JOE HERITAGE^‘17SIPA^Design Lead at Columbia Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Design


Joseph Heritage ‘17SIPA is the Design Lead at Columbia Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Design.  He is an agricultural development specialist and human centered designer with over nine years of project design and project management experience. He has worked on agrarian-based social enterprises, agribusiness value-chain development, IDP post-conflict resettlement, entrepreneurship accelerator training, human centered design, sustainable finance, and market access with a regional focus in East Africa and Southeast Asia. He co-founded and managed Freedom Global, a Kenyan social enterprise that employs and educates Internally Displaced Persons working in staple, livestock, and commodity crop value chains, through out-grower schemes with lead firms such as KenChic, providing access to finance through partnerships with Kiva and M-Pesa. He managed a 30-acre farm with over 25+ employees and worked with Amiran, an Israeli ag. tech company to install 10 greenhouses and 5 acres of drip irrigation on his farm. He grew lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pumpkins, peppers, reared pigs and chickens, and sold them to high-value end markets in Nairobi.

He has consulted with One Acre Fund in their Product Innovations department and negotiated contracts with lead firms, Cargill and WFP, to buy maize from 11,000 smallholder maize farmers in Western Kenya.  He is proficient in Kiswahili, and completed an MPA in Development Practice at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in May 2017. He is currently the Design Lead at Columbia Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Design where he facilitates design thinking workshops across Columbia's academic ecosystem. He is passionate about the intersection of design thinking and sustainable development and believes design can create elegant solutions to seemingly intractable poverty problems. He has worked in Rwanda, Mozambique, Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia and lived and worked in Kenya for seven years.


2019: From Refugees to Founders