UK Aid Match encourages the public to have a say in how foreign aid is spent. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office matches donations to charity appeals. Around £150m has been invested in over 130 projects to reduce poverty in 36 countries.


MannionDaniels manages the fund. I was part of the bid team that secured the contract. I recommended funding for proposals that seemed most likely to succeed and led the team that oversaw delivery. We checked that charities were ready to launch, monitored their progress, and suggested ways to improve results. Learning on what works (and does not work) is shared to influence donor policies and industry practices.


Hearts & Tears Motorcycle Club created skilled, well-paid jobs in Nepal. We restored vintage Royal Enfields (with heart-shaped engines and teardrop petrol tanks) and retro Yamahas. We taught over 1,000 tourists to ride safely. Multi-day tours crossed jungles and mountains. 90% of our customers were complete beginners. 50% were female. Our lakeside showroom sold bikes, beer and merchandise. Even our website was made locally.

Our income cascaded to an array of small businesses during the toughest times of the Maoist revolution. We were recommended by Lonely Planet and featured in the international media. The Maoists supported our pro-poor agenda, and I was congratulated by Crown Prince Paras. This innovative social enterprise is still thriving with a new owner over 15 years later.


An international NGO designed and delivered an EU-funded livelihoods project. My post-launch review took a few days, my presentation about 20 minutes. The Directors agreed the project would not work. The facts may have been uncomfortable, but now they could see what was really going on – and take appropriate action.


I was asked to provide assurance on 13 other projects across Asia. The various donors had received negative media coverage and wanted to show the public that aid works. An audit was looming (by a Government body like the Independent Commission for Aid Impact).


All 13 had scored well in annual or end-line reviews. This created a false sense of security. As is often the case, the traditional monitoring & evaluation methods masked serious design problems, delivery issues and under-performance. We took urgent action on projects that could be rescued, and developed a strategy for longer term improvements.


Gold Star assurance offers a second opinion on high value, high profile or high risk projects. It unmasks facts but avoids blame. It builds capacity, provides practical solutions and inspires teams to deliver better results.


I joined the leadership team of the Shakespeare Schools Festival to drive growth and change. We shifted the business model, expanded the organisation, transformed operations and professionalised the culture. It is now the world’s biggest youth drama event.


Every October over 35,000 children from 1,000 schools perform in 160 theatres across the UK. It has a huge impact for pupils, families, and teachers. Some were applauded by the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.


Barbados has a population of around 280,000 and welcomes over a million tourists each year. A pragmatic strategy was needed to provide sufficient fresh water and manage wastewater for the next 30 years.


I led the first phase with the leadership team of the Barbados Water Authority and the Cabinet Minister, Dr David Estwick. We secured funding from the CAF development bank for urgent infrastructure repairs, defined a comprehensive programme of improvements (including the desalination of sea water) and identified suitably qualified technical experts to lead initiatives.


Step Forward was a modern apprenticeship scheme for 18-19-year-olds. It offered paid 1-year roles, specialised training (e.g., in IT, social media or accounting) and on-the-job mentoring. The first cohort of 40 had graduated and we wanted to scale-up rapidly.


As the interim Head of Account Management I hired, trained and led a team of 12 to sell the scheme to prospective employers. We placed over 450 young people per year. It was 14 times more popular than normal apprenticeships. Our completion rate was 87% compared with the national average of 65%. Most graduates went into full-time work with their employer.


I was a Senior Manager in EY’s Enterprise Growth Services team. EY subsidises the non-profit business model. Staff take a voluntary 50% pay cut while they help entrepreneurs to change lives in developing countries. Entrepreneurs get world-class consultants at heavily discounted rates. All parties have a financial investment, so collaboration on projects is outstanding.


Barclays and GlaxoSmithKline joined forces to improve access to affordable medicines in sub-Saharan Africa. I designed the operations in Zambia. Local organisations sourced medicines from abroad, managed warehousing and made last-mile deliveries. I won the UK & Ireland Advisory Award in 2014 for ‘building a better working world’.


The €100m AmplifyChange fund awards grants to hundreds of grassroots organisations that advocate for improvements to sexual & reproductive health. With support from the Hewlett Foundation, I worked with grantees across Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to design and build the prototype of Learn.


Over 4,000 people across 58 countries have used their mobile phones to learn how to strengthen their organisation, improve their advocacy skills, or manage during the COVID-19 crisis. Staff and volunteers are unlikely to own a computer but their phones work well in rural areas with little or no internet access.


UK Aid Direct has awarded over 140 grants to small and medium sized civil society organisations to reduce poverty and achieve the Global Goals in 37 countries. MannionDaniels manages the £150m fund on behalf of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

A team of portfolio managers oversees the performance and risks of each project. I taught Gold Star assurance techniques and provided 1:1 coaching. They visualised charities’ data to clarify the targets and progress to date. Action plans were then agreed to maximise results.


The Challenge ran socially mixed youth programmes including National Citizen Service to build skills for work and life. I joined the senior management team of this Sunday Times Top 100 not-for-profit to lead a portfolio of sales, growth and change initiatives.


My business development training and tools helped secure £250m in funding (the UK Government’s biggest charity contract in 2014). I set up two new regional offices and co-led improvements to our sales operations and culture to enrol teenagers. We tripled in size and worked with over 53,000 young people each year.


I was a pro-poor, sustainable tourism entrepreneur in Nepal (our shop was beside the lake on the right of this photo). I joined SNV as a technical adviser on the €2.5m High Impact Tourism Training programme.


I recommended changes to the strategy, team and training. The curriculum needed to be driven by the needs of different tourism sectors in each of the seven countries involved. Three years later, over 8,000 people were able to attain better jobs, higher wages, and greater job greater security.


Businesses and social enterprises are at the heart of a surprising number of development projects (40% in my experience). There are common pitfalls. Many charities and NGOs struggle to turn good ideas into viable business models. Well-intentioned training rarely results in new jobs or higher incomes.


I have helped to design and manage more than 50 sustainable wealth creation projects. These have included waste recycling, farming as a business, and youth entrepreneurship. Clear, practical advice from hard-won experience helps teams succeed.

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