The Team


Leesa Shrader

Program Director

Leesa is Program Director of the AgriFin Accelerate Program at Mercy Corps, which is a 6-year, $24 million program funded by the MasterCard Foundation to expand smallholder farmer access to technology-enabled financial and information services in East Africa. Ms. Shrader joins AgriFin from CGAP, where she served as the Senior Digital Financial Services Expert for Asia. She has over 20 years global experience working in financial inclusion with leading banks, mobile network operators and institutions such as CGAP, the World Bank, GiZ, KfW and Women’s World Banking. She has significant expertise in digital financial inclusion, as well as agricultural finance, wholesale and retail microbanking, market research and product development, ratings and technical assistance. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Shrader worked to build innovative commercial banking technology platforms utilizing branchless and mobile phone channels to serve low income markets in Indonesia and the Philippines. She has worked on mobile and development deployments in 16 countries around the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. Ms. Shrader holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and is based in Nairobi with her family, leading programming across Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.

Andrew Karlyn

Director for Strategy and Learning

Andrew Karlyn, PhD, joins the AgriFin Accelerate project as Director for Strategy and Learning.  Andrew most recently served as USAID’s Global Development Lab’s Africa Regional Advisor, based in Nairobi, supporting digital finance initiatives in health, social protection, agriculture and democracy and governance programs.

Andrew is trained as an anthropologist, demographer, and behavioral scientist.  He was a principal contributor to Population Council’s mHealth initiatives spanning over 30 projects in the HIV prevention and treatment, maternal and newborn health, and poverty, gender and youth interventions.  Andrew has designed and deployed mobile technology across Africa, including the delivery of pre- and post-test HIV counseling, job-aids and task-shifting tools, remote sampling and data collection techniques; and, point-of-service/care tools.  

Andrew served as Country Director for Population Council Nigeria and Chief of Party on a large PEPFAR grant to address social determinants of HIV risk in northern Nigeria.  Prior to, Andrew was lead behavioral scientist on the Truvada PrEP clinical trial at CDC Botswana.  

Andrew has worked in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for more than 18 years, providing technical assistance to conduct research, policy analysis, advocacy development, program design, monitoring and evaluation systems, and evaluations for a variety of clients, including community-based organizations, host governments, multi- and bi-lateral international donors, national and international NGOs, and UN agencies. Andrew has extensive experience working in conflict and post-conflict settings to deliver emergency aid and health care, conducting epidemiological surveillance and social appraisals, and facilitating the transition to sustainable development.


Christabell Makokha

Country Director

Christabell Makokha is the Country Director for Mercy Corps’ AgriFin Accelerate (AFA) program in Zambia. She has experience in strategy advisory and consulting having worked with clients in the private sector as well as in development; previous clients have included government and educational institutions, multi-lateral donors, pharmaceutical companies, and investors in the Agriculture, Global Health, and Financial Inclusion sectors. She has vast experience in performing market research and analytics to inform strategy, product development, and impact evaluation. At the launch of AFA, Christabell worked with the program to explore opportunities for enhancing access to finance for smallholder farmers using digital platforms in Kenya and now in Zambia. Similarly, Christabell worked with Financial Sector Deepening Kenya (FSDK) to prepare a strategy around agricultural finance, based on FSDK’s capabilities, and aligned to their vision. With an extensive understanding of financial and non-financial needs of smallholder farmers and potential models to address these issues, Christabell will be leading the overall implementation of the AFA program in Zambia, including establishing the Zambia office, developing, and leading partner engagements. Christabell holds AB and BE degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Dartmouth College, US.

Paul Kweheria

Country Director

Paul Kweheria is the Country Director for Mercy Corps’ AgriFin Accelerate (AFA) program in Tanzania. Paul brings in banking experience into AgriFin from KCB Bank where he worked for 12 and half years in various capacities. Paul’s range of experience is in strategic planning, development and monitoring, Ideation, Product Development and Commercialization, Agriculture Finance, Risk management and Governance, Project Management, Systems Implementation and Administration. As a Senior Strategy Manager at KCB, Paul was responsible for development and monitoring of KCB Group interests in Commercial and Retail Banking, Banc assurance, Investment Banking and KCB Foundation in six countries. Paul co-developed an innovative agriculture finance program delivered on mobile technology; where he led the research, ideation, concept and product development, business case development, vendor and partner engagement, field implementation and a successful fund raising of over US$ 16 million. Previously, he also championed an innovative digital bill payments and financing product and managed certification program for credit and debit card business.
Paul holds an MBA from Strathmore Business School, BSC in Computer Science from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and completed his Certified Public Accountancy (CPA – Kenya).


Sieka Gatabaki

Financial Services Manager

Before joining AgriFin Sieka served as Technical Advisor with IFC managing their Airtel Money Uganda accelerator program since August 2014. With over 12 years’ experience spanning from social entrepreneurship to telecommunications, he specializes in the mobile financial services sector. His extensive experience ranges from the launch of mobile payments services to commercialization and usage expansion. Prior to IFC, Mr. Gatabaki has consulted for various organizations including, Vital Wave, Ernest & Young, and Grameen Foundation to assist their clients in leveraging the opportunities presented by the mobile financial services platform, spanning from concept and product development to processes and operations design. Mr. Gatabaki also brings finance and MNO experience to any engagement as he worked at Standard and Mutual, a corporate finance advisory firm, and at Airtel Kenya, where he led the development and management of the mobile commerce section to successfully achieve the market penetration and revenue targets for Airtel Money. Mr. Gatabaki has also led business strategy, performed project and program management, and worked on capacity building and partnership development at varying companies such as Celtel Kenya Ltd., KenCall, and Global Entrepreneurs Africa. He has a Bachelor of Commerce, Marketing, Accounting, Administration from Catholic University of Eastern Africa, and is based in Kenya.

Lucy Kioko

Agricultural Product Manager

Lucy Kioko is the Agricultural Product Manager. Lucy brings in experience from working in agricultural development in Kenya and the East African region. She has worked with a number of local, international NGOs and private sector companies in agribusiness in the area of value chain development and pro-poor development initiatives with smallholder farmers. Specifically she has thorough understanding of value chain approach and how it can empower farmers, improve productivity, value and incomes for poverty alleviation. She has worked with business and Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) in Horticulture, oil seed sub-sector, dairy, coffee, Honey and pastoralist (Livestock) value chains. She has skills in enterprise development through Business Development (BDS) approach including building linkages to finance, technology, service providers, and information. Lucy also has practical knowledge on making markets work for the poor through reduction of value chain inefficiencies, mobilization, contract marketing, meeting international production standards for sustainability and fair returns, structured commodity trading and value addition and advocacy for improved policy and business environment for smallholder farmers to thrive. Lucy has senior management experience having developed and implemented a number of donor funded projects in the course of her career.She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Nairobi, a Diploma in Business Management from the Kenya Institute of Management and a BA in Development Studies from the University of South Africa.


Emmanuel Makau

Technology Product Manager

Emmanuel is a technology and business development professional with over 10 years’ experience in product development, innovation, business development and risk management in the telecom industry. Emmanuel has had the opportunity to work for major organizations in the region and gained diversified experience, having successfully grown & held positions as AaRisk Analyst Team Leader at Celtel, Product Manager Core products and Devices with Zain Kenya, VAS Manager for Safaricom Ltd, Enterprise Product Manager Safaricom Ltd, Business Development Manager- Mobile and Digital Inclusion Airtel Africa and most recently as Head, Mobile Financial Services in Airtel Africa, Marketing. Emmanuel holds an MBA with the Management University of Africa and already holds Bachelor of Commerce degree in Management Information Systems from Daystar University in Kenya. Emmanuel is an internationally certified Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), a Computer Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and holds a diploma in Computer Electronics and Engineering. Some of Emmanuel’s achievements was the funding, development and successful launched in Kenya of the “Airtel Kilimo” platform for farmers in 2012. Emmanuel has also been instrumental in developing mobile insurance products, and launched “Airtel Insurance” in 8 African countries, reaching 3 million customers and generating over $ 2 million in indirect revenue. Before joining Mercy Corps, Emmanuel was engaged in technical consultancies for structured networking, audits and IT infrastructure setup for start-up companies.


Oliver Stephen Otieno

Program Data and Information Manager

Oliver brings over 9 years of experience in the field of digital financial services, data management and Information Technology. He has worked with Governments, International Organizations and a number of local and private sector companies including Ministry of Interior – Kenya, Ministry of Interior-Tanzania, UN-HABITAT, UNISDR, Lipa Na M-PESA & M-Ticketing. Oliver has exceptional expertise in the fields of mobile payments, mobile commerce, database development, data analysis, information systems development and disaster risk reduction. He has a passion for research on new technologies that increase farm productivity through the introduction of systems that bring smallholder farmers closer to the market by use of digital financial services. Oliver holds a Bachelor of Business Information Technology from Strathmore University. He is currently writing his thesis on the impact of technology on the international business in Kenya. Oliver is a certified CISCO Networking associate and is also a member of the bustling innovation community at the iHub innovations lab.


Angelah Madara

Digital Farmer Capability Lab Manager

Angelah brings with her over 10 years’ experience in mobile based financial services and mobile health services. As a digital financial service professional, Angelah has worked with organizations at various stages of growth, including start-up, established and in turnaround settings within the telecommunication, banking, micro-finance, consultancy and non-governmental organizations in 18 countries. Angelah is adept at developing mobile financial solutions and has a unique take on developing partnerships in order to increase programme outcomes. She has helped organizations develop and roll out mobile financial solutions throughout Africa and South Asia with the aim of achieving financial inclusion through improving access to financial services in developing countries. She has been involved in the roll-out of M-PESA money transfer, Equity bank’s agency banking, Ecobank’s money transfer, MTN mobile money and has worked with several organization including Safaricom -M-PESA, Equity Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, EFInA, MTN, Ecobank, Glo, Airtel, UNCDF, Access Bank and the Nairobi Stock Exchange just to name a few. She is also a contributor for the Economist Intelligence Unit’s yearly assessments of financial inclusion landscape “The Microscope on Financial Inclusion” and has assisted in the publication of their yearly reports. Angelah holds a Master’s degree in International Business (MBA) from The University of Nairobi, a bachelor degree in Business Information Technology from Strathmore University and is a member of the Mobile Payment Association and the World Economic Association.

Collins Marita

Monitoring Evaluation and Learning Manager

Collins brings more than ten years of experience in research and project management, and, in addition to a specialty in agricultural sector-related research projects, he has also worked in the health and ICT sectors. His expertise spans over ten countries in Africa and Asia in both qualitative and quantitative research, including designing and implementing studies, as well as program monitoring and evaluation. Prior to joining AFA, Collins managed the Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) research program for Kenya, with an additional focus on the agricultural value chain in all eight FII countries in Intermedia Survey Institute. The FII program, conducted on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to fill knowledge gaps for financial inclusion stakeholders by providing fundamental data about trends in access and use of digital financial services through rigorous, nationally representative surveys and targeted qualitative research studies. While there he was also part of the team coordinating research on smallholder farmer households’ use of digital financial services supported by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).

Collins has worked in the private sector research community as a research manager, and, in the NGO sector, as a monitoring and evaluation officer for 2SCALE, a project focused on improving farmer livelihoods through the formation of agribusiness clusters. He also worked at the International Livestock Research Institute, under the Livelihoods, Gender and Impact program, as an impact assessment consultant in Nairobi and Addis Ababa.

Collins holds a Master of Science degree in Research Methods from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Nairobi and has a diploma in Business Management from the Kenya Institute of Management.

James Hokans

Senior Technical Advisor for Learning

James is a senior global thought leader on transformational digital finance. At Mercy Corps he is leading the effort to monitor, evaluate and learn from project engagements with partners around the delivery of digital financial and information services and to sharing those learnings with ecosystem players. Before joining Mercy Corps, Mr. Hokans was a practice director for 10 years at Bankable Frontier Associates, a niche consulting company that focuses on socio-economic impact of mobile money and branchless banking. Mr. Hokans worked on transformational branchless banking in the e-payments sector in the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, the DRC, Nigeria, Mexico and Colombia. His clients have included the World Bank group and several other bi-lateral donors, banking regulators and support organizations working on interoperability, a range of international commercial banks, such as the Standard Bank of South Africa and the Equity Bank Group, mobile network operators, as well as NGOs like Mercy Corps and donor institutions. He is also the former Deputy Project Director for the Gateway Financial Innovation for Savings (GAFIS) project sponsored by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that focused on the delivery of innovative savings products on mobile. He was also the Philippines country director for the Better Than Cash Alliance, UNCDF. Previously he worked on a major KFW-funded rural housing finance project in South Africa, acted as a housing policy advisor to the new government of Namibia and worked on Urban Poverty Programming for The Ford Foundation in Eastern and Southern Africa. Mr. Hokans received his M.Sc. in Economics and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and he also holds a certificate in Project Management from the Business School at the University of Cape Town. Mr. Hokans earned his BA at Dartmouth College, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude and Highest Honors in History.

Happy Mathew

Senior Program Officer at Mercy Corps AFA Program in Tanzania

Happy has over 5 years of experience in banking industry where she has held various positions ranging from ICT based roles to Project management role. More than half of the 5 years she spent in ICT carrying out end user support, systems training, database administrations and core banking systems maintenance and support. While at ICT she received an award of the best ICT support staff of the year and managed to grow from an officer to the middle manager levels of the bank. There after she joined project management where she has successfully delivered various strategic projects such as core banking system re-implementation, digital banking solutions such as mobile banking, internet banking and virtual solar loans for Tanzanians in the rural areas where the national grid has not reached. In her previous role she was working with a Tanzanian bank inclined towards serving the lower pyramid of the society as a project manager, she coordinated and managed projects that cut across ICT related projects and banking products. During her time with the bank she managed projects that facilitated the bank to provide super-agent services to the individual mobile money agents, coordinated field research on agency banking and digitization of the insurance services offered by the bank through smart policy systems and many other strategic projects. Her strong attitude and commitment to delivery has made her rise to various levels and demonstrate tremendous success at them.

Happy is a Computer science degree holder with PRINCE2 certification for project management and currently pursuing PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification to cement her projects management knowledge..