Five Days to Reconnect, Realise, Relearn, Redesign and Reimagine.
This event has ended.
The Baobab Summit is an annual gathering that connects and empowers Mastercard Foundation Scholars, Africa’s next generation of transformative and ethical leaders. Open to 1,000 third- and fourth-year Scholars, 2021’s virtual Summit promised a high level of interactivity, energy, and engagement and hopes to ignite feelings of connection, oneness, and purpose.
The theme for 2021, Reimagining Our Realities, acknowledges that the global pandemic has shaken our worlds in ways we could not imagine, forcing us to continue to adjust. During the Summit, we explored how we can reconstruct our world. We heard from Africa’s leading trailblazers who are imagining new possibilities and exploring how we can re-think challenges and find new ways to achieve solutions.
The Summit featured dynamic plenary sessions and Scholar-led workshops, career-coaching, and interactive breakout sessions.
Scholars had the opportunity to grow their networks, raise their voices, and gain insights and tangible skills and leave feeling refreshed, and ready to face the world with renewed resolve.
2021’s Exciting Lineup of Speakers
Learn more about 2021 Baobab Summit’s speakers.
Maame Afon is the founder and Chief Steward of MILT (Management for Impact Leadership and Transformation), an organization she founded in 2017. She is a people connector, leader developer, relationship architect, and further enjoys her work as an activist, facilitator, impact coach and mentor. She is an internationally recognized thought leader, passionate advocate for women and girls and a leadership development enthusiast, working at the intersection of transformative and women’s leadership in philanthropy, environment, health, politics, social change. She is also a recording artist who uses music to promote social change and philanthropy.
Maame Afon leverages her vast and expansive experience to support various social justice initiatives through her board service with organizations such as We Care Solar and AWDF USA (board chair), Bright Generation Community Foundation (Ghana Bamboo Bikes), Days for Girls-Ghana, Moremi Initiative, Street Business School, Women Leaders for the World, and Nurturing Minds/SEGA. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards in recognition of her immense contribution to justice, equity, leadership, and social change. She was recently awarded the 2021 Changemaker Award by How Women Lead. Maame holds a B.A. in French and Spanish and an M.A. in human rights, gender, and international development. She is a whole woman and enjoys raising her three children with her husband.
Ilwad Elman is a young female leader at the forefront of the Somali peace process, and a global authority on peace and security. After the assassination of her father, a prominent Somali peace activist, Ilwad and her family became refugees, eventually finding asylum in Canada. At age 19, she returned with her mother to a Somalia steeped in violent conflict and together they founded the Elman Peace Centre. She has designed interventions aimed at security sector reform to create an inclusive space for women in peace building. She has also created programs that support the disarmament and rehabilitation of child and for adults defecting from armed groups labeled as terrorist organizations to enable their reintegration and socio-economic empowerment.
Beyond her duties at the Elman Peace Centre; Ilwad is an advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation and was a mentee of His excellency, the late Kofi Annan. She has been an UN expert advisor on Peace and Security to two consecutive UN Secretary General and briefed the Security Council on numerous occasions, most recently in 2019 on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. In 2020 she completed a two year role as the youngest board member of the UN Peace Building Fund. For the last three years she has been shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize and recognized as one Forbes Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women.
Abdelwahab E. Elsirag is the co-Founder and CEO of iWill Coaching, a company he started in 2018 to bring hope and inspire individuals to find their purpose in life. Through mentorship and fostering skills development he encourages individuals to strive to become the best version of themselves. His business focuses on results, relationship, and career coaching as well as youth and parent mentoring. Abdelwahab has helped numerous individuals make their vision a reality through his dedication to excellence and unmatched commitment to his clients.
For 13 years he has worked as a coach, influencer, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, mentor, and leader. He experiences genuine pride and joy when he can work with clients in creating a vision for defining their best life. He plays the role of teammate and walks alongside them so they can achieve everything their goals. For Abdelwahab there is nothing more gratifying than supporting a client to transform their quality of life, simply by showing them that excellence can be achieved with gratitude and dedication.
Ayado Ewinyu is a Registered Industrial and Organizational Psychologist. She is currently employed as the Director of Early Career Success at ALA’s Africa Careers Network. Ayado is passionate about career and professional development and her current role enables her to design and develop programs of global influence, impacting over 2000 young people. She has previous experience working as a Management Consultant in various countries, is extensively travelled, and has built expertise in developing talent and human capital management solutions, organizational design solutions, change management, and project management.
In 2020 and 2021, Ayado received the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SA) Presidential Award Nomination for Industrial and Organizational Practitioner of the Year in recognition of her work in championing and advocating for young people in the youth employ-ability space. Ayado possesses a Masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Johannesburg and is an Executive at the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology in South Africa, where she oversees all the society’s governance matters.
Marina Gorbis is Executive Director of the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a 50-year-old non-profit research and consulting organization based in Silicon Valley. She has brought a futures perspective to hundreds of organizations in business, education, government, philanthropy, and civic society. Marina’s current research focuses on transformations in the world of work and new forms of value creation. She launched the Workable Futures Initiative at IFTF with the aim of developing a deeper understanding of new work patterns and to prototype a generation of Positive Platforms for work. She has introduced the concept of Universal Basic Assets (UBA) as a framework for thinking about different types of assets and the role they play in economic security. The UBA framework also highlights at a variety of approaches and tools we can use to achieve wider asset distribution and greater equity.
Marina’s book, The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed World, explores many of these themes and draws connections between the changes in our technology infrastructure and our organizational landscape, from education to governance and health. She frequently writes and speaks on future organizational, technology, and social issues.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public policy from University of California, Berkeley.
Nchimunya Hamukoma (Chipo) is an Economist & Policy Strategist with pan-African experience in helping governments and organizations develop dynamic strategies in complex situations. Her work at Harambee looks at how to create earning and learning opportunities for Africa’s burgeoning youth population. Focusing on microenterprises and centering the African story in the discussions on the Future of Work.
Her passion for African futures was stirred up whilst leading the Brenthurst Foundation’s Future of African Cities Project, a multi-year, multi-country study of urban development in six African cities and through her work at the School of Collective Intelligence in Morocco.
Chipo was part of the founding faculty of the Nelson Mandela School of Governance and has served in a policy advisory capacity to the President of Ghana, the Governor of Lagos, the Mayor of Buffalo City and the Southeast Region Economic Development Company in Nigeria.
Musonda Mumba is the Director for The Rome Centre for Sustainable Development under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in close collaboration with the Italian Government’s Ministry of Environment and Ecological Transition. The Centre focuses on three priority areas: climate change, sustainable development, and nature protection. In her role, Mumba provides strategic leadership on these matters through convening, collaboration, connecting, and co-creation as the world navigates complexity and uncertainty, with the aim of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals collectively. She is also the Chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR). She has over 25 years’ experience in environmental and conservation issues globally, and has published widely in various journals, newspapers, articles, and contributed to book chapters. Before joining UNDP, Mumba was the head of United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP’s Terrestrial Ecosystems Programme, and served in various roles over a period of 12 years. A Zambian national, she received her BSc. Ed. at University of Zambia and her Ph.D. at University College London in wetland conservation and hydrology.
Eddie Ndopu is an award-winning humanitarian and renowned disability justice practitioner who currently serves as one of 17 eminent Advocates appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to galvanize concerted action on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
He is a Senior Partner at Global Goals Advisory, where he works with leaders across all sectors to align their strategic and policy objectives with the SDGs and helps them see how non-financial factors such environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and diversity, equity and inclusion can have a cutting edge impact their business. He also sits on the Boards of the United Nations Foundation, IMAGINE, and the Valuable 500. He also serves as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the New Agenda for Equity and Social Justice, as well as Verizon’s Disability Advisory Board.
Eddie is currently building the Global Access Fund, a $1 billion mechanism to shore up and bolster the global humanitarian system so that the 1 billion people with disabilities living on the planet today do not get left behind in this Decade of Action. An African Leadership Academy alumnus, Eddie holds a Master of Public Policy from Oxford University, and also graduated summa cum laude from Carleton University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights, Post-colonial Studies, and Critical Theory.
Eddie is signed with Aevitas Literary Agency and is currently writing his debut memoir.
Valentine Njoroge is an investment professional and entrepreneur with a business and economics degree from Philadelphia’s Drexel University and an MBA from Oxford University (Saïd Business School).
Valentine began her career in wealth management at Morgan Stanley, New York before joining Dry Associates in Nairobi. She served as Projects Director at Centum Investment Company, where she ran a $USD 5 million fund focused on investing in start-ups and managed Centrum Group special projects.
Currently, she is the Co-Founder and CEO of Africa’s Pocket, a personal finance company that equips individuals to create the life they want through digital courses and tools. Her team offers over a decade and a half of investing experience, filtered through a lens of human psychology to create highly actionable, easily implementable roadmaps to wealth.
Africa’s Pocket is a portfolio company of Mradifund, an investment holding company that invests in fintech, real estate, FMCG and content businesses.
Chiamaka is a medical doctor, and currently functions as the Program Coordinator of the African Youth Charter Hustlers, an initiative of the African Union to engage youth leaders from all 55 member states to lead advocacy and accountability for the ratification and implementation of the African Youth Charter. She was previously the Coordinator of the African Youth Front on Coronavirus and co-authored the Greater Inclusion of African Youth in Public Service and Governance, on how to harness and amplify the voices of young people so they can play a more active role in Africa’s socio-economic development.
Suraj Shah is the Lead for the Regional Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning at Mastercard Foundation (the Centre). He is responsible for the implementation of partnerships between the Centre and the various Governments/Ministries of Education in Africa. He is currently aligning EdTech entrepreneurs from various countries in Africa with the Governments of Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana, with the view to scale up technology innovations to improve teaching and learning in secondary education at scale.
Suraj has been involved in education transformation projects with governments and stakeholders across Africa for 12 years that span policy dialogues and review, integration of technology in teaching and learning, enablement of content digitization, and large-scale deployment of ICT in schools. He is also passionate in nurturing innovation and research among young scientists by supporting science fairs across Sub Saharan Africa.
Suraj is also a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and led an Africa-wide initiative to bridge the internet gender gap in Africa that reached more than 5.3 million women.
Veda Sunassee has spent a decade in several roles with the African Leadership (AL) Group, first as an Entrepreneurial Leadership Faculty at the African Leadership Academy before later serving as the Founding Dean of the African Leadership University (ALU), Rwanda for two years. Veda currently serves as the ALU’s Executive Director, overseeing operations across both the Mauritius and Rwanda campuses while steering the institution’s new 5-year strategy.
Veda is also a leadership consultant and facilitator, international emcee and moderator and has worked with the likes of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, Mastercard Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies and Facebook. Veda is a graduate of Princeton University and was selected among the inaugural Obama Leaders in 2018.
Aniaba Jean-Baptiste is an Ivorian multi-preneur, entrepreneurial curriculum developer and prize-winning graphic designer on a journey to leave an indelible footprint on the African education and innovation sectors. He is the Founder of C7dukay, an Abidjan-based agency that provides youth with entrepreneurial and leadership skills to guarantee their personal and professional development.
He strongly believes that adaptability and vision can lead to positive change in times of crisis, a mindset that led him start a digital business during Covid-19 quarantine: Dessart Studios, a talent-driven digital agency offering top notch design, UI, branding and marketing services to African start-ups.
In June 2021, Aniaba launched the Pan-African Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (PAYE). The first of its kind in Africa, PAYE is a collective of young fierce changemakers who believe that radical co-creation, philanthropy, and innovation can solve the continent’s deep quandaries.
He is also completing the memoir he wrote at 17 “Souvenirs d’une Vie”, chronicling his life as a student at one of the country’s most prestigious educational institutions and explores topics of corruption, academic challenges, and leadership.
Mucha is the Founder & Lead Changemaker at PTS Africa, a boutique consultancy firm dedicated to the development of people. PTS Africa uses its expertise in emotional intelligence (EQ) as a foundation to assist organisations to successfully navigate change, reboot culture & drive sustainable performance.
Mucha has a background in financial services, with over 10 years financial advisory & client service experience in the UK.
Mucha has a Master of Science in Finance and Investment from Brunel University and is currently competing a Postgraduate Diploma in Organisational Psychology from the University of London. She also has a certificates in financial planning and securities. In 2018 /2019, she was the Chair of the Nairobi chapter of The Organisation of Women in International Trade (OWIT). Under her leadership, the chapter hosted the annual OWIT Women in Trade Conference in Africa for the first time. She currently serves as a Board Advisor. Mucha is a member of the Women on Boards Network.
Asanda Madosi is an experienced researcher and development practitioner with expertise in local and international development and technology. At Youth Employment Service (YES), Asanda works as a Digital Liaison and Impact Analyst focusing on inclusive technology for managing development programs, skills development, and the future of work in South Africa’s labour market.
At YES, they manage the Yes4Youth app engagement team and work cross-functionally with business, technology, and stakeholders to ensure young South Africans receive the right skills and quality work experience. Furthermore, Asanda works closely with the Partner Management Lead at YES to foster strategic partnerships with organizations and institutions such as South African Presidency, Partner Management Network, World Bank, J-Pal, think tanks & start-ups. Their work at YES & Partner Management Network saw the launch of SAYouth Mobi by President Cyril Ramaphosa. SAYouth Mobi is a digitally inclusive platform that centralizes work opportunities and job matching for young unemployed South Africans. The platform currently has over 2 million users. Asanda is also a social entrepreneur co-founding the start-up Ramalo Mobile Logistics. They are a committed champion for LGBTIQ+ rights in workspaces and inclusive work policies. They identify as gender non-conforming with pronouns – they, them & their.
Asanda holds a Master of Art in Development Studies from University of Witwatersrand University and a diploma in Transforming Change from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. They are a Certified Scrum Product Owner (Scrum Alliance) are and currently pursuing MPhil in Inclusive Innovation at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town.
Farai is a Partner Management Lead at Youth Employment Service (YES), a business led NPO that works with government and labour to initiate policy changes that create jobs for youth in South Africa.
Prior to YES, Farai served as a project manager at The Aurum Institute, a leading African TB and HIV research and implementation institute. Her main project, Youth Health Africa focused on decreasing the spread of HIV and reducing the high levels of youth unemployment equipping 10 000 youth with knowledge and education about HIV and AIDS. She also worked at Deloitte as an analyst for Strategy and Operations Consulting.
Prior to Aurum, she was an intern at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). She holds a MSc in the Political Economy of Emerging Markets from King’s College London. Her dissertation examined the effect of the Employment Equity Act (affirmative action policy) on the representation, corporate experience, and career projection of black women.
She is the co-founder of the youth-led organization Africa Matters. Africa Matters empowers young Africans to lead through leadership skills, capacity building and community-impact projects. Farai is a Queen’s Young Leader for South Africa for 2017, a TEDx speaker, a One Young World Ambassador and a King’s Principal’s Global Leadership Award Recipient. In 2018 she was named as one of the top 100 Mandelas of the future by Media24. She is a Dalai Lama 2019 Fellow and in 2020 she was rated as one of the top 100 Influential Young South Africans.
Elma Akob is a young Cameroonian passionate about Africa. She is the founder of Elevate Africa and a global award-winning keynote speaker, conference emcee and voiceover artist whose voice has been heard on Netflix, Disney and DSTV. She has a Bcom Law and a Communication Management Honours degree and is currently pursuing a master’s in Strategic Business Management. At age 19 she sat on the judging panel of the National Public Speaking and Debating Championships. She has made it to the list of Gradstars Top 100 employable graduates in South Africa for 2019 and 2020.
Katleho Mohono is a leadership development facilitator, coach and speaker with a passion for youth development and unlocking human potential. He has over 7 years of experience in student leadership development, corporate education, organizational leadership and coaching and training. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organisational Psychology and Human Resource Management from the University of the Witwatersrand.
Katleho is a founding member of the African Leadership University. Katleho was part of the pioneering team of ALX in Nairobi, Kenya. Katleho served as the Community Manager/Lead of ALX, a 6-month leadership accelerator for high-potential youth.
Saya Jackson is a transitions expert passionate about providing individuals and organisations with the necessary tools to retain their vision, values and voice during times transition. Despite losing 90 percent of his vision at age 9, Saya Jackson has managed to navigate life’s challenges and continues to pursue excellence in his work. He is currently pursuing a Ph. D in Leadership at the Adventist University of Africa and has won several awards. He has travelled to four continents to address audiences of varying sizes on the topic of transitions. Using a clear, applicable, and relevant approach, he has designed several programs (LEAF, ADAM, QLI & PARASITE), authored a book, When Grass is Greener on the Other Side, and is set to release another one 2021. When he is not working, Saya enjoys reading, travelling, camping and mentoring young people.
The Social Venture Challenge provides a pathway to action for socially responsible young leaders who want to create change in their communities. Winning projects from across the continent address a wide range of social issues that Scholars have observed first-hand in their communities. Read more>
Every year, Mastercard Foundation Scholars have a chance to enter the Speak Your Mind content, where they share personal insights around the theme of the Baobab Summit. 2021’s reimagine theme was one that strongly resonated with Scholars. From spoken word to speeches, from dance to videos, each piece is poignant, compelling and deeply personal. Here are some of the winners.