NDIDI NWUNELI: One Of Africa’s Leading “Socio-Preneurs”

Ndidi Nwuneli is an expert on African agriculture and nutrition, philanthropy, and social innovation. She has over 25 years of international development experience and is a recognized serial entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and consultant. 

Through her work in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, she has led the design and execution of high-impact initiatives focused on policy, strategy, organizational design, ecosystem solutions, and growth.


Ndidi Nwuneli was born Ndidi Okonkwo on March 22, 1975 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, Nigeria to a Nigerian professor of Pharmacology—Paul Obuekwe Okonkwo and an American professor of History—Rina Okonkwo.

Ndidi Nwuneli’s parents were educators by profession. 

She grew up in Enugu, where she attended primary school at University Primary School. She attended secondary school at the Federal Government College, Enugu from 1986 to 1991. From 1991 to 1992, she completed a bridging program, combining her final year of high school and freshmen year of college at the Clarkson School in Potsdam, New York.

Ndidi Nwuneli attended The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania in 1992, where she concentrated in strategic management and multinational management. She is a recipient of the Albert A. Berg Scholarship and was also selected to become a member of the Friars and the Onyx Senior Societies for her outstanding leadership efforts. 

In addition, she was the president of the Penn African Students Association, and a member of several societies including the Penn Gospel Choir and the Black Students Union. 

In May 1995, at 20 years old, Nwuneli graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

By 1997, she was enrolled at Harvard Business School (HBS). While there, she received both the Harvey Fellowship and the National Black MBA Association Graduate Scholarship, both recognizing her academic accomplishments. 

Ndidi Nwuneli graduated with her MBA at 24 in 1999.

Her career began in her junior year at The University of Pennsylvania when she held a Summer Business Analyst position with McKinsey & Company in New York. 

In 1995, she was offered a full-time position at McKinsey as a Business Analyst working out of Chicago, Illinois.

Ndidi Nwuneli’s work with McKinsey in 1997 led to the management and training of police officers across 25 South African Police Service Stations, as well as an increase in criminal convictions and a reduction in crime rates.

In 1999, Nwuneli worked as the Lead Consultant for The Ford Foundation on a project focusing on Nigeria’s largest microcredit institutions, COWAN and FADU. That year, she rejoined McKinsey and served on client service teams, consulting for consumer goods companies and large American retailers. 

In 2000, she resigned from her position at McKinsey and returned to Nigeria to serve as the Executive Director for the foundation.

In 2002, Ndidi 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.

 LEAP Africa is a youth-focused leadership development nonprofit organization.[18] LEAP provides training on leadership, ethics and civics.

As the founder of the organization, she has been invited to speak at the UN Commission for Social Development, the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative.

LEAP has worked in partnership with the Ford Foundation, Citi Foundation,World BankUnited States GovernmentUK Foreign & Commonwealth OfficeALI (Aspen Institute’s Africa Leadership Initiative), amongst others.

In 2010, Ndidi Nwuneli and her husband Mezuo Nwuneli, Co-Founded Sahel Capital Partners and Advisory Limited and AACE Foods. In 2016, Sahel Capital separated its management consulting and private equity businesses, Sahel Capital Agribusiness Managers Ltd, was established. 

In 2018, Sahel Capital Partners & Advisory Limited changed its name to Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited to fully embrace its mandate as a consulting company, and its focus on the agriculture and nutrition landscapes. 

Ndidi Nwuneli founded, and is the chair of, Nourishing Africa, a digital knowledge, financing, and data hub which is enabling agribusiness entrepreneurs in 34 African countries to scale.

Ndidi Nwuneli is on the Board of LEAP Africa, AACE Foods, Fairfax Africa Fund, Godrej Group, GAIN, AGRA and Nigerian Breweries Plc. 

She previously participated in the World Economic Forum as a committee member on the Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership from 2011 to 2014.

In 2019, an American Philanthropic organization, Rockefeller Foundation appointed Ndidi Nwuneli to its board.

In 2021, Mrs Ndidi Nwuneli was appointed on the Board of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi is a digital and web content developer with experience in web content development and management as well as research and writing. He is an avid reader of random subject matters and a sucker for movies and video games. He is also passionate about youth empowerment and is a global affairs analyst and enthusiast.

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