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Ben Savonen

Manager, Strategy & Build - GDI Americas

Ben is a Manager for GDI Americas’ Strategy and Build Team and has over a decade of experience working in global development, technology, and entrepreneurship. Since starting his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, Ben has had the opportunity to collaborate with dozens of NGOs and social enterprises in both the US and East Africa. He has worked as a strategic and technical adviser to Field Ready, Villgro Africa, FEMA, and Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program. He is also the cofounder of the tech start-up Kijenzi, which develops local solutions to critical supply gaps experienced in lower- and middle-income communities.

An engineer by training and an entrepreneur by experience, Ben is passionate about problem solving and believes in the importance of getting to the root of a problem. As a researcher, he has focused on understanding on how innovative solutions are best able to fit in with real-world contexts and human-driven needs. He has passionately worked on these types of challenges in global development while pursuing his PhD (Penn State), Masters (Michigan Tech), and Bachelors (Ohio State) degrees in engineering and design.

Outside of work, Ben enjoys all types (and seasons) of outdoor activities, but as a native Michigander, he is especially fond of those outdoor activities that bring him back to the Great Lakes.