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Tucci Goka Ivowi: The SMARTER Leadership Advocate



Tucci Goka Ivowi is an experienced business leader with over 18 years’ experience in marketing and general business management in the UK and emerging markets of Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is currently the Deputy CEO and a founding member of the Ghana Commodity Exchange. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on the recently formed The Ghana Commodity Exchange which she is a founding member, her passion for mentoring and how Africa can be more business friendly. Excerpt.


Alaba: Can you tell us about The Ghana Commodity Exchange and the gap it is filling? 

Tucci: The Ghana Commodity Exchange is a regulated market which brings buyers and sellers together to trade under rules. It functions much like a stock exchange, except commodities are traded in place of stocks. The lack of organised trade in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa means that opportunities are lost to farmers, traders and the country as a whole. The structured nature of trading GCX provides, through its electronic trading system, allows for price discovery of the different commodities traded, assures the market of the quality and quantities of the commodities being traded, guarantees the sellers (largely farmers) cash settlement within 24 hours of a trade, and will open up both local and overseas markets to larger volumes of commodities, enriching all players in the agricultural and other commodity value chains and have an important net impact on Ghana’s agricultural economy.

Alaba: What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way? How are you applying it in your present capacity as the Deputy CEO, Ghana Commodity Exchange?

Tucci: Integrity will get you through any difficult moment you may encounter as a leader. You can make mistakes elsewhere and this is normal when you are faced with a multitude of decisions, often with little time to deliberate upon them but the fallout from a lack of integrity will have damaging and lasting consequences. This is the confidence I have as a leader – that as long as I do what is right, I can worry little about inconsequential matters. As you can imagine, integrity is particularly important in the financial markets industry, so I try to inculcate the right behaviours in the team, almost on a daily basis so that they are ingrained in the organisation’s fabric. Consistency forms habit.

Alaba: Recently, you launched a series called SMARTER Leadership. What is the goal and inspiration behind it?

Tucci: SMARTER Leadership series is an insight sharing, mentoring and coaching programme which I developed in response to many requests from up and coming leaders to share tips on how to attain leadership roles. I would love to take on all mentorship requests but it’s not possible if I’m to give people the quality they deserve and still have enough time for my work and myself. This will allow me to reach out to many more new and aspiring leaders whilst exchanging experiences with other leaders.

Alaba: What advice do you have for African women aiming for leadership positions, especially in the corporate world? 

Tucci: I’ve said this in a different interview and I’ll say it just slightly differently here. Don’t focus on the ladder. You’re likely to slip. Focus on the results and let them elevate you. If you feel you’ve done all and deserve to be promoted and yet it’s not happening, seek advice from a mentor (ideally one from the same company, who can give you an honest view based on first hand observation) and in the meantime, keep working hard. Hard work always pays.

Alaba: As one of the largest continent in the world in terms of population. Do you think the Africa business ecosystem is attracting the right Foreign Direct Investments (FDI)?

Tucci: I would say at a base level, that to be ‘right’ it has to be at least equally mutually beneficial, not a case of unfavourable terms to Africa to the benefit of the investor. I think we are increasingly attracting a better quality of FDI, as, with increasingly stable macro economies, foreign countries and companies are competing more for business deals in Africa, but it’s not yet enough. Given the vast resources in Africa, we still retain only a small share of the wealth in both real and relative terms. The wealth derived from cocoa is to be found far away from the source of cocoa. There has to be a shift in that scale. We need to be more prescriptive about the type of FDI we wish to attain and I think Ghana and other African countries are starting to do this, through various policy initiatives.

Alaba: How can African governments create policies that are more attractive and business friendly for both local and foreign investors? 

Tucci: Beyond policy, it’s about creating an enabling environment. Security, transparency and corruption come high on the list of the housekeeping elements needed to engender foreign investors to even look at policy initiatives of foreign and particularly African governments. Local investors are particularly concerned about unnecessary bureaucracy and the constraints it poses to getting operations off the ground.

Related: Interview With The Group CEO at Emerging Africa Capital Group, Toyin F. Sanni

Alaba: What is your advice for entrepreneurs and investors looking at Africa as an investment destination?

Tucci: Ask the right questions before coming. Be prepared to unlock tons of more information on the ground. Invest the time in researching the market and the players. Be culturally aware and sensitive, because understanding or misunderstanding nuances in people’s behaviours can alone lead to ultimate failure. Get advice from those who have done it before. The systems work once you become familiar with them.

Alaba: How do you relax and what kind of books do you read? 

Tucci: I like this question. I relax by reading books! My mind likes to stay busy. I love historical novels, philosophical novels, literature and some legal thrillers. My husband and I enjoy watching action and spy movies together.

Her Short Bio:

Mrs. Tucci Goka Ivowi is an experienced business leader with over 18 years’ experience in marketing and general business management in the UK and emerging markets of Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is currently the Deputy CEO and a founding member of the Ghana Commodity Exchange.

Prior to this, Tucci led teams across Central & West Africa, working in various roles including Business Executive Officer (Executive Director) and Marketing Communications Director, after her role of Managing Director for Nestle in Guinea. She has a consultancy practice, Global Village Consortium, which offers advisory and management consulting services, focusing on African businesses in the public and private sector looking to compete in the global space. She is also the founder of “Forty Lives” an NGO in Ghana which advocates for support of people with mental health conditions.

Tucci is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM UK). She holds a BA in Politics and French from the University of Sussex, UK, a degree in Political Science from the Institute of Political Studies, Aix-En-Provence, France and an Executive MBA from Warwick University, UK.

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CEO Corner

African Bank Appoints Kennedy Bungane, CEO



African Bank New CEO, Kennedy Bungane (Press Release & Image: African Bank)

African Bank (“Board”) announces the appointment of Mr. Kennedy Bungane as the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and as an executive director of the Bank and its holding company, African Bank Holdings Limited (“ABH”) effective 14 April 2021. The Bank confirms that the appointment of Kennedy was done in accordance with African Bank’s policy on the selection and nomination of executive directors, and in order to fill a vacancy as well as add to the skillset on the Board.

Kennedy brings over 20 years of banking experience with him, having started his career at Standard Bank in 1991, holding a number of senior positions, including Head of Global Markets Sales, Head of Institutional and Corporate Banking, CEO Corporate and Investment Banking for Standard Bank South Africa, and a member of the Standard Bank Group Executive Committee. After joining Barclays Africa in 2012 as Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Limited and Head of Absa Group strategy, Kennedy led the sale of Barclays Africa Limited to the ABSA Group. More recently, Kennedy headed up the Phembani Group as its CEO. He also brings investment and strategic experience gained as the founder and chairman of Nokeng Telecoms and chairman of Idwala Capital.

Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, a Master of Business Administration, and completed the advanced management program at the Harvard Business School (USA).

Commenting on Kennedy’s appointment, the Chairman of the Board, Thabo Dloti, stated, “We welcome the appointment of Kennedy as the new permanent CEO. Kennedy has a keen sense for managing complex stakeholder issues. He has a proven track record in identifying and nurturing leadership, which promotes strong teams to deliver successful results. His passion for the role that banking can play in transforming society resonated strongly with the Board.

As an experienced banker, he also critically has a good grasp of the strategic challenges facing the Bank, within a muted South African economy and competitive landscape, as well as the required regulatory and governance framework.



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CEO Corner

African Visionary Fund (AVFund) Appoints New co-CEO, Atti Worku



African Visionary Fund (AVFund) New co-CEO, Atti Worku (Source: African Visionary Fund Website)

About a year ago, African Visionary Fund launched with a bold mission to tackle the inequities and power imbalances in global philanthropy by driving unrestricted resources to African visionaries. At the heart of all they do their values of equity and solidarity, which compel them to center African voices at every level of the organization. They are thrilled to announce the Fund’s new Africa-based co-CEO, Atti Worku!

Atti brings a wealth of experience in the nonprofit world, is a strong advocate for local founders, and is dedicated to righting the historic funding inequity that can hold them back. Prior to joining the Fund, Atti founded and led Seeds of Africa for over 10 years. Seeds is an Ethiopian grassroots organization dedicated to developing the educational foundation for the next generation of African leaders. Under her leadership, Seeds grew from an after-school program serving 15 kids to becoming a full-time multi-dimensional school educating 250 students from pre-K to middle school, and working with over 150 of their mothers providing small business entrepreneurship micro-loans and resources. In just over a decade Seeds has impacted the lives of over 2,000 people, transforming the trajectories of students, teachers, mothers, and their families and creating a future brimming with possibilities beyond a poverty trap.

“My mission is to advocate for African visionaries to be recognized by funders as experts, equal partners and critical drivers of systems change. I’m excited to learn from incredible African leaders with big dreams and even bigger global potential.” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO

Why Co-leadership

The African Visionary Fund is built on the firm belief that proximity matters. Seeded by a group of foundations and philanthropists who wanted to not only take action on equity but also be intentional about shifting the power over resources to African visionaries, shared leadership has been part of the Fund’s DNA from the beginning.

“Co-leadership is mission critical. We cannot build new models for equity-centered philanthropy without living those values within our own institution.” -Katie Bunten-Wamaru, AVFund co-CEO

The AVFund’s organizational journey started with collective and shared leadership in mind as our Founding Working Group worked with our leadership to inform and design all aspects of our organization and funding model. This majority-African, majority-doer group considered a number of different leadership structures for the Fund but gravitated towards co-leadership because it prioritizes proximity and equity, centers the experience of African visionaries, and ultimately helps us shift power.

Our Founding Working Group proved that we can co-create new models of philanthropy centered on collective leadership that shift power and center equity – our co-leadership model is the natural, values-aligned extension of that founding idea.

The Fund

Atti’s lived experience as an African founder has given her firsthand experience of the realities and complexities that local innovators face, making her a great partner in executing the Fund’s mission.

“This role is very personal to me. I see myself in the ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs we engage with at the AVFund. I hope to learn from them, and partner with them to redesign funding systems that give African visionaries an equitable chance of success.” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO

The barriers for African visionaries have been well documented with data showing that less than 5.2% of US foundation giving specific to Africa goes to African-led organizations. And in Atti’s experience, sometimes philanthropy’s oversight of African founders translates into a heavy emotional toll, an internal struggle she also had to deal with in her experience fundraising for her organization. She is committed to helping other African visionaries by being “the voice that reassures and validates them in the face of injustices.”

“Raising philanthropic dollars can be a long trauma for African social entrepreneurs and other leaders of color. On one hand, you’re doing innovative, high-impact work, but on the other, you are constantly being asked to prove yourself on a level far beyond your peers, doing so, and somehow still falling short. Aggregate data on racial inequity in philanthropy already speaks volumes, but systemic injustice is deeply personal. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t the problem,” Atti shared.

On Co-leadership

At the core, the AVFund seeks to create a bridge between global philanthropy and innovative African social changemakers and to do that, it’s critical to have proximity to both our visionary partners and our funding partners. Shared leadership makes this possible.

“There is an inherent tension in the work of the AVFund – we call it the ‘play the game, change the game’ balance. We want to support African social changemakers to play the game to access more sustainable funding now, while also challenging the status quo in ways that build a more equitable philanthropic ecosystem in the long run,” Katie explained. “There will always be a need to balance this tension – having a co-leadership model helps us balance both sides of our work and not lose sight of either goal.”

Having been on both sides of the table, Atti believes a further added benefit of co-leadership lies in the fact that representation matters. “I have been a micro-funder through Seeds and have seen the value of someone like you believing in your vision and empowering it,” she shared.

“At AVFund, we celebrate and choose co-leadership because we recognize the importance of diversity for strong, grounded and authentic leadership.” -Melizsa Mugyenyi, Advisory Board Member.

The Future

Atti joins the Fund at a crucial season of our organizational journey as we look to deepen our impact across the continent – we are more than a third of the way towards reaching our goal to raise US$10 million which will enable us to provide 35 nonprofits across Africa with unrestricted, multiyear grants by 2023.

In the near-term, the Fund is also on track to commit atleast another $US1 million later this year and partner with more African social innovators. Atti is particularly excited to work with those at the forefront of leading-edge innovations whose potential for impact is inhibited by lack of resources and buy-in from funders.

“African visionaries aren’t often given the resources they need to validate the new concepts they have which really makes innovation very difficult. A lack of unrestricted funding for the disruptive ideas coming out of Africa limits potential and slows development. I’m ready to help change that in every way we can!” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO

Source AVFund



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CEO Corner

Rolake Rosiji, ex-Country Manager M-KOPA Solar Appointed As The New CEO Of Jobberman Nigeria



Rolake Rosiji, CEO at Jobberman (Source: ROAM)

Jobberman, the single largest job placement platform in sub-Saharan Africa, has announced the appointment of Rolake Rosiji as the new CEO. Rolake takes over from Hilda Kragha, now Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs, and will continue the work of establishing Jobberman as the primary platform for job searching, talent acquisition and transforming workplace productivity across Nigeria.

Jobberman’s technology-driven platform, which uses tools such as application tracking, data science for skills and personality assessment, connects over 1 million job seekers to employers. With over a decade of experience in the recruitment industry, the company has built a reputation of trust and strong partnerships with the country’s most coveted employers; matching talented candidates with jobs according to their skillset.

Rolake joins Jobberman with a decade of global experience in strategic leadership and operational excellence. Most recently, she led the technology and sales operations for credit financed smartphones and solar power sets as Country Manager of M-KOPA Nigeria; a connected asset financing company that makes financing for everyday essentials accessible to everyone. Prior to that, she was Head of Strategy & Business Development for Arla Foods Africa, where she developed distribution and joint venture partnerships across West Africa to rapidly scale up sales and worked in Corporate Strategy roles in Denmark and the USA. Her proven track record of business expansion projects, digital and technical transformation and executing strategic partnerships will be key to her implementation for growth and development of the brand.

Commenting on her new role as CEO, Rolake Rosiji said “This is a very exciting chapter in my career and I am delighted to be joining such a passionate and innovative team. Jobberman has built a brand of excellence by using technology to revolutionise the recruitment sector. I look forward to steering the company vision to build a market of greater technology adoption, democratic access and transparency that will tackle dominant challenges, notably youth unemployment and underemployment.  It is a privilege for me to be at the helm of this dynamic team as we set out to empower job seekers with key skills and improve workplace productivity for employers in Nigeria.”

Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs added “I am delighted that Rolake has taken on this position. Rolake’s expertise, understanding of different markets and high performance is what makes her the perfect person to anchor the next phase for Jobberman. I look forward to working with her to take Jobberman to even greater heights.”

Rolake took on her role as CEO on February 1st 2021. Her focus will be to broaden the impact beyond the white-collar space and continue to work closely with Jobberman’s impact partners in tackling youth unemployment in Nigeria.



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