Meet our Speakers
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is an expert on social innovation, African agriculture and nutrition, entrepreneurship, and youth development. She has over 25 years of international development experience and is a recognized serial entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and consultant. Through her work in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, she has shaped policy and led the design and execution of high-impact initiatives focused on strategy, organizational design, ecosystem solutions, and growth.
Mrs. Nwuneli serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), AGRA, Nigerian Breweries Plc. (Heineken), Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. India, Fairfax Africa Holdings Canada, Royal DSM Sustainability Board, Netherlands, and the African Philanthropy Forum. She previously served on the Boards of Nestle Nigeria Plc., the World Vegetable Center and Cornerstone Insurance Plc.
Mrs. Nwuneli started her career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, working in Chicago, New York, and Johannesburg. She returned to Nigeria in 2000 to serve as the pioneer executive director of FATE Foundation, supporting young entrepreneurs to start and scale their businesses. In 2002, she established LEAP Africa to inspire, empower, and equip a new cadre of principled, disciplined, and dynamic young leaders in Africa. In the same year, she established NIA to support female university students in Nigeria to achieve their highest potential.
Over the past 12 years, she has focused exclusively on transforming the African agriculture and nutrition landscape. Through her work as the co-founder and the Managing Partner of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition, she has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, DFID, ECOWAS, Syngenta and a range of private and public sector organizations to implement ecosystem solutions in the African agriculture and food landscapes. As the co-founder of AACE Foods, which produces a range of packaged spices, seasonings, and cereals for local and international markets, Mrs. Nwuneli has propelled the growth of a catalytic business. As the founder of Nourishing Africa, a digital home for food and agriculture entrepreneurs operating on the African Continent, she is accelerating the growth of the ecosystem and supporting entrepreneurs in 35 African countries. Her latest start-up is Changing Narratives Africa committed to changing global mindsets about Africa by showcasing the Continent’s contributions to the world through the pioneering work of her dynamic people, their innovations, and products.
Mrs. Nwuneli was recognized as a Young Global Leader and a Schwab Social Innovator by the World Economic Forum and received a National Honor from the Nigerian Government. She was listed as one of the 20 Power African Women by Forbes, on the 2019 100 Most Influential Africans List by New African Magazine and recently received the 2021 Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Awards, the highest honors given by the school. She is a TED Global speaker.
Mrs. Nwuneli is the author of “Social Innovation in Africa: A Practical Guide for Scaling Impact,” and “Food Entrepreneurs in Africa: Scaling Resilient Agriculture Businesses,” both published by Routledge. She is also the author of “Working for God in the Marketplace.”
She holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree with honors 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 an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.
Dr. Ed Mabaya is a scholar and a development practitioner with more than two decades of experience working on development, agribusiness value chains and food security issues with a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. He is a Research Professor in the Department of Global Development, International Professor in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Senior Research Associate in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. His teaching, research and outreach work focuses on food security and economic development in Africa. Previously he was the Division Manager of Agribusiness Development at the African Development Bank where he managed continent-wide investments, partnerships and research in support of the Feed Africa strategy. Mabaya’s applied research work is anchored around food marketing and distribution, enabling environments for agribusiness, seed systems, digital solutions for smallholder agriculture, and the role of efficient agricultural markets in Africa’s economic development. He has published widely on these topics in both peer reviewed outlets and popular press media. He is the founder and current the Scientific Advisor for The African Seed Access Index, a project that monitors seed sector performance in 21 Africa countries. His work has received many distinguished recognitions including for “42 African Innovators to Watch in 2016” by Ventures Africa magazine, 2013 Coca Cola Africa Diaspora Network and the 2006 and 2017 L.A. Potts Success Story awards for “program with model resulting in high impact on poor communities”. He is a public speaker who has presented several keynote talks including TEDx-MidAtlantic
Perteet is thrilled to be able to bring all of her passions into her role as co-founder of AYO Foods. Seeking to build a more inclusive food system that reflected her experience growing up in a Liberian family, Perteet launched AYO with her husband Fred last summer with the vision of creating a platform brand that celebrated the ingredients, flavors, and culture of the West African diaspora. Prior launching AYO, Perteet held brand, sales, and consulting leadership roles at LEGO, General Mills, and SPINS. When she’s not actively working on AYO, you can usually find Perteet spending time in the kitchen with her two girls (Clark – 10 and Addision – 7) or advancing of issues of food equity through her involvement in the Food Recovery Network, a non-profit focused eliminating foods insecurity through food waste recovery. Perteet earned an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson school of Management and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from DePaul University.
Paul Newnham is Director of SDG2 (Sustainability Development Goal 2) Advocacy Hub, a secretariat convened to connect NGOs, advocacy groups, civil society, private sector, and United Nations agencies. The Hub’s goal is to coordinate global campaigning and advocacy to achieve food systems transformation.
The SDG2 Hub facilitates a network of 1000+ chefs to support chef action on the sustainability development goals, through the Chefs’ Manifesto. The Manifesto engages chefs as advocates for a better food system for all; one that is less wasteful, more nutritious, and above all, respects the earth.
Paul also leads the Good Food For All Campaign, being driven by the UN Food System Summit, to drive Public Engagement via an engaging social media campaign.
Moky Makura was born in Nigeria, educated in England and has lived in London, Johannesburg, and Lagos. She is the Executive Director of Africa No Filter, a donor collaborative focused on shifting the African narrative. Prior to that she was the Deputy Director for Communications Africa at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where she was responsible for building and managing the foundation’s reputation on the continent. In 2017 she took on interim role as the foundation’s Country Representative to South Africa responsible for government relations and internal program coordination. Before joining the Gates Foundation, Moky worked as Communications Director for the Tony Elumelu Foundation in Nigeria. Prior to that she was a well-known TV presenter, producer, author, publisher and a successful entrepreneur in her own right.
Moky holds an Honours degree in Politics, Economics and Law from Buckingham University in the UK. As part of her passion to present a positive image of Africa and showcase its heroes and achievements, she created one of the first websites to serve as a repository of positive facts about the continent. Visit the website at: www.africaourafrica.com. Moky started and runs the first storytelling networking event for women called Herstory Joburg.
Moky serves on the advisory boards of five non-profits: Junior Achievement Africa, the Houtbay Partnership, Corps Africa, Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and The Festival Academy. She is a non-executive director at the communication Advisory BB Partners and a member of the Angel investment group Dazzle Angels.
Temitope Jebutu is a Nigerian Agribusiness professional with over 17 years of experience in Operations Management working with multinational and international organizations. He is currently the Managing Director of AACE Food Processing and Distribution Limited which produces spices, seasonings, snacks and complementary foods for local and international markets.
Temi joined AACE Foods in 2014 and has led the growth of the organization by introducing innovative and nutritious products, improving the livelihoods of over 10,000 smallholder farmers in the company’s supply chain and displacing imports through promoting local sourcing. AACE Foods’ pioneering efforts have been recognized and supported by the Africa Diaspora Marketplace, Innovations Against Poverty (IAP), the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), Business call to Action (BctA), the London Stock Exchange, Ebony Life TV and WIMBIZ.
Prior to returning to Nigeria to join AACE Foods, Temi had prior work experience in Canada with McDonalds Corporation and Sakai Spice. Temitope holds a BSc. In Estate Management from Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria, an MBA in Operations Management from Frederick Taylor University, United states, and an MBA in Food Security from Business School Netherlands. He also has a Quality Management Certificate from the University of Manitoba Canada, is a member of the Stanford Seeds Transformation Network and a Cochran Fellow.
Temitope is a change agent in the Nigeria Agricultural sector and remains committed to promoting nutrition, producing nutritious food, improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and also ensuring gender equality and women empowerment in the agribusiness landscape.
Ehime is the Founder of Sweetkiwi, a healthy artisan creamery in Nigeria which has a social mission to impact the local dairy agricultural value chain. A health scare led her to a greater understanding of the power of food. She changed her eating habits and delved into learning more about different ingredients that supports our bodies development. Sweetkiwi was born from this labor of love. She has led partnerships with many exciting brands such as Moet & Chandon, Pepsi, Guinness, and Baileys, to mention a few. In 2019, Ehime led a team to launch her delicious whipped Greek Yogurt in the US market, which can be found in Whole Foods Market, Walmart, and several other grocery stores.
Ehime is a McKinsey Black Executive Leader, aVisa grant recipient, a Sara Blakely X Spanx GrantRecipient, Acumen 2021 West African Fellow, the winner of the Black Girls Venture DC pitch competition, and many other awards.
Ehime is also a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Womenscholar and ambassador. She holds a degree in business Information Technology and International Studies from London Metropolitan University. She is certified for Cultured Dairy and Ice cream production from Penn State University. As Founder and Creative Director of Sweetkiwi, Ehime is passionate about advocating for safe, sustainable, and equitable food systems.
Chef Micheal’s childhood revolved around food. He was exposed to professional kitchens in a unique way as both his mother and grandmother found their niche in professional cooking and teaching. He pursued his first degree in biology before deciding to change his path and focus on his passion, culinary arts.
His love for food is intertwined with his search for identity, authenticity and love. After working at Eleven Madison Park and NoMad restaurants, he decided to move back to Nigeria and immerse himself in her diverse cuisine. Drawing on the training from his experiences at some of the world’s best restaurants, and inspiration from Nigeria’s native cuisines; he was inherently motivated by the belief that we make the greatest impact on the world when we do what we love, and this birthed Itan Test Kitchen in Lagos Nigeria, 2017.
Itan means ‘story’ in the Yoruba language, and this embodies the aim of the test kitchen. To tell the story of Nigerian cuisine, rediscovering and reimagining the different ways Nigerian ingredients can be used and her cooking traditions interpreted to curate remarkable eating experiences. Itan is a unique expression of Nigerian food that explores the glory and diversity of local ingredients and cooking methods.
His passion and dedication has taken him to many great places. In 2018, he hosted a dinner titled ‘This is Nigeria’ at the James Beard House to showcase creative Nigerian cuisine. He is a proud signatory of the SDG2 Advocay Hub’s Chef’s Manifesto which encourages chefs to make sustainable changes for a better future for food. In 2019, he launched ABORI marketplace which is a collective movement aiming to facilitate sustainable growth in Nigeria’s food systems. In 2020, he was named as one of the 100 Emerging chefs by the 20 leading chefs. In 2021, he was recognised as a pioneer in National Geographic’s Traveller.
Ruth Nakaar was born in Israel to Ghanaian parents and raised in New Haven, CT. She founded Fudena in 2020, which aims to be America’s first chain of fast casual West African restaurants, starting with a brick and mortar location in Philadelphia slated to open soon. Before Fudena, Ruth lived in Washington D.C., where she worked in the international development space, specifically with USAID-funded projects in Tanzania, Malawi, and Kenya. Ruth has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA in Political Science from Yale University.
Emeka Okafor has a diverse, interdisciplinary background focused on developing, building, and deploying initiatives across Africa. He curated the only full TED Conferences held on the continent in 2007 and 2017 and co-founded Maker Faire Africa, which held events in five African countries from 2009-2014. He is also the co-founder of the acclaimed TED Fellows Program launched in 2009. He currently sits on the board of the Gearbox Kenya which is fostering the building of ecosystems for local hardware development. Emeka has advised organizations including the X-Prize Foundation and Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE). He was previously a board member for Samasource and a Global Poptech Fellow. His current interests include the founding of Kichin, a food and beverage accelerator. Emeka is also the author of the blog Timbuktu Chronicles, which covers the confluence of entrepreneurship, science, and technology in Africa, and Africa Unchained, a blog examining issues that include governance, policy, education, and institution-building in Africa. He is also a contributing author to the book: Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century.