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Ashley Thomas

Skoll Scholar, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship


Ashley is a program manager, product designer, and mechanical engineer with experience in large-scale social impact. She has spent the last eight years working in East and Southern Africa designing, manufacturing and distributing products for bottom-of-the-pyramid customers.
Ashley has worked with a number of leading social enterprises, including M-Kopa, Evidence Action and iDE (previously International Development Enterprises, in addition to consulting with Harewelle International. During this time, Ashley’s work has produced 200,000 products, providing clean water and energy to over 2 million people in seven countries. 

As an undergraduate, Ashley was on the founding team of the International Design Summit in 2007, aimed at gathering innovators from around the world to design product serving the rural poor. The consortium recently was awarded $25m grant from USAID to expand into seven countries.

Ashley holds an BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management from Oxford University, and is currently completing an MBA at Oxford. She is a Director on the Oxford Seed Fund, where she supports deal flow, due diligence, and term negotiation for high growth Oxford-led startups, while also being responsible for screening applicants for the Skoll Venture Awards. Ashley is Oxford Saïd Business School's first recipient of both the Skoll and Pershing Square scholarships, and was recognized by MIT’s President a Community Catalyst.