Team.

  • Frank Kennedy

    Frank Kennedy

    Managing Director

    Since January 2008, Frank has led Equator, expanding on his role as chair of the investment committee, duties which began in 2003. Frank is the past President and CEO of HSBC Equator Bank plc, a U.K. registered and regulated bank which did business exclusively in sub Saharan Africa. During his twenty-six years as an executive manager at HSBC Equator, Frank was involved in merchant and investment banking, fund management and trade and project financing in approximately thirty-five countries in Africa. He has served on numerous U.S. government committees and private sector boards related to development in Africa. He also served on the board of HSBC’s Asian investment bank, Wardley Limited, and chaired the board of their South African securities and investment company. For 15 years Frank served as an Independent Director on the Board of the African Export-Import Bank. He continues to serve on the boards of various African financial services companies including the Boards of TransAfrica Holdings Limited, CDH Investment Bank (Malawi), FBC Holdings (Zimbabwe), and ShoreCap II Limited and ShorecCap III, LP.

    Frank began his banking career with the Royal Bank of Canada. He received an Honors degree in Business Administration from the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

  • Stephen Brown

    Stephen Brown

    Director of Finance and Administration

    Since the company’s inception, Stephen has served as the company’s treasurer and chief financial officer. Stephen also held controller positions with ShoreBank Corporation subsidiaries after joining ShoreBank in 1997. Previously, Stephen was Regional Project Accounting Manager for ASC Services LLC, a start-up real estate construction management company (currently a division of Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.).

    Stephen, a licensed Certified Public Accountant and member of the Indiana CPA Society, received his BS in financial management from Valparaiso University and his MBA from Loyola University Chicago. He is a Director of the Board of Equator Capital Partners.

  • Leslie Davis

    Leslie Davis

    Director of Portfolio Management

    Leslie leads financial impact and environmental performance monitoring and investor reporting for Equator’s managed portfolios and serves on Equator’s investment committee. She joined Equator in 2008, and was previously co-founder and partner of SB Partners, a private equity fund that invested in companies owned by ethnic minorities and/or women. Leslie brings over 25 years of fund investment, portfolio management and banking experience. Prior to SB Partners, she was a Senior Vice President at ShoreBank, where she directed the bank’s small business banking division. Leslie also served as an investment professional at National Community Investment Fund, a fund managed by ShoreBank that made equity investments in US based community development financial institutions. Previously, she was a corporate lender at Continental Bank and held various marketing positions at IBM Corporation.

    Leslie is a Director of the Board of Equator Capital Partners. She holds a BA in Economics from Brown University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Nathalie Gabala

    Nathalie Gabala

    ShoreCap III Fund Manager

    Nathalie is in charge of the management of the ShoreCap III portfolio. Prior to joining Equator in 2010, Nathalie spent 10 years with Standard Chartered Bank - Africa where she held different positions as Head of Financial Markets and Regional head in the Africa regional office. Prior to Standard Chartered Bank, Nathalie worked with Citibank in Cameroon and Cote D’Ivoire, with earlier experience drawn from Credit Lyonnais in Paris, France.

    Nathalie serves on the Boards of Jamii Bora Bank and Equator Capital Partners. She has a Master in Management from Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP) in France and a Master in finance and accounting (MSTCF) from the University of Abidjan in Cote D’Ivoire.

  • Phil Hopkins

    Phil Hopkins

    Director of Investments, Africa

    Phil joined Equator in 2013 bringing considerable international lending experience. Since 2005, Phil had managed marketing, underwriting, closing, collections and portfolio management of emerging market long term loans under U.S. Government agency guarantees at World Business Capital. He specialized in banks, leasing companies, and microfinance institutions with broad exposure to Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. From 1997–2004, Phil was a Vice President at HSBC Equator Bank performing business development and credit risk assessment of correspondent banks and other counterparties in twenty countries in Africa. Previously he held various positions in financial services and consulting.

    Phil serves on the Board of Madison Finance Company Limited (Zambia) and Microplan (Zimbabwe) and is a candidate for the CFA Level III. He has a BA in International Economics from Long Island University.

  • Constant Kouamé-Kra

    Constant Kouame-Kra

    Director of Investments, Africa

    Constant brought experience in private equity, investing and auditing when he joined Equator in 2016. Previously, he spent 7 years at private equity fund Cauris Management, where he held the position of Vice President. At Cauris, Constant sourced, negotiated, structured and invested in key growth industries including financial services, consumer/retail, hospitality and agribusiness in West Africa. Prior to that, Constant was a Senior Auditor at E&Y Cote d’Ivoire, where he was responsible for reviewing procedures, performing financial audits, and analyses of banks, insurers and leasing companies.

    Constant holds a Master in Management from Université Paris Dauphine in France and a MSc. in International Finance from Westminster Business School, United Kingdom.

    ckouame-kra@equatorcap.net

  • Elizabeth Wollek

    Accounting & Portfolio Manager Assistant

    Elizabeth supports the Director of Finance and Administration and Director of Portfolio Management. Although she joined Equator in 2018, her affiliation with the company dates back to 2007 when she began working for CapitalPlus Exchange. Her past involvement gives her a unique perspective and appreciation of Equator's contribution to developing and transitional economies.

    Elizabeth holds an MBA from DePaul University and is the Co-Founder and CEO of EarlyVention, a social enterprise that designs subscription activity boxes for those impacted by autism. 

  • Paul Christensen

    Investment Committee Chairman

    Paul is a Clinical Professor of Finance at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Prior to 2008, Paul was the President of ShoreCap Management, fund manager of ShoreCap International. From 2000-2003 he served as President and CEO at Shore Bank Enterprise Group, an economic development organization in Cleveland, Ohio. Earlier in his career Paul was an Associate and Engagement Manager at McKinsey and Company.

    Paul received an MBA with distinction from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Dartmouth College.

  • Mark Alloway

    Investment Committee Member

    Mark, a British citizen, recently retired from the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C. During his 24 years with IFC, he held various positions in IFC's Financial Institutions Group, including Senior Manager responsible for investments in Emerging Europe and Latin America, Associate Director responsible for IFC's financial sector portfolio worldwide and more recently Head of Business Development for financial institutions in Europe. He has invested in and helped restructure and privatize banks in several emerging markets in Latin America as well as Central and Eastern Europe including Russia, Turkey and Central Asia. He has also held board seats in banks, insurance companies, pension fund managers, private equity partnerships and other financial institutions in Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, Columbia, El Salvador, Peru and the United Kingdom.

    Prior to joining IFC in 1993, Mark worked for eight years as a Petroleum Engineer in Venezuela, Brazil and the United Kingdom's leading development capital companies. He holds a degree in Physics from Oxford University, a post-graduate degree in Petroleum Engineering from London University and an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. He also did an Executive MBA at Harvard Business School.

  • Arnold Ekpe

    Investment Committee Member

    Arnold Ekpe is a Nigerian banker and businessman who was the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, the pan-African bank with operations from Togo to Nigeria to the DRC, from 2005–2012. He oversaw the expansion of the bank across Africa. He concurrently served as the CEO for Ecobank Nigeria. Mr. Ekpe is well versed in building cross-border financial institutions, mergers and acquisitions, capital structure and financial technology.

    Prior to joining Ecobank, Mr. Ekpe served as the CEO of United Bank for Africa, UBA, the Nigerian based pan-African bank. Prior to UBA, Mr. Ekpe served as Vice President and Head of Africa Trade and Corporate Finance for Sub-Saharan Africa for Citibank.

    Mr. Ekpe has served on numerous corporate boards in Africa. He is the Chair of the Supervisory Board of Microcred. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Sustainability Finance Real Economics SICAV-SIF, Luxembourg. He is a non-executive director of Crown Agents Bank and Crown Agents Investment Management UK, and a non-executive director of Dangote Four Mills in Nigeria. He is currently the Honorary President of the Business Council for Africa in the UK.

    Mr. Ekpe holds a first-class honors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Manchester University and a MBA from Manchester Business School.

  • Paul Lembrechts

    Investment Committee Member

    Paul is the CEO of Belgium’s Flemish public broadcaster, VRT.  He had an early career as a Director of Radio Programs on Belgian Radio and Television and as a scriptwriter. Paul entered the banking world in 1985, holding various posts at the Generale Bank (later Fortis Bank) including President of the Board of Alpha-Credit (provider of consumer loans and car finance); President of the Board of Alpha-Life (life insurance subsidiary); and President of the Board of Thibaut Colson Denef (now FB Brokerage).

    Later Paul joined ABN-Amro NV, and held several positions before becoming Executive Vice-President ABN-Amro Bank, CEO European Growth Markets.  This was followed by a position as Deputy CEO-Member of the Executive Board at Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe Belgium, and CEO-President of the Executive Board at BKCP Bank.  BKCP was a provider of banking services including savings and investment products, life insurance and business loans for private individuals, the self-employed, learned trades and SME’s.

    Paul has been associated with the ShoreCap funds since he represented ABN-Amro on the ShoreCap International Board in 2004.  He now serves as a member of the Investment Committees for ShoreCap II and ShoreCap III.

    Paul received a degree in Latin-Mathematics from Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege – Merksem and trained as a veterinary surgeon at Ghent University (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine).