Meet the Team
Melanie Knight - CEO
Melanie joined Deki with 20 years’ experience working in the private sector in London. After her first degree in Marketing Management and Arts Management, she worked as assistant to the CEO at a Multi-Media arts centre. It was there that she filled in for an IT trainer who was sick one day and she ‘fell into’ IT and web design training as a career. This later progressed to setting up training centres in NHS Trusts in London, then onto another company where she was responsible for securing contracts for a national provider who delivered training to NHS Trusts, Social Services and care homes.
In 2011 she took on her first role in the charity sector, as Director for Income Generation at the Churches Conservation Trust. This suited her passion for old buildings and she travelled all over England visiting beautiful historic buildings, mostly in pretty villages. It was then that she started to think about returning to her childhood home Bristol, so that she could be closer to the countryside.
After 20 years in London, she returned to Bristol in 2014 to work for the Soil Association. She has now joined us at Deki as CEO and is excited to take on this new challenge. Melanie has a passion for all things digital, especially marketing and fundraising.
Bryony Spooner - Marketing and Communications Director
Bryony became interested in applying her skills of ‘fame generation’ in the charity sector after reading an article about microfinance and the life changing affects it can have in the developing world.
Bryony has twenty years’ experience working in public relations, communications and events for some of the world’s biggest brands and international artists. Her background is entertainment publicity and during this time she was been responsible for Robbie Williams’ press and publicity on a daily basis for seven years. Her clients also included Channel 4 (Richard and Judy), BBC One (The Apprentice), UKTV, 20th Century Fox, Guinness World Records, Random House, Myspace, Motorola, Disney and the charity Nordoff Robbins.
Bryony has travelled extensively in Asia, Australasia and America and also spent time living in Amsterdam. Earlier this year she travelled to Ghana to see first-hand the incredible difference Deki loans are making there.
Alex Moreton - Digital Marketing and Communications Manager
Alex joined Deki with little previous knowledge of the microfinance industry, but soon realised how powerful a tool it can be for empowering people who are struggling with poverty.
He returned to Bristol in 2013 after previously having left the city a graduate. With a degree in Business Studies and five years of marketing experience under his belt, including working across 15 magazine titles at Future Publishing, Alex realised his passions lie in digital marketing and the non-profit world. Alex is responsible for developing Deki’s marketing and is excited to see how the power of it can change lives.
Outside of the office, Alex loves travelling to wherever his limited budget will allow and reviews festivals for an online festival magazine that he’s recently launched. Toffee Crisps are his biggest weakness.
Rowan Dade - International Programmes and Fundraising Manager
Rowan first became interested in the non-profit sector whilst volunteering for a youth development charity in Nepal. Fast forward to 2016, he now has over six years’ experience project managing a wide range of fundraising campaigns for various charities, including Amnesty International, The Australian Red Cross and the RSPCA.
Rowan’s academic background is in the Social Sciences and has studied MSc International Development at The University of Bristol. During his studies Rowan focused on the social, environmental and economic impacts of community centred development initiatives and has a keen interest in how Microfinance can sustainably lift whole communities out of poverty.
Francesca Reggimenti - Grants Fundraising and Impact Officer
Francesca’s passion for microfinance started when she did a Master’s in International Cooperation for Development. She went on to study the impact of microloans on young entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. It was then that she started researching and learning about the fact that a third of the world population is not able to open a bank account, or how a small amount of money is the kick-start for people living in poverty.
Since then Francesca has worked with young people who are not engaging in education, employment and training, to train as a tutor for adults with low literacy and numeracy skills. Her broad non-profit experience ranges from running local youth groups to interning for the United Nations Development Programme. Francesca is addicted to travelling, likes maths, excel spreadsheets, singing and playing the piano.
Liz Stagg - Deki Evangelist and Fellow
Liz started volunteering at Deki 2014 after spending over 25 years teaching English in a French university and also working in the telecoms industry. Her work with various global corporations including BlackBerry took her all over the world and her passion for adventure has taken her to Africa, Asia, Latin America and even the Arctic.
Not content with being a tourist Liz volunteered on a lion conservation project in Zimbabwe and the experience made her re-think her priorities. Liz has become known as the Deki evangelist as she'll tell anyone who'll listen about the way Deki differs from other international aid charities. She also became Deki's first ‘Fellow’, acting as the guinea pig for the Fellowship Programme in 2015. She travelled to Malawi to conduct field work and interview entrepreneurs who had received a loan, in Usisiya and the surrounding villages on the shores of Lake Malawi. She was inspired to see first-hand the difference that can be made by lending a small amount to a Deki entrepreneur.
Adam Dickens - International Development Photographer
As an award winning International Development Photographer, Adam is an invaluable part of the Deki team and responsible for all the stunning images used on the Deki website and in marketing materials. In the last 8 years he has made 47 visits to charity partners in East Africa and Asia, flown the equivalent of 15 times round the world, spent more than 14 months abroad documenting the work of 18 small charities in 10 countries and gifted over 50,000 photos. He’s been working for Deki for more than 3 years, and so far has covered Malawi, Ghana, Togo and Uganda. All the images that Adam has taken have been crowdfunded by donations he has raised through his own hard work. He has now established his own Community Interest Company, Taking Pictures Changing Lives. For more info, visit www.tpcl.org.uk
Vashti Seth - Founder
Vashti Seth set up Deki after being inspired by the hardships faced by Deki Dolkha, a Tibetan refugee her father had sponsored as a child. Pioneering person-to-person microloans in the UK, Vashti was awarded an honorary MBA from the University of West of England and was shortlisted for Woman of the Year by Red Magazine.
Vashti who has a BA (hons) in Philosophy and Sociology spent 5 years living in Sydney working in the film industry, where she worked on feature films, television series such as Home and Away and produced and managed a number of high profile commercials.
Vashti combines motherhood with a hectic working life – pioneering a world of opportunity not poverty, forging strategic partnerships and campaigning for microfinance. Vashti was awarded an Institute of Directors award for South West Third Sector Director of the Year 2015 and Bristol and Bath Business Woman of the year in 2016.
James Potten - Chair of Trustees
James joined the Deki board of trustees in 2015, having aligned with the passion and purpose of the Deki team, when ecosurety raised nearly £4,000 in the first ever Deki Tenner tournament. James says, Deki believes in 'a world of opportunity, not poverty'. These six words should light a fire in all of us!' James holds a first class masters honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wales, Cardiff. He started his career at Honeywell, before co-founding ecosurety and learning what it takes to run a progressive and inspiring company. He's also a bit of a geek. James was in the British Youth Windsurfing team and was the first official person to windsurf the English Channel. He also set up the not-for-profit Student Windsurfing Association back in 2000.
Max is a dynamic, proactive and strategic person with over 16 years of experience managing teams and leading the growth of microfinance institutions, banks and development organisations. His academic background and extensive practical experience in the microfinance sector has been instrumental to work as an independent consultant in financial inclusion and impact assessment, and as a Co-Founder of a FinTech based in Barcelona. Max brings to Deki’s board of trustees a passion for innovation, strategy, financial products and business solutions that work for the poor. Max is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath and holds an MSC in Economics and a PhD in Economics and International Development, both from British Universities.
After a long and successful career in Financial Services business development and leadership roles Mike has more recently decided to focus on giving something back to society and was delighted to be invited to become a trustee at Deki. Mike thinks the Deki and Vashti story is really compelling and defies anyone who is not inspired to help others less well off than them as a result. This appointment sits well with Mike's other non-executive, business adviser and mentoring activities where he hopes his knowledge and experience can make a contribution and a difference to others.
Over the years Mike has collected a number of awards and qualifications but his most treasured was becoming a Freeman of the City of London in 2006.