Learning Lab Hosts

The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the world’s largest independent foundations, our work is guided by a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, our independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006.

The Foundation is expanding its work in financial inclusion to offer more support to smallholder farmers.  (See recently published rural and agricultural finance strategy).  As part of this expansion, we have engaged GDI and Dalberg to operate the  Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab, which includes establishing and pursuing a learning agenda for our Rural and Agricultural Finance portfolio.

Dalberg

Dalberg is a strategic advisory firm dedicated to global development. Our mission is to mobilize effective responses to the world's most pressing issues. Dalberg will regularly provide consulting teams to support the Lab, especially to conduct mixed-method "deep dive" studies on specific learning questions.

Global Development Incubator

GDI advances and scales transformative perspectives in social impact through a growth engineering approach. They provide structured pathways over 2-3 years to support the achievement of critical step-changes necessary for ideas and organizations to move to the next level. GDI goes beyond traditional consulting models, capacity builders, and bureaucratic platforms to do hands-on implementation in addition to strategic and networking support.

GDI staffs and houses the Learning Lab within its AgEnterprise Portfolio, which also includes separate initiatives such as the Initiative for Smallholder Finance and Precision Agriculture for Development.

Key People

Jason Wendle

Jason Wendle is the Director of the Learning Lab, tasked with guiding the Lab to produce actionable learning that leads to more and better financial solutions for smallholders.  He helped design the Learning Lab as an Associate Partner in the Nairobi office of Dalberg, where he spent 7 years providing strategy advice to clients in agriculture development, access to finance, and other sectors, prior to transitioning to GDI in Washington, DC to direct the Lab.

During his time at Dalberg, Jason provided leadership to Dalberg's evaluation and learning work on the continent. He led teams to develop learning frameworks, design data collection approaches, and evaluate investments; always with the aim to translate learnings into actionable recommendations to increase impact going forward.

Jason holds an MPA/ID from Harvard's Kennedy School. He has published and presented on smallholder finance, SME banking, and impact measurement.

Mikael L. Clason Höök

Mikael is the Manager of the Learning Lab, and is tasked with providing strategy support, engaging with partners, coordinating research, and managing the lab’s day-to-day workstream. Mikael is a development professional and entrepreneur with experience in agriculture, nutrition, private sector development, rural finance, renewable energy, technology for development, and fragile states. 

Prior to joining the Learning Lab, Mikael launched a successful business providing sustainable materials for the green building industry in New York, and a social enterprise providing solar solutions for humanitarian organizations in Africa. Previously, he led the design and implementation of an innovative World Bank survey to collect real time social and economic data in South Sudan. Mikael spent three years in Afghanistan with Chemonics International supporting USAID agriculture programs, where his work focused on developing value chain analysis for agriculture products; implementing a deal driven approach to agriculture development; and organizing trade fairs to promote Afghan exports. 

Mikael holds an MPA/ID from Harvard’s Kennedy School where he was awarded the Public Service Fellowship.

Tom Carroll

Tom Carroll is the Director of the AgEnterprise portfolio of the Global Development Incubator (GDI). The AgEnterprise portfolio supports multi-stakeholder initiatives and social enterprises that focus on the development and application of products and services for small agricultural enterprises, including finance, digital technology, and education. The portfolio’s efforts aim to make the economics of environmentally sound, community-led agriculture sustainable. In this role, Tom oversees GDI’s support for several incubated efforts, including the Initiative for Smallholder Finance and The Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab.

Previously, Tom was a Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors where he led a strategy consulting portfolio that included efforts such as comprehensive investment / market entry analyses of global and regional commodity markets; the development of public-private partnerships across a host of those markets; the commercialization of agriculture technologies; and the design of innovative financing mechanisms in frontier markets.

Tom holds an MBA from Yale School of Management and a BA in government from the University of Notre Dame.

Ann Murage

Ann is the Learning Associate of the Learning Lab, tasked with internal research, analysis, coordination and external engagement with the clients of the Lab. Ann has a background in Project Management with a focus on financial sector development and qualifications in Microfinance and SME Finance.

Prior to joining the Learning Lab, Ann worked as a Project Manager at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. She was responsible for research implementation, multiple partner engagements and coordination of key projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Mozambique. She was part of the team implementing a MasterCard Foundation Youth Business Case Analysis project and a research commissioned by the World Bank focusing on enhancing women entrepreneurs’ productive use of finance. Earlier in her career at the Frankfurt School, Ann was responsible for the regional office’s accounting functions providing onsite support to project offices in DR Congo, Sudan and Southern Sudan.

Ann is currently pursuing an MBA at the University of Liverpool. 

Malia Bachesta

Malia Bachesta is a Communications Associate for the Global Development Incubator (GDI), which hosts the Learning Lab. In her role supporting the Lab, she is tasked with managing the Lab’s communication strategy, website/social media presence, and editorial process for publications, blogs, and press. 

Prior to joining GDI, Malia was a member of Root Capital’s communications team where she led projects for systems improvements and helped track/analyze their performance for online messaging. She has worked on issues such as smallholder finance, energy poverty, and corporate responsibility. 

Malia holds a B.A. from Northeastern University in Communication Studies with a focus on International Affairs and Social Entrepreneurship.