Mission Statement

Nurture. Grow. Glorify.

Our mission is to empower aspiring entrepreneurs in the developing world with innovative, scalable business ideas by providing them with a rigorous, Christ-centered business education, world-class consulting and mentoring services and access to seed capital. Through these means, we strive to create ethical business leaders, sustainable employment and an improved quality of life for many that we may glorify God in service of His people. 

About Our Name

Sinapis is the scientific name for the mustard plant. Jesus speaks of the mustard seed three separate times in the New Testament. (Matt. 13:31-32; Mark 4:31-32; Luke 13:18-19). In each instance He relates the Kingdom of God to this seed, which though very small grows to be a surprisingly large tree-like plant. Similarly, Sinapis hopes to glorify God by giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow small seeds of ideas into strong businesses, which can in turn provide for many.

He told them another parable: The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.

-Matthew 13:31-32

Our Story

The roots of Sinapis date back to December of 2008 when two Harvard graduate students, Courtney Rountree Mills and Karibu Nyaggah, met during a student trip to east Africa. Courtney was a graduate student at Harvard Kennedy School and Karibu was a graduate student at Harvard Business School. Karibu was leading the student trip to his home country of Kenya. Courtney and Karibu became fast friends during the trip, and soon Courtney revealed her vision of setting up an accelerator program for start-up stage entrepreneurs in Kenya. Later that year, Courtney embarked upon her thesis where she received the opportunity to work with the Ministry of Finance in Kenya to help them look at bottlenecks in the private sector, particularly with regards to entrepreneurship. Courtney received funds from Harvard to do research on the subject the summer of 2009 and travelled to Kenya with fellow Harvard graduate, Matt Stolhandske, to diligence the viability of an early stage accelerator program in Nairobi. Interviewing over 100 professionals from the for-profit, non-profit and government sectors on the entrepreneurship space laid the groundwork for the first version of the business plan for the accelerator program. Increasingly, there was a call to think about how this accelerator program could directly glorify God’s kingdom and increase His presence in Kenya in a practical way. Thus, they decided to make the Sinapis program centered on Kingdom business principles that help entrepreneurs integrate their faith with their business. They named the organization Sinapis, the latin name for the mustard seed found in the mustard seed parable of the New Testament, to reflect this vision.


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Courtney Rountree Mills

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Courtney Rountree Mills graduated from the Master in Public Policy program at Harvard Kennedy School with a concentration in Political and Economic Development. Prior to graduate school, Courtney received her Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. Courtney has worked for McKinsey & Company where she advised Fortune 500 companies on strategic issues such as reducing costs in the supply chain for a large consumer package goods company and analyzing high potential investments at a large hedge fund firm. She also worked at Procter & Gamble and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation where she helped develop the foundation’s expansion strategy to South Africa. Courtney has spent significant time volunteering her consulting services to several non-profit organizations in Texas including the American Red Cross and United Way. Courtney began developing the idea for Sinapis in graduate school while working on her thesis regarding angel investing in East Africa. She later teamed up with Matt Stolhandske and Karibu Nyaggah to perform a feasibility study and launch the organization. Sinapis was launched on the ground in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2010, and Courtney has been leading the organization since this time. Courtney enjoys horseback riding, reading, traveling, being outdoors and spending time with her family and two German Shepherds.


team_member_karibu-nyaggah

 

Karibu Nyaggah

Co-Founder

Karibu Nyaggah is a native Kenyan and graduate of Harvard Business School where he received his Masters in Business Administration. Prior to business school, Karibu was an Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers where he worked in the Advisory practice. Karibu received his undergraduate degree in Business at the University of California, Berkeley. For two years, Karibu served as a co-founder of Sinapis Group where he was instrumental in developing Sinapis’ SME training curriculum and in facilitating investments. After Sinapis, Karibu founded Caytree Partners, an applied research firm in Nairobi that is focused on developing technology enabled solutions to the financial problems SMEs and individuals face every day. Karibu is also currently serving as an advisor on the Sinapis Advisory Board.

The Sinapis Difference

Capacity building for earlier stage SMEs

You may be thinking, “Isn’t Sinapis just the next micro-finance institution?” Or perhaps, “I know of another organization that does the same thing Sinapis is trying to do.” We beg to differ. First and foremost, Sinapis does not work with micro-enterprises. Period. We are focused on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are generally more formalized businesses and, by definition, have higher annual turnover. This isn’t because we don’t like micro-enterprises but rather because we seek to fill a gap not currently being met by the micro-finance industry and the traditional banking sector. Furthermore, unlike other non-profits who focus on mature SMEs, Sinapis focuses exclusively on SMEs in their earliest stages, typically when they are still just an idea. Additionally, we believe that the entrepreneur’s abilities are often of more consequence than the business idea itself. Thus, while most organizations provide only financial capital with very little business training and support, Sinapis provides a holistic training program specifically designed for early stage entrepreneurs.

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Theory of Change

Sinapis seeks to support entrepreneurs with innovative, scalable business ideas by providing the business training and financing to help them succeed and exposing them to Christ-centered business principles to help them develop the spiritual strength to triumph over ethical challenges. Once these entrepreneurs become successful in business, they will not only create sustainable jobs and help alleviate poverty but also gain societal influence as business leaders. With this societal influence, our hope is that they will transform the business culture and society around them and mentor more young entrepreneurs to do the same.

OUR TEAM

Courtney Rountree Mills

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Courtney Rountree Mills graduated from the Master in Public Policy program at Harvard Kennedy School with a concentration in Political and Economic…Read More

Brad Vanderford

Director of International Operations

Brad Vanderford has a background that combines international economic development, social enterprise and management consulting to SMEs…Read More

Silvya Kananu

Kenya Country Manager

Silvya Kananu graduated from Manchester Business School with a Master of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (Distinction)…Read More

Matthew Rohrs

Chief Operating Officer

Matthew Rohrs has a diverse background that combines international economic development investment management, and spiritual leadership…Read More

Asha Mweru

Regional Expansion Manager

Asha Mweru is a graduate from Strathmore University with a Bachelors in Business and Information technology. She has a proven track record of being bold…Read More

 

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Maybe we would have failed had it not been for Sinapis. I can say at least 20% of our success can be contributed to Sinapis.

Wachira Kariuki – Sinapis Entrepreneur

Partner with Us

Join us in reaching 10,000 entrepreneurs around the world.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can use Sinapis’ proven curriculum & program or partner with us in other ways, just shoot an email to partnerships@sinapisgroup.org

Donate

Support Sinapis in achieving its vision of empowering 10,000 entrepreneurs

PARTNER

Use Sinapis’ proven curriculum & program to support entrepreneurs your organization serves

Get Trained

Sign up for a Sinapis Entrepreneurship Training Program near you to transform your entrepreneurial skill-set & take your business to the next level of growth

Work with us

Mentor our Fast Track Fellows, Become a certified Sinapis Trainer, offer pro-bono or discounted consulting services to our entrepreneurs, or join our team