Projecting Our Sheroes By Above Whispers – Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

By Onozasi

Projecting Our Sheroes By Above Whispers

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is the founder of LEAP Africa, a platform for young innovators who have been influencing Africa positively. She is Co-Founder of Sahel Consulting and serves as its managing partner. She has 23 years of experience in international development, and through her work with Sahel has shaped agriculture strategy and policy in West Africa for a range of clients in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

She is also the co-founder of AACE Foods, a social enterprise which processes nutritious food made from the best of West Africa’s cereals, herbs, pulses and spices. Ndidi Okonkwo was born on March 22, 1975 in Enugu state, Nigeria. Ndidi had her primary, secondary and university education in Enugu state, Nigeria.

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. She was also an intern at Mitchell & Titus and Arthur Andersen. 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. Her extracurricular activities at Harvard include founding and Co-chairing the Annual African Business Conference;[ Vice President of Faculty and Student Affairs for the Africa Business Club; International Liaison for the African American Student Union; and Publicity Chair for the Christian Association. She graduated with her MBA at 24 in 1999.

Nwuneli’s 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. She also worked for McKinsey in their office in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her 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 1998, she accepted a position as the Lead Consultant with a non-profit founded by Professor Michael Porter called The Center for Middle East Competitive Strategy. She consulted with Palestinian and Israeli businesses and made recommendations for decreasing transaction costs and increasing trade across the region.

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 FATE Foundation. In 2002, Nwuneli founded two nonprofits, LEAP (Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability, Professionalism) Africa and Ndu Ike Akunuba (NIA), which means to Life, Strength, and Wealth.

NIA’s focus is on female empowerment—inspiring university students in Southeastern Nigeria to live full and meaningful lives. The purpose of LEAP is to inspire, empower and equip business owners, youth, teachers and social entrepreneurs with the skills and tools for personal and organizational transformation. LEAP provides training on leadership, ethics and civics. In discussing LEAP’s impact on her community to Good News Nigeria, Nwuneli explains, “The most fulfilling part of my work is seeing changes take place in the attitudes, character, behaviour and actions of our participants. Sometimes this transformation is quick, but more often it is slow, but enduring”.[ 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.


Nwuneli is on the Board of LEAP Africa, AACE Foods, Fairfax Africa Fund, Sahel Capital, Godrej Group,  DSM Sustainability Advisory Board, Nestle Nigeria Plc  and Nigerian Breweries Plc. Previously, she participated in the World Economic Forum as a committee member on the Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership from 2011-2014.


We celebrate this extraordinary woman. We celebrate her giant strides.



Source: Above Whispers

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