BAO talks to Ndidi Nwuneli the Founder of LEAP Africa, Co-Founder of AACE Food Processing & Distribution, and a Director at Sahel Capital Partners & Advisory Ltd, on what makes (LEAP) Africa different, and its impact on youth, business owners and social entrepreneurs in Africa.
Question 1: Tell us about your businesses. What do you do exactly?
Ndidi Nwuneli is the Founder of LEAP Africa, Co-Founder of AACE Food Processing & Distribution, an indigenous agro-processing company, and a Director at Sahel Capital Partners & Advisory Ltd., an advisory and consulting firm focused on the agribusiness and nutrition sectors in West Africa.
She started her career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, working in their Chicago, New York and Johannesburg Offices.
Ndidi holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree with honors in Multinational and Strategic Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Ndidi was recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and received a National Honor – Member of the Federal Republic from the Nigerian Government. She was listed as one of the 20 Youngest Power African Women by Forbes. Ndidi serves on numerous international and local boards including Nestle Nigeria Plc., Nigerian Breweries Plc., Globethics.net, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. India and Royal DSM Sustainability Board, Netherlands and Fairfax Africa Holdings Canada.
Ndidi is the author of “Social Innovation in Africa: A Practical Guide for Scaling Impact,” published by Routledge in 2016.
Question 2: What was the idea behind LEAP Africa? Mention one impact in Nigeria?
Leadership Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism (LEAP) Africa, established in 2002, is a non-profit committed to developing dynamic innovative and principled African leaders. We recognise that raising leaders is critical to nation building and wealth creation. Over the years, LEAP has inspired and equipped youth, business owners and social entrepreneurs to lead ethically while implementing initiatives that transform their communities and organisations for better; sustaining livelihood and contributing to national development. LEAP achieves this through its training programmes, publications and e-Learning.
LEAP also actively conducts extensive research and this forms the basis for our books and leadership training curricula which are action-oriented guides to creating positive and lasting change in individuals, organisations and communities. To date, LEAP has published 11 books on topics such as ethics, governance, talent management, succession planning and corporate culture.
Since its inception, LEAP has trained over 50,000 Nigerians directly, supported the creation of over 1,000 change projects, and shaped the lives of over 250,000 Nigerians indirectly.
Our focus is captured under three pillars: YouthLEAP, BizLEAP, eLEAP
Youth LEAP – changing the mind-set of youth, equipping them to lead ethically and motivating them to deliver positive change in their communities.
- On this platform, two of our core programmes- iLEAD and LEAD the WAY , offer an innovative leadership development approach to students in public and private secondary schools, exposing them to the practical applications of invaluable leadership and equipping them with the knowledge and skills required to cope with life’s challenges and solve challenges in their communities by developing change projects.We also conduct a Training of Trainers (ToT) sessions for school teachers/ administrators, faith-based leaders and youth leaders, focused on equipping them with knowledge and skills to serve as role models, creatively and efficiently cultivate leadership and life skills in students towards personal and community transformation. With our Social Innovators Programme and Awards (SIPA), we build capacity and provide support to young Nigerians addressing social challenges, equipping them with the knowledge and skills required to institute systems and structures that would ensure the sustainability and growth of their organisations. Over the years, LEAP has graduated over 14,000 students, 60 social entrepreneurs and launched over 1000 community change projects across Nigeria.
Biz LEAP – supporting entrepreneurs in instituting systems and structures that are crucial for business sustainability.
- We do this through our annual Flagship event, The CEOs Forum. The Forum is one of Nigeria’s largest gathering of SMEs and top executives of leading organisations with the purpose of sharing knowledge and best practices with global and local perspectives on processes, structures and ethical leadership to ensure long-term sustainability. LEAP has hosted over 800 participants annually to 11 editions of the forum. We also offer training workshops and resources on some of our core themes: business ethics, corporate governance and succession planning.
eLEAP – is leveraging technology for social change by developing dynamic, innovative and principled leaders through e-learning, mobile apps, video and audio clips.
- e-Integrity– is an online course on values, moral ethics, corruption and moral courage based on scenarios set in the Nigerian context. Ethics is a core component of all LEAP curriculum as we believe that effective ethics training helps address the prevalent corrupt mindset and guide citizens towards positive behaviour.
Question 3: What do you like about being an entrepreneur and a business owner?
I am called to be an enabler – creating opportunities for others to fulfil their lives’ purpose. As a result, my greatest achievement has been training and grooming exceptional young people – some of them have worked with me directly and others who have just been a part of training programmes that I have organised via LEAP, Sahel or AACE. Watching them grow and blossom in their careers and in life has been extremely rewarding.
I am also extremely proud of AACE Foods. When friends call me from Enugu or Abuja to report that they bought our spices and complementary food on the shelves of leading supermarkets and it transformed their meals and family life, I am thrilled. We are committed to producing proudly Nigerian products, creating jobs for countless unemployed youth and improving the livelihoods of our smallholder farmers. We are taking baby steps towards achieving these goals, but I thank God for every breakthrough!
Question 4: What do you think are the keys to professional and business success for women in Nigeria?
Women still face immense struggles in their efforts to achieve their highest potential in many sectors in Nigeria. However, there has been tremendous progress in the past decade. Today, there are three female chairs of leading banks in the country. In addition, women are playing leading roles in growth sectors across the country.
I would like to encourage young women to recognise three things:
First to be treated as an equal in the workplace, and to receive your fair share of the income and profits that you generate, manage your time and resources effectively. You must put in your best and ensure that your voice is heard, loud and clear. You must never use your role as a wife, mother, sister, or daughter, as an excuse for underperformance. Invest in life-long learning, always upgrading your skills and surrounding yourself with at least three critical people – a mentor, a champion and a critic. A champion serves as your biggest cheerleader, encouraging you to dream big and achieve results. A critic tells you the truth about your shortcomings and provides constructive feedback. A mentor shows you what is possible through their life example.
Second, women are natural givers. Giving opens your heart to the needs of the world and also takes your eyes off your own lack. However, you also have to be prepared to ask for help when you need it, especially as you embark on the journey of marriage and motherhood. Your vulnerability makes you human and does not detract in any way from your self-worth.
Third, as you rise in your profession or industry, leave the door open for other women to enter. Be the first woman president, CEO, leader of an organisation, but never the last one. Ensure that you are mentoring and grooming other women to take over from you. Fight against the stereotype that women do not support other women. Instead, be recognised as an individual who supports others. Madeline Albright has a quote which I love – “There is a special place in hell for women do not support other women!” I know you want to go to heaven…so start today to serve as an advocate and champion for other women.
Question 5: What specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur?
Starting a business is not an easy feat. Test your motivation, develop a clear mission, vision, and value proposition and specific values for your new business. Identify board members from day one to support you. Test and pilot your business idea to ensure that it is demand driven before you invest too much time and resources into scaling the concept and actively select team members who will join you on this journey.
Question 6: Nigeria’s economy has been hard hit by the fall in the oil price. How should foreign business people view the current state of affairs?
I am optimistic about Nigeria’s future. I actually believe that we are going through a re-alignment that is critical to our future growth and development. This is a great time to invest in the real sector – agriculture, local manufacturing, transportation, logistics, energy, education and health. Collectively, we can rebuild our country and ensure that we create a nation that can make us all proud!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.