About Us

Optimizer Foundation is driven by the mission to improve youth’ access to health, education and employment opportunities. Founded in 2017, Optimizer Foundation is an impact investing organization, headquartered out of Sweden, and with a presence in Nairobi and London.

We are a non-profit organisation leveraging philanthropic capital to make commercial investments into social enterprises. We invest in companies that have the potential to be financially viable whilst maximizing benefits for the society. Returns on investments get channelled back into our organisation to benefit future social enterprises.

We were founded and originally funded by Optimizer Invest – a venture capital firm focused on online and consumer-driven businesses. They have embarked with us on this journey and are continuing to support us with capital as well as advisory.

We have also received generous donations from companies and individuals. If you are interested in supporting our work, please visit our Donations page.

Our Vision

Our vision is an improved quality of life for all, driven by access to high quality, affordable health, education and employment opportunities.

Our People

Helena Riese Harstad

Helena Riese Harstad

Chairman & Co-Founder

Helena leads the overall strategic direction of the foundation, manages donor engagement, and offers legal support to portfolio companies. She is a trained lawyer and has a background in Banking and Financing from Mannheimer Swartling.She is a board member of Change Attitude, a Foundation that uses culture to raise awareness on sexual violence against children. Helena is based in London.

Anne Stubert Partridge

Anne Stubert Partridge

COO

Anne leads the investment strategy and manages the portfolio companies. As a former strategy consultant, she has 15 years of experience in advising private, public and non-profit organizations across emerging markets and Europe. Previously, Anne worked for the strategy consulting firm Dalberg in West Africa, and held positions at the Swedish Foreign Office, and the UN in East Africa.

Ruth Wairimu

Ruth Wairimu

Investment Associate

Ruth is responsible for deal origination, assessing investment opportunities, and providing post-investment portfolio support. Previously, Ruth was an Investment Associate at Energy Access Ventures (EAV) – an energy focused Venture Capital Fund, and she held a position in corporate banking at Stanbic Bank, Kenya. Ruth is based in Nairobi.

Marcus Watson

Marcus Watson

Advisor

Marcus provides advisory support on investment opportunities and across the portfolio. He is currently a Partner and Director at KawiSafi Ventures – a Kenya based climate focused fund. Prior to KawiSafi, he was a Partner in Dalberg Advisors’ Nairobi office where he advised on $500 million in transactions and fund formations across the continent. Marcus is based in Nairobi.

Russell Haresign

Russell Haresign

Board Member

Russell is currently Global Head of Production for Instabox, the last-mile delivery company, and an operations leader with 15 years’ experience. Previously, Russell led the Ghana operations for the insurtech company BIMA where he grew their insurance business to cover 10% of the Ghanaian population. He has a BA in Economics from Cambridge and MIT, and previously worked at McKinsey.

Alexandra R. Hinxman

Alexandra R. Hinxman

Board Member

Alexandra works as governmental advisor specialising in international relations and intra-governmental coordination. She has an academic background in political science focused on international relations and politics of the Islamic world. Alexandra is based in Stockholm.

Abdourahmane Diop

Abdourahmane Diop

Advisor

Abdourahmane provides support on investment strategy and investment opportunities. Previously, he was an Investment Manager at VOLTA Capital, a leading advisory firm in impact investing. Abdourahmane is based in Dakar, Senegal.

Carl Johan Hedström

Carl Johan Hedström

Advisor

Carl Johan provides support on product and technology across their portfolio. He is currently the Chief Product Officer at AxPay, and serves as an advisor, board member and investor to a handful of tech startups. He has over 15 years of experience in IT/Telecoms space. Previously, he was CTO for BIMA (within Kinnevik Group), a fintech/insurtech company focused on emerging markets.

Careers

There are currently no open positions at Optimizer Foundation.

Our Impact

Optimizer Foundation is driven by the firm belief that providing underserved populations with access to high quality health, education and employment opportunities, will help improve their quality of life. This remains the overarching impact thesis that guides our work.

With regards to measuring and managing the impact of our portfolio, we have aligned our impact framework with the globally applied Impact Management Project (IMP). IMP provides a forum for building global consensus on how to measure, manage and report impact on sustainability.

We measure our impact in partnership with our investees, and report the results in our annual impact reports, below.

Release of 2020 Impact Report

We are excited to share our 2020 Impact Report, which sheds light on critical milestones and achievements from the past year, and the important impact that our investees have created across their markets.

Download PDF

Release of 2019 Impact Report

We are excited to share our 2019 Impact Report, which summarizes our approach and our progress as an organization

Download PDF

Release of 2018 Impact Report

We’re excited to share our 2018 Impact Report, which summarizes our progress as an organization, our guiding principles and priorities, and how those goals have shaped our investments. We also present the important impact that our investees have had so far, and how they will change the lives of children and youth in the future.

Download PDF

Release of 2017 Impact Report

We are excited to share our Impact Report for 2017, highlighting the key achievements, and the impact we have created in our markets during 2017. Happy reading!

Download PDF

Release of 2020 Impact Report

We are excited to share our 2020 Impact Report, which sheds light on critical milestones and achievements from the past year, and the important impact that our investees have created across their markets.

Download PDF

Release of 2019 Impact Report

We are excited to share our 2019 Impact Report, which summarizes our approach and our progress as an organization

Download PDF

Release of 2018 Impact Report

We’re excited to share our 2018 Impact Report, which summarizes our progress as an organization, our guiding principles and priorities, and how those goals have shaped our investments. We also present the important impact that our investees have had so far, and how they will change the lives of children and youth in the future.

Download PDF

Release of 2017 Impact Report

We are excited to share our Impact Report for 2017, highlighting the key achievements, and the impact we have created in our markets during 2017. Happy reading!

Download PDF
Our Partners
CATALYST FUND

Catalyst Fund is an accelerator that supports inclusive tech innovators in emerging markets. We support impact companies offering accessible, affordable and appropriate solutions, designed for underserved individuals and micro and small enterprises.

ACUMEN

Intellecap is a pioneer in providing innovative business solutions that help build and scale profitable and sustainable enterprises dedicated to social and environmental change.

INTELLECAP

Acumen makes patient longterm debt or equity investments in early-stage companies providing reliable and affordable access to quality education, healthcare services, formal housing, and safe drinking water to low-income customers.

CATALYST FUND

Catalyst Fund is an accelerator that supports inclusive tech innovators in emerging markets. We support impact companies offering accessible, affordable and appropriate solutions, designed for underserved individuals and micro and small enterprises.

ACUMEN

Intellecap is a pioneer in providing innovative business solutions that help build and scale profitable and sustainable enterprises dedicated to social and environmental change.

INTELLECAP

Acumen makes patient longterm debt or equity investments in early-stage companies providing reliable and affordable access to quality education, healthcare services, formal housing, and safe drinking water to low-income customers.