Gojo enables financial inclusion by building partnerships with financial service providers

Gojo enables financial inclusion by building partnerships with financial service providers

Everyone deserves to determine their own destiny

Over a billion people today are excluded from financial services. Through financial inclusion, we empower them to work towards their dreams of a better life.

As Amartya Sen says,  'Development consists of the removal of various types of unfreedoms that leave people with little choice and little opportunity of exercising their reasoned agency'. Gojo exists to extend financial inclusion to everyone in the world, thus expanding freedom for people.

- Taejun Shin
Founder & CEO

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Employees of MAXIMA / Taejun Shin

Partner Companies

We seek out financial service providers who are aligned with our mission and values, and provide capital to enable them to scale faster 

Our Approach

We work with partners to improve operations, strengthen governance, and support digital transformation to provide the best possible services for end clients

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A Cambodian lady who now runs a weaving factory with several employees / Taejun Shin

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The team at our members' meeting in November 2019 / Gojo

Our Team

We build a world-class team with experience in finance, impact investing, microfinance, tech and consulting

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Mubaraka Bharucha

Software Engineering

Mubaraka joined Gojo in August 2020 as a Full-stack Software Engineer. Mubaraka graduated from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Technology in Gujarat, India, with a Bachelor of Engineering in Information Technology.

After graduating, Mubaraka joined a smart energy startup - Gridscape Solutions in which she contributed to Smart Charging solutions in the IoT domain. Later on, she moved to PEaaS Finablr where she transitioned into financial product engineering. During her time at Finablr, Mubaraka was involved in a 100 million transaction & community engagement project, as well as overseas money transfers.

Mubaraka loves sports and travelling. In her free time, she can usually be found watching series or reading.

Works in: India

Ryo Satake

Accounting / Strategy & Analytics

Ryo is a Certified Public Accountant and works at Gojo as a Senior Accountant. Ryo has a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Keio. While at university he passed the CPA exam, the youngest to do so that year. He did an internship at Ernst & Young Philippines, where one of his clients was a microfinance institution and was impressed with the purpose of microfinance and its business model.

After graduating, he joined Ernst & Young in Tokyo, where he engaged in financial audits, internal control audits, operations/financial management advisory, and financial due diligence for potential M&A. He also spent 2 years on secondment at the EY Los Angeles office, where he was in charge of supporting a unicorn startup company headquartered in the United States. He has experience auditing under IFRS, US-GAAP, and J-GAAP.

Ryo is very fond of travelling, reading books, watching soccer, and going to the sauna.

Works in: Japan

Nina Shingai

Head of Strategy & Analytics

Nina leads the Strategy & Analytics Department at Gojo from July 2021 covering Strategy, FP&A and BP&A.

Nina started her career at J.P. Morgan in 2007 at its Investment Banking Division in the Tokyo office and has over ten years of Investment Banking experience across cross-border M&A, global equity/debt offerings, and syndicated & leveraged finance. Most recently at her time at Goldman Sachs' Investment Banking Division, she engaged in cross-border M&As, global debt offerings (SEC-registered, 144A/RegS), and shareholder advisory work in the Healthcare and Financial Institutions sectors. At J.P. Morgan, she also served as Business Manager for the firm's Global Corporate Banking Division in the Tokyo office where she assisted the division in its client selection/prioritization strategy, budget preparation and performance management, and coordination with Legal & Compliance and Technology teams on CRM and pipeline tools implementation. She also acted as the coordinator for the Tokyo office’s Balance Sheet Approval Committee.

Nina holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Strategic Management and Finance and a Bachelor of Policy Management from Keio University. She has lived and studied in the U.S. and Switzerland for over 11 years.

Works in: Japan

Jeet Dholakia

Software Engineering

Jeet graduated from City University of New York, USA, with a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial studies and completed his Bachelor of Engineering at Gujarat Technical University, India.

He works as a software engineer at Gojo. Prior to joining Gojo, Jeet was a lead mobile engineer at Finablr PEaaS. In his one and a half years with Finablr PEaaS, he led engineering projects for cross-border payments and money remittance, among other things. He also worked with startups like Ruvna and Locaholic while in the USA, as an intern and software engineer respectively. He carries an entrepreneurial spirit and works on his own passion projects, shipping them on the App Store.

Jeet loves fitness and is happiest when in the gym or jogging in the morning. He loves reading self help books and his motto is, “Whatever you can conceive, you can achieve”. His favourite sport is Formula 1 and he wants to visit every racing track.

Works in: India

Arnaud Ventura

Managing Partner

Arnaud has founded and led two of the leading European financial inclusion groups active in Micro and SME finance, as well as digital finance.

Between 1998 and 2008, Arnaud cofounded and led PlaNet Finance with the support of Jacques Attali (Chairman) and Muhammed Yunus (Chairman Advisory Board). It was one of the most successful European financial inclusion groups, providing mainly advisory services in the sector. Between 2008 and 2019, Arnaud founded & led Baobab (formerly MicroCred), the leading Micro&SME digital bank in Africa & China. In 2019 alone, Baobab lent $1 billion to 1 million clients, generating around $200 million total revenues and more than $40 million pre-tax profit.

Arnaud is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. He also cofounded the French China Foundation, the leading network of Young Leaders between France and China, and Share Africa, a platform to promote Africa's innovation and creativity. Arnaud graduated from EFREI, Paris, in Computer Science, and La Sorbonne in Philosophy. He speaks French, English and Spanish fluently and loves reading history & philosophy. He loves skiing and hiking in the mountains (particularly in the south of France), and has 2 young boys.

Works in: France

Rahul Rokade

Data Engineering/Technology

Rahul holds a masters degree in Computer Science & Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India.

After graduating, he joined Quikr India Pvt. Ltd. and led implementation of various in-house systems there. Prior to joining Gojo, Rahul worked for leading Indian matchmaking platform Shaadi.com in their Data Engineering team, and was responsible for implementing and enhancing cloud-based data lake and data warehousing systems. At Gojo, Rahul is working as a part of the Technology/Data team on building a data management platform to support the company's data strategy.

Rahul likes photography and cooking. He has a keen interest in topics related to the existence and evolution of life, and has recently developed an interest in learning about the influence of religion and mythology on modern technological advancements. Rahul is an animal lover. He loves to spend his free time with family, friends and his dog Eathen.

Works in: India

Murtuza Ranapurwala

Software Engineering

Murtuza is part of the Technology team at Gojo and is working toward building world-class financial solutions for Gojo with his team.

He has experience in various technology domains such as Fintech, Data Verification, and Robotic Process Automation. Prior to joining Gojo, he was working at MeasureOne, Ahmedabad, where he was contributing to building an Academic Data Verification platform. Before that, he was working at PEaaS Finablr, Vadodara, where he was building an all-in-one Financial App. He did his Bachelor's in Computer Science at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Technology, Gujarat, India.

He likes to spend his free time learning new technologies, writing tutorials on various technologies, playing video games, and watching anime.

Works in: India

Royanne Doi

Outside Director

Royanne Doi is the former Corporate Chief Ethics Officer of Prudential Financial Inc., and former Advisor for Global Legal, Ethics & Compliance to Yamaha Corporation.

Prior to Yamaha, Royanne held senior legal positions with major global financial institutions. At one point, she managed 200+ staff around the world, with business experience in North and South America, Asia, and Europe. During her tenure as a global ethics officer, Prudential Financial received Ethisphere's designation as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for the first time in 2015, and multiple times thereafter. As a member of Gojo's board, she will further accelerate the strengthening of internal audit and corporate governance to enable the sustainable growth of Gojo group.

Royanne has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, from Washington University in St. Louis, graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law. She is married to her law school sweetheart and has lived in Japan since 1994. She has three passions: economic empowerment for women, Asia with an emphasis on Japan, and the intersection between neuroscience and behavioral ethics.

Works in: Japan

Haruna Tanaka

Corporate Planning

Haruna is a professional with expertise in strategy, business development and incubation. She works on corporate governance, social performance management and any other projects that are needed to further enhance Gojo's work.

Prior to Gojo, she worked for Rakuten, a Japanese internet services company for 10 years. As a member of the CEO's office, she worked on special projects and other items on the CEO's agenda, including acquisition of overseas companies, enrollment of Englishnization at Rakuten, strategy development of Rakuten Mobile and more. Amongst other things, she also led Rakuten's ebook business as business manager in Japan and Taiwan, Asian business development, and innovation activities, including internal and external accelerator programs. Before Rakuten, she was a strategy consultant at Booz and Company. She graduated from Tokyo University majoring in Economics. She has lived 3 years in UK and a year in US in her childhood and is fluent in Japanese and English.

Outside of work, Haruna is a partner and board member of Social Venture Partners Tokyo, an NPO supporting seed stage social entrepreneurs to succeed. She is also a mother of 2 children, and enjoys reading, and playing the flute.

Works in: Japan

Neeraj Lekhwar

Product Delivery and Implementation

As a part of Gojo's technology team, Neeraj is responsible for leading the timely delivery and implementation of technology projects & products across partner companies. This includes the deployment of the Core Banking Solution (CBS), Digital Field Assistant (DFA) and Customer Mobile Application.

He has a 14-year track record of steering large-scale digital transformation drives as well as donor-funded programs and interventions in India and abroad. Prior to Gojo, Neeraj worked as a consultant for International Finance Corporation (IFC), Asian Credit Fund (ACF) and Gojo to provide support on their digital financial services initiatives targeted at MFIs. Before that, he also worked as Project Manager (DFS) at Grameen Foundation India. In the first half of his professional career, he worked with organisations like ICICI Bank, FINO and PayU Payments that gave him first-hand exposure to financial inclusion, large-scale agent banking operations, and electronic payment operations.

Neeraj has a background in Engineering with an MBA from the National Institute of Cooperative Management, Pune. He likes watching movies and clicking photographs.

Works in: India

Elchin Abdullayev

Product

Elchin is responsible for product development functions and strategic operations initiatives across Gojo's non-Indian partners.

Prior to Gojo, Elchin has held various senior management positions with microfinance institutions and commercial banks, where since 1999 his work has focused on product management, marketing, and digital transformation projects in collaboration with IT teams. His roles have included Eurasia Regional Banking Services Manager and Global Banking Advisor to the CEO at FINCA Impact Finance, and Director of Retail Banking Products Department at Standard Bank Azerbaijan. As a member of the Operations Team, he is focusing on further strengthening Gojo's product development function, supporting marketing initiatives, and working in collaboration with the Technology team to enable digital transformation initiatives across the group.

Elchin holds a BA degree in Economics (conc. Finance & Credit) from Azerbaijan State Economic University in Baku and MA degree in International Affairs (conc. International Finance & Banking) from Columbia University in NYC. He has lived in almost all the CIS countries and speaks fluent Russian. He has a passion for changing financial education in schools. His hobbies are motorcycles and basketball.

Works in: Sri Lanka

Yoko Shigekura

Cambodia country officer

Why did you join Gojo?
I have always wanted to do something that could bring hope to the most vulnerable people. Before joining Gojo I worked in a financial advisory firm, and had the opportunity to visit one of Gojo's partner companies. Seeing how microfinance delivers change in people’s lives, I was convinced that Gojo is the place for me to develop my business management skills while at the same time engaging with the issues that I have been hoping to tackle.

What does a day in your life look like?
I work in the head office of Maxima Microfinance Plc., Gojo's partner company, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Work starts at 7:30 and ends at 16:30 at Maxima (you will get used to being an early bird!). I work with the local staff in various areas: analyzing our business situation, enhancing internal controls, communicating with external stakeholders, and providing problem-solving support on anything that will improve our business. I visit our branch offices once a week to listen to our clients and have discussions with branch staff.

What do you find challenging and rewarding about your job?
Every day is full of new challenges, and every day I ask myself, "What was I able to do that brought hope to our clients?" A colleague once told me that Country Representatives are expected to continuously deliver miraculous outputs that truly support the local management, and that is why we are there. Expectations is high and therefore challenging, but rewarding. The clients tell me how Maxima was the only institution that supported them when they really needed the support, and I feel honoured to be a part of that.

A word for prospective team members
Working at Gojo is tough, but fun and meaningful. I am always amazed by how talented my colleagues are, and whenever a Gojo member visits Maxima, I feel like my family is visiting me. I will be waiting for your visit to Cambodia!

Rajnish Roy

Head of Internal Audit

Rajnish has joined the Gojo Group as the Head of Internal Audit from Dec 2021. He is responsible for internal audit function in Gojo Group and collaborating with the internal audit functions with each partner of Gojo. He is a Chartered Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist and ISO9001:2015 Lead Auditor. He has a total experience of 20 years in the Banking and Financial space and has worked in various banks and financial institutions.

In his last assignment with Axis Bank, he was responsible for Anti Money Laundering Compliance. He has also worked with the Lulu Financial Group as the Chief Internal Auditor, at their Global Headquarter in Abu Dhabi. In his other job assignments, he has worked with ICICI Bank, PwC, YES Bank and HDFC Life.

In his free time he runs marathon, hikes and listens to music.

Works in: India

Karthik Pai Nejigar

Regional Finance

Karthik has joined Gojo & Company as part of the Finance team. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant with Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and has over 8 years of experience across multiple areas of the finance function. He is based out of the city of Bengaluru in the state of Karnataka in India.

Prior to joining Gojo, he worked at Avanti Finance, a fintech startup. At Avanti he was responsible for the entire finance function and was part of the team that successfully closed Avanti's first equity fund raise of USD 26 Million. He has also worked at CapitaLand where he was responsible for financial reporting for India business and led the setup of the treasury function for their India business.

Outside of work he enjoys cooking and also tries to keep fit by cycling and running. He is an avid traveler and has traveled extensively across India.

Works in: India

Yoshiko Kasahara

Investor Relations

Yoshiko has joined Gojo & Company as part of the Finance team in 2022, working in fundraising and investor relations for equity/debt investors. Since graduating from Keio University, Faculty of Economics, she has worked in varied aspect of corporate finance, having started her first career at Investment Banking Division of Citigroup in 2006. Her professional path extended to financial controller and treasury at Nissan Motor Global Headquarters, covering its group companies in emerging economies, such as Asia, Middle East, and Africa. She also worked at Mitsubishi HC Capital as project manager, responsible for overseas business planning, cross-border M&A, and investment projects, including India and Myanmar. Yoshiko completed MSc. Finance and Development at SOAS, University of London, specializing international finance in context of economic development, which brought herself determined to engage in financial inclusion in developing nations.

She has been taking Ikebana lesson – Ikenobo for 20 years, and loves travelling the world.

Works in: Japan

Mohit Joshi

Engineering Manager

Mohit is working on Product and Technology at Gojo and is taking care of Neobanking and Field Officer app at Gojo. Prior to Gojo he was working as Head of Engineering at Motherson Group. He started his career with Tech Mahindra back in 2007 in the IT industry and soon realized that his entrepreneurial acumen coupled with his technical know-how was pulling him towards a new product design/new business. And thus, Mohit's self journey began. Initially, He joined start-ups like Mango Technologies and Chleon Automotive before co-founding MI-XLAB in 2014. As Head of Software at MI-XLAB, Mohit lead a team of highly creative individuals to ideate connected car solutions called Rollr which is now deployed at various automobile companies.

Mohit is passionate about creating products which makes difference in peoples life. He cares a lot about customer experience and believes in design lead thinking for product development.

Apart from work Mohit is social person who loves interacting people from various walks of life. He is nature lover, book reader, helping start-ups, and contributing to society in whatever ways he can.

Works in: India

Milena Nikolova

Outside Director

Milena has over 20 years of finance experience spanning across investment banking, wealth management, venture capital investing and startup advisory. She is a strong believer that directing capital for impact can be a powerful force for good without compromising financial returns.

Milena currently works with Aera VC, a global venture capital firm investing in radical solutions to climate change. She is also Founding Partner of Therion Advisers, a startup advisory firm as well as Venture Partner in Antler, a global early stage VC that enables the founding of about 200 startups per year. Prior to that as Executive Director at UBS Investment Bank in London, she advised leading European banks and insurance companies on mergers, acquisitions and IPO transactions totaling over $10bn in deal value. In Wealth Management in Singapore, she worked with ultra high net worth individuals on financial assets allocation, wealth planning or corporate structuring.

Milena also devotes considerable time to charitable causes and is a partner/founder in several NGOs. She has 3 children and is an adventurer, outdoor sports and salsa dancing lover. She is a CFA charterholder and has a MSc degree in International Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics.

Works in: Singapore

Sajin J S

Software Engineering

Sajin has over 7 years of experience in Android application development. He joined Gojo as a Software Engineer as part of the technology team. He is a Bachelor of Engineering graduate, passed out from Nagarjuna college of Engineering and Technology, Bangalore, India.

Before joining Gojo, Sajin was a Lead Engineer at Seqato, and was responsible for leading the mobile team and developing mobile applications. Prior to Seqato, Sajin worked in companies Rainconcert Technologies, Codeleven Technologies and Businocrats. In his career, he developed Android applications in different categories like Weather, Health & Fitness, Finance, Social, Business, Productivity, Food & Drink, Maps & Navigation etc.

Sajin likes spending free time with family and friends. He loves playing cricket, chess and carrom board, also he loves to listen to all types of songs.

Works in: India

Grace Leung Wing Yan

Financial Reporting / Accounting

Grace has joined Gojo & Company as part of the Finance team with a focus on accounting and financial reporting. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional accountancy from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Grace started her career with PricewaterhouseCoopers(PwC) Hong Kong and later relocated to PwC Japan in 2012. At PwC, she engaged in statutory audits and financial reporting advisory projects including IFRS/USGAAP conversions and accounting policy advisory. She was also seconded to the IFRS Foundation Asia-Oceania Office between 2014 - 2016, performed research on tax disclosure and IFRS reporting by jurisdictions. Just prior to joining Gojo, she spent 2 years at Japan Computer Vision Corp., an IT startup company where she was responsible for leading the accounting and financial planning and analysis team.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoor with her family and she also loves watching soccer games.

Works in: Japan

Joydeep Bandyopadhyay

Internal Audit

Hello Everyone

Joydeep has joined Gojo Group in the Internal Audit Department from June 2022 and would collaborate with the partners and also involve with Group Internal Audit functions. He has undetgone graduation in Computer Science and professionally undergone Insurance and stock market trading certification. Apart from that, also a diploma holder in software technology and have undergone certification in KYC and AML.

He has started his career way back in 2004 and have a total experience of almost 18 years in the Banking and Financial Services industry with experience in Retail Banking Business and operations, Micro-Banking Operations, Internal Audit functions for different verticals, Fraud Investigations, Process Reviews, Compliance Testing. He has worked with various organizations such as Microland Ltd, Wipro Infotech, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank at different capacities and lastly with Bandhan Bank in the Internal Audit Department.

On the personal side, he likes to spend leisure time with family and also take out playing time with his adorable two pets, that is a Beagle and a Rottweiler. He is from Kharagpur and now settled in Kolkata with his family and his wife is a homemaker and they are blessed with a son of age of 13 years.

Works in: India

Koharu Suganuma

Financial Reporting

Koharu is a Certified Public Accountant and Tax Accountant in Japan and works at Gojo with a focus on accounting, tax, and financial reporting.

Koharu has a B.A. in Policy Management from Keio University. She passed the CPA exam when she was a sophomore in university and started her career at Ernst & Young Tokyo as an auditor. After spending 4 years focusing on statutory/internal control audits and IFRS implementation projects, she joined Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory and experienced cross-border and domestic M&A advisory, mainly financial due diligence, overall support for carve-out transactions, deal structuring, and PMI projects for 3 and half years.

Outside of Gojo, Koharu delivers several supports to start-ups by building and improving business flows and providing accounting/tax services. Koharu loves listening to music, watching movies, traveling and visiting hot springs. She also enjoys road biking and hopes to take a long vacation and go around Taiwan by bike in the future.

Works in: Japan

Akash Suluru

Product Associate

Akash Suluru has joined Gojo & Company as part of the Studio team with a focus on Product Management and Data Analytics. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Technology from Vellore Institute of Technology. Akash started his journey with Gojo as a Technology Intern where he worked with the data team from Feb 2021 to June 2022. During this internship Akash focused on building Dashboards for our partner Sejaya using SQL and Redash Tool. He also worked on various research projects and developed a probability of default model to predict the loan delinquency using Python. Prior to this Akash had completed three internships which include working as Data Analyst Intern at Reliance JIO, a Product Management Intern at Cerebro Kids and Big data and IOT developer Intern at Avotrix.

Outside of work, he enjoys spending time in sports and physical activities and is a district level table tennis player. He also takes pleasure in cooking occasionally as its a great stress buster.

Works in: India

Haruna Tanaka

Corporate Planning team

Why did you join Gojo?
Since the beginning of my career I had wanted to spend my time on supporting people in developing countries. However, I ended up starting my career as a strategy consultant. After 3 years, I joined Rakuten, a Japan-based internet services company, where I worked mainly at the CEO office as an internal consultant. There were many interesting projects and I really enjoyed my time there, but I couldn't give up on my original aspiration. After spending 10 years at Rakuten I decided to shift my career to pursue my personal mission.

You can read more about my career here.

What does a day in your life look like?
A typical day will be like this:

0700-0900 : Time with kids - breakfast, send them off to school, dish washing, laundry etc

0930-1200 : Start working at home. Morning is usually more quiet and I get time to do analysis, write / read reports etc. (if I'm lucky)

1200-1300 : Lunch

1300-1800 : Meetings with Gojo team members, group company counterparts, committees and board meetings

1800-2000 : Time with kids - dinner, bath, homework etc

2000-2200 : Not everyday but sometimes late night meetings, some additional work to be done

What do you find challenging and rewarding about your job?
The best part is the people you work with. It is amazing to work with really talented people who share the same values and the goal to achieve a social mission. Everyone is very kind and empathetic, while being super professional. I also like the flat and open culture - you are encouraged to dissent without fear, almost all information is disclosed to everyone so transparency is quite high, very little hierachy. The challenges are workload management and distance with the clients. Being a startup there is always so much work that needs to be done, while as a working mother there is only limited time I can spend, so it sometimes becomes difficult. Being in Japan, it is sometimes difficult to provide effective support to clients in a timely manner. Having said that I feel that the challenges are possible to overcome with the great team members.

A word for prospective team members
I think it was one of my best decisions I made in my life to come to Gojo. I am sure you will feel the same too.

Shraddha Kumari

HR Assistant Director

Shraddha joined Gojo in August,2022 as an Assistant Director Human Resource. She has 12 years of experience in HR and has managed Recruitment, Employee Engagement, Performance Appraisal along with managing end to end employee lifecycle.

Prior to joining Gojo Shraddha was associated with EY (Ernst & Young) where one of the most fun project she worked was around driving Wellbeing at work which included surveys, understanding employee mindset and customizing Wellbeing programs under different pillars like Social, Financial, Physical and mental wellness. Apart from EY, she has worked with different organizations like Genpact, HCL, Max Bupa Health Insurance and Pearl Academy which has given her exposure across industries.

Shraddha did her Masters in Business Administration from IBS, Kolkata and did her Psychology Hons. from her hometown Jaipur.

Shraddha lives in Jaipur, Rajasthan with her family. She loves to travel, enjoys going on trek's and is an ardent dog lover. She also enjoys meeting new people and building meaningful connections.

Works in: India

Michelle Chang

Innovation Product Director

Michelle joined Gojo in September 2022 as the innovation product director. She is a seasoned technology and VC executive with pan-Asian experience at leading VC funds and diverse insight spanning e-commerce marketing, venture building, and finance.

Before joining Gojo, she was venture manager at Launcho Ventures focusing on scaling consumer brands focusing on SEA and the US market. Her career has included her significant time at Vertex Venture Holdings, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings. In her four years at Vertex, she made investments across the SEA market and Taiwan. Before Vertex, Michelle was the first employee of Reebonz Taiwan, scaling a luxury e-commerce platform and led the growth of the digital business from the ground up to nearly $USD1 million in its first year. She also worked at the leading grocery startup Honestbee as C-suite manager.

Works in: Singapore

Tomohiro Isozaki

CEO, Maxima

Tomo joined Gojo in 2018 as a Country representative of Cambodia and oversees the strategic and operational development of Cambodian business. In Cambodia, he is working with Maxima Microfinance Plc., supporting strategy, corporate planning, operation, credit, HR, digital initiative, marketing, fundraising, and social performance management.

Prior to Gojo, he worked for Healthbank Pte.Ltd. as a Business Development Associate, working in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. Next, he joined McKinsey(Tokyo office) and was involved in multiple projects. Later, as a member of the strategic planning division of the Food Business Unit of Mitsui &Co.,Ltd. Tomo was engaged in projects of strategy, investment, research, and group company management.

Tomo is proficient in English and Japanese and is also learning Khmer. 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

Stuart Rutherford

Outside 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

Masahiro Kotosaka

Outside Director

Masahiro Kotosaka is an Associate Professor at Keio University and a non-executive director of Gojo & Company since March 2017. He is an expert in Internationalization strategy and early stage business development, and advisor/non-executive director of several start-up/multinational 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. His recent publication includes STARTUP (Co-authored, NewsPicks Publishing, 2020), The Element of Strategic Management (Toyo Keizai, 2018), and The Japanese Business in Evolution (Co-authored, Routledge, 2017).

Works in: Japan

Mangyo Kinoshita

Outside Director

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

Sanjay Gandhi

Co-Founder & Chief Investment Officer

Sanjay co-founded Gojo in 2014 as Gojo's Chief investment Officer and has led the Investment Division since then. Apart from recommending the investments to be made by Gojo, he also represents Gojo on the Board and Committees of the partner entities and contributes actively towards strengthening the governance at the partner level.

Sanjay qualified as a Chartered Accountant (CPA) before graduating from Delhi University. After his first job as an Audit Manager in India in early 1990s, he led the Corporate Banking (North India) team for a Finance company.

Sanjay joined the microfinance industry in 2003 and has been part of it ever since: conducted about 125 MFI ratings & assessments in 29 countries; approved more than 400 MFI Rating reports. Some of the assignments were for the World Bank, ADB, UNDP, Cordaid, and Mercy Corps. After his CEO assignment at a Cambodian MFI in 2013, Sanjay and Taejun got together to set up Gojo, where Sanjay’s extensive experience in the microfinance sector has been invaluable.

Sanjay operates from India, where he stays with his wife and two daughters. He speaks English, Hindi, and Punjabi. Loves reading; movies; and music. “The Beatles” is his all-time favourite music band.

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. As its 7th employee and part of its management team, he led $80 million of equity financing and undertook a wide range of responsibilities including financial control, accounting, recruiting, people operations, legal, and investor relations.

As one of the founding members and as Chief Financial Officer at LIFENET INSURANCE COMPANY, a leading online life insurer in Japan, Kohei led it’s successful $100 million Initial Public Offering in 2012, and also setup a joint venture in Korea.

Kohei started his career at Morgan Stanley in its Investment Banking Division, where he was involved in multiple cross-border M&A transactions. In 2005, he moved to Hong Kong and joined Och-Ziff Capital Management, a global asset management company.

Kohei has a B.A. in Law from the University of Tokyo. While at school, he did an internship at 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

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

Sohil Shah

Investment

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 6 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

Natsuki Sugai

Special Projects

As a university student, Natsuki founded a student NGO to support Laos's education and led the entire process to establish public schools and other educational supports while collaborating with the Laos government. Natsuki found vast demand for financial access for mothers in developing nations when he communicated with low-income households in Laos.

Since then, he has committed to providing financial access to low-income families so everyone can tackle one's goal. Natsuki joined Gojo in 2015 as 5th employee because his mission and Gojo's ones aligned. At Gojo, he led the fundraising since SeriesA round and currently in charge of the operation of group companies.

Natsuki enjoys jogging with his wife every weekend.

Works in: Japan

Sayuri Aoyama

Investor Relations

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

Arisa Oba

Investor Relations

Arisa works on investor relations and funtraising with the team.

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

Co-Head of Finance

Aki is a Certified Public Accountant and co-leads the Finance team at Gojo with our CFO Kohei Katada. 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

Yuko Iida

Administration

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 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 and working at an Insurance company, 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 & CEO

Taejun cofounded Gojo in 2014 and has led the company's growth until today as the CEO. Before Gojo, Taejun worked at Morgan Stanley and Unison Capital as an investment professional. To deal with an enormous number of investment projects, Taejun studied programming and automated many of the financial models, some of which are used even today.

While working in the sector, Taejun founded Living in Peace, an NGO, in 2007, and created the first microfinance investment fund in Japan's history. He led building 3 children's homes in Japan and providing scholarship support for kids under the alternative care system. Taejun played a crucial role in reforming Japan's children's welfare policy, especially in improving the living conditions of kids detained in the government welfare offices.

Taejun 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 loves shooting street photos of the world.

Works in: Japan

Shun Ito

Deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer, MIFIDA

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

Kaung Set Lin

Innovation

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

Marco Giancotti

Technology

After studying 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 Tokyo startup Axelspace Corporation 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, Japan

Tomasz Ociepka

Data Analytics

Tomasz graduated from Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom, with a Master of Science in Mathematics.

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.

In 2019 he joined Gojo to fight income inequalities in the world. Among others, he is responsible for data analysis and data projects in Gojo as well as support partner companies with his knowledge and experience.

Likes hiking and ink paintings. When inspiration strikes, he writes haiku.

Works in: Tokyo, Japan

Koh Terai

Product Design / R&D

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 a 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.

Yoshinari Noguchi

Researcher in Residence

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

Takao Takahashi

Head of Corporate Planning and HR

At Gojo, Takao leads corporate planning, strategy setting, and HR. Before joining Gojo, Takao was an Investment Officer at International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, based in both Washington DC and Jakarta. In his 7 years with IFC, he led investments in microfinance institutions, banks and fintech startups in emerging markets. 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). He also worked for 4 years as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company based in Frankfurt and Tokyo.

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

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

Works in: Japan

Cheriel Neo

Impact Measurement

Cheriel works on initiatives to measure and learn from the impact of Gojo's partners' products and services on our clients' lives. 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. 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

Sohil Shah

Investment team

Why did you join Gojo?
Prior to joining Gojo, I worked with one of India’s largest impact investing groups covering many sectors like healthcare, financial services, agriculture, education etc. After 5 years, I felt the need to build deep expertise in a particular area so as to make a meaningful contribution. With financial inclusion as its core theme, Gojo not only gave me an opportunity to work directly on the field but also think about how I can make real impact.

What does a day in your life look like?
Even after a year at Gojo, my days are still intellectually stimulating! Typically I have a bunch of calls/meetings on various issues – managing partner companies, fundraising, building investment pipeline, technology strategies for a group, etc. Initially, it did look overwhelming, but I like the fact that it gives me an opportunity to cover multiple facets related to building a strong foundation for the group. There are also a lot of casual chats with colleagues between meetings which make for a fun day!

What do you find challenging and rewarding about your job?
The only challenge I see at Gojo is our remote style of working. Throughout my career, I have worked with colleagues co-located in a physical office so this was definitely new to me. But the rewards outweigh the challenges and make it all worthwhile. The opportunity to understand the hardships of our clients, experience their lives, and constantly strive to make them better keeps me going. You feel that you’re making a dent in the universe, in your own small way, and that feeling has been very satisfying for me.

A word for prospective team members
Despite the large scale, Gojo still operates like a start-up. If you want to make a difference to the society while working in a flat organization with a high level of ownership, then this is the place for you!

Marco Giancotti

Technology team

Why did you join Gojo?
I come from a science/tech background, but originally I was making satellites and web platforms for satellite data, not financial services. Working on tech projects was great in itself, but I felt that I wanted to channel that fun to solve non-first-world problems as directly as possible. I started looking to pivot my career in that direction and found Gojo to be the perfect match for that. Even better than I hoped, actually.

What does a day in your life look like?
When there is no pandemic bringing the world to its knees, I usually work from Gojo's office in Tokyo. Otherwise, I work from home. My team is scattered around the globe, so we communicate online most of the time anyway.

What do you find challenging and rewarding about your job?
In the half-year that I've been working here (it flew by like a flash!) I've learned lots already, and it's really fun to work with the best of the best professionals from very different fields. Everyone is both highly-skilled and committed to doing good. No one is fooling around. Best of all for me, they are all simply nice people. Of course, working with team members spread across many countries and cultures is not easy. You have to step up your interpersonal skills and get used to the overheads. But if you can do that, it's extremely rewarding and, I repeat, fun. We get to meet our clients, team up with our partners, and solve some of the toughest problems of our society. What better job can I wish for?

A word for prospective team members
You have to be a little crazy and very empathic to work at Gojo. If you are, you are going to love it!