Our Board

Promoting Commerce Between Botswana
and the United States

Comprised of experienced leaders from diverse sectors, ABC’s Board oversees the organization’s strategic direction and ensures direct links to the U.S. Embassy and effective support to businesses in Botswana.

sara sullivan

Dr. Sullivan is a seasoned international development expert with over twenty years of experience specializing in strategic communications and program effectiveness. She has proven experience leveraging a wide range of media including print, film, radio, television, and online platforms to enable governments, NGOs, academia, and donors to broaden their constituencies and achieve their strategic goals.

As founder and CEO of international firm Koko Consulting, Sara leverages her expertise to help civil society, governments, and the private sector better attract and deploy donor and development funding. Prior to founding Koko Consulting, she served at the United States Embassy in Botswana as Senior Strategic Communications Advisor for USAID, raising the profile of the agency throughout the region with multiple national campaigns and products, including a feature-length documentary. Previously, as Director of Communications for USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub, she led an international team in designing and implementing communications strategies across the program’s eight target southern African countries.

Sara has been on the ABC Board since June 2022 and the chairperson since July 2023.  She is committed to working closely with U.S. Government agencies to highlight opportunities for ABC members and strengthen the private sector in Botswana. 

She holds a doctorate and master’s degree in English from Boston University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communications from Westmont College. Dr. Sullivan was also a recurring columnist for the Wall Street Journal from 2015-2016 focusing on topics of interest for the global expat community. 

vikash ponangi

Vikash Ponangi is an entrepreneur and qualified charted accountant who is passionate about creating an enabling environment for business and economic development in Botswana. He is current Marketing Director of the V & V Group of companies, where he oversees areas such as retail, wholesale, distribution, and real estate. He was integrally involved in the conceptualization and creation of “Brandz Unlimited”, one of the leading specialized retailers in Botswana of sports and fitness goods, school uniforms, and fine fragrances.

Mr. Ponangi is a member of the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants and has vast experience in public-private dialogue and the formulation of policy and regulations. He has served on various committees such as the National Doing Business Committee, the Ministry of Trade and Industry Sector Level Committee, and the Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sector Level Committees. Vikash is involved in the Thematic Working Groups for development of the National Development Plans for Botswana and a member of the task force on Regulatory Impact Assessment under the World Bank. 

Mr. Ponangi has been one of the youngest members at board level leadership of various organizations such as Business Botswana (formerly BOCCIM), India Botswana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the ABC, where he served as Chairperson from 2014-2019.  

Mr. Ponangi completed a Bachelor of Science from the University of Botswana, after which he proceeded to become chartered accountant through the UK-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.  He also completed the Seed Transformation Program under the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

aswin vaidyanathan

Mr. Vaidyanathan is a Partner and Head of the Assurance division at Grant Thornton Botswana, an international auditing and consulting firm that provides services including assurance, tax, advisory, corporate, and business process solutions. He is registered as a Certified Auditor in Botswana and a Certified Auditor of Public Interest Entity. Aswin has more than 26 years of experience in advising companies and stakeholders in audit assurance, financial and IT compliance, and taxation -both corporate and personal. His vast client base of mid-market entrepreneurial businesses, public listed entities, and parastatal organizations include industries ranging from real estate, tourism, financial services, construction, manufacturing, mining, exploration, wholesale, and the medical industry.

Mr. Vaidyanathan participates in several of Grant Thornton’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, including the Private Business Growth Awards, which are presented in association with Business Botswana and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre to recognize and support the emerging private sector in the country. He is also involved in the government’s Digital Transformation Strategy, sponsoring Botswana’s first public school state-of-the art imported interactive tech panel, a classroom solution supporting collaborative learning and access to digitized learning material.

Aswin is a member of several professional organizations, including the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute of Internal Auditors Botswana, Information Systems Audit and Control Association, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. Grant Thornton has been a member of ABC almost since its inception, and Mr. Vaidyanathan has fulfilled the role of treasurer since he joined the Board in 2018.

In his personal capacity, Aswin is a member and Secretary of the Botswana Hindu Charities Trust, Gaborone Masonic Trust, Angel Network Botswana, and provides pro bono services to various non-profit organizations. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Madras, India. 

pinkie tau

Pinkie Tau is an experienced commercial leader with a wealth of expertise in development management, trade marketing and international trade. She is the founder and Managing Director of the Business List, a subsidiary of A-LIT (Pty) Ltd, a female-owned company registered in Botswana, and currently serves as the Board Secretary of the ABC. With over 20 years in the field, Pinkie has held various leadership roles, including Marketing Manager, Promotion Manager, Human Resources Manager and UNDP Communications Advisor. Ms. Tau also served as an Assistant to the Private Secretary to the President of Botswana.

An innovative business leader with a strong background in international development, Pinkie excels in building bridges between government and the private sector. She has a track record of managing major projects and spearheading national campaigns for government, corporate clients, and development partners. Throughout her career, Pinkie has been responsible for stakeholder relationship management, corporate affairs, government engagement, project management, research, and strategy development. She has successfully led teams of company directors and employees to execute marketing campaigns and ensure compliance with quality standards such as NOSA, HACCP & ISO Accreditation.

Ms. Tau continues to collaborate with development partners like UNDP and the World Bank to promote the UN framework on "Prosperity for All," and she actively drives programs such as EU Erasmus Plus and SHE Trades Commonwealth Program to promote economic inclusion.inkie holds a bachelor’s degree in human resources management with a minor in computer information systems, and an associate degree in applied Speech Communication. To further enhance her qualifications, Ms. Tau has earned post graduate diplomas in Digital Marketing and another in Strategic Management.  She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in International Relations.

David chait

David Chait is the General Manager of Coca-Cola Beverages Botswana (CCBB), a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Group. Coca-Cola is an iconic American brand and a cornerstone of the Botswana business landscape being the only producer of sparkling soda beverages in the country. CCBB came into being in November 2019 and David assumed the role of General Manager in January 2020. He has been responsible for setting up the first in-country leadership team, developing and managing the company’s strategic direction and maximizing its operational performance. David has overseen excellent growth in the business culminating in a P250 million investment in production capacity in 2023.

mukesh chauhan

Mukesh Chauhan is the Director of Sedgeley Solar Energy Botswana (Pty) Ltd. Mukesh is an active businessman in the Botswana ICT industry and has been involved in pioneering and leading ICT companies like AppleCentre (Pty) Ltd, PC Centre (Pty) Ltd, Paradigm Technologies (Pty) Ltd, Media Magic (Pty) Ltd, and currently ITi (Pty) Ltd and OPQ Net (Pty) Ltd. Mukesh has also been involved in various business sectors, including manufacturing, retail, interior design, travel, hospitality, distribution, and property development and management. 

He is currently the President of the Hindu Foundation of Botswana, an ABC Board member, and was past Chairman of Indian Botswana Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics & Telecommunications) from the University of Zambia.

Brian Smyser

Brian Smyser is the Economic and Commercial Officer at the Embassy of the United States of America in Gaborone, Botswana. At the Embassy since 2021, Mr. Smyser leads on issues concerning U.S-Botswana economic relations, including sitting on the board of the ABC.

A U.S. Foreign Service Officer with the State Department, Brian previously worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.  Prior to becoming a U.S. diplomat, Mr. Smyser worked for New York State on the rollout of public-private partnerships to transform New York City's energy efficiency and clean energy landscape.  

Brian has master’s degrees in Natural Resource Management and Urban Planning from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in Environment Science and Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

georgia duerst-lahti

Georgia Duerst-Lahti is Co-founder and CEO of Duerst Lahti Global, LLC and several related companies, including DLG Naturals BW. Dr. Georgia’s business interests lie in healthy natural products, sustainable supply chains, and equitable trade between the United States and Africa that creates profits while providing earning opportunities for smallholder farmers. 

With a focus in Southern African botanical ingredients, Duerst Lahti Global, LLC and its companies offer new and innovative cosmetic oils to the US and global markets, and provide income to thousands of wild harvesters. The core Botswana business began with agri-processing marula oil as a base ingredient for cosmetics and has since evolved to other indigenous botanicals. Since 2018, DLG has expanded into marula as food, from raw puree purchased by local manufacturers to its own fruit sauce and dried snacks, to marula oil as a healthy substitute for olive oil. DLG plans to introduce other regenerative food production by smallholder farmers using DLG Natural BW’s core supply chain.

Georgia first joined ABC in 2019 drawn by its close relationship with the U.S. Embassy and access to a wide variety of U.S. government programs that facilitate agribusiness and trade. She values the other benefits that ABC provides, including insights into the Botswana business and political environment, as well as the fun networking events with successful business owners interested in trade with the United States. Dr. Georgia served as Chair (2021-2023) and Secretary (2020) of the ABC Board.

In her prior life, Dr. Georgia was a professor and researcher and authored dozens of publications specializing in gender and politics. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in Gaborone North with her husband and business partner, Tris Lahti. Their daughter, a hospitality professional, resides in their home state of Wisconsin, and their son is in Austin, Texas, pursuing a career in digital marketing. 

Dineo saleshando

Dineo Saleshando is the CEO and founder of Loago Financial Services, a non-bank financial institution in Botswana. She is a veteran banking professional with extensive experience working in global financial institutions and is recognized as a thought leader in various crucial financial areas. Ms. Saleshando has expertise in credit risk management, credit policy development, loan portfolio management, strategy, product and business development, marketing, as well as policy and process development.

Throughout her career, Dineo has achieved remarkable milestones. She successfully led the transformation of a merchant bank into a fully licensed commercial bank, overseeing the application process for a commercial banking license and establishing the necessary technology and infrastructure. Furthermore, she demonstrated exceptional leadership skills by spearheading the growth of a micro-lending startup into a profitable and systemically important institution, and facilitating a private listing of a Medium-Term Note Bond Programme.

Since July 2023, Dineo has been a co-opted member of the ABC Board, where she is keen to contribute to strengthening the relationship between the Botswana Government and U.S. Government agencies, to create a business-friendly environment that fosters private sector development.

Dineo holds an MBA from De Montfort University (UK) and a bachelor's degree in economics and accounting from the University of Botswana. She is married with 3 children.

Aditya Ram

Aditya Ram is the Managing Director of Acumen Property Group and the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Infrastructure at Botho University. Mr. Ram is a dynamic Motswana entrepreneur who demonstrated a passion for real estate from a young age. He worked in India, Maldives and South Africa before he returned to Botswana in 2007 and took on the massive roll-out of Botho University’s campus development. He manages a number of real estate portfolios and has led strategic real estate investements in Botswana, Lesotho and beyond. 

Aditya is an active angel investor through Angel Network Botswana and is motivated to support a vibrant start-up environment in the country. To this end, he believes thriving business relations and linkages between the U.S. and Botswana are critical and has been a member of the board of the ABC for over 10 years. Mr. Ram has also held board and leadership positions in numerous organizations in Botswana. He is the past president of the global Entrepreneurs Organisation MEPA Bridge Chapter and current secretary of Angel Network Botswana. Aditya has also held the position of Chair of the Board of the ABC between 2019 and 2021, and Treasurer from 2014 to 2019.

Mr. Ram holds a Master of Science in Real Estate Development from Columbia University, New York, as well as a bachelor’s degree in international hospitality management from Lausanne Hotel School in Switzerland. He loves to spend his spare time with his family and friends, especially indulging in foodie experiences or on safari in Botswana.


Tebogo George is a dedicated education professional with over a decade of experience in educational institutions and youth-focused initiatives. She currently heads the Student Exchange and Visits department at Maru-a-Pula School, a co-educational, independent day and boarding secondary school in Gaborone, Botswana. A key contributor to the school, Ms. George leverages her experience and skills in teaching, event planning and management, public relations, marketing and communications to create meaningful opportunities for students

Tebogo excels in forging international connections and promoting educational experiences. In her role at Maru-a-Pula she has successfully nurtured and maintained exchange programs with schools across the globe, enriching the educational and cultural journeys of students. Ms. George’s proficiency extends to recruitment, admissions processing, and office management, making her well-versed in the intricacies of educational administration. Notable achievements include her role in recruiting scholarship students from diverse regions in Botswana, the establishment of active exchange programs with 17 schools spanning the United States, Asia, Europe, and Southern Africa, and the planning of student workshops by international stakeholders.

Tebogo has been a board member of the ABC from 2016-2021 and again since 2023. She has served as Chair of Events and is now a Membership Chair on the board. She has also been a member of the Rotary Club of Gaborone from 2012-2019, serving as President from 2017-2018.

Ms. George holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Botswana.  She has lived in six different countries and enjoys learning and immersing herself in diverse cultures.

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