Who We Are
Each FES team member brings unique perspective, experience, and talent to co-designing and implementing solutions to hunger and malnutrition that are impactful and commercially sustainable.
Food Enterprise Solutions is on a mission to energize the global food system to better balance global needs and profit. We leverage the powers of business, entrepreneurship, and innovation as key drivers in the global fight against hunger and malnutrition. We work in partnership with businesses and organizations to provide safe, nutritious, and affordable foods through supply chains that are commercially viable and environmentally sustainable. We offer expertise in partnership development, market analysis, project design & management, training, and specialized technical assistance to strengthen capacities of - and linkages among - key actors within food systems. Our team of experts has extensive experience working with food enterprises of all sizes – from village market vendors to major global corporations – across multiple countries and commodities.
Meet the Team
Founder and President
Russ has a long career promoting the private sector as a key driver for food security and economic growth. His work ranges from designing and managing agriculture research, extension and rural finance programs overseas, to evaluating project impact, to advising international donor agencies and foreign governments on how to structure policy priorities, regulatory frameworks, and programs that mobilize private capital and incentivize economic growth. Russ is passionate about the role of small- and medium-sized enterprises in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and private investment that will feed the world's population and create wealth for those living in poverty. A solid team player and effective leader, Russ has a proven track record in portfolio management, staff development, client relationship management, public communications, market analysis, and business development.
Director of Programs
Roberta began her career serving in the Peace Corps as a livestock extension agent for the Ministry of Agriculture in Guatemala. This experience fueled her passion for helping farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs—particularly women and youth— to improve their business operations, financial viability, and access to markets. With core competencies in production planning and supply chain management in livestock, poultry, vegetables, coffee, and cacao, and other value chains. Roberta has designed, managed, and implemented agriculture programs that promote rural income and livelihoods, while contributing to sustainable, safe, and nutritious food systems. She is a certified Veterinary Technician, a fluent Spanish speaker, and has extensive program management expertise with multiple donor organizations, companies, and foundations across 39 countries.
Dr. Thoric Nils Cederstrom
Director of Research and Learning
Thoric - shown at left (in hat) talking with a colleague in Guatemala - is a champion of market-driven approaches to reducing hunger and malnutrition. He is experienced in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs that engage public, private, and civil-society institutions and key actors in building sustainable, commercially-viable, safe, and nutritious food systems. A recognized research analyst and program strategist, Thoric’s expertise includes developing cash-based interventions for rural livelihoods, conducting participatory food security assessments, designing stakeholder training and capacity building programs, and conducting anthropometric surveys. From his roots growing up on a family dairy farm in Missouri, Thoric went on to work extensively in Latin America, Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia. He holds degrees in Development Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Agricultural Economics, and Archaeology, is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and conversational in French.
Senior Manager of Operations
Sarah is a sustainable food system enthusiast, a nature conservationist and has worked to alleviate poverty throughout her extensive career. She has implemented fieldwork in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean for non-profits and the private sector. She began her career in commercial development of the artisanal fisheries sector for FAO in Cape Verde and for the last several years has overseen programs in nutrition-led agriculture and building communities that are resilient to climate shocks and other crises. Sarah has designed and managed programs in sustainable agriculture and food security and safety, natural resources, value chains, training and intercultural communications. Sarah holds a master’s degree in International Administration from the SIT Graduate School, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and studied at the American University in Cairo.
Senior Technical Manager
Victor has led the technical design and operations of startup programs, notably in Vietnam and northern Ghana. He joins FES after serving as technical advisor in nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems for over 7 years. He brings skills in enterprise development and business services provision to small- and medium-sized enterprises, as well as experience in applied research and project monitoring, evaluation and learning. Having spent roughly equal times in both field and headquarters-based management and technical positions, he now focuses on advancing market solutions that ultimately contribute to safe, nutritious and appealing foods in local markets. Victor holds master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois focusing on trade and policy, and Economics from Rutgers University majoring in finance.
Monitoring and Evaluation Manager
Mr. Abasin Nawan is an international development practitioner with 15 years of experience in socio-economic development, building rural livelihoods, and developing agriculture and financial infrastructures to support the sprouting and flourishing of entrepreneurship and businesses in marginalized and underdeveloped societies. Mr. Nawan worked as Monitoring and Evaluation Manager with DT Global and AECOM International Development and supported various initiatives to facilitate better agriculture services for public and private sector activities in Afghanistan. Previously, Mr. Nawan served as a technical advisor, technical deputy chief of party, and M&E and Communications Director of the Financial Access for Investing in Development of Afghanistan (FAIDA) project in Afghanistan, funded by USAID and implemented by Chemonics International. Mr. Nawan holds a master’s degree in project management and entrepreneurship.
International Programs Analyst
Jenna joins FES with over 20 years of experience interpreting and communicating complex and technical concepts in a sponsored research administration setting. This ability is reinforced by her background in natural and social sciences with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Fisheries Ecology and Marine Resource Management, respectively. Through employment with the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA/NMFS), Oregon Sea Grant, and five years serving as the Associate Director of Research and Communications for the USAID-funded Aquaculture and Fisheries Innovation Lab, she has prepared reports of accomplishments and metrics for sponsors and partners, authored peer-reviewed and technical publications to advance science, and produced posters and infographics to inform the broader public. Her writing has covered a broad range of topics including nutrition and food security, capacity building to empower women and youth, sustainable aquaculture and fisheries practices, ocean policy and management, and climate change adaptation.
Senior Project Officer
Shola has vast and varied experience serving on USAID and USG contracts and cooperative agreements. He has managed finance, accounting, and operations on several USAID funded projects in the US and overseas in several Sub-Saharan African countries - Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, DR Congo Kinshasa, and Tanzania. An innovative, multi-tasking, multi-talented, versatile, and entrepreneurial international development professional, Shola has extensive practical hands-on experience ensuring compliance with USAID rules and regulations both at the field office and headquarters levels. Previously, Shola served on a USAID (FFP) Regis-Ag, Agriculture Value Chain project covering the two French speaking countries of Niger and Burkina Faso. Shola is a polyglot with a near-native fluency in French along with several other native and international African languages. Shola’s experience, technical knowledge, versatility, and willingness to serve in challenging locations have contributed immensely to the successful implementation of US government projects and contracts in which he has served.
Mariama Samb Dieng
BD4FS Senegal Program Director
Mariama is an expert in trade and development with fifteen years of professional experience that consists of managing gender-sensitive development programs covering several West African countries under donor funding. She has been in charge of regional agriculture and fisheries micro and small enterprise programs aiming to raise revenues and better market access through quality improvements. She is an expert field agent, adept at networking based on common values. Prior to joining FES, she served as the West Africa Fisheries Policy (REPAO) Program Manager for ENDA Tiers Monde. She also collaborated with the National Confederation of Employers of Senegal as Advisor in Business Development Services before her most recent position with the Japan International Cooperation Agency as the Program Officer for the agriculture and fisheries team and Country Officer for The Gambia. She holds a master’s degree in Development Studies and a Certificate of Continuing Education in Entrepreneurship and Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and a bachelor’s degree in Business and International Trade from the University Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis in Senegal.
BD4FS Senegal Communications Specialist
Astou specializes in strategic research, business strategy, marketing and marketing communication. She is a certified expert in United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) upgrading and diagnosis; and has served as a promoter of export consortia and a trainer in marketing communication, luxury marketing, and project management. She has 13 years of experience in strategic research and planning of marketing and communications as part of projects conducted by UNDP (Study of the shea butter sector and promotion of women producers), QTV Gambia (Marketing and communication plan of a media company), the Ministry of Industry of Senegal (Study of agro-food sectors and local development), UNIDO in The Gambia (Institutional Partnerships), Enda Tiers Monde Senegal (Market analysis, marketing plan and training of agro-food SMEs), the Senegal Upgrading Program (Market analysis, marketing and communication plans of agro-food SMEs), German Cooperation GIZ (Study of the agro-food sector and packaging), among others. She has a DESS (Diploma of Higher Specialized Studies) in Marketing from ISMA/ENEA and a certificate in International Trade from ISG/University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar. She speaks Wolof, French, English and some German.
BD4FS Senegal MEL Specialist
Assane is a health economist and a development economist with over 11 years of experience in program management and monitoring and evaluation, with many of those years serving as Monitoring and Evaluation Officer in USAID and USDA funded projects. He began his career at the community level with a community-based nutrition program where he learned and practiced malnutrition prevention and management, community-based health, behavior change communication, water- sanitation and hygiene, and community-based monitoring and evaluation systems among other topics. Thanks to his experience in multisectoral projects, He has a good knowledge of food security, agri-business and nutrition areas specifically regarding monitoring and evaluation aspects. He has developed skills in data visualization, survey design, data collection with smartphones, and database design and management. He holds a master’s in Development Economics and a master’s in Health Economics - both from Clermont Ferrand University in France - and a master’s degree in Economics from Gaston Berger University in Senegal. Assane is fluent in French and Wolof, proficient in English, and speaks a little bit Arabic and Fulani.
BD4FS Senegal Senior Food Safety Specialist
Babacar is a recognized expert in the field of food safety. He started his career in 1997 in an agri-food company, and successively served as quality manager and director of production. For 10 years, he served as the president of the Senegalese Association for the promotion of food safety in the fisheries sector. Babacar has extensive experience in working with small and medium-sized food companies. Before joining FES, he was an independent food safety consultant. In 2011 he conducted an assessment of the Senegalese sanitary control system for fishery products and made recommendations to preserve the export authorization granted by the EU. Babacar also has substantial experience in capacity building. He has been a Training Manager for a training organization and an expert in the European program "Better Training for Safer Food" Africa. He has designed and implemented numerous trainings for professionals in the agri-food sector and competent authorities in charge of food safety control and certification in African countries. Babacar is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, holds master's degrees in Business Administration and Total Quality Management, and has a Quality Auditor's certificate.
BD4FS Senegal Senior Technical Advisor
Makhtar, a passionate advocate for business development in Africa, has over 30 years of multi-sectoral fisheries and agriculture experience from work in the private sector and from overseeing donor programs in Senegal and West Africa. As Director of the Dakar office of USAID's West Africa Trade Hub (WATH) project under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) from 2007 to 2013, he liaised with senior officials of export promotion agencies, regional and local government ministries, regional organizations, donors, private sector, and the U.S. Embassy and federal agencies (Peace Corps, USDA, APHIS, etc.). Within this framework, he has created business opportunities and provided technical assistance and training, particularly in food safety (HACCP, FDA, labelling, certification), to a wide variety of export-ready companies in various sectors in 21 countries in West and Central Africa.
He has worked on cross-cutting issues of facilitation and improvement of the trade environment in the West African sub-region and helped set up the Observatory of Abnormal Practices to fight against corruption on the corridors and various alliances for sustainable development. He has produced several studies on value chains of seafood products in Senegal, on the financing of perishable goods, and launched the first sustainable fishing label in West Africa (Beg Ellek). He holds an MS Certificate on pollution of water and air from the University of Paris VI, JUSSIEU, (France), an Executive MBA with Delta International University (DIU) of New Orleans and is completing an Executive Doctorate in Business administration with the Paul Valery University of Montpellier (France). He is fluent in French, English, Wolof, fair in Fulani, and Spanish.