Our Team

Get to Know Us

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John Young Simpson

Managing Partner

With more than 12 years of investing in the Agribusiness and Food sector, John is experienced with the origination, execution and management of agribusiness investments across Asia and South Eastern Africa with a wider background of over 20 years operating and investing in emerging and frontier markets. Prior to founding Bluegrass Partners, John worked for a Deutsche Asset Management joint venture with USD 800 AUM for 10 years as a Director leading investments in Africa and South-East Asia.

John has worked extensively in multi-stakeholder forums on behalf of the financial investment sector. Following the 2008 Global Food Crisis as governance around cross-border investment in agriculture came into focus, John worked within the Private Sector Mechanism of the United Nations Committee for World Food Security framing guidelines around best practice investment in land and food systems. This work included the FAO’s Responsible Agriculture Investment guidelines for which John and his investment team were the first to implement into Private Equity deals. 

John has authored articles printed in the International Food & Agribusiness Management Review and is a frequent speaker at industry and multilateral conferences globally.

John is a graduate from the Harvard Business School General Management Programme, holds a MSc in Population and Economic Development from the London School of Economics and a BA in Economics and Politics from University College London. 

John sits on the board of several private and publicly listed companies and a member of the Young Presidents Organization. He is also a board member of Women in Agribusiness Asia.

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Michael Sweeney

Partner

Michael has almost 20 years’ experience in the financial industry with 12 years focused in the agribusiness sector in emerging markets. Michael helped found Bluegrass Partners, where he serves as a Managing Partner, to bring our unique approach to the emerging market agribusiness linking industry players, financial capital and operational expertise within the UN Sustainability framework. Michael believes that agribusiness requires a multi-pronged management approach encompassing operational excellence, continuous restructuring and strategy refinement and a flexible capital structure.    

 

Prior to Bluegrass, Michael managed a global agribusiness portfolio on behalf of pension funds, strategic investors and high net-worth individuals in Singapore. Michael’s responsibilities included deal origination, transaction management, and due diligence as well as active company management. Michael has sat as a member of the Board of Directors or Advisory member in multiple jurisdictions including India, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, and Indonesia and has significant experience in corporate governance and stakeholder management. 

 

Previously, Michael worked as an investment Banker in the real estate and natural resource sectors at Citigroup and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in London and New York, respectively. While working in banking, Michael advised on deals in excess of USD $3.0bn. 

 

Michael graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in history and economics, specializing in the 20th century. In his spare time, Michael enjoys reading history and baking; he has over 500 cookbooks. 

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Dominic Leong, CFA

Vice-President

Dominic has more than 5 years of experience in investing and supporting strategic change in businesses within the Agribusiness and Food sector. Before joining Bluegrass Partners, he worked as an investment associate in Duxton Asset Management.

Throughout his career, Dominic has worked​ with a diverse range of clients and businesses across the supply chain, to conduct commercial and financial due diligence, business valuations, strategic plan construction and review, gap analyses and budgeting. 

Dominic received a Masters of Management (Finance) from the Melbourne Business School and a Bachelor of Business in Marketing and Behavioural Studies from Monash University. 

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Nelson Mhlanga

Impact Associate

Nelson has 10 years experience working in sustainability consultancy, natural resources management, environment, social and governance (ESG) fields. He has worked in Europe and Africa, including in countries such as the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique, with a work footprint that includes stints with Green Resources AS, Synergy Global Consulting Ltd, and Zimplats Pvt Ltd, as a sustainability consultant and practitioner. 

 

Conversant with Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), Environmental and Social Due Diligence (ESDD) processes and Environmental and Social Management Systems (ESMS), Nelson's expertise spans the fields of  impact investment,  sustainable development , and stakeholder relationship management. He has international experience working with Development Finance Institutions (DFI's) like Norfund and Finnfund in the areas of sustainability and governance and is knowledgeable in the application of the World Bank Social and Environmental Safeguard Policies which include standards and evaluation benchmarks on human rights, occupational health and safety, land rights, displacement and resettlement as covered in the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards and EHS Guidelines.

 

Nelson is a holder of an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom and a BSc in Environmental Science from Bindura University, Zimbabwe. He also holds various certificates in Sustainability Leadership, Human Rights and Impact Assessment, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL) and Project Management

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Huang Guangci

Intern

Guangci is a penultimate year undergraduate reading Public Policy and Global Affairs, with a Minor in Economics and a Minor in Business at the National Technological University of Singapore.

 

She has a range of experiences in the impact sector, from her time as a qualitative research internship at National Venture Philanthropy Centre, to her time in the social performance management team at Opportunity International Australia, and also at Asia Venture Philanthropy Network where she focused on strengthening social enterprises for growth and investment. Most recently, she was part of the debt investment team at BlueOrchard Finance, a leading global impact investment manager