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Global Entrepreneurs Council

The United Nations Foundation is driven by the belief that a better world is within reach and that everyone has a role to play in helping the United Nations make this vision possible. Job creators and innovators are uniquely positioned to help problem solve around the issues most in need of advancement. The United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council (GEC) is a strategic advisory council designed to bring together successful, high-profile, entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are committed to finding innovative solutions to global problems. Created in 2011, the GEC is comprised of audacious leaders from various industries to help the UN and the UN Foundation – and its campaigns, partnerships, and programs – reach new audiences and enhance public-private partnerships.

Council members have focused their work with the UN Foundation on issues such as advancing education and empowerment, supporting refugees, bringing citizen voices to the UN at scale, and broadening the scope of and ability to create partnership opportunities with the UN. This preeminent group carries on Ted Turner’s bold example of global leadership and his desire to bring entrepreneurism and creative ideas to humanitarian issues, constituted in his commitment of one billion dollars to the United Nations 15 years ago.

The current Council is positioned to support Foundation campaigns and initiatives, help the Foundation support the sustainable development agenda, and find innovative solutions to global problems through entrepreneurism. By encouraging entrepreneurship on a global level, we can achieve social and economic impact, helping to lift millions out of poverty.

Ashish J. Thakkar

Ashish J. Thakkar is the Chairman of the Global Entrepreneurs Council. Ashish founded his first business in 1996 at the age of 15 with a $5,000 loan. Since then, he has established and driven the growth of Mara Group from a small IT business in Uganda to the globally recognised multi-sector investment group that exists today. Through its investments and operations, Mara Group now employs over 11,000 people across 22 African countries in sectors spanning financial services, infrastructure, real estate and technology (incl. e-commerce and social media).

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Global Entrepreneurs Council Members


H.E. Ohood Al-Roumi

Minister of State for Happiness, United Arab Emirates
Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi oversees multiple strategic projects and initiatives starting with UAE Vision 2021, The National Agenda, the UAE Government Strategy, The Government Summit, Government Performance Management System “Adaa”, Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre For Government Innovation.Sheikh Khalifa Government Excellence Program, Mohammed Bin Rashid Government Excellence Award, UAE Government Leaders Programme, Emirates Government Service Excellence Program, Global Star Rating System for Services, Best M-Government Service and Mohammed Bin Rashid Policy Majlis.

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Georgie Benardete

Co-Founder and CEO, Align17
Georgie Benardete is a technology investor and entrepreneur. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of Align17, a private platform for family offices and ultra-high net-worth individuals to identify vetted, impactful investments.

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Kat Cole

Group President of FOCUS Brands
Kat is Group President at FOCUS Brands and responsible for building FOCUS Brands revenues and profits through global licensing, manufacturing, and ecommerce.

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James Irungu Mwangi

Executive Director of the Dalberg Group
James Irungu Mwangi is Executive Director of the Dalberg Group, a collection of impact-driven businesses that seek to champion inclusive and sustainable growth around the world, and a Partner with Dalberg Global Development Advisors. Mr. Mwangi founded and built up Dalberg’s presence in Africa, beginning with the Johannesburg office in 2007, Nairobi in 2008, and Dakar in 2009, and he served as Global Managing Partner from 2010 to 2014.

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Anna Ryott

Deputy CEO, Norrsken Foundation
Anna Ryott is Deputy CEO of Norrsken Foundation. Norrsken has established Norrsken House which has quickly become the largest hub for social entrepreneurship in Europe.

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Davis Smith

Founder & CEO of Cotopaxi
Davis Smith grew up throughout Latin America and has since dedicated his life to helping those in need there and around the world. He’s a passionate social entrepreneur and adventurer. Davis is currently the founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear and active lifestyle brand - with a social mission at its core.

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GEC Team


    Josh Slusher

Manager, Global Entrepreneurs Council
Josh Slusher leads the strategy and operations of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, a high-level advocacy and advisory council comprised of entrepreneurs from around the world assembled to help the UN and the UN Foundation reach wider audiences and enhance public-private partnerships.

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