Nairobi, Kenya, 17th February 2020 - The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) has announced the appointment of a new Board during its Board meeting held in Nairobi. The Board brings together visionary and committed leaders from across Africa with diverse expertise to lead the institution into a stronger future to deliver on its mission of ensuring a prosperous and enterprising rural Africa.
The incoming AECF Board members include:
Ms. Hixonia Nyasulu – One of the influential businesswomen on the African continent, Ms. Nyasulu joins as the new AECF Board Chair and brings global experience across multiple business sectors and serving on several Boards, including AngloAmerican, Sasol, and Unilever PLC. She is the Founder and current Executive Chairman of Ayavuna Women's Investments (Pty) Ltd, a women-controlled investment vehicle focused on promoting the economic empowerment of women.
Mr. Teklewold Atnafu – One of the foremost economists in Africa, Dr. Atnafu brings a deep understanding of African economies, policy environments, and what it takes to mobilize new capital for emerging sectors and businesses. He currently serves as the Senior Macroeconomic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and until 2018 he was Governor of the Central Bank of Ethiopia.
Mr. Frank Braeken – A seasoned investor across the African continent, Mr. Braeken brings experience advising a variety of agro and food enterprises. He previously held various management functions in Unilever over nearly 20 years, and currently serves on the board of several companies including Buhler, Feronia Inc, myAgro, and Zambeef.
Mr. Enock Chikava – A foremost leader supporting Africa’s agricultural transformation, Mr. Chikava brings more than 25 years’ of experience working in private agribusiness, food processing, farmer organizations, and philanthropy. He currently serves as the Deputy Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he leads a team focused on developing innovative tools, solutions, and business models that can most cost-effectively deliver products, services, and practices to smallholder farmers at scale across Africa and South Asia.
They join Mr Duncan Onyango who has served on AECF’s Board since 2017. Mr. Onyango is a visionary leader who has successfully developed and directed complex corporate and enterprise growth initiatives over more than 20 years. He has served on the boards of major organisations in East Africa and the UK, including: Rift Valley Railways Ltd, First Access LLC, SolarNow LLC, Sanergy Ltd, TradeMark EA, Town and Country Housing Association (UK), among others.
The incoming Board Chair, Ms. Nyasulu of South Africa, thanked Lord Boateng and the outgoing Board members for their leadership, and she committed to taking up the AECF strategy to deliver even greater impact going forward with the foundations laid.
“AECF recognizes the transformative potential of emerging businesses across sub-Sahara Africa to innovate, create jobs, and leverage investments and markets to create resilience and sustainable incomes for Africa’s rural and marginalized communities,” said Ms. Nyasulu. “I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as the Chair of the AECF Board. Working with our partners, we will support more early and growth stage businesses that can create 25,000 new jobs, leverage US$1 billion investment from private sector, help reduce carbon emissions, and ultimately improve 25 million lives and build resilient communities across the continent.”
AECF is the premier challenge fund supporting early and growth-stage businesses in Africa’s agribusiness and renewable energy sectors to reduce poverty, promote resilient communities and create jobs through private sector investment. Since its inception in 2008, AECF has transformed the lives of 17 million people, increasing their incomes and wages and realizing a cumulative development impact of US$ 1.3 billion. To achieve this, it has supported 268 businesses across 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, that also created and sustained 12,000 jobs and leveraged US$ 750 million growth capital from the private sector.