Prof. Dixon Chibanda

Dixon Chibanda is associate professor in psychiatry and Global Mental Health at the University of Zimbabwe and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, respectively. He developed the Friendship Bench program in 2006 as part of his MPH field work and has overseen its’ expansion over the years. He brings his vast knowledge in research and global mental health to the trust. He sits on a number of local and international boards. 

Dixon is a martial arts instructor and is passionate about using alternative interventions such as Balavisx, Tai-Chi and Karate to enhance resilience in young people. Dixon speaks 4 different languages and lives in Harare. 


Dr. Ruth Verhey

Dr Ruth Verhey  holds a masters in clinical and educational psychology from Germany and a PhD from Stellenbosch University. She is the Friendship Bench’s chief trouble shooter with a meticulous attention to detail. She is actively involved in all Friendship Bench activities particularly developing training material for the program and implementing research.  Her research interest is in integration of PTSD care in the existing Friendship Bench intervention. She is in charge of developing and adapting FB training material and trains trainers, nationally and internationally. She has developed and scaled up the peer-support and income generation component of the Friendship Bench. Ruth lives in Harare and has been with the Friendship Bench for the past 11 years. Ruth is fluent in four different languages and is passionate about Yoga.


Jiteh Shah (CHAIRMAN)

Jiten Shah, a native Zimbabwean has joined the board of trustees of the Friendship Bench and brings with him a wealth of valuable and relevant experience.

Mr.Shah has a Bachelor of Science Accounting and Finance from Butler University in Indiana, USA as well as an Associate’s Degree in Pharmacy from the same university.

Since graduating in 1995 and for the last 20 years Mr.Shah has been a Director at Graniteside Chemicals PLC in Harare, he has held and continues to hold several Trustee positions on family and private trusts since 2009. In addition, Mr.Shah is a member of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and the Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Association.

Mr.Shah is particularly well versed in mentoring, conflict resolution, mediation, guidance/career counselling and negotiating.

Mr. Shah has a keen interest in golf and is a member of two courses in Harare as well as being a member of the Friendly Diplomatic Golf Association and the prestigious Young Presidents Organisation. 


Thomas Chataika (TREASURER)

Thomas is the founder of INVESCI Asset Management company and has a wealth of experience managing investment portfolios for retirement funds and high net worth individuals. 


Thomas started off his working career as an auditor with Ernst & Young where he trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. After leaving EY, Thomas worked as an analyst and portfolio manager for Datvest Asset Management where in 2004 Thomas was promoted to Chief Investment Officer.

In 2005 Thomas moved to Johannesburg where he worked for BoE Private Clients as a Senior Portfolio Manager.  While at BoE Thomas personally managed a book of over R2 billion across all asset classes (domestic and international).


Thomas returned to Zimbabwe at the end of 2009 to execute greenfield and brownfield private equity investments in the Zimbabwean economy on behalf of a sizeable South African Company.  After successfully bedding down the P.E. investments Thomas left to pursue his long held dream to set up an investment management company.


On the academic side Thomas is a holder of the CFA charter with the CFA Institute of the USA, which is widely considered as the gold standard in the investment management field.  Thomas is also a Chartered Accountant and is a member of both the Zimbabwean and South African Institutes of Chartered Accountants.


Thomas has spent some time in Lausanne, Switzerland with the Swiss Finance Institute and is a holder of a postgraduate diploma in Financial Engineering and Asset Management (CFAME). On behalf of a Singaporean Group Thomas managed the entire process of acquiring a controlling stake in ZSE listed Zimplow Holdings and INVESCI currently oversees this private equity investment as GP.   As a consequence, Thomas is the Board Chairman of Zimplow Holdings Limited and he also sits on the Board of Governors of Arundel School.


Mandisa Ngwenya (SECRETARY)

Mandisa Ngwenya lives in Harare. She holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology and currently finished her second Masters in Inclusive and Special Education. She  works at the Harare International School (Zimbabwe) as a learning support specialist for the past 7 years. She brings her vast knowledge of local networks and personal experience of Shona and Ndebele cultures to the Trust. She is a non-executive trustee and  contributes an insightful alternative nuance to the Trust meetings. Mandisa is passionate about  how  communities can be involved in supporting children with learning difficulties. 


Elizabeth Tswana

Elizabeth Puleng Tswana is a Human Rights Lawyer currently employed as a Consultant. She has worked for the Ministry of Justice as well as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission on a vast number of human rights themes such as but not limited to, disability and gender mainstreaming, state party reporting, monitoring various human rights issues and complaints handling and investigations on human rights and or maldaministration matters. She provides useful guidance and advice for the successful implementation of Friendship Bench activities. .


Academically, she holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) with the University of Zimbabwe and is pursuing a Masters in Human Rights, Peace and Development degree with Africa University.


Elizabeth has a passion for human rights, particularly the respect, promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities as well as gender mainstreaming. She enjoys dancing, cooking, baking and outdoor activities.


Celia (Smit) Whelan

Celia holds the International Certificate in Wealth and Investment Management & the Certificate in FSA Financial Regulation, both with The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investments in the UK.


Celia has a broad background in Consulting, with most of her background spent specialising within the financial services industry both in Zimbabwe & abroad.


She began her career with Ernst & Young Harare in Audit where she gained wide experience during her articles. She then spent 7 years in the UK continuing her career in Consulting, building on her experience in Risk & Regulation within the Financial Services arm of Deloitte London. Celia consulted to some of the largest global banks (e.g. Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland & National Australia Bank) in England, Scotland & the Netherlands.

Celia’s experience covered various areas in risk & regulation (e.g. Basel II, Solvency II, SOX, etc.). She also gained experience performing Section 166 reviews on UK clients on behalf of the Regulator, the UK’s FSA which is where she developed her international regulatory knowledge.



Nathalie Laidler-Kylander

Nathalie is the Managing Director of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, she plays a lead role in sourcing new investments and working with the leadership of those organizations as an operating partner and board member as they grow to build capacity and to achieve their maximum impact. As a member of the Foundation’s senior leadership team, she also helps to execute the Foundation’s strategy and goals and contributes to its thought leadership and external outreach. 

Nathalie is one of the world’s leading experts on nonprofit brand management. Her passion for understanding and promoting the important role that brand plays for nonprofit organizations has resulted in a decade of research, teaching, and consulting. Nathalie has been a practitioner as well as an academic over the course of her career. Her courses, including many Executive Education programs, and multiple publications have targeted nonprofit leaders, with the goal of building marketing and branding capacity in the sector. Nathalie has supported many of her students as they created and launched social enterprises both at Tufts University, where she taught entrepreneurial marketing and at Harvard where she currently teaches strategic management for nonprofits.



Patrick Kariwo

Patrick Kariwo’s as Managing Partner is responsible for business development and relationship management with our valued clients. He has worked in the HR industry for more than 15 years now with specific experience in Recruitment, Personal Effectiveness Training and Career Guidance. Patrick’s early professional career entailed sales and marketing stints before joining Zimbabwe’s leading Recruitment agency, The Valcol Group in 1997. His tenure of 7 years eventually saw his introduction to recruitment.

During the period 1995 until 2008, Patrick managed a parallel career with the national broadcaster where he performed in the roles of television newscaster and radio presenter. Patrick has steadily built on this experience through regular presentations on the Speaking Circuit as a Motivational Speaker / Conference Facilitator and Trainer in areas that focus on Appearance, Communication and Personal Development