Tsega Belachew

Director of Venture Development
Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland

Tsega Belachew is a youth, innovation, research, and partnerships advisor at IREX with close to 13 years of multi-disciplinary experience in African academia, social entrepreneurship, startups, and global development. In her current role at IREX, she supports programs and proposals across the organization and serves as the technical lead for innovation, learning, and research projects that offer cutting-edge solutions and knowledge products for various topics; supporting youth for the future of learning and work, strengthening virtual and digital learning access through human-centered design, research on equitable partnerships for impact. She has supported the conceptualization, launch, and implementation of USAID and Department of State-funded programs, including the 30-million dollar Youth Excel: Our Knowledge, Leading Change program focused on youth-led research and knowledge to improve the outcomes of youth programs and to shape development agendas.

Prior to joining IREX, Tsega helped launch Entrepreneurial Leadership programming as part of the startup founding team for the pan-African African Leadership University (ALU). Since she designed and delivered the model to the inaugural class of +300 students from 23 African countries, it has been scaled to more than 3 countries. Before ALU, Tsega worked at Ashoka, supporting the largest global network of systems-changing social entrepreneurs where she managed the process through which innovation insights, stories, and approaches were distilled to spark ongoing knowledge sharing, capacity strengthening, and learning across a network of innovators. Tsega has served as a judge and lecturer at the George Washington University Business School’s New Venture Competition, as a judge for the Reimagine Education Awards: Innovations for the Future of Education, and as a mentor for female entrepreneurs through the African Women Entrepreneurs Collaborative. She has worked at the National Institutes of Health and as a consultant for startups, accelerator programs including ones focused on Information and Digital Technology for Development, and the UN Foundation.