WHO WE ARE
FOUNDED IN 2015,
Connecting Founders began as a platform to offer networking and mentoring opportunities to female entrepreneurs. Through working directly with many women-led businesses, it became clear that access to capital and absence of investment readiness services were consistent key growth challenges.
Connecting Founders made the pivotal decision to establish an advisory arm, serving to bridge this funding gap for women entrepreneurs. We work with female founders to structure tailored funding plans and match them with like-minded capital to help them scale their businesses.
We also work with corporate and financial institutions to advance gender diversity & inclusion. We help them evaluate their companies, create and implement policies, and increase their accountability in gender equality throughout their supply chains.
We work with female founders to structure tailored funding plans and match them with like-minded capital to help them scale their businesses.
Our team draws experience from a broad range of expertise, including fund management, impact investing, and private equity governance. Across the years, our partners have built a deep network of local, regional, and global investors and entrepreneurs. Our combined strength lies in understanding the needs of both investors and businesses, and the challenges involved in gender inclusion and gender lens investing.
Connecting Founders Co., Ltd is a Bangkok-based independent advisory firm and is registered as a limited liability corporation in Thailand and Singapore.
Our goal is to build a stronger female economy and create a business sector that is more responsive to different needs, more diverse in decision-making, and more inclusive in resource allocation.
MEET OUR TEAM
Caterina is a gender finance specialist with close to 20 years of experience in inclusive finance, women’s leadership, and entrepreneurship.
Prior to founding Connecting Founders in 2015, she worked for leading international finance institutions, such as the World Bank, IFC, EBRD, DFID, as well as development consultancies to design and execute operations in over 30 countries. From microfinance and then SME finance, she found her niche and passion as she began focusing at the crossroads of gender and finance, advising banks and other financial institutions on how to increase their outreach to women-owned businesses and promoting private sector investment in the sector.
She has led and contributed to numerous market studies and research on women-owned businesses in several countries, and on quantifying the business opportunity of this market. In 2015-16 she featured 50 female founders from Southeast Asia to spark a conversation on their specific entrepreneurial stories and to highlight the opportunity of investing with a gender lens in the region.
Caterina is also the founder of Thailand’s international Lean In chapter. She holds an M.A. in International Relations and Economics from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Michael C. Rabonza
Michael is a financial advisory specialist, having spent nearly two decades as a professional investment manager for institutional and retail investors, investment banks, multilateral funders and impact investors.
He began his career with Lehman Brothers in 2001 investing in non-performing loans and distressed assets across Southeast Asia. Transforming underperforming assets into income producing projects laid the foundation for Michael’s focus on value investing through private equity. In 2004, Michael joined the World Bank Group’s IFC in Washington, D.C. to work on project finance and venture capital investments in oil, gas and mining projects across Latin America, Africa and Asia. In 2010, Michael moved to the fund management industry with Triple Jump B.V., and Amsterdam based investment manager representing Dutch impact investors, where he expanded the firm’s footprint in Asia by investing into funds and organizations dedicated to making finance accessible to rural communities. In 2014, Michael returned to Asia to head Portfolio Management for Altus Capital, an IFC-investee fund manager focusing on mezzanine finance and private equity in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This move culminated in Michael having invested and successfully recovered over USD 750 million in capital over his 17-year career as an investment manager, giving him unique insight to the requirements of investors.
Michael’s key strength lies in structuring private investments along the full range of the capital structure, which has allowed businesses to access financing they would otherwise not have received. He now turns this expertise for the benefit of investment-ready SMEs, particularly female founders across Southeast Asia.
Patricia is an investment professional with more than 15 years of experience with a strong track record in private equity, management consulting and emerging markets.
Patricia began her career with Lehman Brothers in 2002 in the Real Estate Principal Investing Group based in Thailand, investing in structured investments ranging from $20 million to over $100 million in Southeast Asia. In 2008, Patricia joined Grassroots Business Fund (“GBF”), an impact investment fund based in Washington D.C., which was an affiliate of the International Finance Corporation at the time. As an Investment Officer, Patricia originated, structured and executed investments in small and medium-size enterprises in Asia and Africa. She expanded the GBF’s portfolio in Southeast Asia, developed an investment platform in Indonesia and worked closely with portfolio companies to grow their businesses. In 2013, Patricia joined Falcon House Partners, a private equity fund specializing in growth capital and middle market investments in the consumer sector in Indonesia. As an Executive Director, Patricia was involved in deal origination, execution, portfolio management and investor relations.
In addition to her experience in private equity, Patricia also worked with leading management consulting firms Booz Allen Hamilton and L.E.K. Consulting on diverse projects ranging from process improvements, market entry, acquisitions and strategic planning in Asia, Australia and the United States.
Patricia holds an M.A. in International Business and Development Economics from the Fletcher School, Tuft University and a B.A. in Economics and International Relations, also from Tufts University.
Chutimon (Mae) Sangain
Chutimon Sangain (Mae) is an Investment Analyst at Connecting Founders, specializing in the company’s Management Consultant services.
Her main role centers around the provision of ESG-focused consultancies to international development and finance institutions to support a more gender inclusive economy. In addition to her role in Management Consultant, Mae assists in the company’s Investment Banking services with conducting industry research and analysis to support the company’s clients.
Prior to joining Connecting Founders, Mae graduated from Thammasat University with a B.A. in Global Studies and Social Entrepreneurship, minoring in Technology and Innovation. During her undergraduate years at Thammasat University, she took part in the UCEAP Reciprocal Exchange Program at the University of California San Diego, studying under the UC Management Science Department. In her final year, she represented Thammasat University in the Fowler Global Social Innovation in the US, a global pitching competition for social ventures with more than 35 participating universities from 17 countries.
Mae previously worked for Baan Dek Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting migrant women and children in construction sites, as a and a Social Business Assistant for Baan Dek Foundation where she conducted field social impact monitoring and assessment and carried-out Work Readiness Skill trainings for migrant mothers in construction sites to promote financial empowerment. Prior to that she was an Apprentice Design Facilitator and Translator for MIT’s D-Lab’s International Development Design Summit, where she gained her expertise in the application of Human Centered Design for rural community development.
Sudamas (Phet) Kengrungruengchai
Sudamas is an Investment Analyst with Connecting Founders focusing on capital structuring and financial advisory.
Prior to joining Connecting Founders, Sudamas was a Management Associate at UOB, where she completed stints in Consumer Banking, Wholesale Banking and Global Market divisions She also has experiences with HSBC Corporate Bank, and Jitta, a rapidly growing fintech startup.
Sudamas graduated from Thammasat University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and concentration in Finance’
Tippapon (Cha) Patra-Yanan
Cha is a digital marketer focusing on marketing, PR, and communications for Connecting Founders. Prior to joining Connecting Founders, Cha worked in media production and content creation for a variety of industries, including television, film and journalism. After her undergraduate studies she worked in film distribution at GKIDS, wrote for children’s television at Little Airplane Productions, and marketing at Nickelodeon. She’s produced over a hundred shorts, commercials and animation spots, and now does freelance digital marketing for small local businesses on the side, such as MONN Organic Skincare and Left Hand Roasters. Cha graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film & Television and is a One Young World Ambassador.