Speaker Bios


Jenny Aker David Porteous
Claire Alexandre Scott Schuh
Ashirul Amin Parker Shipton
Bhaskar Chakravorti Nicholas Sullivan
Daryl Collins Michael Tarazi
Ahmed Dermish Peter Uvin
Matthew Herbert Peter Walker
Ignacio Mas Ibrahim Warde
Katherine Sikora Nelson Kim Wilson

Jenny Aker

Jenny C. Aker is Assistant Professor of Development Economics at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Dr. Aker's research agenda assesses the impact of agro-food market performance on producer and consumer welfare in sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on the impact of information (technology) on grain price dispersion, market actors' behavior and welfare in Niger. After receiving her Bachelor's degree in History and French from Duke University (1993), she worked as a teacher at the Casablanca American School in Morocco. She obtained her Master's degree in Development Economics and Public International Law from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University) in 1997, and worked as a researcher on a Fulbright grant at the University of Hassan-II in Morocco. Dr. Aker then worked as the Regional Food Security Advisor and Deputy Regional Director for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in West and Central Africa from 1998-2003. She has worked as a consultant for a variety of international and non-governmental organizations in West, Central and East Africa, including Catholic Relief Services, CHF International, CARE, Helen Keller International, the World Bank and the FAO. Ms. Aker received her Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at the University of California-Berkeley and served as a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD) at the University of California at Berkeley.

Claire Alexandre

Claire Alexandre is a policy expert in financial services, working in the program Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Previously with Vodafone and France Telecom, Claire held various positions in public policy. She was based in Brussels for eight years, where she led Vodafone’s contributions to new EU legislation (including on electronic money, anti-money laundering and payment services) and she actively shaped and represented the views of the mobile industry in this area. More recently she has been in charge of Vodafone financial services regulation and policy, in particular supporting M-PESA. She has hence been at the forefront of enabling the development of new mobile financial service schemes. Claire has an MBA from Warwick Business School, and a Diploma of Political Studies from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Strasbourg.

Ashirul Amin

Ashirul Amin is a PhD candidate in Development Economics at The Fletcher School. His research focuses on financial inclusion and socio-economic development at the bottom of the economic pyramid in developing countries, with a particular focus on microfinance. Prior to joining the Doctoral program last fall, he worked on a range of development- and technology-related initiatives. He was the chief software architect of a portfolio analytics and risk management software that provided sophisticated monitoring and surveillance services for microfinance institutions. He has designed and developed incident-logging field reporters and collaborative mapping tools integrating fully customized and interactive databases for humanitarian NGOs, conducted impact assessment studies for a nationwide computer literacy program in Bangladesh, and served as program manager for a computer-based education program based on low-cost and open source technology. Mr. Amin’s current projects include directing the development of a portfolio and risk monitoring reporting framework for a large Bangladeshi MFI, researching the current state of performance and risk management systems in the microfinance industry and serving as co-editor of the Center for Emerging Markets Enterprises (CEME) blog. He holds a Masters degree from The Fletcher School, and a B.S.E. in Computer Science from Princeton University.

Bhaskar Chakravorti

Bhaskar Chakravorti has extensive experience in academia, strategy consulting, industry and high-tech R&D. Prior to Fletcher, he was a Partner of McKinsey & Company and a Distinguished Scholar at MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship.  He also served on the faculty of the Harvard Business School and the Harvard University Center for the Environment. In a 20+ year career as consultant and educator, he has advised over 30 companies in the Fortune 500, policy-makers, investors and entrepreneurs. His work has spanned multiple geographies: the Americas, EU, Asia and Africa. At Harvard, he taught innovation, entrepreneurship management, and new venture formation. Prior appointments include: Partner and Thought Leader at Monitor Group; game theorist and member of the technical staff at Bellcore (formerly Bell Labs); assistant professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; officer of TAS, the executive cadre for the Tata Group. Dr. Chakravorti’s book, The Slow Pace of Fast Change: Bringing Innovations to Market in a Connected World, was selected as one of the Best Business Books of the year by multiple publications and was an Amazon.com best-seller on Innovation. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester, where he was a University Fellow, M.A. in economics from the University of Rochester and the Delhi School of Economics, and a B.A. with Honors in economics from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University.

Daryl Collins

Daryl Collins is a senior associate leading the research efforts of Bankable Frontier Associates, a niche consulting firm based in Boston, with a specialization in the demand-side dynamics of development finance.  She was the principal investigator of the Financial Diaries, 2003-2004 field study based at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  This study generated over a year's worth of daily data on the financial cash flows of poor households (see www.financialdiaries.com for findings and more detail).  The results of the Financial Diaries have been combined with similar studies undertaken in India and Bangladesh to create a book, Portfolios of the Poor, which will be published by Princeton University Press in May 2009. Ms. Collins began her career as an emerging market economist at a New York investment bank before moving to South Africa in the late 1990’s.  She ultimately joined the finance faculty of the University of Cape Town, where she leveraged a successful career in portfolio management into research on the financial behavior of the poor. She holds bachelors and masters degrees in economics from the London School of Economics, and she is currently completing doctoral work at New York University.

Ahmed Dermish

Ahmed Dermish is an Associate at Bankable Frontier Associates, a niche consulting firm based in Boston, working on the technology and access to finance side of the practice. He brings experience as a former regulator and bank supervisor at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the UK. His work at BFA primarily focuses on enabling regulatory environments to provide more inclusive financial services. During his tenure as a regulator, Mr. Dermish was a supervisor of medium sized banks and building societies. He was involved in the first wave of enhanced supervision during the liquidity crisis in the UK in 2007-2008, monitoring institutions struggling to navigate the liquidity landscape in difficult market conditions. Prior to his role as a supervisor, he worked as a policy advisor in Operational Risk providing policy advice regarding electronic money regulations in the UK and EU. Notably during his time at the FSA, he spent 6 months seconded to the CGAP Policy and Technology teams to work on electronic money regulations and the development of proportionate regulatory frameworks for branchless banking. Mr. Dermish has a Master’s of Science in Development Economics from the School of African and Oriental Studies at the University of London.

Matthew Herbert

Matt Herbert is a PhD candidate in International Security Studies at The Fletcher School. His research focuses on issues of economic development, technology, and security. Concurrent with his Doctoral studies, he works as a researcher and consultant on technology and development issues. He has been involved in a diverse set of projects, including research on the lottery system in Haiti, mobile finance in the Philippines, mobile commerce in Africa, and identification of promising markets for mobile money transfer in Eurasia. A sampling of his publications include: “How m-banking can reduce laundering”, Africa Business Daily (27 May 2009); “Islamic Finance and Mobile Banking: Could, Would, Should”, The Huffington Post, (30 July 2009); and “Corrupted Militaries: Criminality, Conflict, and Coercion”, New Routes Journal, Life and Peace Institute (October 2009). Prior to his Doctoral Studies, Mr. Herbert worked as a threats analyst, dealing with transnational armed groups, drug trafficking, and human trafficking issues. He also worked as a special assistant to Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, handling political and legislative affairs. He is a member of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists. He holds a Masters Degree in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School, and is a graduate of the College of Santa Fe, where he received Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Documentary Studies, and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography.

Ignacio Mas

Ignacio Mas is Senior Advisor in the Financial Services for the Poor program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has been a Senior Adviser in the Technology Program at CGAP (a resource center for microfinance housed at the World Bank), VP of Marketing and Account Management at interTouch, Director of Global Business Strategy at Vodafone Group, and Senior Manager responsible for telecoms investments in Europe at Intel Capital (Intel Corp's venture capital arm). Dr. Mas has also been a Visiting Professor of International Business at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. He holds undergraduate degrees in mathematics and economics from MIT and a PhD in economics from Harvard University. He is author of many articles on branchless banking, which are available here.

Katherine Sikora Nelson

Katherine M. Sikora Nelson is an attorney who works for The Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) as a Managing Director, with primary focus on overseeing regulatory risk compliance issues for Alternative Investment Services (“AIS”). Ms. Sikora Nelson also serves as the Chair of the Broker-Dealer Anti-Money Laundering Oversight Committee, managing Anti-Money Laundering (“AML”) and U.S. economic sanctions compliance issues for all of the affiliated broker-dealers across the BNY Mellon complex. Previously, Ms. Sikora Nelson was a Director with Citigroup, overseeing AML compliance for Capital Markets North America.  Before joining Citigroup, Ms. Nelson worked for KPMG LLP Forensic Services/AML Practice, advising a broad range of international financial institutions. Prior to that Ms. Sikora Nelson spent ten years with Fidelity Investments, including in their AML Office, overseeing, among other areas, Fidelity’s compliance with U.S. sanctions administrated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.  Before joining Fidelity, Ms. Sikora Nelson was an Advisor to the Government of Poland and worked for the EastWest Institute in New York. Ms. Sikora Nelson holds Masters in Law from the Jagiellonian University School of Law in Krakow, Poland, Masters in International Relations from the University of Notre Dame, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law from the Boston University School of Law.

David Porteous

David Porteous is the founder and director of Bankable Frontier Associates, a niche consulting firm based in Boston. He has undertaken consultancy assignments in the areas of financial strategy and policy for a wide range of clients including public clients such as DfID, the World Bank, CGAP and private clients including a banking group and telco group. Prior to relocating to Boston in 2004, he was active in executive leadership roles in the development finance sector of South Africa with private and public financial institutions as well as FinMark Trust, an NGO involved in promoting financial inclusion policies and projects, and a public-private partnership which sought to promote low income housing securitization. Dr. Porteous has written several books including Banking on Change, a book which chronicles and analyses changes in the retail financial sector of South Africa in the decade since democracy. He also writes a regular weblog, The Bankable Frontier, which tracks the development of inclusive financial sectors around the world. He has a B.Comm (UCT), M.Phil (Cambridge) and Ph.D (economics) (Yale).

Scott Schuh

Scott Schuh is the director of the Consumer Payments Research Center and an economist in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. He has served as an economist for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, and as a research associate at the U.S. Census Bureau. Dr. Schuh has taught at Johns Hopkins University and Boston College. His research focuses on the implications of microeconomic heterogeneity for macroeconomic behavior in a wide variety of applications. Much of this work has involved developing and analyzing data on employment changes at U.S. manufacturing plants and studying the role of gross job flows in aggregate fluctuations, as documented in two co-authored books: the award-winning and critically acclaimed Job Creation and Destruction (1996), and Job Creation, Job Destruction, and International Competition (2003). His other important research focuses on the roles of investment (especially inventories), technology, and monetary policy in business cycles, and on the role of productivity in growth. His latest research involves developing new data to study consumer payment choice and its implications for monetary theory. He earned a B.A. from California State University, Sacramento in 1985, and a Ph.D. and M.A. (economics) from Johns Hopkins University in 1992.

Parker Shipton

Parker Shipton is Professor of Anthropology and Research Fellow in African Studies at Boston University. His current and continuing research interests include economic, legal, and symbolic anthropology and the history of social studies. Topics of his research, teaching, and writing have included agriculture, food, and hunger; credit and debt; land rights, attachment, and belonging; kinship and fictive kinship; ritual and sequencing; human rights; and the human classification and treatment of other animals. He has conducted most of his field research in equatorial East Africa (especially among Luo speakers and others in agrarian western Kenya) and in West Africa (especially among farming Mandinka-speakers and agro-pastoralist Fula-speakers in the Gambia). He has carried out other research or study in Andean Colombia, in urban northern Italy and western France, and among native people of central Mexico and the North Pacific Coast of North America. He has taught at Harvard University and held visiting appointments at the University of Virginia and Yale University, as well as the University of Nairobi, Kenya; University of Padua, Italy; and Waseda University, Japan. Dr. Shipton holds a PhD from Cambridge University, an M.Litt. from Oxford, and an AB Cornell.

Nicholas Sullivan

Nicholas Sullivan has written widely about technology, entrepreneurship and international development, a path he followed after serving as VP/Editor in Chief of Inc.com (a sister company to Inc. Magazine). He is author of You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones Are Connecting the World’s Poor to the Global Economy (Jossey-Bass, 2007), which focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation in developing countries. He is co-author (with Fletcher Professor Jeswald Salacuse) of “Do BITs Really Work: Bilateral Investment Treaties and Their Grand Bargain” (Harvard International Law Journal, 2007, and Oxford University Press, 2009). He is currently working on a book about mobile money and banking beyond branches in Africa. Mr. Sullivan is also Publisher of Innovations: Technology/Governance/Globalization (MIT Press), a quarterly journal that promotes “entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges” with first-person case studies written by entrepreneurs. Innovations has produced special editions for the World Economic Forum, Skoll World Forum, Schwab Foundation, GSM Association, and Clinton Global Initiative. He is a graduate of Harvard University and The Fletcher School.

Michael Tarazi

Michael Tarazi is Senior Policy Specialist at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. Michael joined CGAP in 2008 as a member of CGAP's Government & Policy Team. He leads the team’s efforts in the area of branchless banking regulation and has worked with regulators around the world to develop regulatory frameworks. He led CGAP’s regulatory efforts in the Maldives and has worked in countries such as Nigeria, Rwanda, Fiji, Haiti and Jordan. He is a co-author of Nonbank E-Money Issuers: Regulatory Approaches to Protecting Customer Deposits and Islamic Microfinance: An Emerging Market Niche. Michael teaches courses on branchless banking at the Boulder Institute for Microfinance. He also was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and is a member of the Forum’s Dialogue Series on Access to Finance through Technology. Prior to joining CGAP, Tarazi was a corporate attorney in private practice and served as the European General Counsel to a U.S. company providing finance-related technological services to developing countries. He also served as an advisor to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Tarazi holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He speaks English, Arabic, and French.

Peter Uvin

Peter Uvin is Academic Dean and Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies at The Fletcher School. He has written extensively on the intersection between human rights, development, and conflict resolution. He has been a frequent consultant to agencies working in Africa on these same issues. His 1998 book “Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda” won the Herskovits Award for the most outstanding book on Africa. In 2006/7, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship, which led to his latest book “Life after Violence. A People’s History of Burundi” (2008). He also wrote a book on “Development and Human Rights” (2004). Dr. Uvin obtained his Licences in Diplomatic Science and in Political Science from the University of Ghent and his Ph.D in Political Science from Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales, University of Geneva.

Peter Walker

Peter Walker has been Director of the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University since September 2002 and active in development and disaster response since 1979. He has worked for a number of British-based NGOs and environmental organizations in several African countries, and has been a university lecturer and director of a food wholesaling company. He joined the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva in 1990 where he was Director of Disaster Policy for 10 years before moving to Bangkok as Head of the Federation's regional programs for Southeast Asia. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, and has published widely on subjects as diverse as the development of indigenous knowledge and famine early warning systems, to the role of military forces in disaster relief. Dr. Walker was the founder and manager of the World Disasters Report and played a key role in initiating and developing both the Code of Conduct for disaster workers and the Sphere humanitarian standards. He holds a BSc from Sheffield University and a Ph.D in soil science, also from Sheffield University.

Ibrahim Warde

Ibrahim Warde is Adjunct Professor of International Business at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Associate Director of Business Programs at the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University. He was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2007, in relation to his research on financial networks and practices in the Islamic world. His books include Islamic Finance in the Global Economy, 2nd ed. (2010), and The Price of Fear: The Truth Behind the Financial War on Terror (2007). He is also a contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique. Dr. Warde completed his B.A. at Université Saint Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon, his business degree from Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris (HEC), France, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Kim Wilson

Kim Wilson is a lecturer at The Fletcher School and a Fellow with the Center for Emerging Market Enterprises and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University. Spending time in India beginning in 2001 through 2005, Professor Wilson worked closely with savings groups, connecting them to banks with a particular focus on tribal areas. She has worked for Catholic Relief Services heading their Microfinance Unit, and in that tenure, spearheaded CRS' shift from focusing on credit to the poor to savings of the poor. Professor Wilson has consulted for many international agencies in savings and credit. Previously, she was in the private sector, occupying senior management positions in finance and franchising.