When Nina Simone sang Young, gifted and black, she might have had Ndidi Nwuneli in mind: she has a degree from Harvard and was named by Forbes as one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa. Yet guiding principle seems to be; ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.' On a trip to Guatemela as a student, she found herself wondering why this supposedly very poor country was ‘so much more advanced than so many African countries? Why? What is the reason?” She believed four key principles were at work in Guatemala: leadership, effectiveness, accountability and professionalism. This led to her quitting a high profile job in the US and returning to Nigeria to found a non-profit organization dedicated to breeding an “army of committed change agents”, young people, business owners and social entrepreneurs who care about making a difference. Her latest venture, which she shared with passion at the TEDxEuston 2012 is an agribusiness and agro-processing company which aims at displacing imports with locally sourced, high quality substitutes. Her talk challenges the conventional wisdom of accepting the status quo.
Watch her brilliant talk here.
Ndidi Nwuneli is a director of Sahel Capital Partners, a leading advisory firm focused on the agribusiness and manufacturing sectors, and the co-founder of AACE Foods, an agro-processing company. Through her work with Sahel and AACE, she has also shaped agriculture strategy and policy and supported a range of clients in Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. Ndidi started her career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, working in their Chicago, New York and Johannesburg offices. She returned to Nigeria in 2000 to fulfill her passion for promoting entrepreneurship and leadership development in Africa. She served as the pioneer executive director of the FATE Foundation from 2000, and then established LEAP Africa and NIA in 2002 and 2003 respectively. NIA empowers female university students to achieve their highest potential in life, while LEAP Africa provides leadership, ethics and management training and coaching for youth, business owners, social entrepreneurs and the public sector. LEAP also conducts leadership research and has published numerous books including: Defying the Odds: Case Studies of Nigerian Companies that have Survived Generations, Rage for Change and Building a Culture of Ethics. Ndidi holds a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She was recognized as a Global Leader of Tomorrow and Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and received a National Honour, Member of the Federal Republic in 2004. Ndidi is married with two children.