Meet Our Team

Samir Lakhani

Samir Lakhani is a social entrepreneur dedicated to restoring health and dignity to developing countries. Before founding Eco-Soap Bank in 2014, Samir was deeply involved in aquaculture and nutrition projects in northern Cambodian villages. He has also developed solar lighting solution projects in Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Through his six years of nonprofit work in the areas of nutrition, water accessibility, and sanitation/hygiene, he has witnessed firsthand how delivering key products like soap transform the health and well-being of impoverished communities.Samir received a CNN Heroes Award for Eco-Soap Bank in 2017 and a Unilever Young Entrepreneurs award in 2018. He also recently gave a TEDx Talk.He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

Robert Nicholson

Robert Nicholson spent the first 15 years of his career in the commercial nuclear industry managing environmental programs with a specific focus on waste recycling and ISO 14001 system development at facilities across the US. In 2003, he founded Uniwaste Services Corp, a specialized recycling company that specifically managed mercury and lead containing devices, including cathode ray tubes. He developed a collection infrastructure throughout the United States which was utilized by OEMs such as Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba and Mitsubishi. In 2012, he co-founded NEO Energy LLC. NEO was developed to explore the potential for creating energy projects in the US that use food waste to produce renewable energy and convert the resulting material into organic fertilizer. He received two patents for a conversion process he developed for producing fertilizer from liquid digestate.

Lucy Walsh

Lucy is a Commercial Leader with over 14 years experience in multiple countries and categories within the CPG industry. A lifelong interest in people, places and culture ignited a curiosity in why people think and act the way they do and ultimately led Lucy to a degree in Anthropology and Modern Languages and a subsequent career in Marketing.
Her early career was spent building core skills in Sales and Marketing before moving on to leadership roles delivering large-scale Business Transformation. She is now passionate about using those skills to deliver Social and Environmental Impact at scale through her work at Eco-Soap Bank.
Originally from the UK, Lucy enjoys her free time exploring her home state of North Carolina and the wider US with her young family.

Tricia Chirumbole

Tricia is a social entrepreneur dedicated to the development of equitable and regenerative economic systems. She believes strongly in the capacity of the human heart and mind to create a thriving planet where all beings can flourish. Innovation and compassion are at the core. Tricia has worked with diverse stakeholders across the globe in roles ranging from financial consultant to banks in West Africa, to field researcher for a multi-country UNFPA public health project, to start-up consultant for a cryptocurrency startup in the US. She earned an MBA in social enterprise and international development from The George Washington University in DC and a BS in Psychology from The University of Pittsburgh. Tricia is also passionate about dance & community building. She founded and has run the Ecstatic Dance Pittsburgh community for over five years and travels to retreats and workshops to share her joy of movement to bodies of all ages & abilities.

Johan Botha

Johan Botha is an experienced Manager with a wealth of experience in the retail FMCG sales and operations sector. Johan thrives on ensuring teams are not just aligned but empowered to excel in their roles, driving both individual and collective success. Johan is deeply committed to the transformative process that maximizes effectiveness in every aspect, be it fostering employee growth, refining products, or optimizing services. His dedication to holistic development and unwavering focus on outcomes drive his approach to leadership.

Jeff Fusco

Jeff Fusco is an experienced sales professional with a background in specialty pharmacy sales. After working with patients in the U.S. who couldn't afford expensive medication, he appreciates the value of soap as a preventative measure. Jeff graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in Telecommunication, focusing on the management of media business and advertising. When he isn't slinging soap, Jeff is an avid traveler, baker, video gamer, and pun maker.

Lauren O'Brien

Lauren has spent the last decade cultivating relationships as a volunteer, fundraiser, and grassroots organizer. She has endeavored to create strong, ethical partnerships with volunteers and communities locally and internationally. Over the last ten years as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of U.S. Operations for the international nonprofit, Pauline Juliet “PJ,” she has been a writer, speaker, organizer, fundraiser, planner, and everything in between. PJ is a community-led initiative working towards sustainable change for women and girls in rural Uganda.While building an organization, she earned two degrees: an MS in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Public Service from the University of Pittsburgh. Lauren has always believed learning is a continuous and endless pursuit that is the responsibility of those in the social sector; not only does she understand the power of formal education, but she pushes herself to learn every day from those around her.

Markus Petersson

Markus is a social researcher now focusing on women’s empowerment and public health across Africa and Asia. He leads all research and monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) work at the organization. Markus holds a Master of Science in Development Studies from Lund University, Sweden, as well as Bachelor of Arts in International Relations.

Pratima Bhandari

Pratima Bhandari is the Hub Director at Eco Soap Bank's Nepal Hub, joining in October 2023. With over 19 years of diverse professional experience, Pratima has honed her skills in multitasking and project management, working effectively with various teams across different sectors. She has a strong background in administration, training, and legal affairs, holding a Master's degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor's degree in Law from Tribhuwan University, Nepal.
Pratima is passionate about her work at Eco Soap Bank, where she aims to leverage her extensive experience to drive the Nepal Hub's success and contribute to the broader mission of promoting sustainable hygiene practices.

Sharon Rapetswa
HUB DIRECTOR - South Africa

Obama Africa Leader 2018, Unilever Plastics Pact Awardee, and Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2023 Award Winner Sharon Rapetswa is the Eco Soap Bank South African Local Hub Leader. She holds two qualifications in Project Management and in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management.  As a young social activist passionate about youth and children education she co-founded New Dawn Foundation and Ilitha Leseding Foundation. She started working at 19 as a marketing assistant at a food factory and a branding company in South Africa. She started her nonprofit sector career at Starfish Greatheart Foundation as an events coordinator and has since then worked for several nonprofit organizations that were focused on child health and welfare. Sharon moved up the ladder and worked as a funding instrument administrator at two grantmaking and philanthropic organizations.  After the birth of her triplet daughters she founded Triple Shine Foundation and ran it part-time to realize her passion for environmental sustainability in the circular business sector. She took over the full-time Directorship of Triple Shine Foundation and became the Eco Soap Bank South African National Hub Leader in 2021 and has led the organization since.

Board of Directors

Cinta Putra


Cinta is a serial entrepreneur turned early-stage start-up investor with multiple successful exits. She is currently a Venture Partner at VoicePunch, an early stage voice-driven venture capital firm investing in the voice tech community. She is also a Managing Partner at CSPK Capital investing in founders and early-stage start-ups in areas ranging from health care, education, finance, economic opportunity and access to technology. Over the last 20 years, Cinta has founded, co-founded, and successfully exited 4 different companies, including Everbridge, Inc. (Nasdaq: EVBG) from its founding to IPO (with a current market cap of over $2.5 billion and over 1,000 global employees) whereas a founder she held various positions over 14+ years in capacities as Board Member, CEO, CFO and SVP Business Operations. She held various leadership and management positions in public and private multi-billion-dollar global companies where she was responsible for worldwide financial operations and spearheaded several key projects including acquisitions and corporate restructuring. Cinta holds a BA in Accounting and an MBA from California State University, Fullerton.

Stephen Urich

Stephen has spent the last ten years as CEO of three consulting companies that assist thousands of nonprofits in areas such as compliance, governance, accounting, and digital marketing. He has worked with many of the nation’s largest and most well-known nonprofit organizations. Prior to that, Steve worked in business intelligence and analytics and primarily analyzed the processes and procedures to improve efficiency and resiliency of governmental entities including FEMA, the Department of Defense, the IRS, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. He has a B.A. from St. John’s College, a MBA from Virginia Tech, a MA from Université libre de Bruxelles, and a PhD from Universität Heidelberg.

Cara Walker


Cara is an attorney who leverages her legal and business training to effect positive change worldwide. In 2022, she completed her Executive MBA at the University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School, and subsequently joined PadSplit as Associate General Counsel. PadSplit is a mission-driven startup using technology and shared housing to address the affordable housing crisis in major metropolitan areas. Previously, Cara served as an Assistant District Attorney in South Carolina, her home state. As a prosecutor, she supported victims during challenging times and, when possible, helped defendants find opportunities through Drug and Mental Health Courts. Cara's commitment to social justice advocacy drives her both personally and professionally. She enjoys travel motivated by the pursuit of great food, meaningful conversations, and laughter. When not traveling, Cara cherishes spending time with her family, fur babies, and enjoying nature through running or hiking

Andrew Valsamaki


Andrew Valsamaki is an Investment Banking Analyst at Takenaka Partners in Los Angeles, where he provides International M&A and Consulting services for both buy-side and sell-side clientele. Prior to joining Takenaka in 2018, Andrew was an auditor with Moss Adams. He received a B.S. in Economics and Mathematics and an M.S. in Accounting from the University of Southern California. During his time at USC, Andrew ran two organizations focused on career development and remains an active alumnus. He is also part of the Young Professionals Advisory Board at the Los Angeles Music and Art School.

Liz Chuk


Elizabeth Chuk earned her PhD from the University of Washington (Seattle) in 2010. Currently, she is a professor at the University of California Irvine (UCI) Paul Merage School of Business. Prior to joining UCI in 2016, she was on the faculty at the University of Southern California for six years. Her current research interests include earnings management, pension accounting, and economic consequences of accounting standards. Her research has been published in The Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting & Economics, and Contemporary Accounting Research. Prior to her doctorate, she was an auditor at Deloitte & Touche.

Kareem Idrees

Kareem is born and raised from Pittsburgh, PA. He has always had a strong interest in International Health Care. After completing his undergraduate education at The George Washington University with a focus in finance, he lived in Johannesburg South Africa working with setting up ARV rollout programs all over the entire country. This sparked his desire for assisting others in need, specifically on an international stage. Following the completion of his medical training at the University of PIttsburgh Medical Center, Kareem completed his MPH in addition to his MD degree. Kareem began working with EcoSoapBank at this time and has been a board member continuously since that time.

Jasmine Zou

Jasmine Zou works in investment banking at Provident Healthcare Partners, a healthcare services M&A advisor. Her sector experience covers a wide variety of healthcare services sub-verticals, including single and multi-specialty physician practice management organizations. She is active on business origination, valuation, marketing, and due diligence of a transaction lifecycle. Her primary responsibilities include developing financial models, conducting comprehensive industry and company analyses, compiling pitch and marketing materials, and providing due diligence support in an effort to facilitate deal execution through all stages. Jasmine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Science with a minor in Cognitive Science from University of California, San Diego.

Paul Grinvalds


Paul is a social entrepreneur who has spent the last 15 years in East Africa dedicating his career to creating impactful change and tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges. In 2009, Paul co-founded AFRIpads Ltd., the world’s leading social enterprise manufacturing low-cost, reusable sanitary pads. Together with his wife Sophia, Paul built AFRIpads from a seed idea to a globally recognized company serving over 5 million women and girls across Africa, employing over 150 women at its state-of-the-art factory in rural Uganda, and became a pioneer and leader across the menstrual hygiene sector. 

In 2021, Paul received the Meritorious Service Cross from the Government of Canada for his work at AFRIpads.In 2022, Paul exited AFRIpads and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya.  He is the Chief Operations Officer for Giraffe Bioenergy, a company establishing local manufacturing of ethanol cooking fuel from cassava feedstock to serve the growing clean cooking market in Kenya.