Circle of Patrons

President Olusegun Obasanjo

President Obasanjo is the former president of Nigeria, having served as democratically elected president from 1999 to 2007, and previously a military ruler (1976 – 1979). He is the first African ruler to voluntarily relinquish power to an elected government, a feat which won him the admiration of many.

As President of Nigeria, he was very instrumental in the repositioning of the African Union, and the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). He has continuously rendered his unwavering support to the goals of the AfCFTA, ECOWAS and the Co-Prosperity Alliance Zone to achieve the deepening of regional cooperation.

In 2008, he was appointed as Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region by the then UN Secretary-General to mediate over tensions in the region, a testament of his passion for conflict resolution. He is also a prolific writer with over 30 books to his name. He has chaired several boards, and he is currently the Chairman of the Brenthurst Foundation.

President Thabo Mbeki

President Thabo Mbeki became President of South Africa in 1997, after serving as Vice President to Nelson Mandela, and served for two terms. As president, he focused on the transition from apartheid, reducing crime rate, and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Prior to that, President Mbeki was actively involved as a leader in the ANC’s successful struggle against apartheid.

He understood the need for an independent Africa and was thus one of the visionaries and architects n the establishment of NEPAD. He also oversaw the transition of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU) and was influential in the creation of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) club of emerging world powers as well as the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) Dialogue Forum. He is a respected African elder statesman whose achievements include peaceful mediations of conflicts in several countries including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Ivory Coast.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

He was the Executive Prime Minister of Ethiopia from 2012 to 2018. Under his tenure, he ensured the completion of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I) and commenced the GTP II which resulted in sustained economic progress. A number of significant projects were completed during his rule, notable among which are the Hawassa and Mekelle industrial park, Addis Ababa Light Rail, Gilgel Gibe III Dam, and the new Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway.

Prior to his political life, he was a distinguished academic having served in both academic and administrative capacities, including serving as Dean of the Water Institute of Technology. He is presently a board member and chairperson of various institutions including Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Tourism International Crisis Group (ICG), The Brenthurst Foundation, and the Global Steering Committee for the Campaign for Nature. He is also the co-founder and chairperson of the Hailemariam & Roman Foundation.

President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim served as the first female president of Mauritius. She is also an accomplished biodiversity scientist who served as Dean and Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Mauritius, and chairperson for the International Council for Scientific Union - Regional Office for Africa (2011 - 2014).

Her scientific achievements are globally recognized through the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science, Laureate for the National and Economic Council, and the African Union Award for Women in Science, which she received. Beyond science, she has also been acknowledged as one of Foreign Policy's 2015 Global Thinkers for her developmental efforts in Mauritius.

Gervais Djondo

He is the co-founder of pan-African bank Ecobank Group and also founder and honorary chairman of regional airline Asky Airlines; businesses that he established to solve problems in Africa. He is also the founding partner of the Djondo Fellowship, which was set-up to encourage and support emergence of more pan-African companies.

The Togolese pan-African worked several years in both the private and public sector before his retirement in 2019 at the age of 80 years; Director of National Social Security Funds (CNSS), initiator of the establishment of branches for UTB (Togolese Union of Bank), head of the Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry of Togo, chair of the Federation of the chambers of commerce and industry of West Africa, among many others.

He released the book “L’Afrique d’Abord” to mark his successful working life, which shares his entrepreneurial vision and how to contribute to the growth of Africa.


Paulo Gomes

Paulo Gomes is Co-Chair of the AfroChampions. He has over 30 years’ experience in sovereign and corporate advisory.He is also Managing Director of Constelor He previously served as Executive Director at the World Bank, representing 25 African countries. He is one of the founding team members of the $4.5b African Finance Corporation and the Green Climate Fund. He also co-founded New Capital African Partners, a firm that invested in growth sectors and industries across Africa. He is also a Chairman of ASEACC in Singapore. He is Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Government of Singapore and NTU – SBF Centre for African Studies.

Paulo holds a BA in Economics and International Trade from Sciences Po and ILERI, France, and an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Dr. Edem Adzogenu

Dr. Edem Adzogenu is an accomplished investment facilitation, government affairs and international crisis management specialist for global investors and businesses across Africa, Asia and Middle East, Europe and North America. His global experience ranges from advising African Heads of State, Fortune 500 companies, G7 countries and African regional institutions, to helping resolve disputes over investments in war-threatened regions.

Dr Adzogenu has been at the forefront of ground-breaking initiatives to promote public-private partnerships and a stronger role for the African private sector in regional and continental integration. Under his leadership, AfroChampions has grown into an influential regional public-private partnership platform that partners the African Union and several regional institutions to drive African integration and transformation.

He championed the landmark “Trillion Dollar Private Sector AfCFTA Investment & Financing Framework” in support of AfCFTA Implementation. The Framework was officially endorsed by African Heads of State in their Summit Decision at the February 2020 Summit in Addis Ababa. He is currently leading the AfroChampions team to operationalise the Framework which aims to facilitate up to one trillion dollars’ worth of investments into AfCFTA-accelerated cross border projects in Africa by 2030.

Circle of Advisors


Dr. James Nwangi
Group Managing Director, CEO Equity Group Holdings
Executive Chairman, Equity Group Foundation

Dr. James Mwangi is Group CEO of Equity Group Holdings, credited with democratizing financial access, leading Equity to become an integrated financial services Group operating in 6 African countries with a client base of over 14m, and an asset base of USD 9B+. James established Equity Group Foundation to scale shared prosperity, mobilizing support of like- minded partners to commit USD 445M for social impact. James is an awardee of the 2020 Oslo Business for Peace Award; the 2007 G8 Global Vision Award citing him as “an initiator of a concept of the future that will shape the world economy”; recognized in the FT’s 2009 list of ‘Top 50 thought leaders in emerging markets’ and the ‘Top 20 most influential people in Africa’; is the holder of the 2012 EY World Entrepreneur of the Year award, and was named one of the Bloomberg 50 in 2019. Learn more about Dr. James Mwangi

Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita

Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita is the non-executive chairperson for the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the chairperson for the Business Leadership of South Africa (BLSA) board of directors, and the CEO of Ichor Coal N.V., an international mining company focusing on thermal coal production in South Africa. She is the non-executive director of Standard Bank of South Africa Limited, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Macsteel Service Centres SA (Pty) Limited. Besides these, she is the trustee of the following organisations - Quartet of Peace Trust, Partners for Possibility (PfP) and The Norval Foundation.

An electrical engineer by profession, Mrs. Nyambezi-Heita was the CEO of ArcelorMittal, South Africa, the largest steel producer on the African continent, from 2008 to 2014. She was also the non-executive chairperson for the Alexander Forbes Group Holdings Limited until December 2019.

Jean-Louis Billon

Jean-Louis Billon is the CEO and board chair of the SIFCA Group, the leading employer and Ivorian agribusiness company.

Between 2012 and 2017 he served in Government as Minister of Commerce, Crafts and SME Promotion at a time that the economy had just seen the end of 20 years of political instability and military conflicts. As Minister, he initiated the $170m Phoenix programme to assist SMEs based on the US Small Business Act. He was also elected as mayor of Dabakala, the town of his birth.

Prior to his political appointment, he was the elected president of the national Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the appointed board chairman of the United Bank of Africa, Côte d’Ivoire. He used his position in these institutions to actively encourage investors to invest in Cote d’Ivoire.

Dr. Paul Fokam

Dr Fokam is the Chairman and CEO of Afriland First Group, which includes the Afriland Bank with 11 subsidiaries, pooling investments of a group of Africans across the world. He is an author, a lecturer, and a researcher whose work focuses on advancing the cause of creating wealth for the poor.

He is also the founder and president of the PKFokam Institute of Excellence, a pan African University which serves as an avenue for growing exceptional African leaders. In addition, he founded the MC2 Model microfinance network, and is identified as a key promoter of Chinese investments in Africa through the Chinese Africa Development Fund (CADFUND).

He is the winner of the German Prize for African Excellence, Knight of the Order of Valor of the CEMAC, the German 2005 African Excellence Award, and The African Banker’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. He is ranked by Forbes as one of the richest persons from the francophone sub-Saharan region.

Naguib Sawiris

He is the chairman of Orascom TMT Investments, a majority owner in EuroNews, chairman of La Mancha Group, chairman and CEO of Orascom Investment Holding S.A.E, and the owner of Silversands in Grenada, and several other businesses, as well as being the originator of the El Gouna Film Festival. He is one of the wealthiest men in Egypt, and a mechanical engineer by profession.

Beyond his personal ownership, the acute businessman served, and is still serving on a number of additional boards, committees and councils including the London Stock Exchange Group’s Africa Advisory Group, the Arab Thought Foundation, the Advisory Committee to the NYSE, and the International Advisory Board to the National Bank of Kuwait.

He is the recipient of the highest award given by the Republic of France, “Legion d’honneur”, as well as the Honor of Commander of the Order of the “Stella della Solidarietà Italiana”, and the prestigious “Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam” from Pakistan.

Admassu Tadesse

Admassu Tadesse is an international banker and business leader with experience at board and executive-levels globally and in Africa.

He is currently the President and Chief Executive of the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) – formerly the PTA Bank. Since he joined the Bank in 2012, Mr. Tadesse has launched new business operations and spearheaded critical reforms which have led TDB to transform its ownership and risk management structures, expand its partnership network, grow its assets from US$ 1 billion to US$ 6.7 billion, and drive higher impact in the 22 Member States it serves.

Specialized in trade and corporate finance as well other areas of development finance and asset management, TDB covers 22 Member States from Egypt, to Mozambique and Eswatini. It has 40 shareholders, both sovereigns and financial institutions, including the AfDB, BADEA, Denmark’s IFU, People’s Bank of China, OFID of OPEC, as well as several pension funds, and insurance companies.

Over the past 8 years, the Bank’s capital and funding have multiplied five-fold, alongside sharp growth in its shareholder base, and its portfolio. With several credit ratings upgrades, the Bank is now investment grade-rated and one of the leading and most impactful financial institutions in the region, with half of its portfolio now contributing to the SDGs. In 2020, TDB was recognized by African Banker Awards as the ‘African Bank of the Year’.

Previously, Mr. Tadesse was EVP at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, where he served for over 10 years, and was responsible for international finance and corporate strategy among others. He has also worked as a senior advisor and specialist with various funds and international organizations, including in New York.

He is a recipient of several distinctions and awards, and serves on several boards and industry bodies globally. Recently, Mr. Tadesse was recognized, as the 2019, African Banker of the Year. He holds an MSc from the London School of Economics, and an MBA from Wits Business School. He is also an alumni of Harvard Business School and Western University.

Binta Touré Ndoye

Binta TOURE NDOYE is a pan African Banker.

She was the Chief Executive Officer of Orabank group, the pan-African banking network, from 1 July 2016 to 31 May 2019, after her appointment as Deputy CEO in September 2015. As Oragroup CEO, Mrs. NDOYE has defined and implemented the Group's strategic plan as approved by the Board of Directors. She was also board member of each of the 7 subsidiaries of the Orabank Group.

In her role, Mrs. NDOYE has strongly worked towards the optimization of the organization’s processes and procedures to ultimately improve the Group’s efficiency, profitability and total networth. In less than 10 years, the Orabank Group expanded from 5 to 12 countries within four different monetary zones and has established itself as a key performing player in the African banking industry. In 2019, Mrs NDOYE successfully conducted the IPO of Oragroup at the BRVM in Abidjan for an historical amount raised of 56.92 billion FCFA.

Prior to joining Oragroup as Deputy CEO in 2016, Mrs. NDOYE worked for 20 years for the Ecobank group. Mrs. NDOYE quickly climbed the corporate ladder in the Pan African bank and became CEO of several of its affiliates, whilst serving as a Board Member in many countries. In 2013, she took up the role of Group Executive Director in charge of the implementation of strategic projects at ETI, Ecobank holding company based in Lomé and overseeing 35 countries. During her

Mrs. NDOYE began her career in the United States before returning to Africa in 1995. She holds an MBA from the University of Central Oklahoma in the United States and a Masters degree in Business Management from the University Stendhal of Grenoble in France.

Mrs. NDOYE received in 2010 from the President of the Republic of Mali the distinction “Chevalier de l’Ordre National” for her outstanding contribution to the economy of Mali.