March 24, 2014


Startle was founded in 2010 and has assembled an exceptional team comprising of founders Andrew Tanswell and Adriaan Mol, reinforced by Fiona Mwaura and George Parkes. Together they shared a belief in social entrepreneurship and bring complimentary backgrounds including business development, management consulting & finance, international aid and development, bamboo & plantation management, carbonisation technology, carbon trading, social-enterprise, sales & marketing and BoP markets.

Andrew and Adriaan bring a track record of successfully growing enterprises in western and emerging markets, having worked together first in 1992 in Somalia before founding and growing a number of businesses including BushProof, CarboCo, and ToughStuff – all focused on social and environmental impact in sub-Saharan Africa through enterprise. Fiona Mwaura has several years’ experience in management, entrepreneurship and liaising and networking with government officials in Kenya. George Parkes is an agro-economist specialising in bamboo cultivation, plantation management and carbonisation.

The team have proven success of building a business from concept to international organisation, raising growth funds, recruiting high calibre teams and delivering positive financial, social and environmental outcomes in frontier markets.

Andrew-90x90Andrew Tanswell (UK) is a proven business leader and entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Startle and has founded several social enterprises including ToughStuff an award-winning and rapidly scaled social-enterprise. Andrew graduated with honours from Imperial College, London, he worked in the manufacturing industry, becoming a Chartered Mechanical Engineer. Over his 28 year career, while pursuing a professional career in the UK, Andrew has also led multi-disciplinary, multi-national professional teams on large scale emergency aid programmes in Somalia and Iraq. He has been a Director and Trustee of several companies and charities. Andrew was a winner of the Global Social Benefit Incubator 2009.

Adriaan-90x90Adriaan Mol (Netherlands) is the Operations Director for Startle and was also a Founder of ToughStuff as well as BushProof in Madagascar, an enterprise which creates markets and provides affordable clean water to low-income people. He has a unique and keen understanding of the needs and motivations of low-income people having lived and worked in sub-Saharan Africa for most of his life.  He has demonstrated experience in combining appropriate technology with business models, and has established several successful micro enterprises that deliver sustainable health impact for the poor while making profit. Adriaan was a winner of the Global Social Benefit Incubator 2006.

fionaFiona Mwaura (Kenya) is a marketer and consumer researcher educated in the UK. In 2007 she co-founded a relocation company in Kenya which she grew and successfully sold in 2012 to a French business. She then worked with Senaca EA, multi-national security company with headquarters in Ireland. Experienced in marketing, her particular skills include networking and liaising with commercial and non-profit partners as well as forging government relationships. Fiona is a partner in a leadership training business which she co-founded together with a former US state senator. She has a passion in environmental preservation. Her personal networks, practical understanding of doing business in Kenya and as project manager is evidenced in her work on implementing and assessing the pilot; market research and building operational partnerships.

George Parkes 90x90George Parkes (Ireland) has a background in agro-ecology & biodiversity conservation and operates in the natural resource management sector in Madagascar & Kenya. The primary focus of his work is on reforming the charcoal sector in developing countries. George is based in Madagascar and has designed and developed our pilot plantation – implemented under a framework of agro-ecological and social best practices. Taking operational responsibility for the plantation development, George’s background in agro-ecology and a track record of implementing projects in developing world countries combine to realise Startle’s initiative to supply renewable fuelwood resource to Southern Madagascar’s regional capital. With expertise in the social and environmental implications of charcoal use in the developing world; the complexities of charcoal value chains and methods for its production, he is ideally suited to operate this business and bring about  real reform within the fuelwood sector in some of the world’s financially poorest yet ecologically richest countries.