Based in the UK, we have teams in Africa and Asia who have local knowledge and insight into the relevant issues . We forge the connections that will create impact and support the development and scaling of projects.


Pepal was founded in 2009 by Julie Saunders with support from Fondation Hoffmann. The name 'Pepal' comes from the large Indian fig tree. It is the longest-living tree in the South Asian sub-continent and can survive for over a thousand years. The tree is sacred to the followers of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism; Siddhartha Buddha was sitting under a Pepal tree when he was enlightened. 

The Team


Julie Saunders
Executive Director / Founder

Based: London, UK

Pepal's founder, Julie Saunders, has over 25 years of experience both in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Previously, Julie worked for 10 years as Director: Finance and Corporate Services at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, an international NGO. During her time at the Alliance, she played an instrumental role in the growth of the organisation from a small niche player to the largest HIV/AIDS organisation in Europe with operations in 40 countries. Julie began her career as an economist with the UK government and then with DRI Inc based in Paris. Subsequently, she worked in investment banking and consulting before becoming an economic and financial adviser to privatisation programmes in Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, managing EC funded technical support programmes. 

Julie is a qualified accountant, has economics degrees from the London School of Economics (MSc) and Cambridge University (MA/BA), and an MBA with distinction from INSEAD. Julie’s mother tongue is English and she has a good working knowledge of French and Bulgarian with some knowledge of Russian.

Julie understands the challenges and needs of both NGOs and international businesses, ensuring the best fit between project partners and enabling a long term future for their work together. 


Sarah Galvin
Programme Director

Based: Bristol, UK

Sarah has been the Programme Director of Pepal since January 2018.

Before joining Pepal, Sarah was the Executive Director of PHASE Worldwide for five years. PHASE is a UK-based INGO empowering communities in isolated regions of Nepal to access health, education and livelihood opportunities. Prior to her role as Executive Director, Sarah worked for two years between the UK and Nepal offices, focusing on education programmes within PHASE. 

Sarah started her career in development in remote Cambodia working with the local government to improve primary education provision. Thereafter, she joined Care Australia to improve girls education and minority-language provision. Sarah has also facilitated experiential education tours for teenagers throughout Asia for a leading development education organisation based in the USA.

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Social Policy from the University of Bristol and a Master’s degree in Education and Global Development from the University of Leeds.  In 2017 Sarah became a Clore Social Leadership Fellow and she sits on the board of trustees for the South West International Development Network (SWIDN).


Aruna Dahal
Programme Manager, Tanzania

Based: Bukoba, Tanzania and Uttar Pradesh, India

Aruna Dahal is currently the Programme Manager for Pepal's NJIA programme, working with Roche and Tanzanian health care leaders to improve cervical cancer services in the Kagera region. Prior to this, Aruna worked on Pepal and Baylor-Uganda's Caring Together project for three years. Originally from Nepal and Malaysia, Aruna lived in Cambodia, Laos and Bangladesh before moving to the UK for university. Aruna holds an MSc in Health Community and Development from the London School of Economics, UK and a BA in Anthropology and International Development from the University of Sussex, UK. She has fieldwork and research experience around gender and health in rural Nepal, and internship experience with ActionAid Bangladesh. 


Éireann O'Sullivan
Project Officer, Tanzania

Based: Kampala, Uganda

Éireann O’Sullivan joined Pepal as a Project Officer in 2017. She is part of the team working on the NJIA project in Tanzania and the Caring Together team based in Uganda. Éireann is from Ireland and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in History and English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, before obtaining a Master’s Degree in Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge. Éireann’s research experience has centred around issues of gender and reproductive health and her work in the voluntary sector has ranged from fundraising for educational projects in Zambia to peer mentoring and teaching adolescents in Ireland.

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Hezron Festo
Project Support Officer

Based: Bukoba, Tanzania


Hezron Festo has been working with Pepal since 2017. Born and raised in Mwanza, Tanzania, Festo works for Pepal on the NJIA program. His background is in general management, event coordination and logistics. His passions are community development and social empowerment.

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Isabella Shraiman
Project Officer

Based: Bukoba, Tanzania


Isabella joined Pepal as a Project Officer in September 2018. She recently completed her MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she completed a dissertation on anti-violence programming in Central America’s Northern Triangle and worked as a graduate consultant for Christian Aid UK. She also holds a First Class Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree from McGill University, Montreal QC, where she studied Politics and History. Isabella previously worked in immigration law, social enterprise incubator management, and journalism, and has extensive experience in fundraising, project development, and research for various NGOs in the UK and North and South America. In addition to her work with Pepal, she is currently contributing to the team behind Jara, a social entreprise providing emergency education to children in disaster-affected areas.


Christine Walusimbi Katumba
Project Support Officer, UK

Based: London, UK

Christine Katumba is Pepal's Project Support Officer in the UK. She has an MSc in Globalisation and Development from the School of Oriental African Studies (SOAS). Her studies focused on the political economy of development, globalisation and its impact on gender equality, education and health as well as the effectiveness of Foreign Aid in developing countries. Additionally, she holds a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Management from University of London Birkbeck. She is originally from Uganda but is now living in the UK. Prior to joining Pepal, Christine worked with Katosi Women Development Trust in Uganda (KWDT) and is now on the board of trustees for Katosi Women Development Trust UK, as well as a Parent Governor at St Paul’s Church of England. 

the board

Jane Waterman

Acting Chair, Pepal Foundation

Jane Waterman joined the International Rescue Committee as Senior Vice President, Europe in September 2014. From 2010, Jane was previously the Vice President and Executive Director for Europe for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and from 2004, Director, External Relations for the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, based in Amsterdam. The former focused on the development of preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world and the latter dedicated to ending AIDS through community action. Jane’s earlier career included serving as the Head of Resource Mobilisation for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), fundraising positions with CIIR, VSO, and The British Council, as well as assignments in Gaborone, Botswana and Zanzibar, Tanzania. She holds a BA with honors in History with French from the University of East Anglia and an MA in Gender and Development from the University of Westminster.

Jon Cooper
Trustee, Pepal Foundation

Jon is Principal Health Consultant at Itad and has over 11 years of experience in international development, following a career in law across a number of sectors both in the private and third sectors.

Before joining Itad, Jon was Director of Evidence, Strategy & Innovation at Marie Stopes International (MSI) where he led the Research, Monitoring & Evaluation functions and was also responsible for strategy development. Jon came to that role having served for four years as Country Director of MSI’s Uganda platform, leading a team of 350 local staff to provide health services through 450 clinics (owned and franchised), 27 outreach teams, community health workers and by voucher programmesBefore that, Jon spent five years at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, developing risk, audit, legal, accreditation and governance systems for its 42 country programmes.

Dr. Pantea Lotfian
Director, Pepal Ltd 

Pantea Lotfian is Pepal's Business and Impact Assessment Partner. She is an innovation strategy consultant with over a decade of experience in delivering projects encompassing innovation strategy, industry and business process benchmarking, technology and market due diligence and business model design.

Pantea is the founder and managing director of Camrosh Ltd, a strategic technology foresight consultancy working with private, public, and not for profit sectors helping them to incorporate a systems view of innovation and foresight tools into their strategy processes, particularly in emerging technologies where uncertainty and disruptive potential is high. She has previously established and led the Technology Intelligence services for Nine Sigma Inc., and has worked before as a consultant at Oakland Innovation (now a subsidiary of the Science Group).

Pantea holds an MPhil in Technology Policy from Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and a PhD in Biochemical Engineering from University College London. 

Jane Smith
Trustee and Treasurer, Pepal Foundation and Director, Pepal Ltd

Jane Smith joined the board of Pepal Ltd in 2011. Jane is currently Director, Finance and Administration at the Institute for Employment Studies. She started her career at the BBC and since then has spent many years in the international development and charity sector. Previous positions include Director of Resources and Operations at IPPR and Chief Finance Officer at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, a charity that works to combat HIV and AIDS in developing countries. Jane is a law graduate and a CCAB qualified accountant. In addition, she has an MBA and has published research and taught at Strathclyde University.

Dr. Andrey Klepikov
Trustee, Pepal Foundation

Dr Klepikov joined the board of Pepal Foundation in September 2009. He is the Executive director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine, the largest HIV/AIDS-focused organization in the country and one of the largest in Eurasia. Prior to working at the Alliance, he was a Senior program manager at the International Renaissance Foundation (George Soros’ foundation in Ukraine), where he was responsible for supervising the overall program activities. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy in Ukraine and did his Post-Doctoral Study in Sociology in the New School for Social Research, New York. In October, he recently successfully completed the 15 month business education program, International Masters in Practicing Management which is jointly run by five business schools: INSEAD (France); McGill University (Canada); India Institute of Management (Bangalore);Lancaster University (UK); and a group of business schools in Japan and Korea.

Behind the scenes

We are a charitable group, based in the United Kingdom, comprised of Pepal Foundation and its wholly owned trading subsidiary Pepal Ltd. All profits from Pepal Ltd will be returned to Pepal Foundation to be used for charitable purposes.