Masawa

Masawa Artwork Mentalmorphosis

Founder's Note

Dear Fellow Humans:

For most of my life, I've dealt with depression, anxiety, and addiction. The voices in my head, the constant nagging, and rumination seemed only to be quieted by the dopamine kick gained from consuming unnatural amounts of shitty food and alcohol. Most only knew my accomplishments, my breadth of experience, humor, and knack for languages. An expert at curating an amazing narrative, few saw my true unhappiness.

I tried antidepressants and psychotherapy, both important to giving me the space I needed to come to terms with and start exploring the causes of my mental illness, many rooted in a rough childhood being raised on welfare by a loving single mother who had her own battles with depression and alcoholism, but I was far from being whole.

In early 2018, after tipping the scales above 300lbs / 136kgs and having hit rock bottom three times in the past two years, something had to be done. I started studying non-mainstream and holistic approaches to achieving mental wellness and began incorporating good nutrition, meditation, and exercise into my daily life. Slowly, the brain fog lifted, the weight dropped, and the joy of living returned!

It took me 35 years to realize that mental illness had always affected me, and another five to learn how to cope. That’s far too long, but for many, it takes a lifetime. Unacceptable. I founded Masawa to change that. 

By nurturing capital to nurture minds, we invest for financial returns with a focus on maximizing impact while not losing sight of founders' and companies' mental healths. 

We hope you'll join us, so that billions live life.

Joshua Haynes
Managing Partner, Masawa

Our story, your story

The silent pandemic

Mental illness is an equal opportunity offender. It doesn’t care who you are, what you look like, or where you’re from; once it has crept into the mind, it’ll do anything to stay. Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, addiction and other mental illnesses have the power to disconnect from lives once lived and those once loved.

The figures are staggering: depression is the major cause of disability worldwide. Each year, 25% of Europeans suffer from depression or anxiety. Among US-Americans recently diagnosed with depression, around two-thirds don’t receive treatment. By 2030, mental health disorders are estimated to cost the global economy $16 trillion. In Africa, there’s an up to 90% treatment gap between those who need help and those that receive it. These numbers are infuriating and the ensuing consequence is detrimental.   

Opportunities abound in a growing market

There is a whole set of evidence-based tools and innovations with the potential to improve mental wellness that is often overlooked: nutrition, natural medicine, mindfulness, new technologies, and workplace wellness. We estimate the market for these approaches to be at least $250B. There are 1200 companies, including startups, directly or indirectly focused on delivering these approaches in Europe and North America alone.

Luckily, as the stigma of mental illness begins to lift, investors are starting to take notice: global investment in mental health technology has exceeded $1B in the past two years. But where’s the accountability to maximize the investments’ social impact? And who’s focusing on the mental health of the entrepreneurs delivering increased access to mental wellness and their ability to craft resilient organizations which, in turn, improves the lives of more people (and provides larger financial returns)? 

We see a chance to help billions of people lead bright, fulfilling lives by employing capital to achieve impact.

Our commitments

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We want to help break the stigma.

Mental wellness is a right from which no one should feel excluded; the burden of mental illness should never be fought alone. We are working to break the stigma that prevents millions from living freely, one barrier at a time. We expect to see the world where every human gets to lead a secure, autonomous life and is treated as a rightful member of society.

Collaboration and transparency for a better world.

Solving mental illness pandemic can only be achieved when we work together - that's why broad collaboration and transparency is key. To facilitate that, we are open-sourcing our financial, impact, and organizational health maximization tools and frameworks.

Diversity as an accelerator.

Embracing our vulnerabilities propels us forward, rather than holding us back - our commitment to a diversity of life experiences makes us fundamentally stronger. By focusing on the human first, we can find common ground more quickly and empower each other.

Team

Behold our unique team of proud Masawis.
While our lived experiences are rich and diverse, we are bound by the shared purpose of promoting mental wellness.

Lilian Lehmann

Impact Partner
Najmeh

Najmeh Habili

Investment Partner
Joshua

Joshua Haynes

Managing Partner
Hattie

Hattie Brown

Impact Analyst
Aesclinn

Aesclinn Donohue​

Resilience Analyst
Joseph

Joseph Dunbar

Investment Analyst
Gabija

Gabija Vilkaité

Comms strategist

Niels Devisscher

Researcher & designer

Advisory Board

Leaders and experts in their fields, each member has a specific beneficiary focus.

Elsa

Elsa Palanza

The Big Picture

▪️  Managing Director, Global Head of Sustainability & ESG, Barclays
▪️ Former Executive, Clinton Global Initiative

Julie

Julie Antonas

The Impact Fund

▪️ Head of VC, Beth Israel Lahey Health Investments
▪️ VC, Partners Healthcare Investments
▪️ Board Member, Boston Ballet

Christian

Christian Hille

Investors

▪️ Asset Management Advisor
▪️ Former Head, Multi Assets, DWS
▪️ Oxford-trained investor

Huria

Huria Ogbamichael

Masawa Team

▪️ Coach, organizational development expert
▪️
Former UN executive, Peacekeeper
▪️ Fulbright Scholar

Min-Si

Min-Si Wang

Founders

▪️ Serial start-up founding teams
▪️ Director, AZA Finance
▪️ Development finance expert

Kathy

Kathy Varol

The Narrative

▪️ Strategy Director – Purpose, adidas
▪️ Former Brand Manager, MillerCoors
▪️ Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Georgia

Georgia Ede, MD

The Mentally Ill

▪️ Nutritional psychiatrist
▪️ Renowned mental health expert
▪️ Harvard-trained clinician

Lakshmi Viswanathan

Lakshmi Viswanathan

The Marginalized

▪️ MD, Yunus Social Business Impact Fund
▪️ VP, Sodexo
▪️ Consultant, McKinsey

Leah

Leah Stearns

Caregivers

▪️ Global CFO, CBRE
▪️ Former CFO, American Tower
▪️ Mental health board member

 

Aida Murad

Aida Murad

Partnerships

▪️ Mental Health Philanthropic Advisor
▪️ Serial Entrepreneur
▪️ Community Builder

Lilian Lehmann

Impact Partner

I AM
Who are you? What makes you you? Which diverse experiences do you feel set you apart? 

I DO 
What is your role at Masawa?

I EXCELL 
What are you outstandingly good at? What do people praise you for?

I ENVISION 
What is your personal vision in regards to mental health and Masawa? (the intersection between what you want and what you think is possible)

I DREAM 
What keeps you up at night? What do you dream about (doing, achieving)?

I VALUE 
What are some (3) values you hold dear and which guide your thinking and actions?

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