Innovation Ecosystem Builder Fellowship: Current Fellows

Our nine 2018 D-Lab Innovation Ecosystem Builder Fellows support entrepreneurs in Brazil, India, and East Africa. They were selected from among 174 applicants to the program for their demonstrated capacity to create change, their interest in the ecosystem approach, and the diverse perspectives and set of experiences they bring to the group.

They are beginning their journey with a convening in Boston in April 2018. Join our mailing list to receive updates along the way!


FERNANDA BOMBARDI, Corporate Citizenship Institute (ICE)

Working at ICE (Entrepreneurial Citizenship Institute) since 2006, she has idealized, implemented and coordinated the Pajiroba Project - focused on income generation and family agriculture in the Amazon - until 2009. In 2010, she assumed the executive management of the Institute, being co-responsible for the organization's strategy in the area of social finance and impact business, team management, budget, institutional communication and governance strategies. She is currently focused on two initiatives: a capacity-building program to train incubators and accelerators to support impact businesses, and an initiative sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank to provide seed finance to early stage social startups and the incubators and accelerators who support them. Fernanda is the chairwoman of the board of ANDE in Brazil. She is also the volunteer director of Projeto Casulo, an NGO that works in the slums of Real Parque and Jardim Panorama, whose mission is to contribute to the development of young people as changemakers in their own reality.

MARCOS VINICIUS DE SOUZA, Secretary of Innovation at Ministry of Industry

As National Secretary for Innovation and New Businesses at the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services in Brazil, Marcos is responsible for innovation policies, startup programs, intellectual property regulation, international negotiations, investment attraction, workforce training, and digital economy strategies for the country, as well as R&D plans for the Amazon region. He leads the largest startups accelerator program in Latin America and also the Brazilian Strategy for Impact Investments and Social Business.
With a Bachelor of Business Administration, an MBA in Cluster Development from ECLAC/United Nations and training in innovation policy by VINNOVA, a Swedish Innovation Agency, Marcos is a member of the main Advisory Boards and Steering Committees related to innovation policy in the Brazilian Federal Government. Before joining the Ministry, he worked in management consulting and venture capital fund.

ANDRE WONGTSCHOWSKI, World-Transforming Technologies (WTT)

Andre is the Head of Operations at World-Transforming Technologies (WTT), a non-profit foundation dedicated to connecting innovators and technology developers with opportunities for social, environmental and economic impact. Through his work at WTT Andre accelerates the development of disruptive innovations aimed at solving large-scale social and environmental challenges, and creates room for experimenting with technological, social and business-model innovations in real-world contexts where they can have a positive impact. Before joining WTT Andre worked extensively at the private and social sectors, including seven years at Unilever in various positions in Brazil, Colombia and England, and three years in the financial sector. Andre holds a degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Development Administration and Planning. He lives in São Paulo and dedicates his free time to gardening, yoga and playing with his four-year-old daughter.


SHAYAN ROY CHOWDHURY, Teach for India InnovatED

As Innovation Manager at Teach For India, Shayan spearheads Teach For India's Entrepreneurship Incubator - InnovatED - that catalyzes support for early-stage education entrepreneurs to set up impact-driven organizations in India. InnovatED's vision is to create a collaborative community of education entrepreneurs generating collective impact on India's education landscape.

Shayan is part of a group of regional innovation catalysts working across the Teach For All network to support entrepreneurs in their respective geographic context in over 15 countries across the world including USA, UK, Austria, Malaysia and Chile. He currently facilitates insight-sharing and provides peer-support to partners in the Asia Pacific region to set up and operationalize their own successful incubators.

Before Teach For India, Shayan worked at the strategy consulting firm, Bain & Company where he focused on private equity and social impact.


ALEX PRATHER, Capria VentureBasecamp (Capria Ventures/Unitus Seed Fund)

Alex Prather is the co-founder of Capria VentureBasecamp, a program dedicated to training the next generation of investable ventures and transforming intermediaries, such as incubators, into world-class systems of entrepreneurial support in emerging economies. Alex has worked for both Unitus Seed Fund in India, and eventually Unitus’ parent organization, Capria Ventures, an accelerator and global network for impact fund managers in emerging economies, to pilot the interventions that resulted in the formation of VentureBasecamp. Prior to her work with Capria and Unitus, Alex’s experiences spanned the world and crossed over several different sectors of impact. She worked at The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, launched a rural artisan’s cooperative in Bolivia, developed water sanitation projects in Latin/Central America, worked for a Ghanaian public policy think tank, and eventually found her way to India conducting research on the economic incentive structures promoting human trafficking in rural Rajasthan. Outside of work, Alex enjoys getting out in nature and having a good cup of coffee in new places.



Alexei is the Executive Director of Ongoza, a Kenyan non-profit accelerator for high-growth, early-stage young entrepreneurs; we provide up to a year of customized weekly business advisory, market linkages, and debt financing. Alexei came to Ongoza after spending time in South Africa, Brazil, and Mozambique supporting young entrepreneurs, coordinating the world pilot of a youth community advocacy project and conducting policy research. After several years as a philanthropy strategy consultant, he launched a social impact consultancy that participated in several successful human rights trials, designed a youth-led community TB prevention initiative, and provided policy research for clients like the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a Fulbright Scholar.

MARTIN W. IRUNGU, Empower and Serve Kenya (EmpServe), KENYA

Martin is a Co-Founder and Executive Director, EmpServe (Empower and Serve). He is an inventive starter driven by passion and community empathy, envisioning social renovation using Human Centered Designs (HCD). He values youth as the centre of societal transformation hence empowering them to be the change they desire by building their knowledge, nurturing innovation, fostering networks and creating opportunities. At EmpServe, Martin is currently steering the implementation of, Innovating for Social Impact Programme (iSIP) aimed at building innovation and social-entrepreneurship ecosystems driven by young leaders. The programme targets to tap into the diversity of local young innovators to mentor and support their growth in order to create sustainable and scalable innovations in the region.

ETIENNE SALBORN, Social Innovation Academy (SINA), UGANDA

Etienne Salborn is a changemaker and changemaker-maker, German by blood and Ugandan by heart, Etienne holds a Master’s in Peace and Development from the University of Innsbruck. Since 2006 he has been living in Uganda and founded the NGO Jangu e.V. for educational sponsorships of orphans. The first class of students graduated in 2013, but despite academic achievements, drowned in Uganda’s 83% youth unemployment rate. Etienne went a step further and started the Social Innovation Academy (SINA), empowering former orphans, street children, refugees and other disadvantaged youth to become job creators and social entrepreneurs with the ability to turn challenges into solutions.



Noeline is a family therapist by training and a social entrepreneur by design. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Kyusa, a nonprofit that addresses youth unemployment in Uganda’s slums by empowering student dropouts to turn their passions into sustainable careers. Noeline is also the Director of the New Generation Mentoring Program, an intensive mentoring program for young women that aims to develop outstanding female leaders. She is an author, motivational speaker, life and career coach and business development consultant. Her mission is to empower people to identify their purpose and turn their passions into skills for fruitful living.