Team

Arisa Oba

After graduating from Keio University, Department of Political Science, and studying abroad at the University of Manchester as an exchange student, Arisa joined the Investment Banking Division of Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley. She was involved in cross-border and domestic M&As, equity offerings and financial advisories, primarily for the real estate industry.

Building on her long-standing interest in global inequality and her experience interning at a local NGO in Tanzania providing empowerment programs for women and children, she aims to dedicate herself to solving injustice in the world.

She loves yoga, traveling, and reading books to find beauty and peace inside and outside.

Works in: Japan

Akiyuki Niwa

Aki is a Certified Public Accountant and works at Gojo as a Finance Controller. Aki graduated from the University of New South Wales in Australia with a Master of Commerce specializing in Accounting, and completed his undergraduate degree in Economics & Business Administration at Nagoya City University in Japan.

Prior to joining Gojo, Aki spent 14 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Tokyo and London. At PwC Tokyo, he engaged in financial audits, process assurance services and a variety of advisory projects such as technical accounting, internal control enhancement, regulatory compliance and process improvements & standardization for clients in banking and capital markets. Aki also spent 2.5 years on secondment at the PwC London office, where he was an audit manager of one of the global investment banks headquartered in the UK.

Aki loves both playing and watching football since his school days, and also can dance a little bit of salsa.

Works in: Japan

Cheriel Neo

Cheriel joined Gojo in 2020, focusing on Impact Measurement. She has a BA (Hons.) in History and English from Exeter College, Oxford University, and an MSc. in Translation Studies from the University of Edinburgh. Cheriel got started in the world of social impact during her time in Oxford, where she ran a homeless outreach, and helped found what would become a national student-led charity for social justice.

After graduating, she joined Social Finance, a social investment financial intermediary, where she designed Impact Bonds in the UK, Cameroon and the West Bank, and helped create an app to track young people’s outcomes after leaving state care. Before joining Gojo, she worked for Japanese space startup Infostellar in Corporate Development, where she was responsible for managing new business initiatives and partnership agreements. She is a founding director of Proof Bakery, a social enterprise training and employing refugee women in the UK.

In her spare time, Cheriel enjoys reading, snacking, and exploring her neighbourhood. She is an accomplished knitter and an avid home cook.

Works in: Japan

Gürol Sari

Chief Operating Officer

Gürol Sari joined Gojo in June 2020 as our Chief Operating Officer, and oversees the strategic and operational development of our partner institutions. Gürol has extensive leadership experience in retail banking, SME finance, microfinance & financial digitalization, as well as experience in turnarounds of several institutions. He has worked in the banking sector for over 30 years in many countries, including Germany, Austria, Myanmar, Turkey, Albania, Russia, Australia, and Tanzania.

From the start of his career, his interest was drawn towards innovation and impact: Gürol created the first fully automated online credit solution in Germany, easyCredit, which is ranked No.1 today in Germany. Prior to joining Gojo, Gürol worked as Chief Operating Officer of Vision Fund Myanmar, where he developed and implemented a fully digitized microfinance system that provided over 300,000 clients in extreme poverty with access to credit, savings, and education. He currently advises several international banks on digitization and change processes.

Gürol has a creative spirit and is always active. He is passionate about architecture, gardening, handicraft (particularly remodeling houses), and loves to bike and to play tennis. He dreams of sailing with his wife once his two children are independent.

Works in: Germany

Kaung Set Lin

Kaung Set Lin studied Liberal Arts at Sarah Lawrence College in the United States and returned to Myanmar at the end of 2012. He has over 6 years of experience in the financial sector in Myanmar. He started out his career in microfinance managing the MIS while exploring digital products and partnerships at one of Myanmar’s leading MFIs, Proximity Finance. After this, he entered Myanmar’s banking sector with KBZ Bank, where he worked with different stakeholders in partnership with Huawei to develop KBZ Pay to expand the outreach of the bank. Before joining Gojo & Co in late 2019, he worked for Yoma Bank’s Digital Division, where he created and launched a digital lending product called SMART Credit.

When he is not busy working, Kaung Set likes to travel and read along with learning new skills. He also likes going to music festivals and would travel to go to different events around the region.

Works in: Myanmar

Koh Terai

Koh believes that great products and services are built with a harmony between business, technology, and design. He attempts to strike a fine balance between the sustainable, functional, and pleasing — a unison of beauty and practicality.

Koh believes that this fundamentally relies on deep understanding of and extreme empathy for human behaviors and desires. He has polished his intuition through working with people and projects from all walks of life, from Bangalore to Mexico City to Bukavu to Abu Dhabi, in multidisciplinary problem solving and storytelling.

Koh is a graduate of New York University Abu Dhabi in Computer Science.

Works in: Singapore

Kohei Katada

Chief Financial Officer

Prior to joining Gojo, Kohei has served as Senior Vice President of Finance at SmartNews, Inc., a developer of a news discovery app called “SmartNews”, which has been downloaded more than 30 million times globally. As its early employee before monetization and as part of its management team, he played a key role in procuring a total of $80 million equity financing. In his role as Senior Vice President of Finance, Kohei undertook a wide range of responsibilities including financial control, accounting, recruiting, people operations, legal, and investor relations. Mid-2018, Kohei moved to being an advisor with SmartNews while simultaneously supporting several startups in and out of Japan.

As one of the founding members and as Chief Financial Officer at LIFENET INSURANCE COMPANY, a publicly listed online life insurer in Japan, Kohei led, among other things, it’s successful $100 million Initial Public Offering in 2012, and also setup its joint venture in Korea with Kyobo Life Insurance and business alliances with strategic investors.

Kohei started his career at Morgan Stanley Japan Ltd. as part of its M&A Advisory Group in Investment Banking Division, where he was involved in multiple cross-border transactions in different sectors. In 2005, he had joined Och-Ziff Capital Management (Hong Kong), a global hedge fund, as an investment analyst where he managed public and private equity investment portfolio in Japan.

Kohei has a B.A. in Law from the University of Tokyo. While at school, he did an internship at PROSHIKA, a local NGO in Bangladesh where he was inspired by the power of microfinance that can unlock the potential of micro-entrepreneurs.

Kohei enjoys playing with his two boys over the weekends. He loves sports and has successfully finished the long-distance triathlon.

Works: Tokyo, Japan

Mangyo Kinoshita

Audit & Supervisory Board Member
Mangyo is an attorney qualified to practice Japanese law and California law and the founding partner of “southgate”. His practice primarily focuses on cross-border and domestic M&A, joint venture, strategic alliances, private equity and venture capital. He also regularly represents social entrepreneurs as well as social impact funds. Before founding southgate, Mangyo was a corporate partner at White & Case, an international law firm, and O’Melveny & Myers LLP, another international law firm where he led its corporate practice in Tokyo. At Gojo, Mangyo monitors management from an independent standpoint by attending board meetings and investment committee meetings as well as supervises day-to-day business execution.

Works in: Japan

Marco Giancotti

Having studied astronomy and astrophysics, Marco obtained a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering doing research at the Sapienza University of Rome and the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA). In 2014 he joined Axelspace Corporation in Tokyo as a satellite development engineer. Later Marco was the group leader of Axelspace’s Space Business Intelligence Group and was responsible for the development of the company’s innovative IT products, including a data pipeline and a web platform for data distribution. He has experience in project management, product management, leadership, and geeky startup culture. He joined Gojo & Company in 2019 to support the company’s technology projects and strategy.

Marco reads, writes, talks and often also breathes. He is fluent in Japanese and is now learning about life, the universe, and everything. He wants to apply everything he learns to solve tough problems at Gojo.

Works in: Tokyo

Marzuka Zakir

Marzuka, an Uighur from northwest China, has an extensive international exposure with 15+ years of experience in Corporate Finance, FP&A and, Financial Strategy, having worked with global giants like GE, Sony, Rakuten, and PayPal, where she demonstrated exceptional leadership skills.

Marzuka holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Finance and Banking from the Shanghai University of Finance & Economics. She studied International Management at Bordeaux Business School and also completed a course with the Harvard Business School Executive Education programme on Leveraging FinTech Innovations to Grow and Compete.

Marzuka has been stationed across the globe (US, UK, UAE, Kenya, South Africa, Singapore, and Japan) on her work assignments. She is a native speaker of Chinese & Uighur, fluent in English with beginner-level Japanese. She is an avid reader, enjoys nature and portrait photography. She loves cooking and hosting parties for her friends and family.

Masahiro Kotosaka

Non-executive Director
Masahiro Kotosaka is an Associate Professor at Keio University and an Associate Fellow of The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences. He is an expert in Internationalization strategy and early stage business development, and advisor to several global start-up companies. Before moving to Keio, he was an associate professor of multinational management at Ritsumeikan University, a teaching & research associate at the University of Oxford, and a consultant at McKinsey & Company based in Frankfurt and Tokyo. As a practitioner, he worked for strategy/marketing projects with sixteen client organizations across nine industries and nine countries and spent four years running three profitable IT/Retail businesses before joining McKinsey. He graduated from the University of Oxford with D.Phil. (Ph.D) in Management Studies and MSc in Management Research with Distinction.

Works in: Japan

Momoko Nagayoshi

Momoko is a Certified; Internal Auditor (CIA) and Information Systems Auditor (CISA). Before joining Gojo, she has experience of 14 years at Prudential Financial Inc. (PFI) where she was a Senior Audit Manager; (International Audit Group), handling audit activities and quality assurance checks for Prudential’s international businesses, especially the life insurance businesses in Japan. She also facilitated audit methodology training sessions for the internal auditors in Prudential’s global locations, such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Latin America and also at the Institute of Internal Auditors Japan (IIAJ). Prior to PFI, Momoko worked at KPMG and conducted audit services for financial institutions, including banks, security investments and insurance. Momoko graduated from Waseda University, Political Science and Economics. She likes sports, especially swimming and yoga, and is fond of singing.

Works in: Tokyo

Natsuki Sugai

Vice President
Having graduated from Waseda University, Natsuki started his professional career at Fast Retailing, a global fast-fashion clothing retailer based in Japan, in which he engaged in branch management of UNIQLO, the retailer’s flagship brand. In 2012, as a college student, Natsuki founded an NGO to support education in developing countries and led the entire process to establish public schools in Lao by collaborating with the Lao government. While he was in Waseda Jitsugyo High School, he twice took part in the National High School Baseball Championship as a regular player despite joining the school as a non sports-exemption student. Out of his passion for making Gojo’s vision and mission come true, Natsuki joined Gojo in 2015.

Works in: Japan

Praachi Gandhi

Head of Social Performance Management
Praachi is a Sociologist from the Delhi School of Economics. She was Lecturer and Trainer at Delhi University. Praachi has been a research specialist with several NGOs and has worked on various international projects with John’s Hopkins University, USA, the MacArthur Foundation. For several years she worked closely with people below the poverty line to analyze the impact of various health interventions in the field. Praachi has a unique ability to connect seamlessly with people from all walks of life and all age-groups. At Gojo, Praachi heads social performance management using her field experience to make sure that the partner MFIs of Gojo fulfill their social responsibility. For Praachi laughter and music is the source of immense energy in this universe.

Works in: India, Cambodia and Myanmar

Renuka Rathnahewage

Country Head – Sri Lanka
Renuka is a Certified Management Accountant and Certified Professional Manager from Sri Lanka and holding Master in Business Administration from the University of Wales in the U.K. Renuka started her career as an accountant in 1998 at PRDA (NGO/MFI) and was promoted up to General Manager. In 2008 Renuka joined Sewa Finance, an MFI in Sri Lanka, as CEO and took over the leadership for the company facing a severe crisis and was able to turn around the company to a profit making entity by restructuring all the systems and building a cohesive team. She served as a director of the Lanka Micro Finance Practitioners’ Association as a director for 3 years. At Gojo, she is handling all the activities in Sri Lanka project and serves as the CEO/Director of Sejaya Micro Credit Limited in Sri Lanka. She is fluent in English and Sinhalese. She is good at dealing with people and gives supports to HR related issues at Gojo.

Works in: Sri Lanka

Sayuri Aoyama

IR Officer
Sayuri works in investor relations for international debt/equity investors. Having graduated from Rikkyo University, Sayuri has worked more than 16 years in every aspect of securitisation both in Tokyo and London. She worked as a structurer and portfolio manager of structured finance portfolios at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. She brings her intensive expertise of global debt/capital markets to Gojo.

Sayuri is also a member of Prosperoworld, an established philanthropist network in London, which connects social investors and philanthropists with outstanding charitable projects.

Sayuri has two children. She is fluent in French, English and Japanese. She loves ski (qualified children’s ski instructor), aikido and playing the piano.

Works in: UK

Syam Nair

Chief Technology Officer

Syam joined Gojo’s technology team to lead digital transformation and build Gojo’s technology products and infrastructure. Syam is a technology executive and business partner with more than 15 years of experience in various technology organizations. He is a Computer Science engineering graduate from Cochin University, India.

Before joining Gojo, Syam was working as a Director of Digital solutions at Visa and leading the architecture and technology organization for Visa’s South East Asia projects. During his tenure there, he worked with market-leading banks and technology companies, and delivered innovative financial technology products. Syam also spent considerable time with Mastercard, another leading financial technology company, where he was responsible for digital strategy and payment products. He previously also worked with Infosys in various technology positions.

Syam is an engineer at heart and loves to solve complex and real life problems using technology. He likes nature photography and playing badminton.

Works in: Singapore

Sohil Shah

Vice President, Investment Professional

Sohil graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a Masters in Finance and completed his under graduation in Electronics Engineering from the University of Mumbai. Before joining Gojo, Sohil was a part of the Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group where he led Intellecap Impact Investment Network, an early-stage angel network focused on making investments in social impact start-ups. In his five years with the group, he led around 35 investments in India and East Africa of which they exited from 4 companies and another 15 companies raised follow-on round of investment. An Investment Banking professional with over six years of experience in India and US, Sohil previously worked as a Senior Analyst at Bank of America. He was part of the Global Investment Banking team, with a key focus on the healthcare sector, where he was a part of a few billion-dollar M&A transactions. Prior to that, he worked with the investment banking teams at Fortune Financial Services (India) Ltd and Crucible Capital Group in New York.

Apart from being an avid brewer, Sohil is an angel investor in his personal capacity as well. He lives in Mumbai with his family.

Works in: India

Stuart Rutherford

Non-executive Director

Stuart Rutherford is a versatile researcher, practitioner, teacher and consultant in financial services for the poor in Asia and Africa. A well-known figure in the field of microfinance, Stuart has been a consultant with the World Bank, UNDP, UNCDF, DFID, ADB, EU, MicroSave and many NGOs including Oxfam, CARE, Save the Children, ASA, BRAC, Gates Foundation, ActionAid amongst others.

Stuart has taught at the University of Manchester, UK, has held training sessions for the Boulder Institute in the USA and Turin, Italy, for the Asian Development Bank in Tokyo and more. Stuart did his Masters from Cambridge University and is also a qualified architect.

Working in the microfinance field in Bangladesh in association with the Global Development Institute, UK, for a DFID project, Stuart developed Financial Diaries, a research methodology that has collected a wealth of information about the behaviours and fortunes of clients of financial services. In 1996, Stuart founded SafeSave, an MFI in Bangladesh that pioneers ultra-flexible savings and loans services for the urban poor. He has published papers and articles in international reports and journals that have helped to shape research in the microfinance sector. Of his books, The Poor and Their Money (2000) has been described by the World Bank as “the best thing we have read on how poor people manage their money.” Other books include The Pledge: ASA, Peasant Politics and Microfinance in the Development of Bangladesh (2009) and the co-authored Portfolios of the Poor (2009). For his services in the microfinance arena Stuart was honoured in 2011 with the “OBE” (Order of the British Empire). He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the Global Development Institute, (GDI), UK, for which he is currently writing a series of papers based on original research in progress in central Bangladesh. Stuart speaks Bengali, some French and Spanish and a little Japanese. He lives in Japan with his wife. He enjoys reading and taking walks, listening to classical music and the Beatles.

Works in: Japan

Shun Ito

Country Representative, Myanmar

After studying at Keio University, Faculty of Economics, and graduating from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Shun joined Roland Berger and worked in the Japan and Singapore Offices. As a management consultant, he was involved in multiple projects across Southeast Asia. As a freelance consultant, Shun worked in rural Japan in Akita for a local supermarket chain. His early childhood was spent in the UK and Brazil. Proficient in English and Japanese, he also has basic Burmese skills. Tennis is his favourite sport. During an earlier stint in Myanmar, Shun ordained at a Buddhist monastery and practiced meditation.

Works in: Myanmar

Takao Takahashi

Associate Principal

Takao graduated from Georgetown University, USA, with a Master of Science in Foreign Service and completed his undergraduation in Bachelor of Laws from Kyoto University, Japan.

Before joining Gojo, Takao was an Investment Officer at International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. In his six and half years with IFC, he led equity and debt investments in fintech startups, microfinance institutions and banks in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. He was based in both Washington DC, USA and Jakarta, Indonesia. Before IFC, Takao worked as the Bhutan Prime Minister’s Fellow, developing microfinance regulations and financial inclusion policy to contribute to Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) goal. Prior to that, he worked for four years as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, focusing on the financial sector, based in Frankfurt, Germany and Tokyo, Japan.

Takao loves singing, both opera on stage and pop on karaoke. He has authored a book in Japanese, the English translation of the title being; ‘What is true happiness? Thoughts from Bhutan’ Tennis is his favorite sport.

Works: Sri Lanka, Japan

Tomasz Ociepka

Associate Principal, Data Analytics

Tomasz graduated from Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom, with a Master of Science in Mathematics and completed his undergraduate studies at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, Poland.

Before joining Gojo, Tomasz was an independent data scientist based in Oxford, United Kingdom. He was providing services in the area of data analysis and data management for startups and SMEs. He was also a consultant for academic research using advanced quantitative methods, including projects on microfinance institutions. From 2016-2018 Tomasz was the lead data analyst and the co-author of three Polish Startups Reports published by the think-tank of Startup Poland Foundation.

He likes hiking, skiing, and historical trails (he walked the 800km long Medieval pilgrim trail of Camino de Santiago in Spain and a part of the Shikoku Henro trail in Japan, which he hopes to complete in the future). When inspiration strikes, he writes haiku.

He is passionate about the mission to reduce income inequality in the world.

Works in: Japan

Tomohiro Isozaki

Country Representative, Cambodia

After studying Sociology of Education at the University of Tokyo[T1] , Tomo joined Healthbank Pte.Ltd. providing management consultancy services for healthcare. Tomo was a Business Development Associate with them, working in several Southeast Asian countries mainly Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. In 2016 Tomo joined McKinsey & Company and was involved in multiple projects across various industries and varied functions. For instance, he was involved in developing and suggesting a long-term food and agricultural policy strategy for a client, while for another client he was leading the work stream of organizational health improvement and several such projects. Later, as a member of the strategic planning division of the Food Business Unit of Mitsui &Co.,Ltd. Tomo was again engaged in manifold projects of unit strategy planning, M&A, enhancement of subsidiary companies, operation improvement, and skill training for the unit members.
Tomo is proficient in English and Japanese and is also learning Khmer. He likes sports, traveling, and reading books. His motto is “Be tough, wise and tolerant, enjoying your own life.” Throughout the business activity, he tries to establish a fair and free society based on trustworthy relationships.

Works in: Cambodia

Yoko Shigekura

Yoko obtained her master’s degree in Education with the Social Justice and Education course from University College London, Institute of Education, and her bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Tokyo. Prior to joining Gojo, Yoko served in the Business Recovery Services Unit in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Advisory LLC in Tokyo. She was involved in developing business plans and financial models for clients in tough situations. As Yoko was passionate about gender, sexuality, and rights of education linkages, during her internships, Yoko immersed herself in the field of international development. She worked on projects with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Myanmar and Tokyo Office, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ).
Yoko spent her childhood in Japan, Greece, and Malaysia, she enjoys exploring new things and places. Yoko values the differences in people and places and cherishes friendship. At home, she enjoys cooking and watching movies with her family.

Works in: Cambodia

Yung-Han Chang

Country Representative, Sri Lanka

Having graduated from the National Taiwan University, Faculty of International Business Department, Yung Han joined Yuanta Investment Consulting Firm in Taiwan. As an equity research analyst, she was involved in industry analysis, financial modelling, equity valuations, and investor communications in the downstream technology sector. Later on, she went to Kenya and finished her post-graduate diploma in Social Innovation Management at Amani Institute. She joined NISK Capital, a pioneer East African investment bank founded by a group of enthusiastic African investment bankers, aiming to alleviate financial burdens of local SMEs and to support their growth. Yung Han is proficient in English and Mandarin, good enough in Japanese and Taiwanese, survival level of French and Swahili, and is learning Sinhala. She loves outdoor sports, and you can find her around the ocean when on holidays.

Works in: Sri Lanka

Yoshinari Noguchi

Head of Analytics
Yoshi joined Gojo and currently is leading the company’s analytics projects. Having graduated from Tokyo University and worked for Dai-ichi Life Insurance for 2 years, he spent 10 years as a quantitative analyst at Goldman Sachs Asset Management where he used to work for Global Alpha, a hedge fund of the investment bank. At Goldman Sachs, Yoshi managed quantitative global tactical asset allocation of the fund and developed various quantitative investment management products and tools. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he founded his own company and used to run a music studio business while providing consulting services for financial institutions. He loves finance theory, music, and skiing.

Works in: Japan

Yuko Iida

Administrative Officer
Yuko is looking after the administrative and secretarial work at Gojo. Having graduated from Meiji Gakuin University, Yuko has spent 10 years in two law firms, Hirakawa Sogo Law Offices, and City Law Offices handling paralegal and administrative matters. Besides her professional career, Yuko joined Living in Peace, an NPO in Japan, and together with the team members launched a crowdfunding program for children in Japan living under Japan’s alternative care system. After 2 years of maternity leave, Yuko has joined Gojo.

Yuko appreciates the peaceful life, likes to go on small weekend trips with her family and feels refreshed surrounded by nature.

Works in: Japan

Taejun Shin

Founder, Representative Director & CEO

Founder, Representative Director & CEO
After graduating from Korea University and Waseda Graduate School of Finance, Taejun started his career at Morgan Stanley and then worked for Unison Capital, one of the largest private equity fund managers in Japan. While working in the finance industry as an investment professional, Taejun founded Living in Peace, an NGO, in 2007, and created the first microfinance investment fund in Japan’s history. Taejun cofounded Gojo in 2014 and has led the company’s growth until today as the CEO. He is the Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and is the youngest founding board member of Endeavor Japan. Taejun is the author of 9 books, a finisher of the 1648 km ultra-marathon, and a Karate black-belt holder. Taejun is fluent in Japanese, Korean, and English. He plays drums and shows up in a live performance once a year.

Works in: Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka

Sanjay Gandhi

Founder & Chief Investment Officer

Founder & Chief Investment Officer
Sanjay qualified as a Chartered Accountant before graduating from Delhi University. His first job as an Audit Manager was with the Indian Associates of KPMG. After working for a finance company, he joined the microfinance industry in 2003 and has worked in 25 countries and conducted about 125 ratings of MFIs; some of the assignments were for the World Bank, ADB, UNDP, Mercy Corps and HIVOS. After his CEO assignment at a Cambodian MFI, Sanjay cofounded Gojo and has led the Company’s investment activity. Sanjay speaks English, Hindi, and Punjabi. He is very fond of music, movies, and reading, with The Beatles as his all-time favorite music band.

Works in: India, Cambodia and Myanmar

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