Chris West completed his Doctorate in Ecology at the University of Oxford in 1984. During his doctorate he deployed his entrepreneurial skills to set up his own business in the environmental services sector. Following the successful UK and international growth of this “social enterprise” in 1992 he took on the position of senior environment adviser at the UK Department for International Development. As an adviser to UK ministers he worked with a wide variety of donors, governments, NGOs and businesses in over 60 developing countries and emerging economies. He has lived in both East and West Africa.
Chris was involved in early discussions around the creation of the Shell Foundation and joined shortly after its launch in 2000 as Deputy Director. In this role he reinforced an “enterprise-based” approach to developing and scaling up solutions to challenges arising from the impact of energy and globalisation on poverty and the environment. Drawing on his business and international development experience, Chris led the design and scale-up of SF’s core programmes. He played a leading role in co-founding GroFin, which is now the leading provider of business development assistance and appropriate finance to start-up and growing small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. He was appointed SF Director in 2008.