Who we are

Build Up is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting the emergence of alternative infrastructures for civic engagement and peacebuilding. We work with civic activists and peacebuilders to find and apply innovative practices and technology tools that help them achieve their missions.


Peacebuilding and conflict prevention

A strong, grounded understanding of peacebuilding and conflict prevention practice underpins our work. We bring to the table experience running programs on the ground in conflict and post-conflict countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Our team members have designed, implemented and evaluated programs with local and international organizations, learning from the experience they bring as peacebuilding practitioners.

Participatory processes and civic engagement

Participatory design and empowerment through engagement in social change are at the core of our approach. With experience working in local governments and policy-making institutions, we understand the pathways by which citizens and organizations can effect change. We have extensive experience working collaboratively with changemakers to integrate multiple voices, find strategic entry points and overcome challenges to organizing for social change.

Innovation and technology design

Technology can be an effective tool for certain aspects of peacebuilding and civic engagement, but it also offers the opportunity to define new organizational forms and explore new social practices. We take a socio-technical approach to innovation, and build on best practices in technology design to deliver tailored approaches for our partners. Our goal is always to support the emergence of alternative infrastructures for peace and civic engagement.

Training and capacity building

Training is a key component to ensuring the sustainability of any project that introduces a new way to do things. The Build Up team are skilled facilitators and have particular expertise in three areas of training: prototyping and innovation design, peacebuilding and mediation skills, and data-driven policy making. We believe capacity is best built by accompanying a team through its start-up phase, delivering training and technical support that combines these three areas and is tailored to meet specific needs.

Applied research

We enjoy learning while we work, and believe the best insights are the result of collaborations between practitioners and academic researchers. Build Up team members often reflect on their experience and try to draw out broader learnings from specific projects. Two of our team are also currently pursuing PhDs in areas relevant to our work. The Build Peace conference is our flagship project, and aims to advance rigorous, well-grounded reflection on how technology contributes to peacebuilding and civic engagement.

Digital media design and production

We understand the importance of designing compelling user experiences. Drawing on expertise from previous leadership roles in journalism and marketing, we are well-equipped to meet many communication needs. Our team also incorporates strong competencies in website and application design (HTML, CSS, Wordpress, Javascript, PHP and Python) and media production (Adobe InDesign, Adobe Edition, CoolEdit, Final Cut Pro and Avid).

The Team

The Build Up team all have upwards of 10 years of experience in the fields of development, peacebuilding, public policy, media and marketing with particular expertise in innovation programming, design and research.

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Rodrigo Davies

Co-founder + Co-director

Rodrigo is a civic technologist and researcher whose work focuses on designing, building and analyzing tools that widen and deepen participation. At MIT’s Center for Civic Media, Rodrigo built a platform for social research on crowdfunding, and led the development of Call to Action, a web-based tool to enable community groups to design and deploy voice-based services.

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Michaela Ledesma

Co-founder + Co-director

Michaela is a peacebuilding specialist with fourteen years of experience designing and supporting innovative, context-specific projects in conflict and post-conflict environments including Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Sudan, Timor-Leste, and Uganda. Most recently, Michaela coordinated Interpeace’s International Peacebuilding Advisory Team. Her work has an increasing focus on technology and peace.

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Helena Puig Larrauri

Co-founder + Co-director

Helena is a peacebuilding practitioner, focusing on innovation design and technology-enabled programs to promote peace, support civic engagement and prevent conflict. She has worked on projects in many countries including Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Cyprus, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Somalia and Iraq. Helena is also on the Board of Advisors of International Alert and the Standby Task Force.

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Jen Gaskell

Co-founder + Co-director

Jennifer is a researcher with over ten years of experience in marketing, communications and organisational change. At Southampton University’s Web Science Institute and Doctoral Training Centre, her work focuses on the role of ICTs and the web in post-conflict settings, particularly on how to leverage new technologies and their emergent societal properties for peacebuilding, in order to inform policy and decision making.

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Mia Bittar


Mia is a documentary filmmaker based in Sudan. She has produce broadcast documentaries (for Witness and AlJazeera), short-form documentaries (for UNICEF, USAID, UNDP and other development agencies), broadcast news stories, TV commercials and promotional films. Mia has also trained filmmakers and facilitated a participatory film-making process.

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Jacob Lefton


Jacob is craftsperson with a decade of experience in arts, writing, education, and community engagement. His varied work has included metalsmithing, film, animation, and interactive installation, as well as youth writing workshops, educational policy, game design, and social circus. Some of his current projects examine how varied medias and arts engagement can shift culture and policy, and how to leverage small scale projects for large impact.

is a social enterprise working at the intersection of technology, civic engagement and peacebuilding. Tweet us or talk to us.