SWFF Delegation in Stockholm, Sweden | 2018 World Water Week | Photo by Benjamin Arthur
SWFF Delegation in Stockholm, Sweden | 2018 World Water Week | Photo by Benjamin Arthur
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 $35 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 newest 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.
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.
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, and has worked and travelled in 45 countries.
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.
Saad Usmani received his M.Sc in Environmental Economics from the University of York (UK) and his B.Sc in Agriculture and Resource Economics from the University of Alberta (Canada). He speaks Spanish, Hindi/Urdu, and Kiswahili fluently and he has been responsible for the implementation of diverse programs ranging from snail rearing and organic farming workshops in Ghana, to agroforestry initiatives and agribusiness development in Tanzania, and rainwater irrigation in arid, food deficient areas of Kenya. He also has engaged in fieldwork in multiple countries on behalf of the public, academic, and private sector for the purposes of agricultural development, food security, and environmental conservation.
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.
Nikki deBaroncelli is an international development professional with experience in program development, research and assessment, and cross-cultural project management.
Prior to joining Kaizen, Nikki worked for Walk With Sally, a youth development nonprofit, where she created and implemented successful program-wide policies and procedures, and organized all program events, trainings, and presentations. She also served as a Volunteer Coordinator for African Impact, a development organization in Livingstone, Zambia. While there, she managed and trained volunteers from all over the world, provided on-going logistical support, and served as a liaison between the organization and high-level community stakeholders. Nikki holds a Master’s degree in International Development from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, concentrating in Humanitarian Assistance.
As a Program Coordinator at the Kaizen Company working with SWFF, Sam Weisman provides home office backstopping and helps support the voucher system.
Before joining the Kaizen home office, Sam worked as an Associate at SWFF where he coordinated a remote association (intern) team.
Sam holds a Bachelor's degree in International Studies with a Concentration in Globalization and Sustainability from Dickinson College, where he contributed to several research projects around water and agriculture in Nepal.
Hannah Selles is an international development professional with experience in program development, partnership development, and research.
Prior to joining Kaizen, Hannah was a Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer at a vocational training center in Hentii province, Mongolia. She also worked for a nonprofit in Birmingham, Alabama, where she helped launch and coordinate a statewide college access initiative. Hannah has a Master’s degree in International Relations and International Economics from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and a Certificate in Chinese Studies from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.