Our People

Passionate, Dedicated People

Launched by a small group of dedicated professionals from the architecture and design industry, rise‘s founders are passionate about creating sustainable small social businesses in sub-Saharan African communities. Learn more about the people that make rise possible.


Daniela Gusman – Founder & Executive Director

Daniela is a seasoned executive with over 20 years of professional experience in the private sector as well as the international development sector. She has worked extensively throughout Europe, Australia, Africa and the USA in International Sales & Marketing, PR, Business Development and Social Entrepreneurship.  She has provided strategic growth planning for companies, designed and launched social enterprises and led diverse teams in various sectors from educational services, manufacturing to corporate B2B events.


Itumeleng Ralebitso Photo

Itumeleng Ralebitso – Program Coordinator

Itumeleng, affectionately known as Tumi, graduated in Business Administration from Ashesi University, Ghana in 2017. Tumi has done a lot of community engagement work as a student both in Ghana and in Lesotho and continues to do so.  In 2013 she founded an organisation called SPRING BLOOM that helps build self-worth for vulnerable youth in Maseru Lesotho by grooming their talents and skills. She has also volunteered as the program Coordinator for Future of Africa (FOA), an organisation in Ghana that invests in young people who live in the streets to live a purposeful life and make a change in their own worlds. After living and studying for eight years in Ghana, Tumi is back in Lesotho working at rise, doing social entrepreneurship as well as running a branch of FOA in Maseru Lesotho.


Luca Astorri – in loco Program Director

Luca graduated in architecture from Politecnico di Milano in 2007, where he has been an assistant professor since 2009. After working with OMA / Rem Koolhaas from 2006-2008, he co-founded AOUMM – Argot ou la Maison Mobile, an architectural firm based in Milan focusing on architecture and urban projects. Since 2010, Luca has collaborated with several NGOs on architecture and research projects focusing on informal settlements in Cairo, Nairobi and San Paolo. He has lectured in Europe, and South America and has been invited to several international workshops in Macao, Lisbon, Cairo, Zagreb, Wroclaw, and Cochabamba.


Reiks profile pic

Maraka Lefera – Coach

Maraka, otherwise known as Reiks, is currently doing her Masters in Human Resources Management at Central University of Technology (CUT) Free State South Africa. She holds a BTech degree in Human Resources Management, is part of the Enactus CUT alumnus and in 2016 was awarded Enactus South Africa Junior Alumnus of the year. Enactus is an international non-profit organization founded in the USA in 1975 which brings together student, academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. She is also a human rights activist and is helping to advance UN Sustainable Development Goals through community projects she is involved in, including her role as a coach and facilitator with rise.


Mpho Mabea – Coach

Mpho, known as “Stango”, has studied general project management and holds different certifications in HIV/AIDS capacity Building and Project Design Management, Grants Administration and Procurement. He has 10 years experience in running Training of Trainers programs. He is passionate about training and developing Basotho youth and committed to service above self in uplifting the needs of those less fortunate and helping youth access opportunities that will transform their future. He has worked at Kick4life as a Program Manager and is now a trainer and facilitator with rise.


Pedro Clarke

Pedro Clarke – in loco Program Director

Pedro graduated in architecture from FAUP, Portugal in 2007, following a year-long experience building a safe house for a local NGO in Lesotho. He has recently completed an MA degree in Development and Emergency Practice at CENDEP/ Oxford Brookes University. In 2014 he established A+Architecture, as a not-for-profit architectural and development practice, believing that Architecture has the power to change people’s lives and should be accessible to all. In the same year, Pedro was selected to be part of the Official Portuguese Participation at the XIV International Architecture Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, “Homeland: News from Portugal.”

Board of Directors

Oliver Needs

Oliver Needs founded BOND Events in 2004 and provides global leadership to the company. Oliver left the world’s largest trade show organizer, Blenheim Group Plc, to set up McLean Publishing and launch the first business forum in Asia; ASPEC. He went on to found Cornhill Events, a subsidiary of SPG Media PLC. There, he conceived and launched many successful forum events including LEAF and The European Banking Forum, EMBF. Inventor of an online matching application for event attendees, Oliver continues to oversee its use at BOND Events and Atticus, the operator of HI-Design events.


Rashmi Nakhooda

Rashmi Nakhooda is a senior manager with thirty years of diverse work experience in East Africa and India. A strategic thinker and natural leader, her most recent position was Country Head of BeadforLife, a not-for-profit in Uganda. Rashmi’s career has spanned two continents where she held varied roles in different business areas. She has successfully led multidisciplinary teams through developing systems of collaboration and communication that encourage a culture of creative problem-solving. Rashmi has an MBA in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Management as well as Bachelor of Science from University of Calcutta, India.


RK Stewart FAIA, Hon. FRAIC, Hon. JIA, Hon. AIA, LEED® AP BD+C

RK has extensive experience leading and managing organizations and multi-disciplinary teams in the public and private sectors. RK applies his expertise in design, development, and communications processes to drive change and inspire others to achieve challenging goals. RK’s contributions to the architectural profession were recognized with his investiture in the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 2001. In 2007, Mr. Stewart served as the American Institute of Architect’s 83rd National President as AIA celebrated its 150th Anniversary.

The BOND Events Sales, Marketing, and Operations Team also support rise.

Learn more about the BOND team by visiting the BOND Events website.

If you or your organization would like to participate in rise and our programming through volunteerism or financial donations, please contact Daniela at [email protected]. We are always interested in speaking with individuals who share our passion for social enterprise.