Team

Team

MORE ABOUT OUR TEAM

EQUATOR brings together an experienced team of seasoned investment professionals with a depth of international, emerging markets expertise. Equator’s investment professionals possess exceptional experience in banking, investing and other financial services.

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Managing Director

Director of Finance and Administration

Chief Risk Officer

Director of Investments, Africa

Director of Investments, Africa

Chief Investments Officer

Consultants, Investments

Accounting & Portfolio Manager Assistant

Investment Committee Chairman

Investment Committee Member

Investment Committee Member

Investment Committee Member

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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. 

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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.

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Leslie Davis

Chief Risk Officer

Leslie possesses over 30 years of equity investing and lending experience in the mission related sector, achieving superior returns while promoting positive ethical, social and environmental values. 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.  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 a fund manager for 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.

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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 Microplan (Zimbabwe) and is a candidate for the CFA Level III. He has a BA in International Economics from Long Island University.

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Raj Domun

Director of Investments, Africa

After a long and successful career in the telco space in Mauritius & South Africa with Mauritius Telecom, Raj moved into the private equity space in 2007 with Kibo Capital Partners (KCP) as manager of two PE funds and AUM of more than $100 million. He served as one of the main principals at KCP and acquired extensive experience across various sectors in Africa, in the whole cycle of deal making, portfolio management and exits. Prior to joining Equator Capital Partners, Raj headed Verdant Capital’s initiative to raise an $80 million Hybrid Capital Fund for Inclusive Financial Institutions.

 

Raj is a fellow member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) UK and, since October 2019, is recognized as a Certified Expert in Microfinance (CEMF) by the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

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Suleiman I. Kiggundu, Jr

Chief Investment Officer

Suleiman joined the team in January 2020 to coordinate the origination, management and disposal of Equator’s various investment portfolios. Educated as an engineer and economist at Yale University, over the past 25 years, Suleiman has served in senior leadership roles at various leading institutions, including Equator Bank, HSBC Bank plc and, most recently, as the Regional Director for Africa at CDC Group plc.

 

Suleiman also serves as a non-executive director of various companies, including I&M Bank Holdings (listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange), GA Insurance Uganda and Red Sea Energy, as well as chairs CFS Group (a pan-African, advisory and capital markets-oriented financial services group).

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Lisa G. Thomas

Consultant, Investments

Lisa is a highly skilled professional with more than a decade of work experience in investing, financial analysis, strategic planning, governance and operations in emerging markets with specific expertise in West and East Africa. Lisa brings robust market experience in early stage and growth impact investing having worked with companies in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caucuses in diverse business sectors including agribusiness, energy services, financial services, fintech and online marketplaces.

Lisa serves on the Board of UB Finance Company (Sri Lanka). She has a BS in Business Administration from University of Oregon and an MBA from University of Chicago.

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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. 

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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).