TechHer Spotlight

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli: An inspiration to female entrepreneurs

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, was born on the 22nd of March 1975. She is a social entrepreneur with experience spanned over 20 years in International development and business management. In 2002, she founded LEAP Africa on the premises that Africa desperately needs a new generation of visionary, ethical, creative, and disciplined servants. These small group of people who share the same vision could work together to change the world. She is also the co-founder of ACCE food processing and distribution company founded in Nigeria.

In May 1995, at the age of 20, Nwuneli graduated from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with an Honors in Multinational and Strategic Management. She also bagged her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1997 at 24.

Mrs. Nwuneli has been recognized with several academic such as:

A recipient of the Albert A. Berg Scholarship.

A member of the Friars and the Onyx Senior Societies for her outstanding leadership efforts.

Recipient of both the Harvey Fellowship and the National Black MBA Association Graduate Scholarship.

Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

National Honor – Member of the Federal Republic from the Nigerian Government.

Listed as one of the 20 Youngest Power African Women by Forbes.

She serves on numerous local and international boards including the Board of Nestle Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Cornerstone Insurance Plc, AACE Foods, LEAP Africa and Royal DSM’s Sustainability Board.

Her Work:

Nwuneli’s career began in the summer of her junior year at The University of Pennsylvania when she held a Summer Business Analyst position with Mckinsey and Company in New York.

In 1995, she was offered a full-time position at McKinsey as a Business Analyst working out of Chicago, Illinois. She also worked for McKinsey office in Johannesburg, South Africa .

Notably, her work with McKinsey in 1997 led to the management and training of police officers across 25 South African Police Service Stations. There was also an increase in criminal convictions and a reduction in crime rates.

In the summer of 1998, she accepted a position as the Lead Consultant with a non-profit called The Center for Middle East Competitive Strategy. She consulted with Palestinian and Israeli businesses and made recommendations for decreasing transaction costs and increasing trade across the region.

In the summer of 1999, Nwuneli worked as the Lead Consultant for The Ford Foundation on a project focusing on Nigeria’s largest micro credit institutions; COWAN and FADU.

In 2000, less than a year after graduating from HBS, she resigned from her position at McKinsey and returned to Nigeria to serve as the pioneer Executive Director for the FATE Foundation. FATE Foundation is a nonprofit organization that strives to promote wealth creation and encourage entrepreneurship in Nigeria. With a specific enthusiasm for engaging female entrepreneurs, she explains to the HBS African America Alumni Association in an interview: “Nigeria has some of the most entrepreneurial people in the world but access to financing, networks, and growth remain a challenge. She believes that  empowering women to start and grow their businesses is critical to Nigeria’s development, but educating women is the real silver bullet.”

In 2002, Nwuneli founded two nonprofits, LEAP (Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability, Professionalism) Africa and Ndu Ike Akunuba (NIA), Igbo words which translate in English to Life, Strength, and Wealth. NIA’s focus is on female empowerment—inspiring university students in Southeastern Nigeria to live full and meaningful lives.

As a representative of LEAP, Ndidi has been invited to speak at the United Nation’s Commission for Social Development, the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative.

Since it was founded LEAP has worked in partnership with the Ford Foundation, Citi Foundation, World Bank, United States Government, United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, ALI (Aspen Institute’s Africa Leadership Initiative), Nokia, and the International Youth Foundation.

 Why TechHer Loves Her

Mrs. Ndidi is helping the Agriculture sector in Nigeria rethink its way of feeding itself. She is an inspiration to aspiring female entrepreneurs in Nigeria to achieve their highest potential.

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