YESA Founding Board Members
Mrs Thiru Swettenham-Naidoo
Thiru has a background in Science and Technology, formerly as researcher and project leader in Plant Biotechnology at CSIR in Pretoria for 15 years, and more recently as a development consultant and operations analyst in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and ICT for Development (ICT4D) at the World Banks’ office in South Africa from 2007-2010. Thiru has most recently served as the National Coordinator of the South African Finland Partnership on ICT (SAFIPA) a bilateral programme between the Government of Finland and Government of South Africa, hosted by the Meraka Institute, CSIR from 2010 to 2011. The SAFIPA programme supported ICT innovation for rural development and underserviced communities through a project portfolio which spanned applications in e-health, e-education, rural development, accessibility, and ICT and entrepreneurship. The programme also had a strong component focussed on institutional capacity building, training, networking and dissemination. Thiru’s areas of responsibility in SAFIPA included portfolio management, monitoring and evaluation, stakeholder management and project sustainability and also production of a publication of case studies from SAFIPA.
Thiru’s academic background includes degrees in both Science and Commerce. She has presented papers at Social Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurship forums, Biotechnology Conferences, ICT for Development and NGO seminars. She currently consults for different STI knowledge based organisations in line with their specific needs in science, technology, innovation for development and technology transfer.
As a component of her work at the World Bank Institute and as part of the team to create a platform to promote social entrepreneurship amongst the youth, she delved into the field of social innovation and it’s use as a mechanism for social and economic development and the use of technology in facilitating this in South Africa. Her other research interest includes support mechanisms of technology based enterprises and instruments aimed at supporting STI use by broader sections of the community including rural areas and underserviced communities. She also serves on the steering committee of SAINe and on the advisory boards of other ICT for Development projects.