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Our Team

As the Akan proverb teaches, “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it,” it takes a team of experts to bring you the exceptional EDU Africa experience. Our company is staffed by friendly, innovative people who care about Africa, her environment and her people – individuals who believe that Africa is where you’ll feel most alive.

Meet the people who collaboratively make EDU Africa’s Transformative Learning Journeys possible:


Barry Rawlings | Founder & Managing Director

Barry is EDU Africa’s Managing Director and co-founded the organization with Michael Massingham. He is based in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he has lived for several years. He studied Social Science at the University of Cape Town and worked in finance in South Africa for five years before founding EDU Africa. He later completed postgraduate studies in Global Learning and Development Education.

The combination of his educational expertise, his love for new ideas and concepts, and his business acumen position him well to lead the organization. Barry is deeply passionate about community development and meaningful cross-cultural engagement. He is at his happiest when able to connect personally with the students and academic professionals who travel with us.

Michael Massingham | Founder & Commercial Director

Michael co-founded EDU Africa with Barry Rawlings. He holds a business degree with specializations in Business Management and Industrial Psychology. All who know Michael will tell you that his most prized possessions are his relationships - he readily invests his time and trust in multiplying and supporting others and is passionate about advocacy.

He believes in the power of study abroad in creating a more just and equitable world, and his areas of interest lie in sustainable community-based global learning, ethical global exchange, accessibility, and environmentalism in Africa. He also advises the boards of several non-profit organizations.

Adrian Maarschalk | Director of Programs (East Africa)

Adrian is the Director of our East Africa hub and is responsible for oversight of all programming and operations in our East Africa region (including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda). He is originally from Zimbabwe, but has lived all over - the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Kenya, and Tanzania, where he was based for several years before moving back to Kenya.

He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Rhodes University and has been a pivotal member of the EDU Africa team since 2008. Adrian is enthused by spending time outdoors and building strong relationships with clients and partners. He is a strong mediator and brings harmony and camaraderie to EDU Africa’s team. His dedication to the support and well-being of others is well-known throughout our organization, and he loves being a part of programs that make a difference in students’ and partners’ lives.

Charl Ackermann | Marketing Director

Charl heads our Marketing team as Marketing Director and is passionate about innovating and finding creative avenues for sustainable development. He grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa but now calls Cape Town his home. He holds a BA (Hons) in Tourism Management Degree from North West University. After studying, he spent two years working in England before joining EDU Africa in 2009.

He loves to collaborate with others and believes in the importance of highlighting the African continent’s many voices in international education.

Heidi Barends, PhD | Academic Director

Heidi currently serves as Academic Director at EDU Africa, overseeing various facets of academic programming across our regions and keeping abreast of innovative and pertinent transformative learning practices. Before joining EDU Africa, Heidi was involved in research and teaching at the University of Cape Town from 2014 to 2018.

She was also a faculty member at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology from 2015 to 2018. Heidi completed her PhD in English Literature in 2018, with a specialization in 19th-century women’s writing and transnational feminisms. Her current research interests include transnational solidarities and transformation education. She loves to ideate and innovate and is grateful to work for an organization such as EDU Africa that values continuous learning and growth.

Annerien Nel | Director of Programs (Southern Africa)

Annerien joined the EDU Africa team as a Program Manager in 2016 and then moved over to the Marketing Department shortly thereafter. She now fills the Director of Programs role as she encourages the performance and growth of our programming team while overseeing key internal processes to ensure quality and efficiency across the organization. She is energized when things run productively and enjoys contributing to team health, good communication, and collaboration across our offices on the continent.

Team Leaders

Lincoln Njiru | Kenya Team Leader and Operations Manager

Lincoln hails from central Kenya and is a pivotal member of our East Africa programming team. He has been involved with wildlife conservation programs in the Maasai Mara for several years and is particularly interested in community-based conservation. His desire to balance biodiversity conservation with the improvement of livelihoods brings an innovative edge to his programming.

His passion for nature led him to pursue his Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Management from Egerton University. Thereafter, he worked in Botswana before moving to South Africa to complete his Master’s in Environment and Development degree at the University of KwaZulu Natal. He has a strong sense of responsibility which ensures that no task is left undone. Lincoln is a skilled arranger with the ability to piece things together for maximum productivity.

Nicole Mostert | South Africa Team Leader and Community Partnerships Specialist

Nicole has been involved in international education for as long as she can remember and has witnessed first-hand the mutual learning that is possible through intercultural experiences. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she is now based in Cape Town. She holds bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Social Work.

Nicole has a strong interest in ethical community development. She is passionate about social justice, supporting youth, and using stewardship as a vehicle for positive social and environmental change. She has a wealth of experience in international programming and provides valuable service learning and internship expertise to our wider team.

Esther Banda | Zimbabwe Team Leader and Program Designer

As a Malawian, who grew up in the United States and currently lives in Zimbabwe, Esther truly understands the struggles of intercultural exchange. She uses her unique insight to create programs that challenge participants to engage with cultures and ideas that may seem alien to them in order to expand their worldview and encourage personal growth.

Esther Holds a BSc (Hons) in Sociology, Gender and Development Studies. Prior to joining EDU Africa, she crafted and facilitated training programs in the corporate field.

Program Designers

Desireé Haakonsen | Senior Program Designer and Online Global Learning Specialist

Desireé's wealth of experience enables her to create tailor-made transformative learning journeys for our clients, with a special focus on Online Global Learning programs. She holds a BA in Film and Media Production from the University of Cape Town, and her passion for the Arts is evident in her programming.

She is a creative perfectionist at heart — her innovation is key to creating custom programs and her attention to detail ensures that those creative visions become a reality. Furthermore, she thrives in collaborative environments and enjoys working with people. She is passionate about serving others and loves that her programming work at EDU Africa allows her to live out this mandate both locally and internationally.

Levina Wentzel | Program Designer and School Groups Specialist

Levina holds a Bachelor’s degree with Honors in Education. She worked as a teacher for almost a decade and spent five years teaching abroad at a private international American school as an English teacher. As our Schools Program Designer, Levina meets with clients to discuss their program requirements and learning outcomes, then curates and develops a transformative and unique study abroad/virtual exchange program for these schools that want to learn more about Africa.

Billy Mugambi | Program Designer

Billy brings a wealth of diverse experiences to his role at EDU Africa. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Design and Applied Arts from University of Nairobi. With a background as an art tutor and a climate action professional, he's deeply committed to fostering positive change and meaningful connections. His passions for art education, racial equity, sports advocacy, and youth mentorship are evident in his work as a Program Designer. Billy's greatest joy lies in showcasing the vibrant, colorful, and flavorful face of Africa through his endeavors.

Jacqueline Irimu | Program Designer

Jacqueline holds a Master's in International Studies. With her deep love for communication intertwined with education, and having studied how states learn from each other through trade, she is eager to learn how education and programming are part of the bridge that brings unity between different countries.

Before joining EDU Africa, Jacqueline worked in advertising and public relations as a program executive and was face to face with different companies. She exclaims that working as a Program Designer is in line with her passion for educating different people across borders and her love for travel.

Candice Soupen | Program Designer

Candice is a Program Designer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a qualified educator, holding both a Bachelor's and an Honors degree in Education. Prior to joining the EDU Africa team, Candice worked as a school teacher and assistant principal. She also designed short courses for various universities. While she will always have a passion for teaching, Candice now enjoys being behind the scenes, creating transformative learning experiences for students.

Prisca Nangabo | Program Designer

Prisca is a Program Designer in our East Africa region. She is passionate about creating transformative learning journeys that showcase Africa in a positive light. Prisca holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and has over nine years of experience in administration and program management. Her interests lie in the interplay between music and psychology and how one's mind influences subsequent behavior.

Chamapuwa Tinago | Program Designer

Chamapuwa is a native of Harare, Zimbabwe. She is passionate about personal and professional development. Her experience working with university students inspired her to pursue a Master of Science degree in Higher Education Policy and Student Affairs. When she is not working, Chama finds joy in cooking and baking, with a particular interest in the art of cake decorating.

She is also an avid reader and adventurous foodie who thrives on exploring new cuisines. In her role, Chama is excited about the prospects of fostering personal development among participants and creating learning opportunities within African communities, both locally and regionally.

Mona-Lisa Bango | Junior Program Designer

Mona-Lisa has worked in both the NGO and corporate sectors. She completed her studies at Wits University and the University of Cape Town. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and French, then further pursued her studies and received a Bachelor of Social Science Honors degree in Gender and Transformation. She is responsible for creating customized programs for global clients.

Martha Njoroge | Program Designer and Adventure, Sports, and Leisure Specialist

Martha holds a Diploma in Technology (Journalism and Mass Communication). After her studies, she ventured into the world of tours and travel and enjoys working in a friendly environment. She likes to assist clients with their booking needs to ensure they have a pleasant stay. Martha thrives on organization and relationship building. She enjoys coordinating work activities that involve starting up and carrying out projects that bring transformation.

Program Coordinators

Rutendo Manganimanja | Program Coordinator

Rutendo has nearly a decade of experience working in the travel industry and holds advanced Diplomas in Tourism and Business Studies (ICM and AITA). Rutendo (or Ruety, as she is commonly known) is currently based in Zimbabwe where she was born and raised.

She thrives on meeting new people, traveling, and learning. She is passionate about serving communities and youths in particular. She serves as a youth leader at her local church and actively engages in volunteer work.

Melinda Behr | Program Coordinator

Melinda has a rich background that spans across borders, including experiences in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Her journey has seen her wearing many hats, starting from her roots as a trained makeup artist to taking on roles as a personal assistant, financial advisor, and immigration officer on a prominent cruise liner.

Through these varied experiences, she has developed a deep understanding of different cultures and perspectives. However, Melinda’s dedication is defined by her deep passion for nurturing the potential of youth. She joined EDU Africa at the beginning of 2023 and has since found immense fulfillment in guiding the programming process in our South Africa office. Witnessing the transformative impact on the lives of both students and herself is the true reward for Melinda.

Gordon McCrindle | Program Coordinator

Gordon trained as a tourist guide with Livingstone Tourism Academy, where he obtained a Diploma in Adventure Tourism in 2015. He became accredited by South Africa’s Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA). Gordon started working with EDU Africa as a Program Facilitator in 2016.

He gained valuable experience as he facilitated in-country programs. In 2023, he transitioned to the role of Program Coordinator. With a passion for the outdoors and a genuine desire to introduce others to new experiences, Gordon is driven by the opportunity to connect international students with the wonders of South Africa. Through his work, he aims to showcase the beauty of the country while fostering a deeper understanding of different cultures. Ultimately, his goal is to help students develop a broader global perspective.

Melanie Mogoiwa | Program Coordinator

Melanie has had a passion for making a positive impact on people's lives for as long as she can remember. After completing school, she embarked on a journey abroad to work with young people in the USA and Zimbabwe. It was there that she discovered her love for working in the NGO sector.

She coordinated life skills programs in primary and high schools and planned and ran camps and holiday programs. Through her experiences, Melanie learned the importance of effective project management.

Operations and Team Support

Dax Jackson | Country and Operations Manager (Ghana)

Dax is a proud Zimbabwean who is based in our Ghana office. He served our team as a Program Facilitator for our Southern African programs for several years before being involved in pioneering programs in West Africa. As such, he was the perfect candidate to set up our office in Ghana and be responsible for coordinating programs and supporting groups on the ground there. Dax is an avid chef who is passionate about community and environmental work. He is happiest when he is out in the field with program participants.

Loretta Ferreira | Operations Manager (South Africa)

Loretta is the Operations Manager at our South Africa office. Before joining EDU Africa, she worked in project management and quality assurance, holding certifications in both areas. Loretta was born and raised in South Africa and currently resides in Cape Town. She has a strong passion for solving problems and achieving results, inspiring others with her commitment to excellence.

Loretta finds happiness in helping others succeed and plays an essential role in ensuring health and safety during our programs, providing facilitator training, and managing vehicle logistics and maintenance.

Tapiwa Makore | Operations Manager (Zimbabwe)

With over ten years of experience in the industry and skills backed by a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management, Tapiwa is responsible for overseeing the operations of the EDU Africa office in Zimbabwe. His role involves various tasks such as facilitator training, logistics management, and participation in the health and safety committee.

He enjoys training and upskilling individuals and derives pleasure in seeing them reach their full potential. This aspect has remained true of him even within his previous roles in the manufacturing and sales sectors.

Tafadzwa Muchopa | Quality Assurance Coordinator

Tafadzwa was born in Zimbabwe and has lived there all her life, save for the three years that she spent studying in the UK. She holds a BSc (Hons) Degree in Molecular Science, a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health, and Certificates in Community Development and Counseling. She also completed an Advanced Diploma in Scientific Writing and Medical Journalism.

Tafadzwa is responsible for Quality Assurance at EDU Africa, coordinating health and safety protocols and ensuring general organizational materials and documentation are of a high standard. Her methodical approach and thoroughness are much valued in her role. She is glad to be part of a team that holistically combines education with sustainable development and empowerment.

Angie Kritzinger | Administration and Finance Support

Angie manages administration and financial support for our South Africa office. She is a glass-half-full type of person and lives passionately through everything that she does. She thrives on learning and growing and has been involved in a variety of sectors before joining EDU Africa - from Educare teaching to property management.

Angie’s supportive role enables her to encourage and assist others in a myriad of ways, and her friendliness and readiness to give advice are renowned amongst her colleagues.

Ashley Cilliers | Information Systems Specialist

Ashley was born in Evander, a small mining village in Mpumalanga, South Africa. After completing her schooling, she moved to Cape Town. Ashley holds Bachelor's degrees in both Theology and Psychology from the Cornerstone Institute. She is an administrator with extensive experience in event management, public relations, and marketing.

Her responsibility is to develop solutions, integrate applications, and leverage technology to enhance and elevate the team’s working experience and efforts to bring about transformation across the continent. Ashley is passionate about being part of a company that strives to help people grow and enjoys making a positive impact in people’s lives through education.

Kesia Abrahams | Marketing Coordinator

Kesia currently serves as the Marketing Coordinator at EDU Africa. Before joining the team in late 2022, Kesia worked in the Broadcasting Industry as part of the Digital Team for a Television Production company. This Stellenbosch University journalism graduate has a passion for people and the environment, and hopes to positively impact the future of our planet and its people.