About us

The Partnership

The Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa (the “Partnership”) is an initiative of the Foundation’s Financial Inclusion Program. The Partnership catalyzes knowledge and insights to promote meaningful financial inclusion in an increasingly digital world. Led and hosted by Caribou Digital, the Partnership works closely with leading organizations and companies across the digital finance space. By aggregating and synthesizing knowledge, conducting research to address key gaps, and identifying implications for the diverse actors working in the space, the Partnership strives to inform decisions with facts, and to accelerate meaningful financial inclusion for people across sub-Saharan Africa.

FiDA works very closely with The Mastercard Foundation and the organizations that are part of its Financial Inclusion Program. Pragmatic, evidence-based, and action-oriented research equips FiDA to collaborate with its partners to shape the dynamic digital finance community.

Alumni partners


The team

  • Abi Birrell
    Abi Birrell

    Abi is the Events and Communications Lead at Caribou Digital, working primarily on the the Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa.

    Previously, Abi worked for the GSMA for 8 years on Mobile for Development and Mobile Identity, leading their event strategy and launching the Mobile for Development Summit in 2013. After the GSMA, Abi did a short stint at Canonical where she was responsible for all the experiential events for the Ubuntu brand.

    Abi holds a Human Genetics degree from the University of Nottingham and a Masters in International Business and Global Management from Regents University in London.

  • Alina Kaiser
    Alina Kaiser

    Alina is the Content Strategist and Digital Media Strategist for Caribou Digital. She works primarily with the Mastercard Foundation’s FiDA Partnership, DFS Lab, and Caribou Space.

    Her background is in environmental communications research and strategic communication campaigns, having consulted for a number of clients including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Nereus Program.

    She has an MA in Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington where she studied content strategy and UX design, organisational storytelling, branding and identity, and data-driven marketing. Alina is based in Seattle, US.

  • Annabel Schiff
    Annabel Schiff

    Annabel is Program Director at the Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa.

    Previously Annabel worked as a Senior Manager in the Digital Financial Services Department at MicroSave, based in Nairobi, Kenya. At MicroSave, Annabel’s work revolved around The Helix Institute of Digital Finance, which provides world-class, operational level training and cutting-edge research for digital finance (bank and mobile money) providers. During her time at MicroSave Annabel worked across Africa and Asia advising, training, and consulting various digital finance operations. Annabel has published a number of blogs, research reports and papers on digital finance in developing markets, that can be found on her LinkedIn page here. Previous to MicroSave Annabel’s background was in Marketing and Branding.

    Annabel has a Masters Degree in Development Studies at SOAS. She is currently based in London.

  • Chris Locke
    Chris Locke

    Chris Locke is the Founder of Caribou Digital.

    Previously, Chris was the Managing Director of GSMA Mobile for Development. GSMA Mobile for Development works with the mobile industry globally to build services that have a development impact for the poorest people in the world. He developed the department from a small team of 12 people to 75 people, 8 projects, $70m in funding and one of the world-leading ICT4D teams.

    Before that, Chris spent 15 years working in senior roles within the mobile and internet industries, for companies such as the Virgin Group, Three, AOL and T-Mobile.

    Previous to his industry career he was the Xerox Lecturer in Electronic Communication and Publishing at University College London, and has maintained strong links to the research community, including being the editor of “Thumbculture: The Meaning of Mobile Phones in Society”, an anthology of research considering the global social effect of mobile technology.

    Chris is a Visiting Fellow at the University of California, San Diego and the Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey. Chris is based in Farnham, Surrey in England.

  • Jess Osborn
    Jessica Osborn

    Jessica is Program Director at the Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa.

    Jessica has worked in mobile technology and digital financial inclusion in Africa for 10 years. She has worked as Commercial and Business Operations Manager for Digital Financial Services at Google in Nairobi, Commercial Manager for Mobile Financial Services at Millicom Ghana, and Program Director for Grameen Foundation in Ghana and Uganda. Jessica has consulted for private and development sector clients across the continent and has professional experience in Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Nigeria, Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, UAE and UK. She joins Caribou Digital from Nest in London where she was Product Manager for the company’s new IOT products. Jessica holds a First Class Honors degree in Politics & Economics from the University of Durham, UK.

  • Jonathan Donner
    Jonathan Donner

    Jonathan Donner is Senior Director, Research at Caribou Digital.

    For over a decade, Jonathan has critically examined mobile telephony in the developing world, focusing on its implications for socio-economic development and inclusion in the information society. His latest book, After Access: Inclusion, Development, and a More Mobile Internet was published by the MIT Press in November 2015. Spanning over three dozen scholarly articles, his projects have included Microenterprise Development, Digital Financial Services, Citizen Journalism, Mobile Health, and Youth & New Media.

    He is affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Prior to joining Caribou Digital, Jonathan was a Researcher in the Technology for Emerging Markets Group at Microsoft Research, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and a consultant with the Monitor Group in Boston, MA.. Jonathan’s Ph.D. is from Stanford University in Communication Research. Further details on his research can be found at jonathandonner.com.

  • Marissa Dean
    Marissa Dean

    Marissa Dean is a Senior Director at Caribou and is also a researcher/consultant, avid globetrotter, and adventure sports enthusiast. After 11 years as a business and technology consultant, Marissa plunged into international development in 2011, focusing on early-stage startups in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since then, she has advised mobile industry, international development organizations, and private sector companies on nudging entrepreneurship ecosystem development and, alongside Caribou Digital colleagues, shaping digital economies to be ethical and inclusive. She contributes expertise to FiDA on Fintechs and other digital financial services institutions, digital commerce, and enabling ecosystems for digital financial services.

    Marissa has an MBA and a Certificate in Global Business from the Haas School of Business and a BSc from the College of Chemistry, all from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MSc in Public Policy with merit from the University of London, SOAS. She splits time between Cape Town, South Africa and Lake Tahoe, United States and in her free time enjoys training for ultramarathons with her husband Jayson, cycling around Lake Tahoe, and play time with her daughter Paige.

  • Niamh Barry
    Niamh Barry

    Niamh is a Senior Manager for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning at the Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa. Before joining FiDA, Niamh was the Global Director for M&E at Grameen Foundation.

    Niamh has a decade’s experience, working on public and private sector projects in international development. Niamh has spent eight of these years living in Thailand, Zambia, Sierra Leone and Uganda whilst her work has covered counties in Africa, Asia and South America. She has established M&E structures and offices at both country and organization level and carried out dozens of evaluations using experimental and non-experimental designs. While her work has examined many sectors such as health, agriculture and finance, it has progressively focused on establishing systems to measure and understand the impact of ‘digitization’ on clients and providers.

    Niamh leads the M&E work stream for the FiDA partnership. Her work focuses on three blocks,1) developing and managing updates to the theory of change and measurement system, 2) providing M&E support to the portfolio partners and 3) addressing the digital finance community’s questions about impact and measurement through resources like the Evidence Gap map and insights papers on emerging measurement methods.