Katja Silva-Leander is a Director at DAI, specializing in inclusive economic growth, with 20 years of experience working in the financial services and international development fields. She comes from a family of international development practitioners. Her Chilean father and Swedish mother both set the path for their children after working many years at UNESCO in Paris. With her brother subsequently at the United Nations Development Programme and her sister at the World Bank, Katja was initially the only one to choose a different career, as she decided to become an investment banker after graduating from business school. But after five years working at Credit Suisse in London, she decided to go back to school and re-train as an international development practitioner. After graduating from Columbia University, she went on to work for a number of international organizations, including the World Bank, the United Nations and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Since changing careers, Katja has specialized in the field of inclusive economic growth, covering a number of related areas, including business enabling environment, financial inclusion, and market systems development. In addition, she has worked on several challenge funds—matching grant schemes that use a venture capital approach to invest in bottom-of-the-pyramid business models. Prior to joining DAI, she also worked for an impact investor looking at equity and debt investments in similar types of business models. Katja is now managing the Economic Growth practice at DAI’s U.K. office, focusing primarily on European and multilateral donors, as well as international financial institutions.



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