Please Check Back soon for more Speaker Details for the 2020 Olin Africa Business Forum


Past Africa Business Forum Speakers


Morning Keynote Speaker:

Professor Leslye Obiora

University of Arizona Law School, Professor of Law | Federal Government of Nigeria, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Former Cabinet Minister

Leslye Obiora is the seventh of nine children raised by a mother widowed in the aftermath of the Biafra civil war. She grew up in Nigeria and obtained a professional law degree from the University of Nigeria, a Masters from Yale Law School, and a doctoral degree from Stanford Law School. A former Minister of Mines and Steel for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, she served as the Coca Cola World Fund Visiting Faculty at Yale University and is the recipient of several distinguished awards. These include fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, Institute for Advanced Studies Fellowship at Princeton, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, and the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. She has been the Genest Global Faculty at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, the Visiting Gladstein Human Rights Professor at the University of Connecticut, and the Manager for the World Bank Gender and Law Program. She is the founder of the Institute for Research on African Women, Children and Culture (IRAWCC) and the Convener of the Leadership Enterprise for African Development (LEAD), the Platform for African Diaspora Youth (PADY), and SPIN which is a corollary initiative to stimulate the growth of indigenous philanthropy in Nigeria.


Fireside Chat: Consulting in Africa, Lessons Learned

Dr. Staffan Canback

The Economist Intelligence Unit, Canback Consulting- Managing Partner

Dr. Canback is the founder and managing director of Canback. He has been a management consultant for more than 30 years. His consulting work focuses on issues relevant to CEOs of large corporations. This includes corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, organizational performance, board / corporate leadership dynamics, and corporate finance.

Between 1984 and 1994, Dr. Canback was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in Scandinavia, where he was elected partner in 1989. He worked primarily in the insurance and industrial manufacturing sectors. He was a partner at Monitor Company from 1994 till 2002 and served, among other duties, as global head of the financial services practice. He further consulted extensively in the telecom sector.

Dr. Canback received his doctorate from Henley Management College/Brunel University. His dissertation, “Bureaucratic Limits of Firm Size: Empirical Analysis Using Transaction Cost Economics,” received first prize in the European Doctoral Dissertation Competition in 2003. Dr. Canback also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School which he attended as a Fulbright scholar, and an MSc in Electrical Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology where he graduated summa cum laude.

He is a regular contributor on TV and radio and is featured in print articles around the world.





Public Health and Social Impact

(WashU Brown School)


Financing Innovation


Afternoon Keynote Speaker:

Aishetu Dozie

Bossy Cosmetics, CEO & Founder, Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria Limited, Former General Manager and Division Head, Investment Banking West Africa

Aishetu’s passion for global finance began in the equities division of Goldman Sachs on the international desk in New York over 20 years ago. Aishetu holds a BA from Cornell University, a MBA from the Harvard Business School, and participated in the Leaders in Development Program at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University. She went on to work for a USAID-funded project with the Nigerian government in its privatization program. She worked closely with President Olusegun Obasanjo and his economic team of cabinet ministers in crafting the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, which drove several successful reforms including the $18 billion Paris Club debt write-off. Her passion for demonstrable development impact and understanding the intersection of the public and private sectors ability to stimulate economic growth led her to the World Bank in Washington, DC, where she focused on financing businesses in the manufacturing, infrastructure, and service sectors in regions such as Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and Eastern Africa. Aishetu has worked for Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered Bank, and Rand Merchant Bank as a senior investment banking executive, having closed $130 billion in M&A, financing, and capital markets transactions. Over the past two decades, she’s lived in New York, Johannesburg, London, Chicago and Lagos.


Mark Edge - Bayer Crop Science, Director of Collaborations for Developing Countries.

Mark leads Bayer’s collaborations with public-private partnership projects to improve food security and rural livelihood among smallholder maize producers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The WEMA (Water Efficient Maize for Africa) project is the signature project he leads. The WEMA project develops new drought-tolerant and insect pest-protected maize hybrids and provides the technology royalty-free. It helps build technical capacity in Africa to use conventional and molecular breeding as well as biotechnology.

Mark grew up on a corn, soybean and livestock farm in Iowa. His background includes experience in biotech research; many aspects of managing seed business development as well as the grain export business. He has a B.S. from Iowa State University, a M.S. in Genetics from the University of California at Davis, and an MBA from Drake University.


 Natalie DiNicola – Benson Hill Biosystems, Chief Communications Officer

Natalie is Chief Communications Officer responsible for marketing, communication and stakeholder engagement at Benson Hill Biosystems, an early-stage technology platform company empowering innovation to improve food and agriculture. Prior to joining Benson Hill, Natalie was President of DiNicola, LLC and a Senior Associate of the Context Network where she leveraged 20 years of experience in the agri-food industry and a decade of experience in sustainability and agriculture development to achieve business goals and address global social and environmental challenges. Her clients spanned the agri-food value chain from grower organizations to food companies, with established and emerging players, including Benson Hill. Natalie has extensive expertise in business needs assessment and strategy development, sustainability process and reporting, public-private partnership development, food and agriculture policy and communications. Her expertise includes food and nutrition security, environmental sustainability, sustainable sourcing, farmer livelihoods, biotechnology and sustainability reporting.


Matt Plummer – The Yield Lab, Principal

Principal at the Yield Lab and Cultivation Capital. He is responsible for the day-to-day investments, fundraising, portfolio, and company operations for the Yield Lab Opportunity fund and the Yield Lab global network. This includes maintaining and managing a deal pipeline, organizing the fundraising pipeline, running the due diligence process, and coordinating portfolio management and fund management. Prior to Matt’s role as Principal, he was the Program Manager for the Yield Lab Accelerator, building a novel and unique accelerator program geared toward value creation around generating customers, collaborators and investors.

Matt led the launch of the Yield Lab Europe, an agriculture technology venture fund and accelerator based in Ireland. Matt has been as an agriculture technology analyst and spent time in an agriculture technology startup, CoverCress, helping them breed plants, tending greenhouse and harvesting genetic nurseries.

Prior to Matt’s involvement in the Yield Lab, he lived in Salt Lake City as a competing member of the U.S. Long Track Speedskating Team. Matt served on the U.S. Speedskating Board of Directors from 2012-2018 and serving as the Secretary Officer and as Chair of the Athletes’ Advisory Council. Matt graduated in 2018 with a Master of Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis. Matt currently is Vice Chair of the Young Friends of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.


Dr. Proscovia Nabunya - WashU Brown School of Social Work, Research Assistant Professor & Assistant Director of the Africa Initiative

Dr Nabunya’s research focuses on family and community-based support systems as protective factors for the development and well-being of children and families impacted by HIV/AIDS. She studies poverty-reduction strategies that utilize asset-based interventions and their impact on the social, economic and health well-being of children and families in HIV-impacted communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Before joining the Brown School, Dr. Nabunya completed the Provost’s Post-Doctoral and Transitional Program for Academic Diversity Fellowship at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work and she has a PhD from The University of Chicago.


Thabani Nyomi - WashU Brown School of Social Work, Ph.D Candidate

Thabani Nyoni is originally from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He earned his BA honors degree in History & Development Studies in 2004 and an MA in Development Studies in 2008 from Midlands State University in Zimbabwe. In 2009, Thabani was a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow who got his professional development at the University of Minnesota between August 2009 to May 2010. In May 2016, he completed his MSW degree at the University of California, Berkeley. During his MSW program, he received a two-year MasterCard Foundation scholarship to support studies. He was also awarded a summer research fellowship grant by the Berkeley Graduate Development Fellowship Program to conduct a qualitative research study on refugee health and rights community mobilization. Thabani has over eight (8) years of professional experience that includes working in government service social sector, social justice with the non-profit sector in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the United States. He also taught on a part-time basis at two universities in Zimbabwe. During his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing tennis, watching soccer and movies.


Dr. Christine Ekenga - WashU Brown School of Social Work, Asst. Professor

Assistant Professor at the Brown School. Her research focuses on the epidemiology of chronic diseases such as cancer and respiratory diseases. She is particularly interested in assessment methods for research and clinical practices. Her current work includes examining how lifestyle, environmental, and occupational factors interact to influence health and well-being. Dr. Ekenga is a member of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and a faculty scholar in the Institute for Public Health at Washington University. Dr. Ekenga’s research has appeared in the American Journal of Public Health, Cancer Environmental Health, and the Journal of American Medicine Association. Her work is funded by the Centers of Disease Prevention and Control and the National Institutes of Health.


Dr. Joshua Muia - WashU Medical School, Hematology Instructor

Dr. Joshua Muia is currently an Instructor in the Division of Hematology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and a PhD in BioInorganic Chemistry/Molecular Biology at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. He gives back to his homeland of Kenya in creating medical and scientific training programs for students and trainees within the country.


Akin Sawyerr - Feleman, Managing Director

Akin Sawyerr is the Managing Director of Feleman Limited, an investments and consulting firm focused on deploying payments systems, remittances, and blockchain solutions to catalyze growth in emerging markets. Feleman also assist projects in renewable energy, healthcare, and ancillary industries that add value in underserved communities. Mr. Sawyerr is also the cofounder of a blockchain remittance company called RocRemit and serves as a Director of Splash Mobile Money, a mobile payments company in Sierra Leone where he provides strategic guidance on all matters concerning the company. Mr. Sawyerr previously spent fifteen years working for management consulting and Fortune 500 corporations. He led strategic and organization transformation projects at Booz Allen Hamilton and Accenture in Washington, D.C., and held leadership positions with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Mr. Sawyerr started his career at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington, D.C., in the Technology and General Services Group where he conducted economic research and data analysis in support of IMF country strategies in Africa, Asia and Europe. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics with a minor in Political Science from Union College, New York, and a master’s in business administration (MBA) from The Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. He is a Board Member of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network in Washington D.C., and an alumnus of the World Bank Institute, and the ASPEN Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). Further details on my background can be reviewed on my LinkedIn Profile


Yinka Adegoke - Quartz, Editor

Yinka Adegoke is the founding editor of Quartz Africa, coordinating its news and events in partnership with a team across the continent. In 2018 he was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine for his role in developing Quartz Africa as key news and features platform on the continent. As a journalist, Yinka has reported from over 20 countries across Europe, Africa and North America. Before Quartz, Yinka was deputy editor at Billboard where he ran the business coverage for the world’s leading music magazine brand. Prior to that he was Reuters’ senior media correspondent covering the global media business where he focused on the digital disruption of traditional media. Earlier in his career Yinka was an editor at New Media Age in London covering the early days of the digital media revolution and a regular writer for The Guardian and The Financial Times. He has spoken at the World Bank, WTO and numerous business and technology events around the world. He’s also a pundit on broadcast outlets including BBC, CNN and NPR.


Dr. Habiba Ibrahim

Dr. Ibrahim is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at WashU. Her research focuses on looking at Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) which are a trust-based practice of group saving, with no formal agreement or documentation.  She looks at the prevalence of ROSCA accounts in helping immigrants from various countries in Africa in order to participate in various investments including starting up small businesses, home ownership, vehicle purchases and vocational training.

More Speakers to be Announced…