Speakers' Bios

Venture Capital Financing in Africa:
The Next Frontier?

Steven Grin.png

Steven Grin
CEO, Lateral Capital

Steven is a Managing Partner at Lateral Capital.

Lateral Capital is a mission-driven venture fund investing in early-stage opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa to bridge the gap between opportunity and capital. Lateral invests in technology enabled businesses that sustainably solve significant pain points across financial services, healthcare, education and clean technology sectors. Lateral has made four investments and secured the backing of leading family offices in the USA, Europe and Africa.

Steven is a seasoned entrepreneur and investment professional with twenty years of experience investing as a principal and fund manager across the globe. He has extensive experience in real estate development, energy, and venture investing. Prior to co-founding Lateral, Steven was a Director in the Office of the President of Guyana where he held responsibility for the implementation of their low-carbon development strategy and the execution of large-scale initiatives in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Steven started his career in real estate investing where he worked as an associate director for the Moinian Group and later co-founded the private equity firm Capstone Equities.

Steven graduated from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and has a B.A. in Finance and Philosophy from New York University. He holds FINRA series 63,79 and 82 registrations.

Chike headshot.jpg

Chike Ukaegbu
Founder of Startup52

Chike Ukaegbu is the founder of Startup52, NYC's premier and award winning diversity-focused accelerator with a mission to increase the representation of founders from untapped communities in tech and startup entrepreneurship. He is an Educator, Entrepreneur, Investor, Humanitarian and Biomedical Engineer who is passionate about redefining representation through diversity and inclusion in tech and entrepreneurial spaces. He is also the executive producer and host of ‘Tech:inCOLORS’, a new facebook live show that explores the intersection of tech, entrepreneurship, culture and inclusive diversity.

Chike is an ardent believer in the social and economic benefits of inclusive diversity and continues to advocate for its support and adoption. He is currently raising a diversity focused Venture Capital fund and was invited to The White House to do a briefing on initiatives that support diversity, STEM education and entrepreneurship for youths and underserved communities. Chike also co-founded Re:LIFE Inc, a 501c3 nonprofit with the mission to empower youth through entrepreneurship, tech and education and have served over 700 youths since its inception.

Chike studied Venture Capital & Investments at Stanford, MBA courses at UPenn, Executive Leadership and Management at Cornell University, and Biomedical Engineering at The City College of New York, where he taught Math for seven years and served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for two. Chike was also awarded US Permanent Residence under the National Interest Waiver category for his exceptional work with Startup52 in creating opportunities for underservedpopulations.

Untitled design.png

Kwame Dougan
Attorney and Managing Partner of Scotch & Palm

Kwame L. Dougan, Esq. (LAW ‘10) is an attorney and Managing Partner of Scotch & Palm, the only law practice in the United States focused exclusively on transactional matters with a nexus to Africa.

Kwame is drawn to technology-based solutions that create positive, practical and profitable outcomes for communities and investors. For over a decade, he has been connecting global investors with promising young companies in Africa and counseling emerging companies seeking capital. Previously, Kwame managed Africa projects for the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance, a $100MM Fund of Funds. With assistance from MARs Canada and the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), Kwame launched the African Technology, Impact and Opportunity Fund to invest in Ghana and Nigeria.

Previously, Kwame practiced securities litigation with global law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP. Kwame earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School and holds master’s degrees from the London School of Economics, attending as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and from the University of Amsterdam. He also a graduate of York University and Tsinghua University, where he studied Mandarin Chinese. In 2015, he was awarded the Trailblazer Award by the National Bar Association. He is a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council and an advisor at Princeton University’s Keller Center for Entrepreneurship.

Dabo Horsfall Headshot.jpeg

Dabo Horsfall
Director, Accordion Partners

Dabo is a Director with nearly two decades of experience in portfolio company management, corporate, and operational finance.

He has managed private equity portfolio companies in North America, South America, Europe and Africa. Before joining Accordion, Dabo founded a clean energy investment firm that targeted companies focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency. He was responsible for investment strategy, business operations, fund raising and deal execution.

He had previously worked at Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners (MSIP), a $4 billion global investment fund, in New York. At MSIP, he managed the following portfolio companies: Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline (an interstate gas pipeline utility in Kentucky, USA), Madrilena Red de Gas (a gas distribution company in Madrid, Spain), Affinity Water (a water utility in Hatfield, UK) and SAESA (an electric distribution utility in Chile). Prior to Morgan Stanley, Dabo was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers (later Barclays Capital) where he advised corporate and private equity firms on over $7 billion in M&A transactions in the Power, Utilities and Infrastructure space. He started his finance career at a boutique merchant bank where he gained extensive financial modeling and transaction experience across a range of sectors including Financial Services, Industrials, Telecom and Healthcare.

He holds an MBA from New York University, and MPA from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science (with honors) in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin.

kiito pic.png

Adeleke (Kito) Adegbenro-Obasanjo
Managing Director: Hexion Prime Ltd. & Leapfrog Industries Ltd.

As managing director, Adegbenro is responsible for both Hexion Prime and Leapfrog Industries’ near-term and long-term corporate strategy and development; their day- to-day global operations and management, corporate investments, and asset management. He also oversees the operational and financial management and planning of the subsidiaries of Hexion Prime.

With over fifteen years of financial and business management   experience, Adegbenro excelled as an analyst, manager, and executive in some of the most successful fortune500  companies.  He  is  also  a  shareholder and  Chief  Financial Officer of Pagatech Holdings Limited, the leading independent mobile money operator in Nigeria with over 7 million users. Adegbenro has advised on and been involved with several energy and real estate transactions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to establishing his businesses in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, Adegbenro served as deputy CFO and corporate director of finance and planning at Dimensions Healthcare System a half billion dollar healthcare company that owns and operates four major hospitals in the Washington, DC area. Adegbenro also held the same role at BET, the multi-billion dollar TV media group owned by Viacom Corporation, prior to joining Dimensions. Prior to BET, he was senior manager of finance analytics at AOL Time Warner. During his tenure at AOL, Adegbenro quickly worked his way up the ladder where led efforts to enhance the quality of revenue generated from AOL’s Access business by improving business performance of their member retention program. Other previous experience also include tenures at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and General Electric where he serves as a 6-Sigma design engineer.

Adegbenro currently serves as Chairman of the board of directors for Hexion Prime Limited, and he is on the board of other global energy firms. He holds a BSc degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland, and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He is also a certified M&A advisor.





State of the African Fashion Industry

Hayat Adem head shot.JPG

Hayat Adem
founder of Marzam LLC

Hayat Adem is a co-founder of Marzam LLC, a lifestyle brand specializing in East African fashion and culture. Having always had an eye for fashion and a passion for sharing her Ethiopian heritage, it was not until after embarking on an "eat, pray, love" odyssey through her ancestral homeland and later through Kenya, that Hayat was inspired to spring into action. Hayat and her co-founders organized Adis Ababa artisans to source and manufacture traditional East African garb with fashion forward styling. The trio then created an e-commerce hub that they hope to grow into a platform for other African brands and influencers. Hayat also hopes to fulfill a social mission by providing fair wages and consultation services to the local artisans that provide the underpinning of Marzam. Hayat grew up in Atlanta and currently resides in Philadelphia.

Busayo Olupona Headshot.jpg

Busayo Olupona
Founder of Busayo NYC

Busayo Olupona is the Creative Director and designer of BUSAYO, an apparel company that utilizes traditional Nigerian textiles. In addition, she is an attorney, writer, an aerobic instructor and podcast host. She is a graduate of University of California Berkeley and New York University School of Law. She is inspired by the artistry and incredible potential of the African continent and buoyed by the Continent's phenomenal future.

BUSAYO was started due to a love of textiles and an insatiable passion for the dyeing traditions of Nigeria, where they work with talented artisans. The vibrant, bright prints created in the Adire tradition celebrate the diversity of African prints by re-imagining these innovative and vibrant textiles in contemporary shapes.  Busayo NYC, has been worn by Lupita Nyongo, Ava Durvernay and Adepero Oduye.  

In all her work, Busayo is a tireless champion for connecting the world with her Nigerian heritage, and building bridges across cultural identities.

Grace Mahary Headshot.JPG

Grace Mahary
INternational Model and Founder of Project Tsehigh

Eritrean-Canadian model and global activist Grace Mahary is blazing her own trail through the fashion industry and beyond. Signed to IMG Models, Grace has worked with some of the most notable brands and publications in the industry including Victoria's Secret, Givenchy, Chanel, Cushnie Et Ochs,Vogue, W Magazine, CR Fashion Book, Elle Canada and more.

Focused on being an agent of change, Grace founded Project Tsehigh (PjT) in 2015 with a mission to provide uninterrupted energy to impoverished communities around the world via renewable energy sources, starting in Eritrea, her parents’ homeland. Believing in a purpose bigger than herself and leveraging her platform as a model, Grace’s vision is clear: she will convene a group of deeply passionate people to equip communities with the resources and well-being they need to succeed. The nonprofit hopes to launch solar power endeavors in a variety of larger fields such as agriculture, education, medical and public establishments.

Bridging the gap between sustainability and wellness, PjT has hosted fundraising events in partnership with SoulCycle, 1 Hotels and Tantris alongside Russell Simmons. Grace continues to raise awareness for PjT and the importance of renewable energy solutions by speaking at events and conferences for NBA Africa, the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, She Leads Africa, OkayAfrica and Facebook. She currently resides in New York City.

Aina Fadina Headshot.jpg

Aina Fadina
Former Model and Founder of I of Africa

Aina Fadina, an Executive MBA at the Kellogg School Of Management,  is a boundary-breaking fashion model and creative entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience in the international fashion industry, meeting at the intersection of business and creativity, Aina emerges as a new breed of global entrepreneur, squarely focused on empowering through knowledge across multimedia platforms. Aina was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised in America. Her life and work, are both informed and inspired, by her rich African identity and her global education.

Combining her business savvy and creativity, Aina is at the helm of Afad & Co., a creative consulting agency, and 'I of Africa', a multimedia series celebrating the nuanced cultures of the African continent. The show was named by CNN, as top web-series to watch. In addition, it aired on all international routes on South African Airways in 2016.

The series has been filmed in Lagos, London, Austin, NYC, Paris, and Cape Town.  It has been featured on Model.com, Ventures Africa, CNN, Blavity, and Shadow and Act.  The new season, premiering in 2017, features creatives, entrepreneurs, and innovators redefining the narrative globally.


Abrima Erwiah
Co-Founder and President of Studio One Eighty Nine

Abrima Erwiah is the Co-founder and President of Studio One Eighty Nine, a social enterprise launched in February 2013 with actress and activist, Rosario Dawson. Studio One Eighty Nine aims to provide a platform to help promote and curate African and African-inspired content and brands through worldwide distribution and manufacturing of a private artisan-produced collection, as well as through their support of other brands. They focus on empowerment, creating jobs and supporting education and skills training. Their hope is to see fashion in Ghana and Africa grow and be recognized as a multi-billion-dollar industry as it is in the UK, the US.

Erwiah has been named a top ethical fashion and Ghanaian designer to know by Teen Vogue, and currently operates two directly owned stores based in New York City and Accra. Erwiah also works in partnership with New York University - Stern School of Business as part of an undergraduate course supporting a remote fishing village in the Eastern Region of Ghana, where they have established a locally owned artisanal craft community business which generates a sustainable income for the village.

Erwiah has vast experience in all areas of fashion and luxury marketing and is passionate about her work exploring the Economic and Social implications of luxury goods in Africa. Erwiah was born and raised in New York City, attended the Lycee Francais and is fluent in English, French and Italian. Erwiah holds a degree in Finance & International Business from NYU Stern School of Business and currently lives between The US and Ghana, having previously lived in Italy and Uganda.


Empowering Entrepreneurs

Hawa Hassan Headshot.jpg

Hawa Hassan
Founder of Basbaas Sauce

Hawa Hassan is creator and CEO of Basbaas Sauce, a line of condiments inspired by her country of origin, Somalia. Like many entrepreneurial ventures, Basbaas grew out of a personal desire to develop what she couldn’t find anywhere. The sauces represent flavors that she grew up with, perfectly accompany other cuisines, and deserve a presence alongside the hot sauces currently on the market.

Basbaas sauces are truly Somali and genuinely global. Inspired by heirloom recipes, the first two offerings—Tamarind Date Sauce and Coconut Cilantro Chutney—embody the bold flavors of Somali cuisine with a uniquely American twist. They seamlessly blend fruits, herbs and other flavors to create sweet and tangy offerings.

Yemisi Awosan.jpeg

yemisi Awosan
founder of egunsifoods

Yemisi, a Nigerian born and raised in New England, is the founder of Egunsifoods - an Harlem, New York, based food company focused on producing refrigerated African cuisine, derived from classic West African dishes. She has lived in New York for 12 years and is loving it. Her stay was supposed to be a 5-year run, but New York has a way of making you stay longer!

She founded Egunsifoods in 2013. Cooking as a private chef, catering corporate lunches and pop-up dinners around NYC to gauge people's interest in West African food, ‘Yemisi received positive feedback on the meals and she decided to expand on this exciting venture. In 2014, 'Yemisi left her 10 years corporate career as a buyer and later a financial planner at a well known retail company to fully pursue her next dream of bringing visibility of the African culture and people through its cuisine.

Earlier this year in July, 'Yemisi debut her first line of refrigerated packaged products - West African Soups, at Whole Foods Market Harlem and has subsequently started distributing to other grocery outlets around New York City area, on FoodKick.com - owned by FreshDirect and her company web interface at www.egunsifoods.com.


Co- Founder of Ginjan Bros

Rahim is a Materials Scientist and Engineer by training but with extensive experience in the hospitality industry dealing with food and wine purveyors in a variety of specialities, including: Italian, Chinese, Mediterranean, West African & South African. Rahim’s latest role was as Bar Manager at the MIST event space, bar and restaurant in Harlem.

He holds a B.S in Biomaterials engineering from Michigan State University, and a Master’s in Materials Science, focusing on electrochemical devices, mainly fuel cells for transportation and home power generation. Rahim is a member of the National Society of Black Engineer. Rahim loves parks, books, lounges and languages.

Untitled design (1).png

Victor Madubuko
Founder of CareerNation

Mr. Madubuko leads CareerNation’s business and human resources consulting practice that offers innovative workforce solutions and strategies to employers in the Healthcare, Education, Law, Finance, and Energy industries. He has worked for a variety of companies including Toksifecks Holdings Moscow, Consolidated Edison of New York, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and as Director of Talent Management at Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City. Fluent in five languages, his career reflects success in entrepreneurship, international business, government, and consulting with Fortune 500 companies across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

In 2004, he founded CareerNation, a New York-based international management consulting firm with offices in Accra, Ghana; Abuja, Nigeria; and Nairobi, Kenya. He joined CareerNation full-time as its Chief Executive Officer in 2007. In 1993, while completing his undergraduate studies in Moscow, Mr.
Madubuko established and managed two businesses: Toks Afro Salon, the first African beauty salon in Russia, and Café Mama Africa, the first African restaurant in the country. Mr. Madubuko employed and managed 27 full-time staff and spearheaded a customer service driven culture in the post-Soviet Union era.

Mr. Madubuko received a Law Degree from the People's Friendship University, Moscow and Masters of Science Degree in Management from Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, The New School University in New York City.  Mr. Madubuko is the President of the Mount. Kisco Lions Club in Westchester New York and has served on the Board of United Nations Association, in Westchester, A Global Friendship, in Brooklyn, NY and the Corporate Council on Africa's (CCA) Nigeria Task Force. Mr. Madubuko is also a member of the Advisory Council at Big Brother Big Sister of Westchester, NY and serves as an Alumni Ambassador at The New School University in New York City.

Igun, Tomiwa high res.jpg

Tomiwa Igun
President and Co-founder of YoungAfrican MBAs

Tomiwa is passionate about electrifying Africa, as depicted in his Harvard Business
School 2012 Annual Portrait project where he was selected for this passion. His
professional career has revolved around this goal of improving the electrification around Africa, primarily Nigeria. He recently co-founded Aspire Power Solutions, a renewable energy company focused on providing clean, affordable, and reliable electricity in Africa.

He is currently a member of the Grow Africa Team helping drive talent for The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) where he has served several clients providing strategic advisory and executing on power projects globally, including in Nigeria and other African countries. Before this, Tomiwa worked at Africa Finance Corporation developing infrastructure projects, focusing on Power. He is co-founder and President of Young African MBAs, a non-profit helping bridge the gap in Africa's management talent.

Tomiwa holds an MBA with Honors from Harvard Business School, M.Sc. Electrical Engineering from University of Michigan, and B.Sc. Electrical Engineering from Howard University. During his time at HBS, he co-chaired the Africa Business Conference, the largest student-run conference focused on Africa. He also co-authored a published Harvard Business School case study on the Privatization of Nigeria's Power Sector.


Addressing the Gaps in Social Welfare


Niyi Ojuolape
Special Assistant to Executive Director, UNFPA

Mr. Ojuolape brings a rich background of on-the-ground field work and experience in high level policy and advocacy to his current dual roles as UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, Chief of Staff a.i. and UNFPA Ghana Country Representative. Mr. Ojuolape is a Nigerian national and holds a Master of Science in Finance from the University of Calabar and a Banking and Finance Degree from Ondo State University in Nigeria.

Prior to joining UNFPA in January 2011, he served as the Chief Programme Officer of Donor Coordination for the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) in Nigeria and Special Assistant to the Minister of Health in Nigeria.

During his tenure at NACA, his duties included donor coordination and the development of resource mobilization strategies that led to an increase of $150 million in funding for the Agency’s programming over a five year period. Prior to this, as Special Assistant to the Minister of Health, Mr. Ojuolape played an integral role as part of the Ministry’s supervision of approximately 4000 staff members and a total budget of about $1.2 billion for national health activities and interventions.

Mr. Ojuolape served as Special Assistant to the late Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin for the six and a half years that he led UNFPA as Executive Director. In this capacity, he provided critical strategic guidance and technical expertise to the executive management of the organization, including as Head of the Executive Committee Secretariat.

Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo.jpg

Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo
Founder and CEO of Africa Health Now

Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo is the founder and president of African Health Now, a non-profit organization she started in 2005 to promote healthcare for people of Pan-African descent living in the U.S. and on the continent. In the 11 years she has presided over AHN -- transforming public spaces into medical clinics and bringing health services and lifesaving information directly to African communities that need it -- over 20,000 children and adults have received free health screenings, preventative counseling, and medical supplies.

In June 2015, responding to the tragic petrol station explosion that killed over 150 Ghanaians and displaced thousands more in Accra, Nana launched AHN Project W.A.S.H., an emergency relief effort that provided crucial personal hygiene and sanitation supplies to more than 5,000 Ghanaians in immediate need.

Committed to diversifying representations of beauty in fashion, she has worked in the model scouting and publishing industries for close to a decade. From 2005 to 2010, Nana was the bookings editor at ESSENCE Magazine, responsible for booking the models, hairstylists, makeup artists, and fashion stylists for all editorial shoots.  In addition to ESSENCE, she has lent her casting, scouting, and photo editing talents to Suede Magazine, Savoy Magazine, Print Degrees Model Management, and Glamor Models. Nana also served as the preliminary judge for the 2005 Miss Teen USA pageant, and the 2007 Miss Ethiopia World pageant in Addis Abba, Ethiopia.

Visit africanhealthnow.org to learn more about how you can support Nana's vision of an Africa where primary healthcare is accessible to every community, every family, every one.


Amini Headshot.jpg

Amini Kajunju
Director of Strategic Partnerships at Africa Integras

Amini Kajunju was named one of 20 Young Power Women in Africa by Forbes and
“Advocate of the Year” at Applause Africa’s African Diaspora Awards in 2013. Currently as the director of Strategic Partnerships at Africa Integras, she works with African universities to help them enhance and expand their network of partnerships with academic, financial, private, non-profit and governmental organizations. In 2016, she also founded the Bashi Group, an international consulting firm whose mission is to support projects related to education and entrepreneurship in Africa.

Prior to her current roles, Amini Kajunju was the first African President and CEO of the Africa-America Institute (AAI) - the oldest non-profit organization of its kind in the US - where she initiated and directed programs in higher education and skills training, including the Future Leaders Legacy Fund, East African Development Bank STEM scholarship fund and the State of Education in Africa conference. Prior to AAI, Ms. Kajunju was the Executive Director of the Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO from 2001 to 2011. WIBO supports entrepreneurs with training, networking and business resources.

Amini currently serves on the advisory committee of University of South Africa (UNISA), is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Economics of Innovation Council, a founding member and Vice-President at the non-profit AngelAfrica. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University and a Master’s in Public Administration from New York University. Amini Kajunju is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Abbey Wemimo
Founder and CEO of Clean Water for Everyone (CWFE)

Abbey is a serial entrepreneur and self-proclaimed social impact junkie. He is the founder of Clean Water for Everyone, a global social venture providing access to clean water for over 50,000 people in six countries. Abbey has gained valuable experience working with Accenture, European Commission, Goldman Sachs and Mergers and Acquisition professional at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He is a recipient of the Africa Young African Committed to Excellence award, Presidential Service award, Sue W. Hancock Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) award, United States Presidential Achievement award and the National Excellence in Leadership award. In 2016 Abbey was selected by Queen Elizabeth II as a Queens Young Leader and inducted to the Royal Common Wealth Society in 2017.

Abbey graduated with distinction (Magna Cum Laude) and holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Minnesota,  a graduate of  Development Finance at New York University and a Queens Young Leader Leading Change Scholar at Cambridge University.

Kingsely head shot.JPG

Kingsley Essegbey
Assistant Director of NYU Africa House

Kingsley Essegbey joined NYU Africa House-CTED as a Graduate Research Assistant in December 2014 and is now the Assistant Research Scientist/Assistant Director. Kingsley received a Master’s degree in Bioethics from New York University that has enhanced his integrative thinking skills and positioned him to assist with the team’s research projects related to bioeconomics and local governance, environmental contamination, policy and ethical misconduct all focusing on sustainable rural development. In 2012, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environment and Development Studies from Central University, Ghana. The program sparked his interest on how Ghana could effectively integrate the natural environment into the development agenda. He enjoys cooking vegetarian dishes and engaging in lively conversations. His areas of research and interest are in Environmental ethics and policy, Bioeconomics.


The Future is Tech:
Developing a 21st Century African Workforce


Alpha Bah
Founder and CEO of ZMedia Tech Group

Alpha Bah is the founder and CEO of ZMedia Tech Group, a media + tech company that makes mobile, web and email products.

The company’s first brand, ZNews Africa, makes it easy to find and enjoy cool stories about the African diaspora by creating and curating great content. The full-featured ZNews Africa mobile app provides the latest news content across Africa from more than 170 global news sources, in both English and French. The company was selected to join Facebook, Google, Microsoft’s startup accelerator programs.

In his career, Mr. Bah has developed and maintained programs and applications for the New York Stock Exchange, MLB Advanced Media (BAM Tech), ClassPass and The Associated Press.  He has delivered remarks on technology and media at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Give 1 Project New York.

Mr. Bah is also president emeritus of PromoGuinée, a non-profit organization designed to increase educational opportunities for students in Guinea. He cares deeply about access to education and technology and how they can be leveraged to make long-term impacts across the African continent.

A graduate of Columbia University, Mr. Bah holds a bachelors degree in Computer Science with a concentration in Political Science. He is a native of Guinea and currently resides in Harlem, New York.

Michelle Adeniyi head shot.jpeg

Michelle Adeniyi
Co-Founder Chief Growth Officer of ScholarX, Inc.

Michelle Adeniyi is Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer of ScholarX, Inc, a social impact startup that focuses on Education Financing to help young Africans access quality education through Scholarships, Crowdfunding (Village) and E-Learning. Her focus is specifically on creating growth strategies and partnerships to further the mission of ScholarX Inc. She achieves this by maximizing the business intersections of marketing, sales, product development and finance.

As an advocate for Diversity & Inclusion, Michelle prides herself on her consistent commitment to various initiatives and organizations within her community. Through her board service, volunteerism and mentorship efforts, she strives to be an example of servant leadership to others. In 2014, she helped create African Fashion Week Chicago, an event series and platform showcasing African culture, art, and design and currently serves as the Digital Strategy Director. She is also the founder of The Maven Girl Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing transformative opportunities in STEM & innovation for ambitious young women of color.

Michelle’s mission is to shape communities in order to help them overcome societal barriers through technology and communication. She is passionate about creating solutions that promote human capital development in the continent of Africa. She is driven to promote equity and fairness to ensure equal access to opportunities. You can find Michelle thriving at the intersection of: Community Development, Technology, Philanthropy, and Entrepreneurship.

Ms. Adeniyi graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a degree in Organizational and Professional Development.

Brian Asingia
COO and Cofounder DreamAfrica

Brian Asingia is a NY based Ugandan using people, technology and process skills to create social-economic inclusion and build meaningful ecosystems such as DreamAfrica, a global subscription and revenue share based streaming platform for multicultural content backed by a cross-cultural storytellers network and #AskAingia, a global network for early adopters and customer driven innovators. His media, technology and impact story builds on his experience as a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur and an alumnus of ALTIS Milan e4Impact MBA (Tangaza), The New York Stock Exchange, Lafayette College, United World College USA and Ntare School. He is a writer, speaker, analyst, lifelong learner of DevSecOps with a passion for AI, AR and Cryptocurrency on blockchain, the platforms beyond mobile with potential for global identities and transparent value exchange. Asingia is the global citizen @brianasingia, of #AskAsingia by BrianAsingia.com and @wedreamafrica, the DreamAfrica platform wedreamafria.com as seen in The Next Africa by J. Bright and A. Hruby (MacMillan 2015), Harvard, Wharton, and Columbia.

Benjamin Siegel ConsenSys Headshot.jpg

Benjamin Siegel,
Impact Policy Manager, Social Impact

Ben Siegel is the Impact Policy Manager at ConsenSys. After spending time workingin the political sphere, Ben became extremely interested in experimental
technologies and the potential they had for the impact sector, leading him to
ConsenSys, where he co-founded the Social Impact team as well as the broader
Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition (BSIC) He is dedicated to bringing blockchain technology more directly into social impact work, and bridging the gap between technologists and humanitarians.


Ngozi Ethio headshot.jpg

Ngozi Odita
Founder and Executive Director of AFRIKA21

Ngozi Odita is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Social Media Week Lagos, a week-long conference in Lagos, Nigeria that brings together thought leaders, key stakeholders and the public to explore how social media impacts industry, government, civil society and culture. Heading in to it’s 6th year Social Media Week Lagos draws over 15,000 people annually and is the largest digital media and business conference on the continent of Africa.

Odita is also founder of AFRIKA21, a media and production outfit that takes a multidisciplinary approach to promoting a new vision of Africa in the 21st Century. AFRIKA21 produces online content, multimedia events and public programming with the expressed purpose of re-framing the conversation around Africa, creating awareness of the opportunities that exist on the continent and encouraging collaboration. 

As a public speaker, Odita focuses on the intersection of music, art, culture and technology as it relates to Africa and the diaspora. She speaks to the unique opportunities that exist on the continent and power of collaboration.  Odita to date has spoken at UCLA's Anderson School of Business, Yale University, Columbia University, South By South West, the Museum of Art & Design, Brooklyn Museum, The New School, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Social Media Week (NYC, London, Lagos), and The Open Center.


The Future of Media: Content is King


Yinka Adegoke Quartz.jpg

Africa editor, Quartz

Yinka Adegoke is Africa editor for Quartz. He oversaw the launch of Quartz Africa in June 2015 and coordinates its news, ideas and events in partnership with an editorial team across the continent. Quartz Africa rolled out the Africa Innovators Summit in Nairobi in 2015 and again in July 2016. Yinka was a founding board member of Social Media Week Lagos and launched the Billboard Africa Music Day event. As a journalist, has reported from more than 10 countries across Europe, Africa and the North America. Before joining 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 the traditional media industry. 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.

Makho Ndlovu.jpg

Makho Ndlovu

Makho Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean-born entertainment correspondent currently based in New York City. As a teenager, her love of pop culture, fashion and beauty lead to her seeking a career in show business.  After working as a commercial model and dabbling in a few pageants she finally found her calling. In 2012, her dreams were answered when she won a celebrity video correspondent competition held by media mogul Russell Simmons.  As part of her triumphant win over thousands of other contestants, Makho became the go-to red carpet correspondent for the Global Grind site covering marquee celebrity events. Her digital hosting work quickly lead to expanding her global reach and working with a number of TV stations in South Africa. Over the years her work has appeared on BET Africa, BET International, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC3) and Africa Magic. From one on one interviews to red carpet premiere's Makho's warmhearted personality and unique point of view have established her as dynamic on air personality. Makho is currently the host of ESSENCE NOW, a weekly talk show based on the iconic ESSENCE Magazine. In this role, she interviews influential celebrities and covers all things entertainment, fashion, news, love and relationships.  

Tayo Rockson.jpg

Tayo Rockson
CEO and Founder of UYD Media

Tayo Rockson is a speaker, consultant, strategist and media personality who runs UYD Management – a strategic leadership and consulting firm that helps corporations improve their bottom line by incorporating diversity, inclusion, hiring, retention and social justice strategies. He has spent over 20 years living and working in 4 continents and so is considered an authority in communicating effectively across cultures. He hosts the number 1 cross-cultural podcast in the world in the world and his podcast was recently ranked as the number 2 business podcast in the world by Entrepreneur and CIO. He has spoken at TEDx, the World Bank, United Nations Foundation among many other places and his work has been seen on NowThis News, Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Among Worlds Magazine as well as Global Living Magazine. He is the author of The Ultimate Guide To TCK Living and his ground breaking work on “how to embrace your global identity” was featured in a German School book called ZOOM IN… Globalization and through his podcast, blog and video shows, he is heard and read by thousands of people in over 100 countries.

Headshot Alizé Utteryn.jpg

Alizé Utteryn
Founder & CEO AlizéLaVie Media

Alizé Utteryn is a multitalented female entrepreneur with strong artistic fiber anddetermination. Born in Cayenne (French Guiana/ South America) and raised in Paris, Alizé is a graduate of Paris’ Institute Superior of Human Resources (ISGP) with a Master of Sciences degree in Human Resources Management (Business Administration). 

Since she came to the United States in 2009, leaving everything behind to take up new challenges and live her American dream, she has quickly built a name for herself.
Today she is a media personality, influencer a recognized journalist and member of the International Association of Press Photographers Inc., the Francophone Center of Press in New York and an accredited journalist at the United Nations. She has also become a member of the US National Committee for UN Women, advocating for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Her accomplishments have set a path for her entrepreneurial spirit, and by combining her experience as an entertainer with her sense as businesswoman, she now runs AlizéLaVie Media and AlizéLaVie magazine, an international multicultural bilingual magazine yet another new and exciting challenge.

Her objective is to be an inspiration for young people and to empower young women. She wants to make an impact in people’s lives and affect them in positive ways. Guided by faith she wants to carry out this mission, which is so important to her. This is what she lives and stands for.

Michael Rain Headshot (2017).JPG

Michael Rain
Co-Founder and COO of ZNews Africa

Michael Rain is the co-founder and COO of the emerging tech startup ZNews Africa, a Google, Facebook and Microsoft accelerator member that builds mobile app, email and web products. He is currently a Creative in Residence at TED working on his idea worth spreading, ENODI, a digital gallery that chronicles the lives of first-generation Black immigrants of African, Caribbean, and Latinx descent,

Michael’s creative and commercial work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, Upscale Magazine and the Harlem Arts Festival. He has moderated panels and delivered remarks on entrepreneurship and digital media at major events and conferences at U.S. Department of State, Harvard Business School, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

Michael earned a B.A.in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations from Columbia University and was a 2017 fellow at the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Michael is Ghanaian-American, a lifelong New Yorker, and Brooklyn native.


Closing Remarks


Adeola Adejobi High Res Headshot (2).JPG

Adeola Adejobi
Attorney, Founder of Avant-Garde Network, and speaker

Adeola Adejobi, Esq. is an attorney, entrepreneur and speaker. She started her career at a nationally recognized firm practicing commercial litigation. In 2011, she launched her company, the Avant-Garde Network. The mission of the Avant-Garde Network is to promote diversity and inclusion through networking, recruiting, career development, training, panels, partnerships and events. In addition, she organically grew the organization to engage over 3,000 members creating a collaborative ecosystem for Black professionals in New York City.

In 2017, she launched Avant-Garde Network's Women's Empowerment Collective (WEC). WEC’s purpose is to foster business and career development opportunities for women. Adeola is an active member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, New York Bar Association, Council of Urban Real Estate, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Adeola is the recipient of several awards, including the Congresswomen Yvette D. Clarke 2017 Shining Star Award, E. Randolph Williams Award for Pro Bono Service, the New York State Bar Association’s Empire State Counsel Award and the 2017 NV Magazine Mover and Shaker Award. She is a 2017 Council of Urban Professionals Fellow and she also sits on the Advisory Board of the National Black Law Students Association.

After obtaining her degree in Political Science with a minor in Comparative Women’s Studies from Spelman College, she started her career in the Public Service and Diversity Department at the law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. Adeola went on to obtain her law degree from Cornell Law School with a specialization in International Legal Affairs. During her time in law school, she worked at Habitat for Humanity International and the Office of Legal Affairs at the United Nations in New York City.