Regenerative Agriculture Venture Programme

Transformative journey to develop entrepreneurship skills in the domain of research-based regenerative agriculture solutions.


Proven success in the development of high-level policies, strategies and implementation plans. Skilled in the management of natural and human resources to support the adoption of sustainable systems including organic farming, biodiversity, livestock production and rural livelihoods. In-depth understanding of project and program management, demanding keen organisational acumen, and strong analytical and interpersonal skillsets. Adept at leading multi-disciplinary teams and building solid relationships with research centres, international NGOs, governmental institutions, local partners and donors to support strategic sustainable development initiatives.

Dr. Abdoul Aziz Niane is a seed technologist and rangeland ecologist with more than 30 years of experience in crop management and post-harvest seed operations. Since joining ICARDA in 1987, he has worked on seed production and post-harvest operations with extensive regional activities, including training and technical support on national seed system diversification.

He has led the operation and diversification of seed delivery systems, and implemented rangeland ecosystem monitoring and rehabilitation efforts. Dr. Niane has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed publications. His research interests include basic and applied research on seed science and technology.

He received his Ph.D. in rangeland ecology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and a M.Sc. in plant protection from Cukuruva University in Turkey.

Thomaz Domingues is the Senior Manager - Strategy and Industry Development of in5, a business incubator created to address the practical needs of a growing community of creative professionals and entrepreneurs across the Tech, Design and Media industries.

In his role as a strategic thinker, Thomaz is responsible for ensuring the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Dubai and the MENA Region by connec?ng government and private stakeholders with the best startups at in5, in addition to drive the development and implementation of strategic initiatives for the overall development of the entrepreneurial community.

Thomaz has over 15 years of experience within the startup and creative economy ecosystem, having delivered outstanding results engaging regional and international startup hubs.

Mira is the Managing Director at HealthyPath, a nutrition policy and food sustainability consultancy firm that supports organizations from the public and private sectors to address health and food sustainability challenges effectively. She advises on food innovations in line with health and sustainability agendas, as well as policies and partnerships that guide organizations toward sustainable food systems focusing on sustainable eating.

She is also the MENA Ambassador for Thought for Food, the world’s next gen innovation engine for food and agriculture, which supports young leaders to launch the world’s most game-changing social-impact startups and equip them with the mindset, values, approaches and connections they need to be successful changemakers.

Before that, she held different roles in multinational food companies, where she led nutrition strategies for healthier and sustainable innovations, forged impactful partnerships with governmental entities, and orchestrated the development of public health pledges.

She holds:

  • Master’s degree in Global Health Policy – London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
  • Certificate in food system sustainability – European Institute for Innovation in Sustainability
  • Certificate in WeLead in Food System Program – EIT 
  • Master’s degree in Nutrition- University of Glasgow

Karima El Hakim is the Country Director for Plug & Play in Egypt, the global leader in corporate innovation and one of the top early-stage Venture Capital investors in the world.

Karima's work revolves around ecosystem building, VC investment and startup acceleration/incubation which was duly recognized throughout her previous work at Fawry, Falak Startups and Orascom Development Holding. She holds a BSc. in Business Administration from the American University in Cairo and a MSc in Market Intelligence and Research from Sciences-Po Paris (IEP).

Dr. Hector H. Hernandez, a renowned expert in genomic, metabolic engineering, and biotechnology, earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from MIT. Driven by a mission to combat food insecurity and advance agrotechnology, Dr. Hernandez has led research initiatives across the United Arab Emirates and globally. He founded and oversaw biological and chemical research facilities while fostering partnerships among local, national, international enterprises, and academic institutions. Notable achievements include launching the halophyte plant breeding program at Masdar Institute and Khalifa University – a landmark initiative uniting industry and academia for desert agriculture in the UAE.

Kevin has over 20 years of strategy, finance, and investment experience across the globe, with broad exposure to different sectors and business models within complex and dynamic environments.

He is the Managing Director of C3 – Companies Creating Change, a UAE-based social enterprise enabling impact-driven entrepreneurs to become active agents of positive impact by providing access to transformative innovation and acceleration programs across the Middle East and Africa.

Kevin has previously held senior positions at AW Rostamani Group, OSN, Global Integrated Security, Networkers International Plc, and Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc.

He has substantial experience in high growth, fast-paced, innovative environments, with exceptional strengths in strategic development and execution, impact investing, and social entrepreneurship.

Kevin is a qualified chartered management accountant (London, UK) and holds an MBA from Warwick Business School (Warwick, UK).

Christoph heads the Corporate Venturing activities at EIT Food. Previously, he has led the EIT Food Accelerator Network on a European level. He supported two university spin-offs specialized in urban/vertical farming & Greentech as a co-founder and worked as a consultant specialized in commercial due diligence projects for private equity firms. He holds a phd in Entrepreneurship from University of Hohenheim.

Dr. Dina Najjar joined ICARDA in 2014 as a social and gender specialist. A socio-cultural anthropologist by training, she focuses on the link between gender equality and policies; agricultural technologies and delivery systems; rural employment and migration; adaption to climate change; and productive assets, including access to land and ownership, in the Middle East and North Africa.

Her geographical expertise includes Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Sudan. She has also conducted research in Uzbekistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and India. Dr. Najjar is fluent in Arabic and proficient in French and Swahili. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

David Ramos is the Acting Head of Sustainability for HSBC Bank Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. He has 18 years of working experience as a sustainability practitioner, having worked in consultancy companies linked to sectors as chemical, manufacturing and working closely with the public administration and governmental bodies. He has also worked in a complex supply chain environment in a fashion leading multinational in Spain, where he initiated their sustainability programme. He has now worked in the Finance sector in Middle East for seven years. He holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Sciences by the University of Cordoba (Spain) and a Master’s Degree in International Environmental Sciences by the LUND University (Sweden).

Simon joined Global Ventures as a Principal in early 2020 and has over five years of investment experience across venture capital and corporate finance. Before joining Global Ventures, Simon worked in the investment team at Committed Capital, a venture capital fund based in London which focused on early-stage technology investments. Simon is a Chartered Accountant with the ICAEW, a Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments and holds a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Warwick.

Spackman was cofounder and director of the Al Baydha Project from 2010-2017, where he worked with settled bedou in Makkah developing ways to reverse desertification in the Hijaz. Since Al Baydha, he has lead and consulted on regenerative projects and enterprises in Latin America, the USA, West Africa, East Africa, Southern Europe, and West Asia. Spackman is currently CEO and co-founder of Regenerative Resources, an enterprise focused on coastal regenerative development, blue economy, and regenerative onshore aquacultures. Spackman has won the Rising Star award at the World Bank Global Disruptive Tech Challenge, a Makkah Governorate Prize for excellence in sustainable development, and a Tomkat Center Fellowship from Stanford University, where he is an alum.

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