Ayesha, a banker turned farmer and social impact innovator
Ayesha Vera-Yu is CEO and Co-Founder of ARK, a social impact innovator that co-invests WITH rural communities in the developing world who want to be food secure and self-sustaining.
In 2020, at the height of the pandemic that triggered acute hunger among farmers and fisherfolk who feed the world, Ayesha steered ARK to pivot its award-winning and the world’s only self-sustaining, 5-cent school lunch to a food security program that benefited everyone in the community.
Feed Back is a community-based vegetable exchange that is solving hunger in just 5 weeks. It creates a path for families to source food from their backyards, exchange excess produce with their neighbors, and sell to their own community, nearby villages and towns. It enables communities to work together, be food secure and resilient. It launches new entrepreneurs and new local, regenerative and equitable food systems. The program is 16 weeks and requires a one-time investment of $45/family or $15,000/community.
Because of its immediate and sustainable impact, Feed Back is one of only two (the only one that is self-sustaining) food security solutions that the national government and a consortium of leading corporations and foundations are endorsing in the Philippines.
Ayesha and ARK dream to secure and transform a million lives in the next 3 years. Starting in the Philippines, ARK plans to partner with 150 communities who will lead other communities to be food secure. ARK is also developing a playbook, a do-it-yourself guide, so that hard-to-reach communities in the Philippines and beyond can secure their food on their own.
In addition to being a solution maker, Ayesha is a future maker. Through ARK, she is creating a new path in the world that is catalytic and not colonistic. She truly believes in the agency, brilliance and innovation of her rural partners who have been overlooked or perceived as dependent “beneficiaries”. With them, Ayesha sources and designs solutions from within, that communities invest in and execute, and that create a near-term exit for catalytic investors.
Prior to ARK, Ayesha worked at BNP Paribas for 11 years where she led multi-billion dollar, cross border leverage buy-outs (LBO) and mergers & acquisitions (M&A) transactions across a wide variety of industries. Ayesha also fell in love with farming and restructured her family’s farm to be the first in the Capiz province to go back to organic and regenerative methods.
Ayesha has been recognized as a Young Global Leader in the World Economic Forum and an Ashoka Fellow. She was selected for Facebook’s Community Accelerator Program (2020) and Morgan Stanley’s Strategy Challenge Program (2019). Ayesha studied biochemistry, third world politics and art history at Mount Holyoke College. She has an executive MBA degree from Columbia University.KEEP READING
Kim Kolt is Co-founder and General Partner at Bay Bridge Ventures, created upon the belief that the future’s most successful companies will be those that solve critical problems facing the environment and humanity.
She was formerly the Founder & President of For Good Ventures, a family office investment firm that invests in disruptive, exceptional technologies and platforms benefiting humanity and the environment. Investment verticals include environmental technologies such as clean tech, biotech and the future of food and agriculture, as well as health care, education, and financial access for underserved communities.
Prior to For Good Ventures, Kim worked with Goldman Sachs in their Technology, Media and Telecom Investment Banking Groups in San Francisco and Los Angeles and previously M&A at Deutsche Bank in NYC. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kim is a board member and/or advisor to a number of early stage companies in ESG and actively involved in non-profits that focus on the same missions. She is fundamentally passionate about technologies that contribute to saving lives and reversing climate change.
Kim has held a number of licenses and designations including USGBC LEED, Series 79, and CCIM. Kim is also a venture partner at a to-be-announced institutional ESG Fund, Gratitude Railroad Partner, Astia Angels member, Unreasonable Group member, Summit Fellow, X-Prize and more.
Dr Ajay Mathur is the Director General of the International Solar
Alliance. He earlier headed The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), and was responsible for mainstreaming energy efficiency in houses, offices and industries through a number of innovative initiatives. He was a leading climate change negotiator, and was the Indian spokesperson at the Paris climate negotiations. He served as the interim Director of the Green Climate Fund during its foundational period.
At TERI, he has spearheaded the move to accelerate action towards a low-carbon and cleaner economy through the adoption of renewable energy in the Indian electricity sector, enhancing efficiency in buildings and industry, and promoting environmental quality through recycling of material wastes and biotechnology-based solutions. He also anchored the annual World Sustainable Development Summits during his tenure at TERI.
He was also a member of Indian Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and co-chairs of the global Energy Transitions Commission.
Mr. Dayal leads The Rockefeller Foundation’s global Power & Climate Initiative, aimed at scaling up energy access, and an inclusive energy transition that drives economic and social development. He currently also served as the Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, where he provided strategic oversight to operationalize and develop key partnerships to build a unique new global effort. Over more than a decade with the Foundation, Mr. Dayal has overseen investments in urban climate change resilience and renewable energy, and led the establishment of Smart Power India, a dedicated platform to support the acceleration of last-mile electrification.
Mr. Dayal joined The Rockefeller Foundation in 2008 as its Asia Managing Director, running the Foundation’s regional office in Bangkok, Thailand. From there he led the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, a major nine-year partnership that equipped over 50 Asian cities to better cope with climate change impacts. He also oversaw the Foundation’s global Inclusive Economies portfolio, a policy and research effort to advance development and impact investments that drive more broadly shared prosperity. Before joining the Foundation, he held a range of senior leadership roles over 15 years with Oxfam in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. This included leading its largest-ever relief and recovery effort in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, and overseeing the creation of Oxfam India.
In addition to his experience across Asia, Ashvin also spent several years working in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, supporting post-conflict reconstruction and economic development programs in Bosnia, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Ashvin holds a bachelor’s degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and a master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins.
Sean Kidney is CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international NGO working to mobilize global capital for climate action. Projects include a green bond definitions and certification scheme with $34 trillion of assets represented on its Board and some 200 organizations involved in its development and governance; working with the Chinese central bank on how to grow green bonds in China; and market development programs in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Nigeria and East Africa.
He is a member of the European Commission’s Platform on Sustainable Finance, and was a member of its predecessors, the 2017 EU High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance and the EU Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. He is also a member of green finance advisory groups in China, India, Mexico and Kazakhstan and an Advisory Board member of the International Sustainable Financial Centre in Prague.
He has previously been a consultant on green bonds to the United Nations Secretary General, a member of the Peoples Bank of China Green Finance Task Force and a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Expert Committee on Climate Finance.
Sean is also a Professor in Practice at SOAS University of London.
For the past three years he has been voted GlobalCapital magazine’s “Most Influential Champion” of the sustainable finance market.
Makhtar Diop is IFC’s Managing Director. Before this, he was the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure, where he led the Bank’s global efforts to build sustainable infrastructure in developing and emerging economies. Prior to this, Mr. Diop served for six years as the World bank’s Vice President for Africa. A passionate advocate for Africa’s right to clean and affordable energy, he called for greater investment in renewables and pushed for greater investment in climate adaptation. An economist by training who started his career in the banking industry before joining the IMF and later the World Bank, he has also held government positions, most notably as Minister of Economy and Finance of Senegal. A recognized opinion leader in the economic and social development field, Mr. Diop has been named one of the 100 most influential Africans in the world.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest development finance institution supporting the private sector in emerging markets. IFC works in more than 100 countries, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing and emerging economies. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.