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Advisory Board

Invest Africa Advisory Board comprises of experienced leaders from the global business and political community who offer their time and services to promote and guide the ethos of African business and investment. With their in-depth knowledge, they provide Invest Africa members invaluable insight into Africa’s political and economic landscape.

Global Advisory Board

Robert Hersov

Rob Hersov is a South African entrepreneur, senior executive and private investor based in Cape Town. He serves as Chairman of Invest Africa, Chairman of African Capital Investments, deputy Chairman of VistaJet, Chairman of Adoreum Partners, and Chairman of AON South Africa.

Rob has been focused on investing in Africa, a continent close to his heart given his South African upbringing and family ties. He has also made investments on the continent and has close relationships with businesses across Africa. In 2013, Rob saw an opportunity to create a platform for the growing number of individuals becoming involved in pan-African investments and founded Invest Africa. He also founded African Capital Investments to build an Africa-focused investment platform.

Rt Honourable Mark Simmonds

Mark Simmonds was until recently The Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister with responsibilities for Africa, the Caribbean, UK Overseas Territories, International Energy and Conflict Prevention. He served as a Member of the UK Parliament for 14 years.

He focussed on driving and facilitating inward investment into Africa across a range of key economic sectors. He has a strong knowledge of the economic and political composition of African Governments, countries and regions.  He chaired the UN Security Council on two occasions.

Mark now has a number of international roles including senior consultant to Kroll, Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council as well as Chairman of the Advisory Board of Invest Africa. He currently holds a senior advisor position at a large US hedge fund.

Karen Taylor

Karen has been involved in promoting African trade and investment since 2014. She joined the Business Council For Africa in 2015 and in 2017 completed a merger with Invest Africa; creating the leading business and investment platform for Africa, in the UK.

She has more than twenty years experience in the events industry within private and listed events companies in the UK. Her background includes business development activity in acquisitions and joint ventures in the UK and in the developing markets of China, Russia, Africa and Dubai.

Paul Hinks

Paul Hinks is the Chairman of our affiliated company Invest Africa US as well as a board member and the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Symbion Power, LLC.

As the driving force behind Symbion, he has spent his life in the power industry where he has been responsible for the construction of power plants, transmission lines and substations. His career spans 30 years and in that period, he has worked in the USA, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

In 2010, Symbion Power was awarded two large U.S. government-funded contracts building distribution lines and substations throughout Tanzania. The following year, Mr. Hinks successfully negotiated Symbion’s acquisition of a 120MW power plant in Dar es Salaam, thereby concluding Symbion’s first power asset acquisition. Today, the company is one of the United States’ largest owners of power assets in Africa with new investments in Rwanda, Kenya and Madagascar.

Prior to joining Invest Africa, Paul spent four years as the Chairman of the Corporate Council on Africa.

Lanre Akinola

Lanre Akinola is the editor of Nurmara. He is the former editor of This Is Africa at the Financial Times and African Business, and has worked with the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa. Lanre is also a 2014 Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow and an advisory board member at Invest Africa and the Norwegian-African Business Association.

Runa Alam

Runa has 29 years of investment banking, emerging market entrepreneurship and private equity experience. Before founding Development Partners International in 2007, Runa was CEO of KZAM, a joint venture between Zephyr Management of New York and Kingdom Holding Company, which managed PAIP-PCAP, sponsored by the International Finance Corporation and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Runa was formerly a director of the AIG Africa Infrastructure Fund, managed by Emerging Market Partnership in Washington, and has “on-the-ground” management experience in emerging markets having founded and managed both Peregrine Bangladesh and Union Capital Bangladesh in the 1990s.

Runa started her career in New York working for investment banks including Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch in mergers and acquisitions and corporate and tax-exempt finance.

René Awambeng

René has worked in Pan-African banking for over 20 years. He recently joined the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), as Director, Client Relations in 2016. In his role, he leads the design and implementation of Afreximbank’s client-focused business strategies, including managing the delivery of all Bank products to the clientele and managing the operation of Afreximbank branch offices.

René is a regular commentator on current trends in Commodity Trade Finance, Regional business, African Trade and Infrastructure Development at international banking conferences and seminars.

Frank Braeken, Amatheon and Unilever Africa

Frank N. J. Braeken specialises in finance and in general management. From 1996 to 2013, he held various management functions in different countries for Unilever, including a position as President of Unilever China (Shanghai), President of ­Unilever Namca (Dubai), and President of Unilever Africa (Dubai / Durban). Subsequent to leaving Unilever, Frank N. J. Braeken has acted as investment advisor and investor for large scale agro and food enterprises on the African continent. He is also a non-executive board member of Buhler, the Swiss engineering group, Marie Stopes International. In 2016 he was elected Chairman of the Board of Feronia Inc, a Toronto listed palm oil producer on the African continent.

Kari Gahiga

Kari Gahiga is an entrepreneur, investor and a senior executive in asset management, mining and technology. He is currently Chairman of ROKA mining, vice chairman MobiCash holding Ltd (Hong Kong) and partner of Sallfort partners.

Sanjeev Gupta, AFC

Sanjeev, as Executive Director of Financial Services, is responsible for Treasury, Syndication and Advisory lines of business for AFC. Sanjeev has over 25 years’ experience in investment management, private equity and corporate advisory services and his forte has been to blend together divergent corporates, investors, and governments to develop sustainable business and development models. Prior to joining AFC, he was the Managing Partner in charge of Emerging Markets M&A at Ernst Young Transaction Advisory Services. Sanjeev was also the Chief Executive Officer of Sanlam Investment Management, responsible for Emerging Markets as well as Founder and Managing Partner of Emerging Opportunity Consulting.

Koosum Kalyan

Among her many professional roles, Koosum has worked as Chief Economist at Shell Southern Africa, General Manager of Corporate/Downstream, and then as Shell’s Senior Business Development Executive for Oil & Gas Exploration in Africa responsible for new country entry to Libya, Angola, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and Mozambique.

She currently serves on the following Boards as non-Executive Director for: MobiIe Telephone Networks Holding (MTN Group Ltd), Petmin Mining, Aker Solutions Oil and Gas (Norway), Anglo American South Africa, Aos Orwell (Nigeria), and as Senior Non-Executive Advisor to Boston Consulting Group.

Dr Carlos Lopes

Dr Carlos Lopes is Professor at Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice and Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town and Visiting Fellow at Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. He is a member of a dozen Boards, including the Global Commission for Economy and Climate, Kofi Annan Foundation, Graduate Institute of International and Developments Studies in Geneva and the Lisbon University Institute, that he Chairs.

He served the United Nations in several prominent roles, the latest being the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, based in Addis Ababa (2012-2016).

Riël Malan

Riël Malan is the co-founder and CEO of  The Unlimited Group. The Group was formed in 2006. Riël is the 11th generation farmer in South Africa following the establishment of the Malan family as farmers  in the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) in 1688.

 The Unlimited Group is a diversified and integrated food- and  agri-business holding  company with investments in the perishable food and fresh produce sector in Africa and Europe. Riël grew the Group from being a start-up in 2000,  to a turnover in excess of R1B  through the establishment and acquisition of a number of subsidiaries focussed on production, packing, exporting, importing and processing of fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts. The Group has a particular focus on developing retail relationships through its proprietary genetics and new product development.  The Unlimited group supply a number of leading global retailers including Woolworths, Tesco, Sainsbury, Spinneys, Welcome, Coop, Magnit to name but a few.

Zemedeneh Negatu

Zemedeneh is widely recognised as one of Africa’s top business leaders and has received numerous global awards and recognitions.

An American of Ethiopian origin, Zemedeneh has worked in the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, the Middle East and throughout Africa. He has advised Wall Street investment banks, Governments, Sovereign Wealth Funds and multinational corporations in various sectors including financial services, airlines and consumer products. His high profile clients have included Diageo, British American Tobacco (BAT), Blackstone (the American private equity firm) and Ethiopian Airlines.

Zemedeneh was the founder of Ernst & Young Ethiopia and had served as its Managing Partner for 18 years. In 2017 he was appointed the Global Chairman of the American investment firm Fairfax African Fund, LLC, based in Washington D.C. Fairfax has invested tens of millions of dollars in Africa the past several years with significant additional investments committed for the next three years. Zemedeneh is also the Chairman of the African subsidiary of one of the largest and best known European multi-national fashion design and manufacturing companies.

Gianpaolo Pera,  African Capital Investments

Gianpaolo is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of African Capital Investments. Prior to founding ACI, Gianpaolo was an Associate Director at Marwyn Investment Management, a specialist investment firm with over USD1.5bn of investments. He started his career at PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC) in the Corporate Finance team specializing in real estate and financial services and completed over 15 transactions across a broad range of industries. Gianpaolo is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst and holds a MSc in Finance from the London School of Economics and BA (Hons) in International Finance & Accounting from Regents Business School in London.