of both Producer’s Direct and the farmers he serves.

Wendy Chamberlin

Wendy is a development professional with over 17 years of experience working in both the philanthropic sector and in direct implementation,  including a specific focus on developing and delivering solutions to drive financial inclusion in emerging markets. She spent over 12 years working for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a large portion of that time working on digital financial services for smallholder farmers and women’s economic empowerment. She served as the  Global  Programme Director with the Boma Project and is now working as a consultant for CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) and  CARE USA in Nairobi.

Wendy has been a key supporter of Producers Direct for many years, since first connecting with us through her work with the Gates Foundation. Wendy’s expertise includes fundraising and donor connections, organisational culture; strategic planning and implementation; and has worked on programme development and implementation with smallholder farmers focussing on technology development; financial inclusion, and gender. Wendy is from the US but moved to and has been living in Nairobi with her family for the last three years.

Gregory Mugabe

Gregory is an advocate for environmental conservation, community development, and sustainable resource management. He has experience in program management, corporate governance, and policy implementation, specialising in farmer institutional development and tea marketing. Gregory has actively contributed to various projects, including leading Kayonza Growers’ Tea Factory to receive the prestigious Equator Prize from UNDP in 2015, representing the organisation at COP21 in Paris. Through collaborations with NGOs like CARE International and Fairtrade International, Gregory has actively contributed to conservation programs and agricultural production systems, empowering farmers to enhance productivity. Beyond his professional roles, as a smallholder farmer, former field manager, and Chairman of the Board at Kayonza Factory, Gregory deeply understands the challenges faced by smallholders, from market access and inputs to finance and product diversification.

 

Daniela Alvarez Zegarra

Daniela is a Data Analyst residing in Arequipa, Peru. She is passionate about using cleaning data to facilitate accurate predictions and she enjoys building data dashboards. Daniela has a special interest in agribusiness, where she leverages her skills to make meaningful insights.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Daniela is a fan of data science competitions, showcasing her enthusiasm for pushing the boundaries of her expertise. As a result of this, she became an ambassador for Women in Data Science in her city. In this capacity, Daniela is dedicated to encouraging more women and young students to explore the realm of data science and integrate its principles into their respective fields of study.

Mutuku Muli

Mutuku is a full-stack developer with an interest in transforming the agricultural industry through inventive technological solutions. With a deep-rooted commitment to merging agricultural expertise with cutting-edge software development, he thrives on creating solutions that optimize efficiency, sustainability, and productivity in agribusiness operations.

John Shaw

John is an experienced finance professional who spent much of his career in a commercial business within the public sector, before moving into the charity sector. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and his last full time role was as Finance Director of Oxfam, stepping down in 2009. Since then his portfolio has included Trustee roles at Tearfund and Farm Africa, as well as a non-executive Director role at Cafédirect, where he was on the Board for over 10 years, stepping down in 2020. In both Trustee roles he was the Honorary Treasurer and at all three organisations he chaired the Audit & Finance Committees. During his time at Farm Africa he represented them as a non-executive Director on the Board of Sidai Africa, a Kenyan company, established by Farm Africa as a social enterprise veterinary services business working with smallholder farmers across Kenya. He joined the Board of Producers Direct in December 2023 and brings a wealth of financial management and governance experience as well as a passion for the important role of smallholder farmers.

Angel Majuan

Angel is based in Cajamarca, Peru and he holds a degree in zootechnics from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Ruiz Gallo. In 2019 he founded the FIZ research hotbed, where he was appointed president. In 2021 he began working at the Aprocassi Agrarian Cooperative, serving as head of the productive diversification area with a focus on specialty coffees, climate change and beekeeping. During his stay in this area he crafted a beverage named “Hidromiel” using his bee honey. Recognised for his exceptional performance, Angel was promoted to the position of project assistant manager in 2023 within the same cooperative, where he excelled in coordinating and developing projects. He now supports implementation of Producers Direct’s projects as a youth coordinator. 

 

 

Wilton Arevalo

Wilton was born and raised in the Amazonas region in Peru. At 19, he was part of the Peruvian army. In 2003, driven by the need to support his family, he transitioned to coffee farming. He then studied business management and worked as an assistant in the planning and budget area within the Health Network of Utcubamba. He then started working in the Bagua Grande coffee cooperative where he took on various roles, including overseeing the storage warehouse, assisting in certifications, and working as a field extensionist. He is currently part of Producers Direct as a Youth Agent.

Julio Marino

Born and raised in Chirinos, Cajamarca, Julio has been involved in the coffee sector since 40 years ago when his parents bought a small farm . Coffee farming has been his main source of income, sustaining his family and funding their education. Presently cultivating coffee with distinct honey, peach, and floral aromas on his parents’ farm, Julio focuses on special coffees that are very good in organoleptic quality, and with a physical performance of up to 81 exportable points. Six years ago, he started working in the technical area of the Chirinos cooperative. Julio currently serves as the Youth Coordinator in Chirinos and supports smallholder farmers like himself to become more sustainable.

Jose Herrera

Born in San Ignacio – Cajamarca, and holding a degree in Forestry Engineering from the National University of Cajamarca, he brings a wealth of experience in the field, office, and laboratory settings. He specialises in formulating forestry and agricultural projects, with a focus on coffee, cocoa, forestry, and the environment. He aims to see the well-being of farmers. As a youth coordinator, his mission is to ensure project efficiency and tangible impacts on producers.

 

Angel Peña

Angel is from Frias, in the highlands of Piura. He is an agricultural engineer with a diploma in project management. He has always liked the countryside, nature and helping people. He has worked on several projects to support smallholder farmers, one of the most vulnerable groups in Peru. At Producers Direct, he feels proud of being able to support farmers to find new markets and get customers for their products, while ensuring better prices for them.

 

José Luis Arroyo Unchupaico

Jose Luis was born and raised in a rural area of Pangoa. His parents are smallholder farmers dedicated Born and raised in the rural area of ​​Pangoa, he comes from smallholder farmer parents dedicated to coffee cultivation. He studied in the central mountains of Peru, in the National University of Central Peru until 2016. He is an agricultural engineer and has been working for 6 years in the execution of projects in the Pangoa area.

Alessandro Cordano

Alessandro has more than 10 years of experience in the global food trading industry. He finished his career in Industrial Engineering at University of Lima, and has experience in financial modeling using information systems. Alessandro has professional experience in fruit trading companies around the world such as Tridge Korea and TruMarket. Both companies use technology to leverage market intelligence and generate business. This evidences that he is passionate in transforming and adding value to sustainable and responsible value chains, by leveraging technology. His work on Producers Direct is focused on increasing impact for the producers through commercial growth strategy. He also loves trekking and outdoor activities in nature.

Katherine Bocanegra 

Katherine is an Economist and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Climate Change. She has always identified herself as a very passionate and sensitive person to provide solutions to social and environmental problems facing society. She has more than 10 years of professional experience leading and contributing to climate change mitigation, adaptation and climate finance projects. As Project and Climate Coordinator on Producers Direct, she is designing and leading the implementation of the climate change strategy, risk management and finance strategy. She is also involved in the coordination and oversight of all Producers’ climate change projects and activities. She loves dancing, sports and everything related to culture such as going to the theater and visiting museums.

Michael Montalvan Tineo

Michael is the General Manager of CAC Chirinos Cooperative, based in the North of Peru. He grew up in Chirinos as the son of a coffee farmer, and holds a degree in Business Administration. Michael has worked in the cooperative for a number of years, before being promoted to the General Manager of Chirinos three years ago. Michael has been a strong supporter of the work of Producers Direct since becoming General Manager, including in the implementation of Centre of Excellence activities at Chirinos.

Jamie Anderson

Jamie Anderson leads CGAP’s work on rural and agricultural livelihoods, focusing on women and their critical roles in food and financial systems. Previously she managed CGAP’s work across key client groups, including women, youth, and forcibly displaced persons, and demand-side research with smallholder households, which included national surveys in Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Bangladesh and financial diaries in three markets in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Pakistan.

Before joining CGAP, Jamie worked as a technical adviser in Rural Finance at the International Fund for Agricultural Development and as an independent consultant in rural and agricultural finance for the Boulder Institute of Microfinance and GIZ. Her experience in agriculture is both in research with the University of California Small Farm Center and on-farm in fresh-market organic vegetable production.
She has an MBA, MS in Agricultural and Resource Economics, and MS in International Agricultural Development from the University of California at Davis and an undergraduate degree in French from the University of Virginia.

Jason Archie

Spurred by a  passion for seeing the global food system transformed so smallholder farmers retain better value from the food they produce, Jason joined Producers Direct in 2023 as International Commercial Programmes Manager. 

Based in London, he has held commercial roles across the FMCG and fresh produce sectors, working with farmers and food manufacturers to market agricultural produce and value-added products into European retail markets. He has direct experience working with agribusinesses –most notably across West Africa – to establish growing projects, improve product quality standards, and facilitate access to export markets. He achieved his doctorate at Alliance Manchester Business School and is currently a member of the Food Ethics Council and Asia-Africa Centre for Sustainability in the UK. His research work on responsible business in the agro-foods industry has been published in leading International business journals

Having also worked at a number of national cultural arts institutions, he has a track record of  using entrepreneurship and creativity to facilitate social change. When not busy finding ways to create market access for smallholders  he is passionate about collaborating with like-minded individuals and organisations to share stories and curate spaces where people can come together to learn more on the reality of our global food system

Pablo Borasino

Pablo joined Producers Direct in January 2023 as a user researcher. Since then he has been dedicated to connecting the Digital Team with users in the field, providing feedback for the development of the virtual platforms and for the organisation of the work of the PD teams.

As a philosopher, Pablo does not accept explanations with gaps or flaws. As an interviewer – he says – he feels – sort of – like Socrates helping his interlocutors to give reasons for their decisions and attitudes. But for him, there is nothing more valuable in life than connecting with others and understanding them deeply.

Pablo also likes to connect with people in other ways when he is not working: through music, literature, and cooking. If he invites you to his home for lunch, don’t pass up the opportunity.

Redempttah Mutua

Redempttah is a highly motivated senior sales manager with extensive customer service and sales experience. She is an outgoing sales professional with a track record of driving increased sales, improving buying experience and elevating the company profile with the target market. Redempttah is diligent about working closely with the sales team to maximise business revenue and drive the teams’ performance.

She has studied sales and marketing, a field of study she became passionate about and has had an opportunity to work in for over 20 years now. Being able to run the sales world for some time now has enabled her to start ventures like farming and beekeeping. Redempttah is looking forward to growing the company to greater heights. Running the Producers Direct’s commercial team has been the most fulfilling part of her journey here thus far. Redempttah prides herself in the number of business and relationships she has across the world which brings out the best leader in her.

Redempttah is a mother to many and inspires everyone who interacts with her. She is a loving and caring mother of 5 and truly believes that the most precious gift is family. She believes that families are like branches on a tree – we grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.

Diana Quintero

Diana grew up in a rural Colombian family, which has given her a deep understanding of the problems and opportunities of rural communities. After graduating with a degree in business administration, she co-founded Bive, a social enterprise facilitating access to high-quality healthcare for more than 100,600 people in rural areas in Colombia, particularly in coffee-growing communities. After eight years leading her social organisation, Diana moved to Malawi to work at mothers2mothers, an international NGO that empowers women living with HIV to eradicate pediatric HIV/AIDS. There, she became interested in sustainable food systems and climate change. She completed a Master’s Degree in International Development Policy, focused on technology, innovation, and climate-smart agriculture. Diana is our International Project Manager coordinating our efforts in farmer data for decision-making. She leads the development of our digital app Croppie in Colombia, Peru, and Uganda and is excited to scale this technology to millions of farmers.

Justine Muhereza

Tell us about yourself

My name is Justine Muhereza and I live in Mukombe village. I am a farmer and I grow bananas and coffee. For three years now, I’ve been keeping bees. When I started beekeeping, I was just doing it on my own using traditional bee hives and when the Producers Direct team came to offer beekeeping training, I was interested to learn more and how I can make money from it as a business. From the training, I learned a lot and now I even train other bee farmers on best beekeeping practices.

How has your beekeeping journey been so far?

We started a beekeeping project with other beekeepers from around my village. One thing motivating for us is knowing that we will have a market where we can take our honey after harvesting. Like I mentioned, I have been keeping bees for a while now, and some of the profit I’ve made from selling honey has helped to pay school fees for my children. Now because we have a ready market, and with these modern beehives plus the knowledge I have now, I know I’ll make even more profit from this enterprise.

I started with 8 traditional beehives and then I received a loan from Producers Direct in the form of 15 modern beehives to add to the traditional hives that I already had.

How does beekeeping compare with other enterprises especially when you think about the time it takes when starting out?

Beekeeping requires less time to start up when compared to banana farming and coffee farming. Banana farming for example requires digging the banana holes, finding the required materials for planting and other additional activities like weeding. Beekeeping on the other hand doesn’t need all of that, once the hives are set up we leave them to get colonised, regularly checking to ensure everything is going well, which gives me time to tend to my coffee and banana farms.

As a beekeeper, what challenges have you encountered?

Sometimes bees just abandon their hives and there’s nothing I can do about that and you know when that happens, it means no honey is being produced in those hives.

The other challenge we used to have was finding people to help with harvesting honey. Because there weren’t many, it meant that harvesting would take a lot of time. But now we’ve been assured that we will have harvesting equipment like the extractor which will help make the harvesting process faster and we will not need to hire many people for that like we used to during previous harvests. I am also looking forward to harvesting honey from these new modern hives because as I said, I know we have a ready market where I can take my honey.

What future plans and aspirations do you have for your beekeeping enterprise?  

In three to five years, I want to have more than 200 bee hives. I want to be able to pack my honey and sell it to cooperatives. I want my bee enterprise to boost my banana and coffee farming businesses and educate my children. So, I am requesting that we continue to get more support so that we can buy more hives, and then I can use the profits from beekeeping to help grow our other farming enterprises. 

At the moment, some of the money I get from selling honey goes to pay for school fees for my children and I also use part of it to buy manure and mulches for my coffee and banana farms, so I know that by buying more beehives and through learning from training, I will expand my beekeeping business and the profits I make will help grow my other agriculture enterprises.

Nick Coates

Nick moved to London from New Zealand in 2007 to pursue a career in finance. After 2 years and one too many bad coffees, he decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship. Federation Coffee was founded in 2009 and grew to two locations, a wholesale coffee roasting business, as well as a commercial bakery, before being sold in 2014.

Nick then joined Virgin Start-Up and worked with over a thousand startups in his roles as a Business Advisor – helping founders fine-tune their business models, and subsequently leading the lending team as a Senior Investment Manager. After several years consulting in a wide range of industries from food-tech and hospitality to private healthcare, Nick joined Producers Direct as the Head of Business Development to lead commercial strategy and development of Producer Direct’s wider business model.

Daisy Little – Savage

An adventurous childhood and a Geography degree at the University of Cambridge cemented Daisy’s passion for international development. That passion ultimately inspired a move to Kampala, to co-found a startup teaching young people to code. She spent the next few years helping organisations in Kenya and Uganda to build their own tech projects, and eventually found her home at Bidhaa Sasa, working with women in rural Kenya to facilitate access to life-improving technologies.
Moving to Nairobi she built out Bidhaa Sasa’s internal tech team and brought the company’s processes into the digital age. Now based back in London, Daisy joined Producers Direct in 2022 to take the lead on all things digital and apply her project management and technical experience to a new set of challenges.
Outside of work, you’ll find Daisy listening to political podcasts, walking her Ugandan street dog, or picking recipes from a collection of cookbooks that is, according to her, rapidly getting out of hand!

Ronny Garcia

Ronny joined the Producers Direct team in 2021, from a previous role, leading one of the largest cooperative organisations in Peru.

Ronny has worked with small-scale producers in rural development for more than 17 years. His experience in similar positions managing and building diverse business portfolios, working on his strengths such as rural finance and fund management with multiple foreign and local banks, business management and partnership governance is what has always motivated him.

Ronny has participated in specialised coffee fairs in Europe, Asia and the USA. As commercial manager for Peru, Ronny’s work includes articulating networks of partners within the framework of a shared brand, providing support to financial and accounting operations, as well as other training activities for the target groups of producer organisations.

Ronny graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a mention in general management at the ESAN University in Peru, he carried out specific leadership and innovation studies at the ESADE University of Barcelona in Spain and received training in stock price risk management (PRM) by Oikocredit in Costa Rica. He likes coffee and enjoys it even more if the coffee is direct from producers. He also enjoys driving and visiting new places. 

Gertrude Bosire

As Communications Manager, Gertrude works closely with our internal teams and our network of smallholder farmers to highlight the power and impact of our work. 

Over the past decade, Gertrude has worked in communications and research, across multiple fields- from entrepreneurship, reproductive health, governance, and radicalisation.

Before joining Producers Direct, Gertrude worked extensively with young people in East Africa, sharing their stories of impact and amplifying their voices. Gertrude believes in the power of stories and she is passionate about telling these stories to inspire and create meaningful impact.

Gertrude has a degree in Journalism from the United States International University (USIU).

NATALY NICOLE

I have been working as a youth agent in Puerta Pulache in Peru since December 2021 and I‘m also a student, doing an undergraduate degree in Agriculture Business Management. I did not have any work experience before I started working as a youth agent, so when I got the opportunity to work with the women in my community, I was excited because I knew I would have a chance to apply what I’ve been learning in school, and at the same time, being a part of this vegetable project will help me to meet some of my course requirements.

My work is to support the women in my community to have high-quality products and to find a market for their goods. Together with my fellow youth agents, we do this by ensuring that the seeds the women use are of good quality and without pests or diseases. We also support the farmers by finding a market for their produce and help with any other logistics needed to enable them sell products at the best price. As youth agents, we work together with the smallholder farmers by training them on how they can make use of the digital app to sell their products to customers beyond our community. The digital app is one of the tools we use that allows them to access the training and also to access markets. With the digital app, the female farmers can aggregate their surplus produce and then as a group, they can connect with potential buyers.

The vegetable project is an opportunity for women in my community to provide for their families and I am glad that many of them now have a way to earn an income through farming.

But the communities around us do not give us a lot of support, because of this, many women do not consider this project as a potential way for them to make money. Our other challenge is that many women do not have access to the digital tools that we use. Through conducting more training sessions, my fellow youth agents and I want to enable more women to access and use the digital app.

While it has been challenging to work throughout the pandemic, we’ve had to adapt and adjust how we work to keep the project going. When we couldn’t travel to vegetable farms that were too far, for fear of contracting the virus, we kept contact with the female farmers and monitored progress through phone calls and on WhatsApp to ensure that we followed the health and safety guidelines so that all of us would be protected. But now that the restrictions have been eased, I’m glad that we can visit more farms.

 

 

My greatest joy has been to see the progress made by some of the female producers. They have made profits from the project and we continue to see more women grow their incomes. And my greatest achievement so far has been to see farmers get a good harvest and also see their vegetables healthy and without any pests or diseases.

Going forward, my goal in the project is to continue to work with more female farmers and find more ways to motivate and encourage them to be part of the project. One of the ways I think we can do this is by conducting more training sessions where the women will get to learn more about the project and they’ll get to see why they need to join and be part of this network.

Anthea Ndyamuhaki

In a period of less than two years, my country has been through two lockdowns, each lasting more than two and a half months. Because of this, many families, careers and businesses really suffered.

Because of the covid-19 pandemic, I had to go on unpaid leave for two months. Life was difficult – the hotels that we supplied our agricultural produce to closed down, so we did not have a market for our products. I had to find a way to pay my bills. I have people depending on me, so I had to find a way for all of us to survive.

My family and friends were supportive, but I knew I couldn’t fully depend on them to take care of all my needs. I first began by cutting back on expenses. For example, we stopped hiring labour for activities that we could do in our garden, and we found alternative markets for our produce just within our neighbourhood. I also learned to make liquid soap from a colleague of mine, and we sold the soap, which was on demand, to customers.

I enrolled at a colleague’s for homemade liquid soap making during that time. We started making, we branded and started selling and this surely has since yielded well because the demand was good. I appreciate every little thing that we did then to keep us going through the difficult times, because what we did then still counts today.
As a youth agent and farmer at Kayonza Growers Tea Factory, I have been working to ensure that farmers are always updated on any new and relevant information that will help them grow their agribusinesses especially during the pandemic. For example, we reach farmers in their homes and in the tea collection centres, by sharing posters containing information on how they can still manage their tea farms and grow their businesses despite the pandemic. And we plan to continue to work together with the tea farmers in Kayonza throughout the pandemic.