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Spes Nova Corporate

Erick Rengifo

Erick Rengifo / Co-Founder

Erick Rengifo is an associate professor in the Economics Department at Fordham University. He is a co-founder of Spes Nova Inc, a nonprofit corporation whose main goals are to provide funding to microenterprises, assist in market creation, and provide insurance products for the working poor around the world. He is also the founder and director of the Center for International Policy Studies. Professor Rengifo is an active scholar with interests in market development, microfinance, micro-insurance, market microstructure, behavioral finance, risk management, insurance, and econometrics. He is a private consultant in the fields of algorithmic trading, investments, risk management, microfinance and micro-insurance. Professor Rengifo holds a PhD in economics with a concentration in finance and econometrics from Catholic University of Louvain-Belgium.

Steve Carlsen

Steve Carlsen / Co-Founder

Steve Carlsen is a co-founder of Spes Nova, and continues to serve as a Director.  Steve has a 35-year career in the insurance and reinsurance industries, specializing in underwriting, pricing and managing catastrophic risk.  He was an early developer of capital consumption models through the application of modern portfolio theory to insurable risk.  He was a co-founder of Endurance Specialty Holdings (ENH), where he continues to serve as a Director and member of its Risk and Finance Committees.  He also continues to provide consulting services to private equity groups and hedge funds investing in the insurance and insurance services sectors.Steve has an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Cornell University and received his PhD in Economics from Fordham University in May 2013.


Ithiel Egambaram

Ithiel Egambaram / Steering Committee Co-Lead

Ithiel Egambaram is a graduate student studying International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University, New York. Ithiel was born and raised in Africa’s last absolute monarchy - eSwatini, and completed his undergraduate and honors degree in Econometrics at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Prior to co-leading the steering committee of Spes Nova, Ithiel served as an assistant lecturer at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Economics. He is interested in the issues of economic inequality and development.

Dana  Nelson

Dana Nelson / Steering Committee Co-Lead

Dana Nelson is an experienced researcher and practitioner in the field of corporate responsibility, human rights advocacy, sustainable development, and micro-lending. She holds a B.A. in International Political Economy from Fordham University, where she served as President of Students for Fair Trade and the Strategic Lead for Spes Nova from 2015 to 2018. After Fordham, she received her Master’s Degree from the internationally recognized Centre of Development Studies at The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. There she pursued research pertaining to emerging trends in corporate social responsibility and private sector involvement in sustainable development.  

After Cambridge, she was sponsored by USAID to work in Accra, Ghana with Ethical Apparel Africa to build out robust social and environmental compliance standards for the region’s emerging garment industry. Specializing in workers’ rights and safety, the project helped ensure proper treatment and dignity for the predominantly low-income, female workforce. She currently works as an Investment & Strategy Analyst at Equivico, a women-owned asset management firm focused on scaling responsible small business lending supported by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a reputable grassroots organization devoted to expanding inclusivity and fairness in housing, lending, and business. 

Fordham University Team Members

Elizabeth Kane

Elizabeth Kane / Leader of Fordham University's Fair Trade Club

Elizabeth Kane is a junior at Fordham University's Fordham College at Rose Hill studying International Political Economy, minoring in Business Administration from the Gabelli School of Business. She has been involved with Spes Nova since her freshman year, focusing on business development. She is also the treasurer of the club Students for Fair Trade where she works closely with Spes Nova to spread awareness of the fair trade movement within the Fordham community and beyond. 

Julia Stusnick

Julia Stusnick / Leader of Fordham University's Fair Trade Club

Julia Stusnick is a freshman at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business with a Marketing major. As a service learner for Spes Nova, she helps the Social Media team to accomplish its goals in expanding its outreach and raising awareness of fair trade business practices. She joined this organization because she has a passion for business that promotes social justice and empowers its employees through fair labor practices. She is looking forward to expanding her knowledge on sustainable businesses and using social media as a marketing tool. Her hobbies include photography, running, and travelling.

Girishas Team Members

Kapil Ojha

Kapil Ojha / Technical Lead

Project Lead Manager

St. Thomas Aquinas College Team Members

Desiree Bermudez

Desiree Bermudez / Team Member


Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali Team Members

María Camila  Pascuas Álvarez

María Camila Pascuas Álvarez / Project assistant of Javeriana University

María Camila is business administration bachelor from the javeriana university, Cali. She is the assistant of the fair-trade interinstitutional project between Fordham University, New York and Javeriana University, Cali. 

She has involved with the project of Spes Nova because she did her career internship in entrepreneurship and she is working with different indigenous communities of Nariño, Colombia developing an inclusive brand that, in addition to contributing economically to these communities, also makes visible and values ancestral knowledge. Thanks to her initiative, her project was one of the outstanding undertakings of the Javeriana University, Cali. 

She communicates directly with the communities, to learn about the products that the artisans are going to offer to the international market, and she ensures that the relationships last over time. She is a social entrepreneur willing to work for vulnerable communities to improve the complicated situation they are going through.

María del Pilar Gómez Vallejo

María del Pilar Gómez Vallejo / Leader of Javeriana University

María del Pilar is Assistant Professor at the Javeriana Cali University in Colombia and teaches entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial Mindset and Leadership and team work. She led a joint Javeriana/Fordham University fair trade, project that focused on Colombian artisans making handcrafts for sale in the U.S.

Her research interests include entrepreneurship as well as entrepreneurial education, motivation, leadership, and skills development on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She also attends MBA students in their case study development for their degree. Her textbook, La Mentalidad Emprendedora (2019) is used in 14‐16 undergraduate courses each semester at Javeriana University.

Professor Gomez received her undergraduate degree in business administration from San Buenaventura University and her Master degree in education/human development from the same university.