Random pick of 25 from just-ended Nairobi entrepreneurship summit; why you need to find their phone numbers

From entrepreneurs, billionaires, venture capitalists and representatives of global corporations, these are big - and small - people doing big things.

WITH Kenya firmly in the grip of “Obamamania” last weekend as US President Barack Obama visited Nairobi, becoming the first US president to do so, the main reason he came - to attend the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit - almost got lost in the celebrations. 

The Summit had an estimated 1,000 participants, but here’s a very small random sample of 25, from entrepreneurs, billionaire businessmen, venture capitalists, philanthropists and representatives of global corporations, and why you need to have their phone numbers if you’re looking for investment, markets or opportunities:

1. David Kuria, Ecotact Group



Founder and CEO of Ecotact Group, a Kenya-based social enterprise which provides affordable sanitation within urban areas. Ecotact builds and operates public pay-per-use toilet and shower facilities, as well as solar-powered water purification points.

2. George Mulamula, DTBi



CEO of the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi), an incubator for ICT startups in Tanzania. Under the incubation agreement, companies get office space, power, high-speed internet access and conference rooms for four years; DTBi provides mentoring, guidance and access to contacts in business and turnover, and earns a small percentage of the startup’s annual gross turn-over.

3. Daymond John, FUBU/ Shark Tank



American entrepreneur, investor and television personality; billionaire Daymond John is best known as founder, president and CEO of FUBU, hip hop clothing and apparel company. He also appears as an investor on reality TV series Shark Tank.

4. Harry Hare, DEMO Africa



Executive producer of DEMO Africa, one of the largest technology startup events in Africa bringing emerging businesses, investors and technology buyers on one platform. Since 2012 when it was founded, DEMO Africa startups have raised over $10 million in investments and/or business value.

5. Akon, Samba Bathily and Thione Niang, Akon Lighting Africa



Co-founders of Akon Lighting Africa, launched in February 2014 by international music star, Akon, community leader Thione Niang and entrepreneur Samba Bathily, the initiative aims to develop an innovative solar-powered solution that will provide African villages with access to a clean and affordable source of electricity.

6. Dante Disparte, Risk Cooperative



Founder and CEO of Risk Cooperative, a US-based strategy, risk and capital management firm that strives to remove risk from management decisions and works to level the playing field for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the capital markets.

7. Tayo Akinyemi, Afrilabs



Director of Afrilabs, a network of African innovation and technology hubs, launched in 2010 by five founding partners: ActivSpaces, Appfrica Labs, iHub, NaiLab and VC4Africa. The labs serve as a platform for bringing together technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers; since its conception in 2011, 19 hubs have signed up to network, learn from each other, and benefit from shared resources.

8. Tony Elumelu, Heirs Holdings/ Tony Elumelu Foundation


Photo/Flickr/Clinton Global Initiative

Billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, Elumelu is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors in Africa, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which supports start-up businesses across the continent.

9. Breanna Zwart, Google (Access & Energy)



Executive at Google’s Access & Energy division, that is looking into ways of expanding Internet access and scaling up renewable energy. Some of the projects under the division include Google Fibre, the company’s 1 Gbps fiber-optic Internet service and Project Loon, which aims to deliver Internet access via satellites and possibly drones.

10. Mark Straub, Khosla Impact



Co-founder of Khosla Impact, a California-based venture fund investing in early stage entrepreneurs in Africa, South Asia and Latin America whose ventures will open up markets and increase human productivity in emerging economies.

11. Nermin Fawazi Sa’d, Handasiyat.net



CEO of Handasiyat.net, a fully online “virtual engineering” platform based in Saudi Arabia that allows local female engineers – who find difficulties finding mainstream engineering work due to the restrictions of the conservative culture – to take on design and engineering projects that they work on from home. The platform supports Arab female engineers, encourages them to use their qualifications in the marketplace and allows them to work on their own terms.

12. Isis Nyong’o, Asphalt & Ink/ Mums Village



Principal of all woman consulting firm, Asphalt & Ink, and recently founded Mums Village, an online portal with content curated for mothers. She was formerly the vice president  African operations of InMobi, the world’s largest independent mobile advertising network, and had senior management positions in local operations of MTV and Google.

13. Jean Case, Case Foundation



Co-founder of US-based impact investment firm the Case Foundation, which focuses on supporting startups that will promote civic engagement, as well as bring innovative solutions into philanthropy.

14. Deborah Magid, IBM



Director of strategy for IBM’s Venture Capital Group, a $25 billion software business in IBM. As director of strategy Magid is responsible for scouting for emerging business opportunities, as well as sharing insights about emerging markets, technologies, and business models with venture firms and entrepreneurs around the world.

15. Jay Ireland, GE Africa



President and CEO of GE Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya where he leads GE’s operations on the sub-continent across power generation, healthcare, transportation, oil & gas and aviation. He is a GE Officer and a member of GE’s Corporate Executive Council. 

16. Monica Musonda, Java Foods



CEO and founder of Java Foods, a food processing company based in Zambia that she established to provide affordable nutrition to the southern African market made from local products. Lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Musonda is a dual-qualified English solicitor and Zambian advocate with over 15 years of experience.

17. Kitili Mbathi, Standard Bank 



Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group’s East Africa operations. In the Kenya market, CFC Stanbic, is the country’s eighth-biggest lender by market capitalisation. The lender is 60% owned by Johannesburg-based Standard Bank, Africa’s No. 1 bank by assets.

18. Nicola D’Elia, Airbnb



General Manager for Airbnb’s Middle East & Africa operations. D’Elia is looking to accelerate Airbnb’s growth in the region. D’Elia says that in Kenya, there are currently over 1,400 listings available to book through Airbnb with the greatest concentration in Nairobi; the number of Kenyan guests using the sharing economy platform has tripled in the past 12 months.

19. Jambu Palaniappan, Uber



Regional General Manager for the Middle East & Africa at Uber. Operating in over 20 cities in the region – including seven in Africa – Uber is helping to improve the way the world moves through a digital transportation network. In this role, Palaniappan oversees market strategy and operations in the MEA region, and works with expansion teams to manage new market entries.

20. Gachao Kiuna, Transcentury Ltd



CEO of TransCentury Ltd., one of Kenya’s biggest investment companies that started as a small investment club of 29 members who raised $2,400, and has now grown into a $2 billion company. TransCentury has invested in East African infrastructure, including power plants, gas storage facilities and roads to meet the region’s unmet demand for power and logistics. In November, it joined a consortium that is building a 50MW wind farm in Limuru, 50km northwest from the capital Nairobi.

21. Funke Opeke, Main One



CEO of MainOne, a submarine cable system running down the coast of West Africa, regional and metro terrestrial fiber optic networks, and data center facilities enable broadband services in West Africa.

22. Ben White, VC4Africa



Founder of VC4Africa, a platform for startup funding in Africa; entrepreneurs have access to free online tools, mentorship opportunities and private deal rooms. The community has members in 159 countries and meet-ups have been hosted in more than 50 cities around the world.

23. Judith Owigar, Akirachix



President of Akirachix; an organisation supports African women in science and technology. While attending the launch of iHub, a space for hackers, designers and bloggers in Nairobi, she noticed the few ladies in attendance, and together with a few friends formed Akirachix to increase the ratio of women to men in tech.

24. Harry Tomi Davies, African Business Angels Network



President of African Business Angels Network, that aims to provide a platform for angel investors, angel syndicates, angel networks, entrepreneurs, startups and other players in the ecosystem to promote a culture of angel investing across Africa.

25. Mbwana Alliy, Savannah Fund



Founder and managing partner of Savannah Fund, an Africa- focused technology venture capital fund that started in Tanzania, which runs both an accelerator and gives seed investments in e-commerce, gaming, education technology and social networking.

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