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!
Christa Sanders Bobtoya: The Woman Advancing International Education in Africa
Christa Sanders Bobtoya has been involved in the field of international education for the last two decades. She has lived in Accra, Ghana since 2004 and is currently the Director/Head of Webster University’s Ghana Campus, the only American university in the sub-region offering US-accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees. Sanders Bobtoya spent her first decade in Ghana as the Associate Director of New York University’s (NYU) 6th global site and the university’s first study abroad program on the African continent. As the head of Webster Ghana, she works daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
“I have always been passionate about education, international travel and intercultural experiences. In my role of Director of Webster University Ghana Campus, I am able to fuse together all of my passions where I work daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence,” says Sanders Bobtoya who is committed to promoting international educational opportunities to students worldwide and has worked and studied in Spain, Germany, Ethiopia, Ghana, Brazil and the United States.
Sanders Bobtoya has traveled extensively across 5 continents, spanning 85 countries dedicating much of her career to the field of higher education and managing study abroad programs as well as international branch campuses of US institutions both in Europe and Africa.
Previous experiences have included a role as a Program Officer for the Institute of International Education (IIE) in New York where she managed a range of scholarship programs for both Latin American and African students through the Institute’s Scholarship and Training Programs (STP) division and as the Chief Counselor of Students for Syracuse University in Madrid, Spain where she also co-founded a support organization, Voices of Change, to help students of color cope with discrimination outside of the United States. Additionally, Sanders Bobtoya has provided cross-cultural counseling services in Berlin, Germany and developed short-term, faculty-led study abroad programs to both Eastern and Western Africa for Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, and has consulted a number of educational institutions focused on international educational initiatives such as Stanford University, Dartmouth College and the Council of International Education (CIEE), the world’s largest international educational exchange organizations.
Currently, in the role of Director/Head of Webster University’s Ghana Campus; the only American university in the sub-region offering US-accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees, Sanders Bobtoya works daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
“Under my leadership at Webster University Ghana, students are exposed to new ways of thinking and benefit from the cultural diversity and enriching academic environment that strengthens their critical-thinking skills. Since opening our doors in 2014, we have enrolled both undergraduate and graduate students from over 25 different countries, spanning four continents including many from Africa and its Diaspora who later join Webster’s elite network of over 157,000 alumni worldwide,” adds Christa Sanders-Bobtoya who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she graduated summa cum laude before completing her Ed.M and M.A. degrees in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in cross-cultural studies/multiculturalism from Columbia University in New York.
Learn More about Webster University Ghana at the Online Open House
Hussein Fakhry, MD of Key Architectural Group Nominated for The 2020 Ghana Industry CEO Awards
Hussein Fakhry, the Co-Founder, Managing Director and Lead Architect at KEY
Architectural Group has been identified as one of the most outstanding chief executives in
corporate Ghana by Ghana Industry CEO Awards.
Hussein’s astute leadership at Key Architectural Group led to the nomination of Top CEO in the
Construction (Building) category. KEY Architectural Group has offices in Accra, Ghana, Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Beirut, Lebanon.
The 2020 Ghana Industry CEOs Awards is an annual awards scheme aimed at identifying and
publicly recognizing the most outstanding Chief Executives in corporate Ghana across a wide
range of sectors.
Backed with a Master’s in Business Administration and over 24 years of experience in the Design and Construction Field, the architect by profession and passion has been behind landmark residential, commercial, touristic, and industrial projects in West Africa and Lebanon.
Hussein Fakhry designs are inspired by nature, sustainability and contextual architecture.
To vote, kindly visit: Ghana Industry CEO Awards
aYo Holdings appoints Marius Botha as Group CEO
African micro-insurance fintech business aYo Holdings, a joint venture between telecommunication giant MTN and traditional insurer Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH), has appointed Marius Botha as its new group chief executive officer (CEO).
Botha was formerly CEO of life insurer Stangen for nearly seven years, having previously held executive positions at African Bank and Munich Re.
aYo Holdings offers accidental hospital cover and life cover in Zambia, Uganda and Ghana with additional African countries launching in the very near future.
Botha holds an honours degree in actuarial science and an M.Phil in Futures Studies.
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