FASE – Our Team
Dr. Markus Freiburg
Founder & Managing Director
By building FASE to become the leading social finance intermediary in Germany and Europe, Markus combines his strategic and financial expertise with his passion for social entrepreneurship. Today he is recognized as a thought leader for social finance, with an active presence in public discourses e.g. as member of the Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES) of the EU Commission and the German National Advisory Board of G7 Social Impact Investing Taskforce. He was also selected for the 40 under 40 European Young Leaders Class 2017. Markus studied Economics at Witten/Herdecke (Dipl.-Ök.) and Cambridge (M.Phil) and promoted at the WHU Koblenz on investments by institutional investors in private equity funds. He also contributes his experience as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and pro-bono advisor to social entrepreneurs.
Founder & Managing Director
Ellinor discovered her passion for financing sustainable business models in 2012 when working as an investment manager for German impact fund Bonventure. Before Ashoka Germany approached her to become a co-founder of FASE, she also supported social entrepreneurs in her role as a fundraiser and social impact lecturer at the Munich-based Social Entrepreneurship Akademie (SEA). For FASE, Ellinor contributes her broad network of investors, multiplyers and supporters as well as her extensive marketing and fundraising knowledge to build a pool of engaged impact investors. Through her father, Rolf Dienst, a seasoned venture capitalist, she knows the VC business from scratch and leverages her own entrepreneurial experience as a start-up founder. Ellinor is a frequent panelist for impact investing and social finance in workshops and conferences within and outside the impact sector. Originally, she obtained a bachelor degree in hotel and restaurant management from Lausanne and Oxford and ran marketing initiatives for premier brands such as Dom Pérignon, Dior and Falke.
Senior Advisor & Chief Operating Officer Transactions
Karsten has supported FASE as Senior Advisor since the beginning. In 2022, he also took on the role of Chief Operating Officer Transactions. Karsten brings over 25 years of experience in corporate finance, banking and consulting, with a focus on structuring and implementing equity investments and mezzanine financings as well as corporate transactions. Prior to joining FASE, he was head of the equity participations and investment business of social-ecological GLS Bank. Prior to that, he was Managing Director at the German bank WestLB AG, Senior Investment Manager at the investment firm 3i and Senior Manager at A.T. Kearney. Karsten holds a master degree (“Diplom-Kaufmann”) from WHU Koblenz.
Regional Manager CEE
Zsolt joined FASE in September 2018 as a regional manager for CEE. Over the past 20 years, he has accumulated a unique blend of business background and non-profit experience. Zsolt spent six years building a start-up Hungarian NGO focused on youth engagement and experiential education, for which he was elected an Echoing Green global fellow in 2001. Having built a stable organization, he was recruited by GE Capital and spent the following ten years in various leadership positions in banking. Always keen on helping mission-driven organizations develop, he set out to follow his passion and became Country Representative for Ashoka Hungary in 2015. For FASE, Zsolt focuses on developing a diverse ecosystem around social entrepreneurs across the CEE region.
Dr. Alexandra Nitzlader
Regional Manager Austria & Transaction Manager
Alexandra joined FASE as Regional Manager for Austria and Transaction Manager in January 2021. She brings more than 25 years of experience in the international corporate finance business with banks, private equity and venture capital companies. In the course of her work, Alexandra has structured and placed a wide variety of financing solutions for customers, from debt to mezzanine to equity instruments. Her passion for impact-oriented startups and social entrepreneurship made her participate in the Ashoka Visionary Program in 2018. Alexandra studied both Law and Business Administration and wrote her thesis in international tax law. She is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Alexandra strives to connect impact investors and social entrepreneurs in a meaningful and highly professional way.
Senior Advisor Benelux
Simone joined again our core team in October 2022 to support our activities in the Benelux region. Before, she was FASE’s Regional Manager for the Benelux region for four years and then continued to be a pro bono advisor for several months. Simone brings more than 25 years of experience in business development, obtained through senior management positions in the staffing industry and as a partner in several startups. After fulfilling pro bono advisory roles at startup companies, Simone decided to use her business skills to support social enterprises. Prior to FASE, she has been supporting Ashoka in the Netherlands during their startup phase and studied business economics (Tilburg University) and business administration (Rotterdam School of Management). Simone is also researching the scalability of social enterprises at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Sonja joined FASE in March 2023 as a Transaction Manager. Previously, she was responsible for the finance department of two ventures and acted as an investment manager at DB1 Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Deutsche Börse Group. Therefore, she understands the needs of both early-stage companies and investors and is now excited to leverage this experience in the impact sector. Sonja studied Corporate Finance at Kozminski University in Warsaw (MSc) and International Finance at HfWU Nürtingen and California State University Fullerton (BSc).
Christoph joined FASE in February 2021 as a transaction manager and is excited to support impact startups in their funding rounds. Previously, he built an accelerator program for impact startups from emerging and developing countries for the Westerwelle Foundation and founded a fair fashion online store. Christoph studied Economics (BA) at Witten/Herdecke and International Political Economy (MA) at Warwick and also brings with him his experience from management consulting at A.T. Kearney.
Juliane von Boeselager
Investor Relations Manager
Since early 2022, Juliane is active as an Investor Relations Manager for FASE. The immense potential to deliver positive social and ecological impact convinced Juliane to commit to helping social enterprises attract growth capital. Previously, she worked in auditing, as a consultant for a microfinance NGO in Guatemala as well as a project manager in development cooperation (including in Tajikistan). Most recently, Juliane was a consultant for impact investing and impact measurement. She studied at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management (B.Sc. in Business Administration), ITÁM in Mexico and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark (M.Sc. in Global Development). On top, she completed the postgraduate training programme at the German Development Institute (DIE) in Bonn and Mozambique and established and co-chaired a working group on impact measurement & management under the German Federal Impact Investing Association e.V. (“Bundesinitiative Impact Investing”). As an expert on sustainable development & impact, Juliane has already held various talks and workshops.
European Investor Relations Manager
Saja joined FASE in March 2023 as a European Investor Relations Manager. She is intrinsically driven to generate positive impact and to actively support impact startups with successfully raising growth capital. Previously, Saja worked in the banking sector for 15 years before discovering her passion for impact. She is also the founder of Positivas and Fairbee, a platform that aims to accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Saja studied Corporate Law at the University of Leiden and International Business Management at the EAE Business School in Barcelona. She is also an NLP practitioner.
Finance and Accounting Manager
Since March 2018, Blanca is responsible for finance and accounting at FASE. Her professional experience builds on many years as a freelancer and entrepreneur, having been a founder and managing partner of a dotcom startup as well as a freelance financial planner and controller. She supported enterprises in multiple sectors during their financing and growth stages and gained insights into social entrepreneurship when doing a “volunteer summer” with Ashoka in 2011. Blanca has a holistic and entrepreneurial view of numbers and sees financial success as the expression of a purpose-driven collaboration.
Assistant to the Managing Directors
Since February 2022, Sophie-Victoria is supporting the managing partners and the entire FASE team as an assistant. After her master’s degree in mathematics at the Technical University of Augsburg, Germany, she gained her first professional experience as an executive assistant with TNG Technology Consulting GmbH, followed by a long sabbatical in Canada and a junior product manager development position at Interhyp AG. After discovering her passion for social entrepreneurship, Sophie-Victoria decided to join FASE, while getting her qualification as a paramedic on the side.
Pro Bono Advisors
Alexandra joined FASE in April 2016 after gaining her transaction and project management experience in M&A and merger integration at Henkel Adhesives in Duesseldorf, Germany. After leaving FASE in early 2019, she supports us as a pro bono advisor. Alexandra discovered her enthusiasm for solving social problems with economically sustainable business models during her studies. To link both worlds more closely, she co-founded “SensAbility”, the largest conference in Germany organized by students around the topic of social entrepreneurship. Alexandra holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany, and a Master’s of Law and Business from WHU/Bucerius Law School.
Thomas has been active as a business angel for many years, which includes several investments in social enterprises. In 2008, he established a foundation together with his wife to support projects in the area of microfinance across the globe. Thomas has more than 25 years of experience, first as a banker and then as the managing partner of a consultancy firm in the financial services sector. Since September 2016, he strengthens the FASE team as a senior advisor.
Sabine joined FASE in May 2016 as a senior transaction manager. Today, she continues to support FASE as a pro bono advisor. Sabine is passionate about technological and social innovations that have a significant positive impact on people’s lives. She draws upon her experience from more than 20 years of consulting and entrepreneurial investing. Previously, she worked with McKinsey&Company, Technologieholding VC GmbH, 3i plc and BTV, an internationally active German family office. Sabine holds a Diploma in Human Biology from the Philipps-University of Marburg and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School.
Dorothee joined FASE in February 2018, first as a Senior Transaction Manager and then as Head of Investor Relations. Acting as a pro bono advisor since mid-2019, she continues to contribute her extensive experience in social entrepreneurship, impact investing and philanthropy that she gathered e.g. as an investment manager at the German impact fund pioneer BonVenture, as head of business development of the social business Change.org Germany, as well as a project manager at Körber Stiftung, one of the largest German foundations. Dorothee holds a Masters’s degree in cultural sciences and studied at Leuphana University Lüneburg (Germany) and Universitá degli studi di Macerata in Italy. As a passionate advocate for social change, she also has several pro bono roles for organisations with a social mission.
Dr. Adrian Fuchs
Adrian has strengthened the FASE team as a transaction manager until September 2022 and continues to support the team as an advisor. He studied business economics in Maastricht (BSc.) and London (MA) before receiving his PhD from the University of Hamburg on the subject of impact investing for German charitable foundations (Dr. rer. pol.). Adrian gained relevant project management experience at Bonventure – where he assisted the establishment of the first German social venture capital fund for foundations (MRI pilot fund) – and at Bertelsmann Foundation. He is driven by the goal to professionalise the impact sector.
Initiators and Co-Founders
Felix Oldenburg is a pioneer of social entrepreneurship, social innovation and bottom-up ideas. Most recently, he served as Secretary General at the Association of German Foundations, and as chair of DAFNE (donors and foundations networks in Europe). Ranked three times in Germany’s „40 under 40“ list, he is a member of the Baden-Baden CEO Conference, and recipient of the German PR Award 2007. He started an internet company before he graduated in Philosophy (Bonn, Tübingen, Oxford) and Policy Management (Georgetown). He worked with McKinsey&Company in London and later led a series of large-scale citizen participation projects across Europe before joining Ashoka as Germany director in 2009. In this role and as European director, he pioneered a number of innovations including the first Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship, new Ashoka programs in Austria, Turkey, Netherlands and Southern Europe, and helped co-create governmental social innovation strategies. Felix serves on several boards, and speaks and publishes internationally. He lives with his wife and two children in Berlin.
Founder and CEO Roots of Impact
Bjoern Struewer is Founder and CEO of Roots of Impact. He has more than 20 years of experience in the finance sector, including 12 years at Credit Suisse, most recently as a managing director. After leaving the banking industry, he started working closely with public funders and impact investors to scale enterprises and innovations with strong potential for positive impact. With his team at Roots of Impact, he developed pioneering solutions such as Social Impact Incentives (SIINC) and Impact-Linked Finance as well as the Social Finance Academy. He also leads the Initiative for Blended Finance at the University of Zurich, is Senior Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth and is a mentor at the Harvard Kennedy School’s ‚Impact Investment for the Next Generation program. Bjoern is a member of various investment committees and advisory boards, served as a senior advisor to Ashoka on social finance and is co-founder of the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE) and initiator of the Ashoka Angels Network.