Kommerce was founded by Harveen Narulla, Karen Teoh and Dustin Lau in response to the large and persistent gap in trade finance in Africa.
An introduction to a Rwandan kiosk shop owner’s challenges with credit, became an exploration of systemic reasons for the trade finance gap in Africa, and eventually a realisation that blockchain technology holds the keys to solve this problem.
Trade is a key lever for people in Africa to improve incomes and achieve prosperity.
Kommerce deploys blockchain and data analysis to empower African businesses to access capital markets - and for capital markets to safely and efficiently finance African businesses.
Harveen is an entrepreneur. After an early career as a lawyer with top-tier firms in Singapore, he spent a decade in various lead roles in technology ventures.
This included co-founding and heading Hatcher, a leading technology venture builder in Singapore, whose portfolio includes Dropsuite (ASX:DSE), Telr (Middle East’s fastest growing online payment processor), SocialCops (India’s leading comprehensive big data play) and Hatcher+ (big data transforming venture capital investing).
Harveen also co-founded Pan African Logistics (PAL), which has grown into a leading third-party logistics player in East Africa.
Harveen’s key competences include assembling and aligning strong teams, marshaling resources to start and grow businesses, deal negotiation and acquisitions, spotting arbitrage opportunities, and interventionist and supporting board roles.
Karen is a former litigation lawyer with more than a decade of experience in hardware and software product development in the document management space, from proof of concept to point of sale. Her subsequent experience in executive search has proved invaluable in assembling the team.
Karen functions as the Economist in the team, and her ability to quickly build skill trees in Game Theory, Graph Theory and Transaction Cost Economics allow Kommerce to explore the available facets of being a multi-sided platform.
Markus holds a PhD in Information Systems with specialisation in distributed database systems and has over 20 years of experience in applied research and technology-driven innovation.
He has a proven track record of designing and building novel, yet commercially successful solutions across industries like healthcare, logistics, payments analytics & processing, risk management, compromise & fraud detection/prediction, as well as transportation.
Markus’ repertoire of skills includes full innovation life-cycle management, infrastructure automation, cloud computing, data management at multi-petabyte scale, data privacy, deep learning, emerging technologies, Internet-of-Things, large-scale data analytics and extreme transaction processing.
Roman has been fixing IT related problems across a variety of technologies, functions, and industries for nearly two and a half decades, with a predominant focus on large scale systems and security.
Although he has spent the majority of his time in the financial industry, he has also invested significant time into working with a diverse range of startups, from construction B2B to ticketing to advertising and gaming. This ideally positions him to straddle the complexities and idiosyncrasies associated with a fintech venture.
His original plan to become a scientist was sidetracked when, upon entering university, he witnessed the transition to today's Internet, the birth of the World Wide Web and discovered his love for UNIX.
Dustin has more than 16 years of experience in Broadcast Media and Television Production as a writer, producer, director, editor, camera operator & broadcast engineer for documentaries, TV Commercials, corporate films and long form television programmes with companies like ESPN Star Sports, Fox International Channels, Sunset+Vine Asia and Netflix.
His background in building computers, IP networks and storage systems for media applications have resulted in hybrid roles for most of his career as a technologist in the creative media space, designing user-centric workflows with an engineer’s mindset, while also visualising new creative possibilities afforded by emerging new technologies.
Chun Hui is an engineer and researcher with a PhD in Electrical Engineering with specialisation in trusted systems and virtualization, with over 10 years of experience in applied research, software development and deployment.
He has worked on both public and private blockchain technologies, as well as linux kernel development, different hypervisors, cloud and data infrastructures. He has successfully developed and deployed cloud, big data and blockchain solutions, especially in the banking and finance industry.
Chun Hui's skillset includes having a deep technical background in security, system infrastructure and blockchain, and a strong software design, development and devops experience.
Tju Liang is a corporate and securities lawyer with almost two decades of experience. He was previously a partner of a white shoe US law firm, and has been based in London, Jakarta, and Shanghai, where he focused on inbound and outbound transactions for over 7 years.
Tju Liang has expertise in a broad range of corporate transactions, and has advised on some of the most significant M&A deals between Asia and the Americas. He is also active in the Singapore startup ecosystem, having worked on some of the most significant exits in Singapore, including of the top funded fintech startups.
Tju Liang has been ranked in top legal publications Chambers Global and Asia-Pacific Legal 500, where clients complimented his "exceptional negotiation skills" and praised him as "clearly a really smart guy".
He currently holds a concurrent position as the General Counsel of the Ethereum Foundation.
Jamie worked in upper-tier Audit Firms for 5 years in Singapore, rising to be Assistant Manager. She managed her own portfolio of clients which consisted of SMEs, MNCs and Public-listed Companies.
Seeking more exposure across businesses, she left the audit industry and worked for a factoring company providing working capital solutions to SMEs. She then joined Pan-African Logistics (PAL), a leading East African third-party logistics service provider in an operations and finance role. Jamie was based in Rwanda for this, and was PAL’s Assistant Managing Director, overseeing day-to-day operations.
Jamie is a highly motivated Individual, having a keen eye for detail and strong organisational skills. She has developed a good understanding of African markets and business culture and brings this to her role with Kommerce.
Nicholas Leong arrived in Kenya with a complete lack of a cycling scene, and founded Kenyan Riders, which he built from scratch.
A life-long cycling fan and a commercial photographer, he wondered why he had not seen an African at the Tour de France, despite Kenyans winning about 70% of all marathons worldwide. Convinced that there was enormous opportunity, he went to Kenya and put those same young men on bicycles, and got them racing. Today, Kenya Riders is a fully fledged professional team with a staff of 24 cyclists and staff. In doing this, he’s had to gain on-the-ground knowledge in areas of administration, coaching, manpower management, accounting, social and cultural integration … basically everything.
At Kommerce, we believe that the gestalt of his overall knowledge and experience are what we need in a man on the ground who will roll out the Kommerce platform in Africa.
Bijou is young woman entrepreneur with unique entrepreneurial skills, innovation and behaviour. After reading law at university, she excelled at various entrepreneurial pursuits, including an Interior design business in Kigali, Rwanda, a restaurant, and the supply of dairy products to retailers supplying the mid-market in Goma, Eastern Congo DR.
About 5 years ago, she launched a successful travel agency in Goma (La Promesse MDP, DRC) dealing with ticketing and freight, that she has extended to the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.
Bijou has strong competence in team management, business development, deal negotiation, and spotting opportunities. She has developed an extensive and trusted network of businesspersons.
Bijou brings her skills, experience and networks to her role at Kommerce.
A Software Engineer by training , Edwin Bajje heads Project Management and Systems Development at Intouch Communications Ltd (“Intouch”), a Technology Consulting company operating in Rwanda and Uganda. Edwin started his career as a Software Engineer at a Ugandan IT services provider, Comtel Africa, where he gained practical technical experience. He then moved to Rwanda and played key roles in which he among other things implemented payment solutions for banks with Secure Payment Solutions in Rwanda.
In 2012, Edwin co-founded Intouch with Robert Ngungutse. He joins Kommerce together with Robert. Edwin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Makerere University in Uganda. He is passionate about new concepts, sports and languages. Edwin presently lives in Rwanda and Uganda.
Robert has a background in Telecommunications and Technology, and leads Strategy at Intouch Communications Ltd (“Intouch”), a Technology Consulting company operating in Rwanda and Uganda.
Robert started his career as a Core Systems Engineer at a Telecommunications startup in Uganda called iTEL, where he gained valuable technical experience and insight into large scale systems. He then moved to MTN Rwanda, Africa’s leading telecommunications services provider, before moving into technology consulting. In 2012, Robert helped establish the Rwanda Chamber of Information Technology (ICT Chamber) within the Private Sector Federation.
Robert presently leads Strategy and Business Operations for Intouch Communications Ltd (“Intouch”) which he co-founded with Edwin Bajje in 2013. Robert joins Kommerce with Edwin.
Robert holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunications Engineering from Makerere University, Uganda, and a Diploma in Business Development from YMCA, Uganda. He has also completed certificate courses on Project Management and Business Strategy. He is passionate about reading, traveling, music, and promoting financial literacy and money management skills among youth. Robert presently lives in Rwanda and Uganda.
Tomi is a Nigerian-American educator with experience in NGO administration and social work. She has worked as a Crisis and Emergency Volunteer in Lesvos, Greece; a representative for 1Unit.io at the World Investment Forum in Geneva; and as a UX novice representing AllWomenTech at the Women Techmaker's Summit in Poland.
Tomi is interested in emerging technologies, with a focus on Indigenous Perspectives, Interaction Design, and Diversity. She hopes to leverage her experience at Kommerce to more effectively advocate for vulnerable communities and the environment.
Ho Kiat is the principal of “The Trouble with Economics”, an independent economics consultancy specializing in new economic thinking, with a focus on incorporating behavioral psychology, complexity theory, agent-based modeling, computational and experimental methods into the analysis and design of economic systems. Ho Kiat has extensive central banking experience in economic forecasting and financial markets research (across a comprehensive range of instruments and markets), alongside significant research experience in theoretical and computational condensed matter physics within academia, which he brings together in a diverse technical skillset and uniquely interdisciplinary perspective to advise us on markets which exemplify experimental finance and quasi-monetary systems.
He will be advising Kommerce on optimal economic solutions as well as mechanism design tailored to the emerging markets environment, with a focus on tokenomics and token policy in the Kommerce Trade Flow Ecosystem. Ho Kiat holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Cambridge, an M.A. in Statistics from Harvard University and an M.A. in Physics from the University of Southern California.
Shannon Low is the Head of Android Apps and Games Business Development for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Google. In his role, he leads Google's efforts to grow the android apps and games ecosystem, help developers become more successful on Google Play and grow Google Play's business in the apps and games vertical in EMEA. Prior to his current role, he drove Google's New Business Development efforts in APAC, working on early-stage pilots and partnerships for new products.
Before joining Google, Shannon co-founded two technology startups in Singapore focused on crowdsourcing, online shopping, mobile social networks and digital advertising, helped to set up the Singapore investment management business and operations for Plug and Play Tech Center (a technology seed investment fund and startup incubator headquartered in Sunnyvale, California), and worked in various departments in the Singapore government covering investment management, industry development, strategic planning, policy and research portfolios.
Shannon has over 12 years of experience in technology companies, startups and venture capital in business development, product management, technology development and investment management capacities. He holds a M.Sc in Economics for Development and a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University.
Silene is a hedge fund industry veteran and raised more than 3 billion USD in the course of her career. Her last position was Director of Investor Relations at Dymon Asia Capital Ltd. She has been advising us on stakeholder management and relationships.
Ridzuan is a software engineer with over 15 years of experience in a broad range of roles - programmer, project lead, solutions consultant and business development. His experience includes working across the domains of both web and native mobile development having started his career working on content management systems before building native mobile solutions for both Blackberry and subsequently Android applications.
He has spent the past 3 years dabbling in the blockchain/cryptocurrency space. While he spends more time experimenting and advising individuals and organisations on Ethereum-based solutions, Ridzuan strongly believes that the world has room for multiple chains to co-exist and that well-thought out blockchain solutions will promote a safer, more transparent and free world for society to live in.
Alexis is the co-founder of Legalese, a deep-tech startup in the computational law space. They intend to apply computer science to law: from contract drafting, generation, and management, to all the quasi-legal rules, business process logic, and statutes that altogether make up “law”. They aim to do that by first developing a domain-specific language (DSL) for law; the working title of this language is L4. This is the R&D arm of Legalese. Parallel to this, Legalese’s product arm just launched its first web-app on fundraising paperwork. In a few years, the two tracks will dovetail.
Prior to Legalese, she was a corporate lawyer at TSMP Law Corporation and was an IP, IT, and commercial litigator at Rajah & Tann. In the earlier days of Legalese, Alexis subsidised the startup by being a software contracts negotiator and consultant for financial institutions and asset managers.
Alexis obtained her Bachelor of Laws at Queen Mary, University of London (Second Upper, 2011), and was a recipient of the Cambridge University Long Vacation Scholarship (2009). She enjoys long walks and computer games in her free time.
Shu has been working as an advertising creative for 15 years.
She has been based in China for the past decade, and has won several advertising awards in her career. In that time, she’s worked with numerous blue chip MNC brands such as Coca-cola, Sephora and Hennessy, helping them to launch new products and reposition brands for the Chinese market.
She is deeply passionate about branding and marketing strategy, and also has a strong background in design and corporate branding.
Sujith spent seven years at NASDAQ listed Cognizant (NASDAQ:CTSH), a leading technology and operations consultancy, during which he among other things led digital transformation and post-merger integrations for various large clients. He also played leading roles in technology architecture and hardware virtualisation decision making on behalf of clients.
Following an MBA at INSEAD, Sujith then served as Operations Director for Aztec Exchange (aka Aztec Money), a Forbes Fintech50 company providing working capital to suppliers in the developing world via a financing platform.
As external consultant and subject matter expert, Sujith is assisting Kommerce with setting policies around platform operations with a focus on credit mandates, payment workflows and information assurance, with a view to a larger operational role subsequently.
Reuben has a decade of experience in corporate communications and training, and helping organizations engage with a fluid world. He has worked with major corporates including 3M and BAE Systems, and a range of government ministries and agencies in Singapore, providing them with communication strategy solutions, training, and learning materials to improve the effectiveness of their communications to the media and public.
Reuben is currently Chief Strategy Officer at Sparrow Exchange, and also serves as Vice President of the Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA).
He is a member of the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore (IPRS). Rueben has a business degree from California State University (Long Beach), where he double-majored in Finance (Investments) and International Business, achieving the Most Outstanding Graduate in Finance (2009).
Richard Manzi is a Collateral Management, Structured Trade Finance, and Agribusiness specialist. After an early career in banking with a leading regional commercial bank, Richard joined a leading international collateral management organization working in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Benin and Nigeria managing a wide range of commodities including, but not limited to Coffee, Cotton, Cocoa, Cashew nuts, Rice, Maize, Petroleum, and Sugar.
Richard then started Rwanda’s leading independent collateral management services provider, Ace Global Depository Ltd, which currently works with almost all commercial banks in Rwanda, and has worked with venture capital funds in the region managing assets of over $50 million in Rwanda. Richard oversees Ace’s operations in Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Richard works closely with banks and traders to structure transactions, while identifying probable risks and implementing appropriate risk mitigation. Richard also provides training on structured Trade Finance and Collateral Management to industry groups and the financial sector in Rwanda.
Ilker Yengin (Ph.D.) is a user experience research leader passionate about shaping the creation of great products in social robotics, conversational UIs, and ride-hailing technologies. Yengin supports the identification and setting of product strategy, envisions complex UX, builds, and inspires user experience research teams for ride-hailing champions that serve tens of millions in Asia.
With his strong background in psychology, cognitive science, and human-computer interaction, Yengin supports design and product teams to go beyond superficial aesthetics by delving into deeper understanding of the root causes of users’ needs and behaviors. During his research process, Yengin focuses on the most important thing: to help design and product teams in delivering intuitive features for users.
Yengin is presently leading UX for a major consumer-focused company in India.
Alakanani Itireleng is a prominent Bitcoin and blockchain evangelist in Africa, who has been involved in educating people in her country Botswana about the technology since 2013.
She is the founder of a blockchain hub in Botswana called Satoshi Centre, which works with developers to spread understanding of blockchain technology and the Bitcoin ecosystem, with the aim of exposing developers in Africa to the technology in order to bring practical solutions to problems faced by Africans in everyday life. The centre is currently building a blockchain based crowdfunding platform for startups in Africa.
She sees potential applications for the technology in securing integrity to land registration, voting systems, and the registration of nationals and displaced persons, providing auditability in the distribution of aid and relief efforts, and tracking the provenance of produce and minerals, among many others. Alakanani is excited about the potential of Kommerce to transform access to finance for traders in Africa.
Alakanani is regularly invited to speak at conferences in Africa and Europe about the landscape and possibilities in Africa for Bitcoin and blockchain technology.
Todd Burgess is currently the CEO and founder of Digital Capital Management, a licensed Australian wholesale fund that invests entirely in Blockchain assets. Digital Capital Management was founded on the belief that Blockchain technologies would revolutionize economies and be transformative for the majority of the world that suffer financial exclusion.
He has extensive experience in the hedge fund services industry throughout Asia. He is a registered Commodity Trading Advisor (National Futures Association Series 3) and holds an Australian Diploma in Financial Planning (RG 146). He also spent 5 years as a trader for a Cayman based prop group trading US equities.
He was an early adopter of Blockchain technology and has been involved in various aspects of the space such as cryptocurrency mining, ICO advisory, VC funding and funds management. He is dedicated to a research based approach on this new asset class and has a particular interest is the way in which utility tokens and communities can interact to derive new economic models.
Tuhina is a cofounder of Propine Capital – a full service custody and escrow solution for institutional clients, based out of Singapore. She also works with Binary Financial, one of the leading crypto OTC desks globally, as Director of Business Development.
Prior to this, Tuhina was part of the core TenX team, and helped it raise USD 80 million in a very successful ICO completed in June 2017.
Tuhina brings a depth of financial experience from banking into the crypto world. She has traded nearly all asset classes, made markets for institutional clients and corporates in a career spanning over 10 years with BNP Paribas; JM Financial; IndusInd, a private bank where she set up their forex and interest rates derivatives desk from scratch; and a family office where she managed portfolio of over USD 1 billion.
Eric Fiechter has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the law, during which he was involved in much of the innovation in the financial sector that drove Switzerland’s growth into a jurisdiction of choice. Eric graduated from the Geneva Law School in 1973 and also holds a Masters degree from New York University (1975). He has been a member of the Geneva Bar since 1977. Eric initially practiced law in New York, followed by 32 years at the law offices of Secretan Troyanov in Geneva.
Eric’s advisory practice spans Banking and Finance, Corporate and Commercial, Trust and Private Clients, and Dispute Resolution. Eric has been an accredited Mediator since 2002 and is also an experienced arbitrator and counsel in arbitration proceeding (using both ICC and Swiss Rules). Eric served as Deputy Judge at the Geneva Court of Appeals from 1997 to 2011.
Eric continues as attorney at law in Geneva with the Swiss law firm Des Gouttes & Associés, while offering his services in Singapore as a business consultant and a mediator at ASBS Pte. Ltd. (Asian Swiss Business Services).
Andras is an entrepreneur, investor and technical consultant living in Singapore. He built the technology behind viki.com, Singapore's largest exit so far. He has been involved in blockchain development since 2013.
Andras founded Tembusu Systems, deploying the first Bitcoin vending machine in early 2014, then forked Ripple and built a distributed asset management system. He is a cofounder of Akomba Labs, a Blockchain firm focused on bringing feasibility, accountability, and well structured economics to blockchain’s wild west.
Andras is active in the blockchain community providing technical advice for projects incorporating smart contracts on Ethereum. He has a passion for projects that drive systemic applications of blockchain technology to solve real-world problems.
Pradeep Avadhani consults to the African port sector.
Pradeep began his career with the Port of Singapore (PSA) in 2001 and subsequently spent ten years involved with the expansion into African port operations of Portek (then listed on the Singapore Exchange).
In Algeria, North Africa, Pradeep converted a conventional port into a modern container terminal, the first of its kind along the Algerian coast. He played a lead role setting up and operationalizing the project. Pradeep then played a key role in negotiating a 25 year concession for Portek to operate in the ports of Gabon, and the acquisition of the largest inland port and bonded warehousing facility in Rwanda (Magerwa).
Pradeep assumed the role of CEO of Magerwa in 2011 and was concurrently Portek’s Head of Africa, a region that accounted for 65% of the group’s turnover.
From the end of 2013 Pradeep had provided independent consultancy. He advised intensively the Gabon Special Economic Zone from 2014 to 2017 on construction of a multi-purpose terminal, as well as a minerals terminal, taking both projects from greenfield to full operationalisation.
Audrey attended Stanford’s prestigious technology entrepreneurship program as part of the National University of Singapore’s Overseas College. Her thesis was on 'Persuasive Technology and Games for Savings and Money Management'.
In Silicon Valley, Audrey rallied product marketing and business development at Qik, (acquired by Skype). On her return to Singapore Audrey set up PlayMoolah, an award winning social enterprise that educates children, parents and young adults about positive relationships to money. Its programs impacted over 70,000 users worldwide.
Since 2016, Audrey has supported woman-led impact businesses in ASEAN through her social enterprise Angels of Impact. It has won customers such as Google, Facebook, Bloomberg for the 8 enterprises it supports.