Our Team

Governing Board and Senior Leadership Team

Francis J. Brochon, Founder and President of the Board: FTE was founded by Francis J. Brochon, an electronics engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist with a passion for Africa and aviation. Francis led a pioneering career in the electronics industry as the lead developer of the French Minitel (the French predecessor to the Internet) and as the founder of Xcom, the first firm in Europe to transform images from analogue to digital, later sold to Pace. He has held additional professional roles with Matra, Timeshare, HP and Vicorp. Passionate about creating patterns of change, Francis now focuses his attention on the developing world where he is taking the technology and business lessons he has learned throughout his career and world travels to help create positive change through technical education.

Christian Chavaz, Member of the Board: Christian's financial career has spanned over the course of 24 years having first received his federal auditing expert diploma in 1988. From 1974 to 1981 he was a tax specialist, then auditor at the Swiss Trust Company (Société Fiduciaire Suisse) in Geneva, Switzerland. Following this, from 1985 to 1996 he worked with Refidar Trust Company and became partner in 1998. In 2002, he created Chavaz Trust Company (Fiduciaire Chavaz SA) and between 1978 to 2005, he worked on an ancillary basis for Raiffeisen Bank of Salève in Geneva. During this time he was successively manager, member of the Supervisory Board and Chairman of its Board of Directors. Since 2002, Christian has held the role of Associate Judge supervising the debt collection and bankruptcy offices in Geneva.  

Jean-Claude Couffinhal, Member of the Board: Jean-Claude is a French surgeon and head of the Department of Vascular and Thoracic Surgery in a general hospital near Paris, France. Passionate about using his medical skills to help others across the world, he founded ARCHIV, an association of 30 surgeons that connect and partner with surgeons around the globe to exchange “hands-on” surgical practices. As a founding member of FTE, Jean-Claude believes that finding the means to improve local economic development is a natural extension in the effort towards better local health. 

Naresh Mehta, Member of the Board: As a Kenyan native, Naresh has spent his career as a technical engineer in the East African region. He received his degree in Engineering, specialising in Electrical Power from the Bangalore University in India in 1975. Naresh has received numerous awards for his services including: The Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya recognizing his distinguished service to the nation, he received a Knighthood by the French Government – the most prestigious official award of the French Republic that can be awarded to non-French nationals, the Dr Kaburu Memorial Award recognizing excellence in the engineering profession and the Kenya Polytechnic University College Award for exemplary service as a member of the advisory panel. Naresh is currently the Managing Director of Power Technics Limited located in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Sylvain Rigo, Member of the Board: Sylvain began his career in the trust industry and economic advice in 1987. He holds a bachelor of the School of Business and Engineering (HEIG-VD)  in business administration and completed his training by a specialisation with a Master of Advanced Studies HES-SO (MAS) in Economic Crime Investigation. Sylvain is specialized in consulting, tax and financial engineering dedicated to companies and individuals in Switzerland and abroad since 1992 and has attended FTE since its founding in 2003. He is a managing partner of FIDPARTNERS SA, a Geneva based trust company since 1997.

Ashley Sims, Director of Operations: Ashley leads the day-to-day operations for FTE. Passionate about sustainable development and cultural identity, Ashley has held professional roles across continents in strategic development, partnership capacity building and communications. Her past professional responsibilities include work with UNESCO, University of British Columbia, National Museums of Scotland and the City of Ottawa, Canada. She holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Policy and Management from the University of Maastricht and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Global Studies from the University of Ottawa.