SWFF Delegation in Amsterdam, November 2015 | Photo by Adrienne Norman
A Grand Challenge For Development
Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development helps farmers around the world grow more food using less water, enhance water storage, and improve the use of saline water and soil to produce food by ensuring that the entrepreneurs and scientists behind groundbreaking new approaches are getting the support they need to apply and expand their solutions around the world.
Promoting Science and Technology Solutions
Since 2013, USAID, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Government of South Africa, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands have invested $34 million and provided critical acceleration support to promote science and technology solutions that enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.
USAID, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands launched the Securing Water for Food Grand Challenge for Development the first week of September 2013 during World Water Week in Stockholm.
Securing Water for Food and its new partner – the Department of Science and Technology, South Africa – has worked to identify and accelerate science and technology innovations and market-driven approaches that improve water sustainability to boost food security and ultimately alleviate poverty. The goal of the Challenge is to enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.
Technical Assistance Facility
Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development (SWFF) through its Technical Assistance Facility, a project of The Kaizen Company, provides financial and acceleration support to the game-changing innovators who work at the nexus of water and agriculture. This hybrid incubator-accelerator helps innovators improve their market-driven business development, commercial growth, and scaling.
The SWFF TA Facility consults and works hand-in-hand with each Grand Challenge innovator to identify their specific barriers to hitting targets and scaling their technologies, and then connects them high-impact service providers that bring the capabilities, global presence, and specific country knowledge to help them overcome those barriers.
The TA Facility also works with partners along the food value chain to test and market innovations, and to provide needs-based and tailored services to help the innovators address one of the world’s most pressing development challenges.
Dr. Donna Vincent Roa
An internationally accredited business communicator (ABC) and certified development project manager (CDPM®), Dr. Donna Vincent Roa is the author of numerous articles and three books including The Value of Water: A Compendium of Essays by Smart CEOs. Donna has worked previously as a management and branding consultant for international organizations, EPA’s Public Affairs Director and Director of Science Communication, and a social scientist with USIA. Globally recognized as a champion for water, sustainability, agriculture and the environment, she was one of 10 social scientists to conduct research in world capitals for the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s first redesign of the $100 bill.
As Chief of Party for the SWFF TA Facility, she is catalyzing social impact entrepreneurship in the water-ag nexus. She holds a Ph.D. in international communication, has worked and travelled in nearly 40 countries, and appreciates being called a multipotentialite.
Kevan Hayes received his M.B.A. in Information Systems and his B.B.A. in Finance from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Kevan has extensive experience providing strategic advisory to senior leaders of Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies in the US, Europe, and the Middle East.
His career focus has been helping clients identify, prioritize, and implement process improvement and knowledge management solutions to increase productivity and improve decision making. As Acceleration Facilitator for the SWFF TA Facility, he recruits and manages a global network of consultancies and subject matter experts to provide technical assistance and diagnoses innovators' challenges to scale, connecting them to support resources they need.
Rami Khyami holds a B.Sc. in Banking and Finance from the Amman Al Ahlia University in Jordan and speaks Arabic fluently. Rami has extensive working experience with FAR, OMB circulars, AIDAR, GAAP, and CAS . He also managed financial operations for both profit and 501(c)3 tax non-profit organizations, supported annual DCAA audits, corporate private audits, and USAID financial reviews.
Rami served on long and short-term field assignments in various countries around the world to establish operations in field offices, conducted annual reviews and internal audits. He established creative and innovative tools to streamline processes, ensure quality and timeliness of reporting, and reduce financial risks. Currently, Rami serves as the Grants & Contracts Specialist for SWFF TA Facility.
Stephen Simon holds two degrees in Economics and Political Science (B.A.) from the University of Maryland, College Park. He has performed fieldwork as a refugee educator in Thailand and M&E consultant in Haiti, and most recently worked as a DC-based project manager for conflict mitigation and institutional capacity building projects in the West Bank and Iraq, as well as a coordinator for a community of practice for educators in Haiti.
He is currently the M&E Specialist for the SWFF program, providing technical assistance to all SWFF awardees and ensuring that robust data are captured to inform decision-making at all levels of the program.
Cassy Rodriguez is an international development professional with experience in community-based forest management and the water and agriculture sector. As the Program Coordinator for SWFF, Cassy provides support to the SWFF Team Lead and the TA Facility and serves as liaison with internal and external partners.
Prior to joining SWFF, she worked as a Program Coordinator at the NYU School of Law. As a graduate student, she conducted fieldwork in South Africa, Zambia and Peru. She holds an M.S. in International Development from New York University and is a Magna Cum Laude B.A graduate in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from Stony Brook University.
Julia Hedlund is Kaizen's home office project manager for the Securing Water for Food: Technical Assistance Facility. In her capacity, she ensures timely delivery of project deliverables, monitors subcontractors’ performance, recruits short and long-term personnel, drafts consultant agreements, subcontracts, and purchase order contracts, and responds to and ensures good relations with USAID Contract Officer’s Representative (COR).
Liz Heller is a Program Management Coordinator at Kaizen's home office in Washington, DC. At Kaizen Liz provides backstopping assistance on a number of USAID-funded projects, contributes to the company’s strategic initiatives and supports proposal development and coordination.
Prior to joining Kaizen, Liz worked in Beijing, China as a Program Manager with the JUMP Foundation, a small non-profit social enterprise. At JUMP she managed youth programs focused on leadership, team-building and personal development including a six-week summer program for underserved American high school students who received full scholarships through the US State Department to study in China. As a graduate student Liz worked with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) on governance and political transition programming in Asia and the Middle East.
Liz holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University.