October 3, 2023

Yannick du Pont steps down as SPARK’s CEO

Yannick meeting with Afghan dairy entrepreneurs in 2022 (left), Yannick delivering a keynote address during SPARK's conference in Amman in 2021 (centre), Yannick meeting partners in Ukraine in 2022 (right) © 2023, SPARK

SPARK’s Supervisory Board and Board of Directors jointly announce a change to SPARK’s leadership.

Yannick du Pont has stepped down from his role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SPARK and will leave the organisation on January 1st, 2024, which marks 30 years after the establishment of SPARK.

With SPARK’s new Strategy 2030 in place and divergent stances between the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board on how to take it forward, we have mutually decided this is the best way moving ahead. Yannick remains committed to ensuring the continuity of the organisation, it’s partners and donors.

To ensure immediate continuity, Peter de Ruiter, who has been a member of SPARK’s Supervisory Board since 2021 will act as SPARK’s new (interim) CEO. Peter is highly committed to continue the implementation of SPARK’s Strategy 2030.

Peter has broad experience in senior leadership roles in many developing and fragile countries. He has a background as senior partner in PwC and EY. With a strong affiliation and broad experience in international organisations Peter is a leader who defines and delivers clear and convincing strategies with his teams.

The Supervisory Board will start an inclusive process with the involvement of the Board of Directors and Management Team to recruit and appoint a Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Operating Officer to lead SPARK implementing its new Strategy 2030.

Now that the strategy is in place, there are many opportunities in the coming phases. SPARK will continue to enter new geographies that are in huge need of economic development, education and job development for young people, and will remain strong in the locations where it has built up an excellent track-record.

Going forward, we are committed to improving SPARK’s operational excellence and accountability, ambitiously building on the organisation’s credentials of delivering impactful programmes for the people we serve and work with.

Andre Veneman, Chair of SPARK’s Supervisory Board, says: “I would like to thank Yannick for his inspirational leadership, vision and commitment. He has built SPARK from an inspiring initiative many years ago into a well-established organisation with impressive impact, which is now ready to move to a next phase of stark growth and operational resilience.”

A personal message from Yannick du Pont:

“It has been an honour to lead SPARK from starting out as a small organisation operating in post-conflict Bosnia, to the professional, international NGO it has become. SPARK is a trusted organisation with the communities it serves, as well as among its donors and partners.

It has been especially gratifying to work with the communities we serve, work side by side dedicated teams of SPARK and our partners and earn the trust of our funding partners. In the spirit of true partnership, SPARK, the communities and funding partners have worked together to create new innovative programmes for (refugee) employment and small and medium-sized business development, brokering EU-Gulf bilateral cooperation and recently the development of Strategy 2030.

Another highlight has been the annual IGNITE conference, which is approaching its 10th edition and has become SPARK’s flagship event at the core of the organisation’s role as a connector.

Together, we have enabled SPARK to have an immense impact on economic development across dozens of fragile and conflict-affected countries. It has been my life’s work and I have loved every minute of it.”