innovation edge team


SonjaThe Innovation Edge is led by Sonja Giese.

com-open Hi - I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead this initiative. I bring enthusiasm, energy, 20 years of experience in programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and a desire for lifelong learning. I have lived and worked in both urban and remote rural areas of our beautiful country and have led a number of start-ups in the development space in South Africa. I am passionate about ensuring the rights of every child to survival and development and to enhancing the systems necessary to enable service delivery at scale. com-close


meet our investment committee

The Investment Committee provides strategic direction, oversight and governance and makes the final decision on all grant allocations. For more information select a block below >>

heather-on sherri vineet Maya david Adam

Heather Sherwin
ELMA philanthropies

Heather began her professional life as a scientist (PhD in Cell Biology) at the University of Natal and later University of Cape Town. After completing an MBA at the GSB (UCT) she moved into an investment bank as a strategist.

While there she raised South Africa's first Life Sciences/ Biotechnology venture capital fund, called Bioventures. After seeing Bioventures through its full lifecycle of investment, manage out and divestment, Heather continued to invest in healthcare through the Investment Fund for Health in Africa (IFHA). This is a private equity fund investing broadly in healthcare throughout Africa.

Heather has recently moved to the Philanthropic space by joining ELMA Philanthropies Services as an Investment Manager. Her role is to look at non-traditional philanthropic investments and to advise the ELMA Foundations on this investment sector.


international advisory group

Ayla Richard block Kofi block Tamara block Mirjam block

Ayla Goksel
Ozyegin Social Investments

Ayla Goksel is CEO of Ozyegin Social Investments presiding over ACEV (Mother Child Education Foundation), Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation and İz Child Development Centers. ACEV is  a Turkish NGO working in early childhood, female literacy and parent training. ACEV has provided  education services for over 830,000 individuals and trained 10,000 teachers and volunteers. ACEV’s programs are also implemented in nine other countries in the Middle East and Europe.  Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation is a private foundation that has provided financial aid for over 12,000 students, constructed and donated 65 schools, dormitories and social facilities, undertaken cultural restoration projects and founded Özyeğin University. Goksel is a Trustee of Ozyegin University and serves on the Boards of the Education Reform Initiative and TOHUM Foundation for Autism. She is also a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum,  Senior Fellow of the Synergos Institute, Qatar Foundation WISE Laureate and World Economic Forum  Global Agenda Council member. She holds a BSc from University of Bath, MSc from London School of Economics and has conducted fellowships at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University.