Steering Committee


JUERGEN VOEGELE (Chairperson) is Senior Director of the Agriculture Global Practice of the World Bank. He chairs the Agriculture and Rural Sector Board, and oversees World Bank global programs for rural poverty alleviation, agriculture, and natural resource management. After joining the World Bank in 1991, his initial assignments included working in the agriculture and natural resource divisions in the Europe and Central Asia Region and in the East Asia and Pacific Region. In 1998, he transferred to the World Bank's Beijing, China Office to lead the Agriculture Unit, followed by his appointment in 2004 as Manager of the Agriculture and Rural Development for the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit.

Prior to the World Bank, Mr. Voegele worked at the University of Hohenheim, GIZ, and the BMZ Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation in Germany. This included a three-year field assignment in Western Samoa.


MICHAEL ANDRADE is the Business Head for Agriculture at HDFC Bank, one of India's leading banks which is rapidly expanding into rural area's. At HFDC since 1997 and experience with two multinational banks before that, he has over 25 years in the banking sector. His work has seen him involved in banking in rural markets since 2001 as well as managing and developing businesses in the area of co-operatives, warehouse receipts, farm lending and rural payments systems supporting agri-supply chains. He holds a Bachelors of Science and an MBA from Mumbai University.


JOHN BLANCHFIELD is Senior Vice President and Director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking of the American Bankers Association (ABA) and is one of the most in demand speakers on agricultural finance in the United States. Over the last two decades, he has given hundreds of presentations in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, been quoted in many publications, and featured on numerous radio and television programs.

His experience with the ABA spans over a period of 24 years. Among other things, the ABA - Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking helps to increase the professionalism of agricultural bankers nationwide and works with various federal agencies to develop new programs that help farmers and ranchers access capital. Before the ABA, John worked in agricultural finance for 11 years in central New York State, including 6 years as an agricultural loan officer at a commercial bank where he specialized in lending to very low-income farmers and resolving problem credits.


GRAHAME DIXIE is Senior Agricultural Specialist for the World Bank, where he has been involved in developing a raft of new agricultural competitiveness projects in Nepal, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. He is Chairperson of the World Bank's Rural Thematic Group for Rural Infrastructure Services, Markets and Rural Finance (RIMFI).

Previously, Mr. Dixie was an independent consultant for 30 years, primarily working at the interface between international aid and the private sector. His clients included many of the international development agencies, e.g., World Bank, IFC, USAid, Swiss Development Corporation, EU, FAO, IFAD, among others, as well as private sector companies and major NGOs (TechnoServe, CARE). He has worked in over 65 countries, particularly in Africa (17 countries) and South Asia (7 countries).

The focus of Mr. Dixie’s professional work has related to the increase of rural incomes through connections to, and the understanding of, markets and agribusiness. To achieve this, he has developed expertise in a range of techniques and approaches, including feasibility studies and investment appraisals, value chain studies, identification of market and investment opportunities, market linkage programs, marketing extension techniques, the use of ICT for market and agricultural information, development of internal and external trade, and contract farming. Mr. Dixie has been at the forefront of FAOs work of promoting ‘Marketing Extension’. He is also experienced in starting new agricultural trade (e.g., vanilla from Uganda, pigeon peas from Mozambique to India, sea-freighted pineapples from Ghana, 'off'-season tomatoes from Swaziland to South Africa).


JANINE FIRPO is currently the Deputy Director, Digital Financial Services at Scale, for the Financial Services for the Poor (FSP) team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In her role, Janine is responsible for accelerating and deepening the penetration of digital financial services beyond basic payments in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda while ensuring that the grantmaking and management are of the highest standards. She is also a member of the FSP leadership team. Janine has more than 30 years of experience in information technology with the last ten years focusing on financial services, particular e-payments and mobile banking. Most recently, Janine was President and Founder of Sevak Solutions—a non-profit spun out of the Hewlett-Packard Company in 2005 to advance the role of technology in the delivery of financial services to the poor. She has also served as a mobile financial services consultant to mobile operators, financial institutions, and development agents. During her career, Janine has had management positions in other corporations, start-up businesses, development organizations, and government agencies. Since 1995, she has been concentrating on the intersection of business, technology, and international development. Through her work, Janine has gained expertise in a range of sectors including financial services, health care, and education. She has led initiatives around the globe, but with particular emphasis on Africa and Asia. Janine holds a Master Degree in Marine Biology and Computer Science from the University of Florida and a Bachelor Degree from UCLA.


JANAKI KURUPPU is the Chairperson of the Regional Development Bank, which is the largest government-owned development bank in Sri Lanka. It has over 250 branches and 3.5 million customers, most of whom reside in rural areas and engage in agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and small and medium enterprises. In addition, Ms. Kuruppu is the Advisor on Food Security at the Office of the President of Sri Lanka. 

With over 20 years of experience in both the private and public sectors -- both in the USA and Sri Lanka -- Ms Kuruppu has had an illustrious career in a variety of industries, covering research and consultancy, agribusiness, food manufacturing, retail, banking, media, and engineering. She is currently spearheading some special projects, which include new agribusiness and supply-chain models, private sector links and partnerships, agriculture finance policies with special focus on farmer economic stability, and long-term food security for Sri Lanka. 

She holds a B.Sc in Mathematics and an M.A. in Applied Statistics from the University of Missouri, USA.


DIANNE RUDO, Principal of Rudo International, is a financial consultant with more than 25 years of international and domestic project and corporate finance transactional experience in both the public and private sector. With extensive experience in global infrastructure project finance, she advises public and private sector clients on financing issues in structuring sustainable infrastructure transactions and on the performance and effectiveness of development financing and guarantee programs.

Prior to founding Rudo International, Ms. Rudo was Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, where she established and managed the Project Finance Division to expand the Bank’s capacity to support highly structured energy and infrastructure finance transactions. She obtained Board authorizations for worldwide project finance transactions in excess of $20 billion. Previously, Ms. Rudo worked in investment banking in New York as a first vice president and partner at Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Her philosophical approach to project finance is to facilitate “bridging the knowledge gap” between public and private sector players to enhance their capacity to work cooperatively to promote commercially viable infrastructure development. Ms. Rudo has almost 20 years of training and knowledge transfer experience in both industry and academia, and has authored several papers on project financing and related topics. Ms. Rudo is a member of the Technical Advisory Panel of the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Fund (PPIAF) and on the Advisory Panel for the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). She has an M.B.A. in Finance from New York University and a B.A. in Economics and French from Tufts University. She is proficient in French and Spanish.


MICHAEL TARAZI currently coordinates CGAP’s work in financial innovation for smallholder families. He has formerly led CGAP’s efforts in the area of branchless banking regulation and has worked with regulators around the world in developing regulatory frameworks. He has worked in Nigeria, Rwanda, Haiti, and led CGAP’s regulatory efforts in the Maldives. Michael has taught branchless banking at the Boulder Institute for Microfinance. He was also chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and is a member of the Forum’s Dialogue Series on Access to Finance through Technology.

He is a co-author of Putting the Banking in Branchless Banking, Regulating Banking Agents, Regulatory Approaches to Nonbank E-Money Issuers and Islamic Microfinance: An Emerging Market Niche. Prior to joining CGAP, Tarazi was a corporate attorney in private practice and served as the European General Counsel to a U.S. company providing finance-related technological services to developing countries. He also served as an advisor to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Tarazi holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He speaks English, Arabic, and French.