Meet our trainers

Green tech entrepreneurship ninjas, that’s what we like to call them. Each thoroughly vetted and seasoned by their own ventures and work in the field. You can find them all over the globe, leading our infamous Boot Camps. They shape the backbone of our success - and that of our participants and alumni.

All of our ninjas:

Chretien Herben

Bio
Chretien has 10 years of experience as a business coach in the Life Sciences & Medtech and has mentored over a 100 companies through his LifeSciences@Work program. Next to that he is an experienced as business coach/trainer/mentor in the Climate-KIC Accelerator and ClimateLaunchpad.Chretien has a background in Physics and Optoelectronics and started ThreeFive Photonics, a company designing and manufacturing complex optoelectronic chips for telecom applications, in 2001 from his PhD research at the TUDelft. He has experience in translating complex technologies into business, building high potential business based on breaktrough science, typically requiring venture capital.

Sofia Cassimo

"Business leaders are committed to turning their vision into reality with full effort, failing fast and learning faster."

Bio
Sofia has 12 years of work experience and is the CEO of Samsara Development & Investment, a company focused on socio-economic development and impact, business consulting, and access to market support. Her various competencies and certifications include being a Women Empowerment specialist and activist (Women and Law, World Bank); Business Mentor, and Business Advisory by GrowthWheel International Inc. Sofia’s life purpose has always been to transform and generate impact. Entrepreneurship is one of the ways she does so by interacting with agents of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and this has entailed establishing meaningful connections and supporting businesses with their challenges and growth.

Elena Messiou

"Follow the path through highs and lows. Success is navigating life’s journey"

Bio
Elena is an innovation and entrepreneurship lecturer at InHolland applied sciences university in Amsterdam. She also works as a DEI consultant, helping companies, universities, and non profit organizations to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive environments. She is the founder of two business in Hong Kong and has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the US. In her free time she volunteers coaching for refugees on developing entrepreneurial and management skills, and strives to train her border collie to stop eating the house plants.

Dr. Mike Goodfellow-Smith PhD; MSc; BA; DipEM; PIEMA; MSI; FRSA

"I love contributing to a massive positive difference in this world"

Bio
With 15 of my own business start-ups completed in several sectors I bring significant entrepreneurial and business acumen to bear on the roles I fulfill.Director level appointments in regional economic development, policy think tanks, environmental charities, engineering businesses, rail infrastructure and sustainability consultancy. £muliti-million budget control and personnel management experience. A proficient chair of programme, strategy and policy groups. A motivational speaker. Proven ability in securing funding and consultancy programmes.An established researcher with a focus on economic frameworks, finance, insurance and business models applied to sustainable infrastructure and urban system transformation. An established lecturer on MSc, MBA, BSc, BA and CPD programmes at University of Wales Trinity St. David’s, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds University, Aston University and the University of Birmingham, covering environmental engineering, biodiversity, EIA/SEA, management systems, business, sustainability, city infrastructure and sustainable construction. An established international reputation in regional economics, business and sustainability.Over 400 integrated management system implementations, ISO14001/9001 lead auditor, 20+ years of environmental management training.

Ron Bloemers

"Helping cleantech start-ups accelerate to global success, that’s what I love to do"

Bio
For over 20 years, Ron more than earned his tracks in the global cleantech industry. He trains other coaches, early stage start-ups & scale-ups, and works with large international corporations and government. He founded and manages Start-U-up, a boutique cleantech accelerator. Ron holds a Msc. in Business Economics and a Bsc. in Physical Education. For Ron, it’s now time to transfer his extensive, global, and hands-on cleantech experience to the younger generation. Ron loves to actively take part in the startup problem solving process and, like Mike, to contribute to initiatives that have big positive impact. He sees the ClimateLaunchpad as the ideal platform to do just that. Look for his more in-depth profile on LinkedIn.

Hans Westerhof

"ClimateLaunchpad helps you understand your business in a very fast and a very precise way"

Bio
Hans joined ClimateLaunchpad in 2014 as Project Lead and Trainer. He's a start-up trainer, general manager, consultant and entrepreneur with a background in a broad range of industries and environments. His current focus is clean-tech start-up acceleration through entrepreneurship education, coaching and financing. Experienced in directing large projects and programs (US 100 million +). He’s the kind of guy that simply gets things done.

Lawrence Thiga

"Entrepreneurship changes lives."

Bio
Lawrence’s main goal is to empower people within start-ups and small & growing enterprises. He helps business grow and expand their impact. For the past 8 years he pursued various entrepreneurship training certifications and he is a certified business mentor in Kenya. Since 2017 he has been involved with Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) at Strathmore Business School and a Germany based organization (SEED) for Africa. Lawrence holds a B.A in Psychology and he is the founder of Novell Arch Enterprise, a training and consultancy firm for micro, small and medium sized enterprises. He joined ClimateLaunchpad in 2019. His approach to training does not only guarantee a steep learning curve, you should also brace yourself for a lot of fun during his Boot Camps.

Hira Wajahat

"Make an impact, tell your story to the world and get paid for it – live your passion"

Bio
A facilitator on a mission to create social and climate impact, Hira has had the opportunity to work with organizations of all sizes across various industries and countries on their sustainability agenda. Hira loves interacting with new ventures and helping them align their business models for impact, particularly with a focus on SDGs. To date, she has been involved as a facilitator, coach and mentor on several impact entrepreneurship programs across Asia, Africa and Europe. Hira is currently pursuing her PhD in Management with a focus on Sustainable Business & Circular Economy.

Israel Griol Barres PhD.

"Life is a rollercoaster. Fight for your dreams when you are in a valley."

Bio
Israel is the start-up ecosystem manager of the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain and an experienced lecturer, trainer and mentor. His specialities are innovation, business models, business strategy and entrepreneurship. Israel is a Telecommunication and Electronics Engineer. He joined ClimateLaunchpad as a trainer in 2015.

Emmanuel Okpala

"Dreams become realities for those who set them as smart goals, work hard, and maintain resilience on the course."

Bio
Emmanuel Okpala has over 10 years of experience in consultancy, design, operations and management across private, government and civic society sectors. He leads the operations desk of Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (a member of the Financial Sector Deepening Network in Africa), where he manages a portfolio of operations, data protection, communication, facilities, administration and HR Support functions.He has previously worked in construction management and business development roles for leading real estate service firms and institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, while also volunteering as a coach for the global Climate Launchpad competition since 2020.He is committed to his course of making the global economy inclusive and resilient, while advocating for a more sustainable use of earth's seemingly abundant resources.

Shiva Susarla

Bio
Shiva Susarla runs a Singapore-based venture studio and innovation firm. After over a decade spent with other startups and young companies in cleantech, Shiva now builds his own circular economy startups in Asia, unsuccessfully trying not to make the same mistakes he has seen other businesses make.

Monica Avila Forero

"'We all have the power to transform and influence. entrepreneurship is one of those ways of leading from the self to create positive impact and collective well-being.'"

Bio
Since 2011, Monica has been involve with entrepreneurship support organizations. Currently, she leads as the Programme Director at CleantechHUB, where she promotes ecosystems that support climate entrepreneurs throughout Colombia, Peru, and Central America. Additionally, Monica mentors startup leaders and corporate executives, helping them enhance their impact, productivity, and well-being. Her coaching ensures businesses grow sustainably, preventing burnout and fostering planetary regeneration.

Jennifer Githinji

"Don’t write yourself off even before you begin. You are a masterpiece with loads of potential."

Bio
Jennifer is a gender mainstreaming enthusiast. She enjoys working with women and youth to realize their business potential and drive growth and sustainability while still remaining authentically true to self. Jennifer has over 13 years’ experience in sales and marketing and has handled various leading household brands in Africa. She is the founder and CEO of Africa Instore Solutions (AIS) where she champions SME development assignments through advisory, training, coaching and mentorship programs. She has been involved in coaching ClimateLaunchpad start-ups at Kenya Climate Innovation Center since 2018 and joined as a trainer in 2020.

Chretien Herben

Bio
Chretien has 10 years of experience as a business coach in the Life Sciences & Medtech and has mentored over a 100 companies through his LifeSciences@Work program. Next to that he is an experienced as business coach/trainer/mentor in the Climate-KIC Accelerator and ClimateLaunchpad.Chretien has a background in Physics and Optoelectronics and started ThreeFive Photonics, a company designing and manufacturing complex optoelectronic chips for telecom applications, in 2001 from his PhD research at the TUDelft. He has experience in translating complex technologies into business, building high potential business based on breaktrough science, typically requiring venture capital.

Sofia Cassimo

"Business leaders are committed to turning their vision into reality with full effort, failing fast and learning faster."..

Bio
Sofia has 12 years of work experience and is the CEO of Samsara Development & Investment, a company focused on socio-economic development and impact, business consulting, and access to market support. Her various competencies and certifications include being a Women Empowerment specialist and activist (Women and Law, World Bank); Business Mentor, and Business Advisory by GrowthWheel International Inc. Sofia’s life purpose has always been to transform and generate impact. Entrepreneurship is one of the ways she does so by interacting with agents of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and this has entailed establishing meaningful connections and supporting businesses with their challenges and growth.

Elena Messiou

"Follow the path through highs and lows. Success is navigating life’s journey"..

Bio
Elena is an innovation and entrepreneurship lecturer at InHolland applied sciences university in Amsterdam. She also works as a DEI consultant, helping companies, universities, and non profit organizations to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive environments. She is the founder of two business in Hong Kong and has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the US. In her free time she volunteers coaching for refugees on developing entrepreneurial and management skills, and strives to train her border collie to stop eating the house plants.

Dr. Mike Goodfellow-Smith PhD; MSc; BA; DipEM; PIEMA; MSI; FRSA

"I love contributing to a massive positive difference in this world"..

Bio
With 15 of my own business start-ups completed in several sectors I bring significant entrepreneurial and business acumen to bear on the roles I fulfill.Director level appointments in regional economic development, policy think tanks, environmental charities, engineering businesses, rail infrastructure and sustainability consultancy. £muliti-million budget control and personnel management experience. A proficient chair of programme, strategy and policy groups. A motivational speaker. Proven ability in securing funding and consultancy programmes.An established researcher with a focus on economic frameworks, finance, insurance and business models applied to sustainable infrastructure and urban system transformation. An established lecturer on MSc, MBA, BSc, BA and CPD programmes at University of Wales Trinity St. David’s, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds University, Aston University and the University of Birmingham, covering environmental engineering, biodiversity, EIA/SEA, management systems, business, sustainability, city infrastructure and sustainable construction. An established international reputation in regional economics, business and sustainability.Over 400 integrated management system implementations, ISO14001/9001 lead auditor, 20+ years of environmental management training.

Ron Bloemers

"Helping cleantech start-ups accelerate to global success, that’s what I love to do"..

Bio
For over 20 years, Ron more than earned his tracks in the global cleantech industry. He trains other coaches, early stage start-ups & scale-ups, and works with large international corporations and government. He founded and manages Start-U-up, a boutique cleantech accelerator. Ron holds a Msc. in Business Economics and a Bsc. in Physical Education. For Ron, it’s now time to transfer his extensive, global, and hands-on cleantech experience to the younger generation. Ron loves to actively take part in the startup problem solving process and, like Mike, to contribute to initiatives that have big positive impact. He sees the ClimateLaunchpad as the ideal platform to do just that. Look for his more in-depth profile on LinkedIn.

Hans Westerhof

"ClimateLaunchpad helps you understand your business in a very fast and a very precise way"..

Bio
Hans joined ClimateLaunchpad in 2014 as Project Lead and Trainer. He's a start-up trainer, general manager, consultant and entrepreneur with a background in a broad range of industries and environments. His current focus is clean-tech start-up acceleration through entrepreneurship education, coaching and financing. Experienced in directing large projects and programs (US 100 million +). He’s the kind of guy that simply gets things done.

Lawrence Thiga

"Entrepreneurship changes lives."..

Bio
Lawrence’s main goal is to empower people within start-ups and small & growing enterprises. He helps business grow and expand their impact. For the past 8 years he pursued various entrepreneurship training certifications and he is a certified business mentor in Kenya. Since 2017 he has been involved with Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) at Strathmore Business School and a Germany based organization (SEED) for Africa. Lawrence holds a B.A in Psychology and he is the founder of Novell Arch Enterprise, a training and consultancy firm for micro, small and medium sized enterprises. He joined ClimateLaunchpad in 2019. His approach to training does not only guarantee a steep learning curve, you should also brace yourself for a lot of fun during his Boot Camps.

Hira Wajahat

"Make an impact, tell your story to the world and get paid for it – live your passion"..

Bio
A facilitator on a mission to create social and climate impact, Hira has had the opportunity to work with organizations of all sizes across various industries and countries on their sustainability agenda. Hira loves interacting with new ventures and helping them align their business models for impact, particularly with a focus on SDGs. To date, she has been involved as a facilitator, coach and mentor on several impact entrepreneurship programs across Asia, Africa and Europe. Hira is currently pursuing her PhD in Management with a focus on Sustainable Business & Circular Economy.

Israel Griol Barres PhD.

"Life is a rollercoaster. Fight for your dreams when you are in a valley."..

Bio
Israel is the start-up ecosystem manager of the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain and an experienced lecturer, trainer and mentor. His specialities are innovation, business models, business strategy and entrepreneurship. Israel is a Telecommunication and Electronics Engineer. He joined ClimateLaunchpad as a trainer in 2015.

Emmanuel Okpala

"Dreams become realities for those who set them as smart goals, work hard, and maintain resilience on the course."..

Bio
Emmanuel Okpala has over 10 years of experience in consultancy, design, operations and management across private, government and civic society sectors. He leads the operations desk of Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (a member of the Financial Sector Deepening Network in Africa), where he manages a portfolio of operations, data protection, communication, facilities, administration and HR Support functions.He has previously worked in construction management and business development roles for leading real estate service firms and institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, while also volunteering as a coach for the global Climate Launchpad competition since 2020.He is committed to his course of making the global economy inclusive and resilient, while advocating for a more sustainable use of earth's seemingly abundant resources.

Shiva Susarla

Bio
Shiva Susarla runs a Singapore-based venture studio and innovation firm. After over a decade spent with other startups and young companies in cleantech, Shiva now builds his own circular economy startups in Asia, unsuccessfully trying not to make the same mistakes he has seen other businesses make.

Monica Avila Forero

"'We all have the power to transform and influence. entrepreneurship is one of those ways of leading from the self to create positive impact and collective well-being.'"..

Bio
Since 2011, Monica has been involve with entrepreneurship support organizations. Currently, she leads as the Programme Director at CleantechHUB, where she promotes ecosystems that support climate entrepreneurs throughout Colombia, Peru, and Central America. Additionally, Monica mentors startup leaders and corporate executives, helping them enhance their impact, productivity, and well-being. Her coaching ensures businesses grow sustainably, preventing burnout and fostering planetary regeneration.

Jennifer Githinji

"Don’t write yourself off even before you begin. You are a masterpiece with loads of potential."..

Bio
Jennifer is a gender mainstreaming enthusiast. She enjoys working with women and youth to realize their business potential and drive growth and sustainability while still remaining authentically true to self. Jennifer has over 13 years’ experience in sales and marketing and has handled various leading household brands in Africa. She is the founder and CEO of Africa Instore Solutions (AIS) where she champions SME development assignments through advisory, training, coaching and mentorship programs. She has been involved in coaching ClimateLaunchpad start-ups at Kenya Climate Innovation Center since 2018 and joined as a trainer in 2020.

Watch them in action

Connect

Get in touch with our trainers, they love to connect and are happy to share and discuss any and all cleantech and start-up stuff. You can also benefit from their expertise and book one or more of our trainers for your own event.

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