Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli (MFR)
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is an expert on African agriculture and nutrition, entrepreneurship, social innovation, and youth development. She has over 25 years of international development experience and is a recognized serial entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and consultant.
Ndidi serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), AGRA, the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum, Nigerian Breweries Plc. (Heineken), Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. India, Fairfax Africa Holdings Canada, Royal DSM Sustainability Board, Netherlands, and the African Philanthropy Forum. She previously served on the Boards of Nestle Nigeria Plc., the World Vegetable Center, Businessday Newspapers and Cornerstone Insurance Plc.
Ndidi started her career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, working in Chicago, New York, and Johannesburg. She returned to Nigeria in 2000 to serve as the pioneer executive director of FATE Foundation, supporting young entrepreneurs to start and scale their businesses. In 2002, she established LEAP Africa to inspire, empower, and equip a new cadre of principled, disciplined, and dynamic young leaders in Africa. In the same year, she established NIA to support female university students in Nigeria to achieve their highest potential.
Ndidi is the co-founder and Executive Chair of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition, which works across Africa shaping policies and implementing ecosystem solutions. As the co-founder of AACE Foods, which produces a range of packaged spices, seasonings, snacks and cereals for local and international markets, Ndidi has propelled the growth of a catalytic business. As the founder of Nourishing Africa, a digital funding, training and knowledge hub, she is supporting entrepreneurs in 37 African countries. Her latest start-up is Changing Narratives Africa committed to changing global mindsets about Africa by showcasing the Continent’s contributions to the global food ecosystem through the pioneering work of her dynamic people, their innovations, and products.
Ndidi was recognized as a Young Global Leader and a Schwab Social Innovator by the World Economic Forum and received a National Honor from the Nigerian Government. She was recognized as one of the 20 Power African Women by Forbes, as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine and received the 2021 Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Awards, the highest honors given by the school. She is a TED Global and TED Women speaker.
Ndidi is the author of “Social Innovation in Africa: A Practical Guide for Scaling Impact,” and “Food Entrepreneurs in Africa: Scaling Resilient Agriculture Businesses,” both published by Routledge. She is also the author of “Working for God in the Marketplace.”
Ndidi holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree with honors from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She was a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government at the Harvard Kennedy School and an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow. She is currently a visiting Scholar at Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.
Dr. Shachi Gurumayum
Shachi is an experienced manager and sustainability lead with strong roots in emerging markets, expertise in developing smallholder business strategy, hands-on implementation, and driving successful, inclusive, business models. A lifelong learner and intra/entrepreneur, he has multiple degrees in science and business, as well as a patent and extensive publications under his belt. Between Jan 2013 and Jan 2016, Shachi established and managed Syngenta Nigeria Limited making it an integral part of the country’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda and one of Syngenta’s fastest-growing subsidiaries at the time.
Shachi grew up in a community of smallholder farmers and has nearly two decades of R&D and General Management experience in four continents spanning the chemical industry, Oil & Gas, and agriculture. A scholarship student for most of his academic life, he has also received multiple recognition for his work over the years including a reception with HRH Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace in 2006, WEF Davos 2014, the G20 Africa Partnership Conference 2017 and the AU-EU Agriculture Ministerial Conference 2019, to list some.
He is the Director of AgriMayum GmbH which is currently supporting AgBiTech expand into Africa with its biological solution for Fall Armyworm, Crop Enhancement expand into the West African cocoa markets, and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture carry out a seeds sector development program in Nigeria. Shachi is the founder of the MaolKeki Foundation which is building social enterprises based on soil testing, last-mile health and an improved veg value chain. Shachi also advises Cervest, Sustansiya and Lady Agri.
Bonnie has more than twenty years’ experience working in agricultural research and development within the institutes that make up the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) under the World Bank. Bonnie joined GAIN from HarvestPlus, where for twelve years she headed up their office on Development and Communications.
Bonnie was also a founding leader of HarvestPlus.
Bonnie holds a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from Cornell University and Master’s degrees in Public Policy and Public Administration from the University of Virginia.
Mezuo has more than two decades of experience across private equity, investment banking, and corporate finance. He launched Sahel Capital’s debut fund, the Fund for Agriculture Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), in 2014, and the Social Enterprise Fund for Agriculture in Africa (SEFAA) in 2021. He provides oversight on the deployment of investment capital and the firm’s portfolio.
Mezuo was one of three partners that set up AFIG’s debut US$72 million generalist fund in 2008, working out of the Dakar office in Senegal. Mezuo started his career with the corporate finance team of the Sabre Group in Dallas in 1995, worked in J.P. Morgan & Co’s Mergers and Acquisitions Group in New York, and then subsequently in a range of finance roles with SecTrust (now Afrinvest), Ocean & Oil Holdings, and MTS First Wireless. Mezuo co-founded AACE Foods (a food processing company) and Sahel Consulting (an agriculture focused management consulting firm) in 2010, and subsequently Sahel Capital in 2013. He serves on the credit committee of LAFCo, which provides working capital to SMEs in the agribusiness sector in Africa, backed by KfW and AgDevCo; and is on the investment committee of FAFIN.
Mezuo is an Eisenhower Fellow and an Archbishop Tutu Fellow. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.Sc. Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University. Mezuo received the 2021 Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor given by the school. He was also recognized in 2019 as the alumni Entrepreneur of the Year by the Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Nigeria and Impact Investor of the Year by the Impact Investors Foundation.
Mr. Nwuneli serves on the boards of the AACE Foods, Coscharis Farms, Crest Agro Products, First World Communities, Ladgroup, L&Z Integrated Farms, Sahel Capital, and Sahel Consulting. He previously served on the board of Nagode Industries. He is the Chairman/Co-Founder of AACE Foods; Chair of the Strategy Committee at First World Communities; and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee at Crest Agro Products. He is on the Nigeria National Advisory Board for Impact Investing, and is one of the founding members and a director of the Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, Nigeria (“PEVCA”).
Carla Denizard currently serves as the World Vision International Regional Leader for West Africa based in Dakar, Senegal. She is an international development economist who has 25 years of experience leading and managing large complex national and regional private and multi-donor programs in West and Central Africa. Her technical expertise includes food security, value chain, and agribusiness development, organizational change and capacity development. She has been responsible for designing and implementing programs to enhance individual leadership and management skills and to strengthen institutional performance.
In her current role as World Vision International’s Regional Leader for West Africa, she oversees a multi-million dollar portfolio of development, humanitarian and emergency response programs aimed at transforming the lives of the most vulnerable children and adults in the region. As the West Africa Regional Director for the Africa Lead, Feed the Future and USAID-funded Building Capacity for Agricultural Transformation Project, she led and managed capacity development programs in six Feed the Future focus countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, DRC), targeted Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states, and had oversight over two sub-regional offices in Dakar, Senegal and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
She has been responsible for designing and implementing programs to enhance institutional effectiveness and strengthen policy processes for policy change and reforms to increase agricultural productivity and food security. She has led organizational capacity assessments and designed integrated capacity development programs implementing technical assistance packages and short-term customized courses for private companies, and government ministries of agriculture and trade and regional institutions like ECOWAS, West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel. In Senegal, she organized under the Trade Africa Initiative, a regional Mango week.
In Nigeria she supported the establishment and launch of the Nigeria Agribusiness Resource center in Abuja to promote agribusiness investment and trade. She integrated female and youth empowerment programs in the Africa Lead program portfolio that includes the Champions for Change leadership and Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship Boot camp courses for women and university students as well as a Young Professional internship program promoting workforce development in Nigeria.
Ms. Denizard also served as DAI’s Senior Development and Food Security Specialist, responsible for growing the firm’s agriculture and food security project portfolio in Africa and strengthening local staff and government human capacity to manage and implement agriculture and food security programs.
Previously, Ms. Denizard served as Country Representative and Regional Director for Opportunities Industrialization Centers International (OICI) in Ghana, Togo, and Côte d’Ivoire, where she managed a team of more than 300 local staff, a $7 million program budget, and a multi-sector portfolio of food security and humanitarian assistance programs funded by multiple clients, including USAID/Food for Peace, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United Nations World Food Programme, and private firms like the Dangote Group, Newmont Gold, Goldfields and Asanti Gold.
Ms. Denizard holds a Master’s degree in International Agriculture and Development from Cornell University and a Bachelor’s degree in Development Economics and African studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is multilingual in English, French and Haitian Creole.
Temitope is the Managing Partner at Sahel Consulting where he is responsible for client engagement, project management and implementation. He is passionate about the agribusiness sector and has worked extensively across a broad range of value chains, with specific expertise on roots and tubers. He is proficient in market analysis, business strategy development, business sustainability, and project management.
Temitope has led several studies on agricultural policies and market entry strategies and implemented consulting projects in a range of priority areas including innovations in seed systems, mechanization, on-farm productivity enhancement and improved market access for agribusiness stakeholders.
Temitope holds an MBA from Lagos Business School, Pan Atlantic University, Nigeria. He also holds a Master of Science (MSc) in Agronomy from the University of Ibadan and received his undergraduate degree in Plant Science from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife.
Jolene Dawson is a catalyst for change, a skilled strategist, and an advisory professional focused on the agriculture, food, and nutrition sectors.
A trusted advisor to boards and executive leadership, she believes that simple concepts, executed flawlessly and embedded with flexibility, will allow organizations to improve productivity perpetually and create long-term value in ever-changing conditions.
Bringing almost two decades of experience from the retail, agriculture, science, development, and other sectors together; Jolene offers a unique perspective that enables innovative approaches through partnerships, strategies, and operating models that shift entrenched ways of working and drive positive societal and business impact.
Daniel Alberts has 20 years’ experience in project, program, and production management in international development and commercial agriculture. Daniel began his career in horticulture, where for 12 years he managed crop production on commercial farms in the United States, South America and Africa.
Since 2012, Daniel has worked in international development—in Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda—to ensure the robustness, replicability, quality and timeliness of development projects and programs. His work has spanned various programmatic areas, including agriculture, nutrition, large-scale food fortification, innovation, small and medium size enterprise (SME) development.
Before joining ILRI as Head of Program Management, Daniel served as Cluster Lead, Supply Chains for Nutritious Foods at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
Daniel holds a BSc in Plant Science from Cornell University, and an MBA from TIAS School for Business and Society, Tilburg, the Netherlands. He has worked in the United States, Colombia, Kenya, the Netherlands, and Mozambique, and has managed projects in Tanzania and Rwanda. He speaks English, Spanish, and Dutch, and converses in Portuguese and Swahili. He has lived worked in South America and Africa for over 15 years.
Patrick is a seasoned Business Leader with more than 20 years of experience in food and beverage in FMCG blue chip companies. Currently based in Ivory Coast, Patrick is serving as Home Care Division Director for Unilever West Africa, covering Nigeria, Ghana and Francophone Africa. As such, he is responsible for managing revenues, developing portfolio and brands for one of Unilever’s biggest business categories.
Before joining Unilever, Patrick worked as Key Account and Business Development Director with Tetra Pak West Africa, the leading carton packaging provider, based in Lagos. During his time at Tetra Pak, he supported product development and manufacturing capability for successful local dairy and beverage businesses like Chi in Nigeria and Kirène in Senegal, as well as for established multinationals such as Danone or Coca-Cola. He also supported regional entrepreneurs setting up greenfield manufacturing projects. Prior to that, Patrick had held various regional and local commercial and marketing roles in leading CPG companies like Philip Morris or Diageo, in France, UK, Switzerland and West Africa.
Patrick holds a Master’s in Management from ESCP Europe. Working with top players in their respective industries, he developed first-hand business skills including strategic planning, brand and sales management, consumer insight generation, route to market and product development. A supporter of upcoming African small businesses, he’s a member of the Dakar Business Angel Network (DNA) and is regularly doing advisory for local Start-ups. A Benin and French National, he has travelled extensively, developing along the way a collaborative and effective leadership style rooted in his deep understanding of both African and Western (corporate) cultures. Patrick is passionate about music and sports, trained in martial arts and in recent years took to tennis and yoga. He currently resides in Cote d’Ivoire with his family.