H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn
H.E Hailemariam Dessalegn Boshe is an Ethiopian politician who served as Prime Minister of Ethiopia from 2012 to 2018. He also previously served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi from 2010 to 2012 and was the Chairperson of the African Union from 2013 to 2014. Hailemariam received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Addis Ababa University in 1988 and subsequently worked as a graduate assistant in the Arba Minch Water Technology Institute (now Arba Minch University). He earned a master’s degree in sanitation engineering from Tampere University of Technology in Finland, and upon his return to Ethiopia, served in different academic and administrative capacities, including the dean of the Water Technology Institute, for 13 years. In between, he also earned an MA in Organizational Leadership at Azusa Pacific University, California, US. As Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn was said to have sustained economic progress in Ethiopia after the sudden death of his predecessor in 2012. He ensured to complete the implementation of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I) and to start with GTP II. Between 2012 and 2018, major projects like Hawassa and Mekelle industrial park, Addis Ababa Light Rail, Gilgel Gibe III Dam, the new Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway, as well as a number of stadiums, have been completed. Hailemariam is credited for the country’s continued rapid and double-digit economic growth. Financially, Hailemariam’s government welcomed its first sovereign credit ratings from global agencies in 2014 – a B1 from Moody’s and B ratings from both Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, which opened the door to international capital markets and foreign direct investment.
Mr. Nick Austin is Director, Agricultural Development, within the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Previously, he was Interim Executive Director, CGIAR, based in Montpellier, France, and prior to that served for seven years as Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), where he was responsible for leading the Centre’s effort to improve the incomes and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the developing world. Nick has held senior executive roles for over a decade, was a member of the Portfolio Executive of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and served for seven years on the CGIAR Fund Council. Coming from a farming family, Nick holds a PhD in irrigation and water quality from the University of Melbourne; a Masters in Sustainable Management from the University of Sydney; and a Bachelor of Engineering in Agriculture with Honors (University of Melbourne). He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has held a number of directorships on private and not for profit companies.
Frank N. J. Braeken
Frank N. J. Braeken graduated with a degree in Law and holds an MBA degree in Finance from the University of Leuven (Belgium). He is an alumnus of the Wharton Executive Program, Penn University (Philadelphia / USA). In his professional career, he specialized in finance and in general management. From 1996 to 2013, he held various management functions in different countries for Unilever, including a position as Regional President of Unilever China (Shanghai), Regional President of Unilever Namca (Dubai), Regional President of Unilever Africa (Dubai / Durban). Subsequent to leaving Unilever, Frank has acted as investment advisor for large scale agro and food enterprises on the African continent and established his own commercial farming operation in Uganda. He is a member of the board of Swiss engineering group Buhler, Zambia based agro business Zambeef, Marie Stopes International, myAgro and The AECF, a development institution which supports businesses in rural and marginalized communities in Africa. In 2016 he was elected Chairman of the Board of Feronia Inc., a Toronto listed palm oil producer on the African continent.
Prof. Joachim von Braun
Prof. Joachim von Braun is an agricultural economist from Germany. He is Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), Bonn University, and Professor for economic and technological change. von Braun’s main research areas are in economic development, poverty reduction, agriculture, food and nutrition security, science and technology policy. He is President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican, member of the Board of AGRA; He is co-chair of the Malabo-Montpellier Panel on Food and Agriculture Policy in Africa, Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences; chair of the Bioeconomy Council of the Federal German Government; Vice-President of the NGO “Welthungerhilfe” (WHH). He was Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in Washington, DC, U.S.A. from 2002 to 2009.
Dr. Agnes Kalibata
Dr. Kalibata joined AGRA as its President in September 2014. She leads the organization’s efforts with public and private partners to ensure a food secure and prosperous Africa through rapid, inclusive, sustainable agricultural growth, improving the productivity and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in Africa.
Under Dr. Kalibata’s leadership, AGRA is working to increase the incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021 through targeted investments to strengthen 3 core areas: State capability and policies; input delivery systems in agriculture: and partnerships for inclusive agricultural growth
Prior to joining AGRA, Dr. Kalibata was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) from 2008 to 2014, where she drove programs that moved her country to food security helping to lift more than a million Rwandans out of poverty.
Dr. Kalibata sits on various boards, councils and commissions including the Global Commission on Adaptation, the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, the Malabo-Montpellier Panel, the Food and Land Use (FOLU) Coalition, the Architecture for REDD + Transactions (ART), the International Fertilizer Development Corporation (IFDC), Bioversity International, and Africa Risk Capacity, among others.
She has a distinguished record of accomplishment as an agricultural scientist, policy maker and thought leader. She was awarded the Yara Prize, now the Africa Food Prize, in 2012, Honorary Doctorate from the University of Liège in 2018, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal in 2019 for her work to drive Africa’s agricultural transformation through modern sciences and effective policy thereby improving livelihoods of stallholder farmers. She holds a doctorate in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
His Excellency Former President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete served as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania for two terms. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of Dar es Salaam and started his career in the ruling party and the military, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel before retiring from the army in 1992. He joined the Cabinet in 1988 and held several ministerial portfolios including Minister for Finance, Minister for Water, Energy and Mineral Resources and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. During his tenure in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he led Tanzania’s efforts to bring about peace in the Great Lakes region, particularly in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As Chairman of East African Community’s Council of Ministers, he played a pivotal role in moving forward the process of regional integration in East Africa, particularly the delicate negotiations of establishing a Customs Union between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. He also Co-chaired the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy with the Foreign Minister of Finland. In 2007, President Kikwete was elected Chairman of the SADC Organ on Security, Defense and Politics. On 31 January 2008, President Kikwete was elected Chairman of the African Union Assembly of Heads of States and Government, where he took a proactive role in the resolution of conflicts in the Republic of Kenya, the Comoros and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also advanced to greater heights the relations between the AU and the UN, EU and International Community at large. He has completed his Chairmanship of the East African Community and it was during his tenure that the EAC signed and ratified the Protocol on the Common Market. He left negotiations on the Monetary Union at an advanced stage. On retirement, he spends time in his home village of Msoga where he is a dairy farmer and Kiwangwa where he grows pineapples and papayas.
L. K. Mohohlo (nee Tsiako)
Linah K Mohohlo, a national of Botswana, was the Governor of the Bank of Botswana for a period of 17 years to 2016, following a 23-year career with the Bank, during which she served in a number of operational and policy areas. She has also worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Special Appointee programme and, in her capacity as Governor of the IMF for Botswana, she has been a member of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, representing the Africa Group 1 Constituency. Ms Mohohlo has been a member of, among others, Commission for Africa, Africa Progress Panel, Lancet Commission on Investing in Health, and has chaired the UN High Level Panel on Recosting as well as the 2011 World Economic Forum for Africa. She is a board member of AGRA, Investment Committee of the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund and is Chancellor of the University of Botswana. She is a recipient of a number of awards, among which is Botswana’s highest public service award for efficient and devoted service (The Presidential Order of Honour). Ms Mohohlo is currently Coordinator of the Economic Revitalization Programme of the Selebi-Phikwe Region, the fortunes of which were negatively affected by the closure of its lifeline, copper and nickel mining.
Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze
Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze is the immediate former President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and he began his term as IFAD’s fifth President on 1 April 2009. A Nigerian national, Nwanze has a strong record as an advocate and leader of change and a keen understanding of the complexity of development issues. He has over 40 years of experience across three continents in poverty reduction through agriculture, rural development and research. Prior to that, he was Director-General of the Africa Rice Center for a decade. Nwanze was instrumental in introducing and promoting New Rice for Africa (NERICA), a high-yield, drought- and pest-resistant rice variety developed specifically for the African landscape. In addition, Nwanze has held senior positions at a number of research centers affiliated with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in Africa and Asia, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the Alliance of CGIAR Centers. He started his international career as a post-doctoral researcher with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) shortly after his Ph.D. (1975) in agricultural entomology from Kansas State University, Kansas, USA. Nwanze also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1971). He received doctorate of science (DSc) degrees honoris causa from McGill University, Canada in 2012 and University of Warwick, UK in 2015. He has published extensively and is author of “A Bucket of Water”: Reflections on Sustainable Rural Development, 2017. Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze was awarded the inaugural Africa Food Prize in 2016 for his outstanding leadership and passionate advocacy in putting Africa´s smallholder farmers at the center of the global agricultural agenda.
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli
Ndidi is a member of The Rockefeller Foundation board of trustees since 2019.
She is also a Co-Founder of Sahel Consulting: Agriculture & Nutrition Ltd. and serves as its managing partner. She has 23 years of experience in international development, and through her work with Sahel has shaped agriculture strategy and policy and launched innovative businesses and ecosystem solutions in partnership with clients in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
Additionally, she is the co-founder of AACE Foods, a social enterprise which processes nutritious food made from the best of West Africa’s cereals, herbs, pulses, and spices. She is the founder of LEAP Africa which works across Africa inspiring, empowering and equipping the next generation of dynamic, principled and innovative young leaders.
Ndidi started her career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, working in their Chicago, New York, and Johannesburg Offices. She was recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and received a National Honour – Member of the Federal Republic from the Nigerian Government. She was listed as one of the 20 Youngest Power African Women by Forbes.
Ndidi holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, an undergraduate degree with honours in Multinational and Strategic Management 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 a 2018 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.
Ndidi serves as a director for Nigerian Breweries Plc (Heineken). Godrej Consumer Products India, Fairfax Africa, World Vegetable Center and on the Royal DSM Sustainability Board. She is the author of “Social Innovation in Africa: A Practical Guide for Scaling Impact,” published by Routledge. She is a TED Global speaker and her work has been featured on CNN, BBC, Bloomberg and a range of other international and local media outlets.
Thembalihle Hixonia Nyasulu
Ms. Hixonia Nyasulu is the Executive Chairman of Ayavuna Women’s Investments (Pty) Ltd, a women-controlled investment vehicle founded in 2004 and whose objective is to acquire quality assets for the economic empowerment of women. Hixonia Nyasulu was appointed to the Sasol board in 2006 and named chairman in November 2008, the first woman and black to hold the position in South Africa. She has served on the boards of several South African companies since 1992 including Saficon Motor Holdings, AVI Limited, McCarthy Retail Ltd, Glodina Ltd and Nedbank Ltd, where she became Deputy Chairman. Until recently, she was also on the board of Anglo Platinum. She retired in 2016 after serving for nine years as director of Unilever PLC/NV. She serves on the boards of Barloworld Ltd, Glenrand MIB and Tongaat-Hulett Group Ltd and was recently appointed as Chairperson of the Board of The AECF, a development institution which supports businesses in rural and marginalized communities in Africa. She is also a director and co-owner of Paton Tupper Associates, a Durban-based design agency, as well as a member of the JP Morgan South Africa Advisory Board. She attended the University of Zululand where she obtained a BA in Social Work and an Honours Degree in Psychology. She also holds an Executive Leadership Development Programme Certificate from the Arthur D Little Management Education Institute (Massachusetts) and attended the International Programme for Board Members at the Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Until recently, she was a member of the Banking Enquiry Panel, appointed by the South African Competition Commission to investigate charges in the retail banking sector, access to the National Payment System and competition in the sector. She was rated by the Financial Mail amongst the top three most influential women in business in South Africa.
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah
Dr. Shah brings over twenty years of experience in business, government, and philanthropy to The Rockefeller Foundation. Appointed as USAID Administrator by President Obama in 2009, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Shah was charged with reshaping the $20 billion agency’s operations to provide greater assistance to pressing development challenges around the globe. By elevating the importance of innovation, promoting public-private partnerships, rethinking internal practices, and shifting how dollars were spent to deliver stronger results, Shah secured bipartisan support that enabled USAID to dramatically accelerate its work to end extreme poverty. Despite partisan gridlock on many issues, two significant Presidential priorities – Feed the Future and Power Africa – passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support and were signed into law by President Obama, and the Global Food Security Act is the second largest global development legislation after PEPFAR. Shah’s work delivered results for countries facing democratic transitions, post-conflict situations, and humanitarian crises, and is widely credited with providing life-saving access to food, health, and water for millions of children across the planet. When Dr. Shah left USAID in 2015, he continued to follow his passion for creating opportunities for communities to thrive in the developing world by founding Latitude Capital, a private equity firm focused on power and infrastructure projects in Africa and Asia. He was also appointed a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at Georgetown University.
Raised outside of Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Shah is a graduate of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Wharton School of Business. Prior to his appointment at USAID, Shah served as Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics at the United States Department of Agriculture. He also served in a number of leadership roles at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he helped launch the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (a joint venture by the Gates and Rockefeller foundations) and the International Financing Facility for Immunization (credited with raising more than $5 billion for childhood immunizations worldwide) and where he supported the creation of the Global Development Program. He and his wife, Shivam Mallick Shah have three children.
Josette Sheeran is the seventh President and CEO of Asia Society, a global think tank founded in 1956 by John D Rockefeller 3rd. She is responsible for advancing the organization’s global work in the fields of diplomacy, policy and business, arts and culture, and education. Ms. Sheeran also serves as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, representing the UN Secretary General in advancing Haiti’s 2030 vision and in helping secure an end to the transmission of cholera in Haiti. Sheeran is former vice chair of the World Economic Forum, known for its annual Davos convening and Davos in China. She helped advance global initiatives encompassing global, regional and industry agendas such as Grow Africa, which has attracted $10 billion to end hunger and malnutrition in Africa. Prior to the World Economic Forum, Sheeran was executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006. Sheeran’s TED Talk on ending world hunger has been viewed more than one million times and has been used in schools to teach children about hunger. She led the world’s largest humanitarian organization, serving up to 100 million of the world’s most hungry each year. Under Sheeran’s leadership, the WFP launched transformational programs to reduce dependency on food aid, including Purchasing for Progress. In addition, WFP increased its donor base to more than 100 nations, and became the first UN program to include the so-called BRIC countries and the Gulf States among its top 10 donors. Prior to this, Ms. Sheeran served as a diplomat and negotiator for the United States, including as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, and deputy U.S. Trade Representative, handling Asia, Africa, Labor, Environment, Intellectual Property and trade capacity building portfolios. In 2011, Forbes named her the world’s 30th most powerful woman; Foreign Policy listed her among its top 100 global ‘Twitterati’. She was a Fisher Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center in 2013.
Sheeran is on the board of AGRA and is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. She was awarded Japan’s Nigata International Food Award, Commandeur de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the government of France, and Brazil`s highest civilian award, the Grand Official Order of the `Rio Branco,’ and the “Game Changer” award by the Huffington Post.
Fred is deeply passionate about Africa and believes that the missing ingredient on the continent is good leadership. In line with this, he has co-founded three organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial African leaders: African Leadership Academy, African Leadership Network, and African Leadership University. Collectively, these institutions aim to groom 3 million leaders for Africa over a 50-year period. A passionate entrepreneur, Fred also served as Founder and CEO of Terra Education, a global education company that today provides leadership training to about 4,000 people annually at 46 sites in 20 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Prior to his work in education, Swaniker co-founded Synexa Life Sciences, a biotechnology company with operations in Cape Town, Berlin, London, and Dublin. Prior to launching his entrepreneurial pursuits, Swaniker worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in South Africa. Swaniker has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and was listed by Forbes Magazine among the top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa.
Fred has an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he was named an Arjay Miller Scholar, a distinction awarded to the top 10% of each graduating class. He holds a BA in Economics with a minor in Mathematical Statistics from Macalester College (magna cum laude). He was born in Ghana but has lived and worked in about 10 different African countries.
Rodger Voorhies is the Executive Director of the Global Growth & Opportunity Division and a member of the Executive Leadership Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reporting to the CEO. Rodger overseas the Agricultural Development, Financial Services for the Poor, Gender, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programs within the foundation with approximately $700 million in annual grant payout and program related investments. In this role, Rodger leads the foundation’s efforts to combine policy change with science, technology and business model innovation to:
- Alleviate hunger and poverty for millions of farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way;
- Make high quality digital financial services widely accessible to hundreds of millions of people living in the poorest parts of the world;
- Promote sustainable approaches to gender equality and the economic empowerment of women and girls; and
- Bring groundbreaking innovations in sanitation technology and new ways to deliver sanitation products and services to people in the developing world.
Prior to his current role, Rodger was director of the foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor program where he refocused the strategy to harness digital platforms and infrastructure to radically lower the cost of reaching lower-income households. Before joining the foundation, Rodger worked and lived in emerging markets for nearly 20 years (Poland, Zambia, Malawi and Serbia). In sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe, he established and grew successful, fully licensed microfinance banks with client-driven organizational cultures that delivered innovative financial services to SMEs, farmers, poor households and communities. He was CEO of Opportunity Bank of Serbia, where he managed the bank through a successful turnaround, using data analytics to reach smallholder farmers. He founded Opportunity Bank of Malawi, the first commercial microfinance bank in Malawi and grew it to become one of the largest providers of financial services in the country using alternative delivery channels (e.g., biometric smart cards, mobile banking). Prior to being sold, nearly one out of every five Malawi families had a relationship with the bank.
Dr. Usha Barwale Zehr
Dr. Usha Barwale Zehr is Director and Chief Technology Officer at Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Private Limited (MAHYCO), India. She received her Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Subsequent to her formal education, she worked at Purdue University in the Sorghum improvement program. For the last 20 years, she has been utilizing new technologies and tools including biotechnology for improving the quality and productivity of seeds and agriculture. In addition, Dr. Zehr serves as Director of Barwale Foundation (a non-profit Research Foundation). She also serves on the Board of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.
H.E. Lionel Zinsou
H.E. Lionel Zinsou is an economist and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Benin (2015-2016). Born in 1954, he holds dual Beninese and French citizenship. He is currently Managing Partner of Southbridge, a leading-edge professional services platform that provides consulting services, investment banking advisory, and private equity entirely focused on Africa.
From 2008 to 2015, he served successively as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of PAI Partners, a French private equity firm with more than € 11 billion in assets under management. Prior to joining PAI, H.E. Zinsou worked for over 10 years at Rothschild & Cie, where he was Managing Partner from 1997 onwards. In this capacity he served as Head of Global Consumer Goods and Head of Africa Middle East until 2008. Previously, Dr. Zinsou had worked at world leading food company Danone, which he joined in 1986 as Financial Controller. He then went on to serve as its Corporate Development Director, Head of UK-USA operations, CEO of the overall Grocery Division and Executive Committee member.
His professional career began as a Research Student at the London School of Economics. In 1978 he went on to work, first as Associate Professor and then as Lecturer in Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Paris XIII. He remained Director of the Centre for Social Sciences of the Ecole Normale Supérieure from 1983 to 1986. During that time he also worked as a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. In addition, he was involved in two long-term missions for the French Government, first as a researcher in the “Research and Prospective” division within the Ministry of Industry (1980-1984) and then as a member of the office of Prime Minister Laurent Fabius (1983-1986).
H.E. Zinsou is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Agrégation in Social Sciences and Economic History – 1978) the premier French institute for higher education and research, as well as of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences –Po) and the Paris IV and VII Universities.
Mr. Zinsou is currently on the board of several companies including the PAI supervisory Board (Vicechair), the Danone group Board of Directors and the Americana Board (UAE). He is also actively involved in community work, serving as President of the Fondation de l’École Normale Supérieure, of the Fondations Terra Nova and AfricaFrance, and of the Société des Amis du Musée Branly-Jacque Chirac, as well as Administrator to the Ashinaga Foundation (Tokyo), the Fondation Sanofi, and the Fondation Zinsou, the latter of which he also founded.