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Brilliant African Innovations Against COVID-19

A “shark tank” Style Pitch Competition


Tarun Khanna

Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor,
Harvard Business School

Tarun Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard. He has taught at Harvard Business School for 25 years and at Harvard College for the last decade.  Professor Khanna is also the first director of Harvard’s Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, a university-wide endeavor that brings together natural and social scientists with artists and humanists in joint academic pursuits.  

Working primarily with entrepreneurs across many developing countries, he focuses on entrepreneurship as a means to social and economic development.  In addition to scholarly articles, a co-authored book, Winning in Emerging Markets (2010) offers a framework to think about private-sector led economic development, while his latest book, Trust (2018) and earlier Billions of Entrepreneurs (2008) chronicle creative ventures in China, India and beyond.

For the past decade, Professor Khanna has enjoyed teaching one of Harvard’s only University-wide electives, an entrepreneurial approach to Contemporary Developing Countries, co-taught unusually with scientists and artists.  A related free online version on the edX platform is taken by hundreds of thousands annually.  His work has also resulted in the founding of numerous for-profit and not-for-profit ventures across emerging markets. He sits on the boards of numerous entities, including Washington based AES, a global energy company, San Francisco and Bangalore based Inmobi, India’s first ‘unicorn,’ Axilor, India’s largest private sector incubator which he co-founded, and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Collaborations with institutions as varied as the World Economic Forum and India’s Niti Aayog continue to shape his thinking.  Recently, the Government of India appointed him to lead several national committees connected to entrepreneurship and higher education.

Juliet Ehimuan

Director, West Africa, Google

Juliet Ehimuan is Country Director leading Google’s business strategy in West Africa. She was named by Forbes as one of the top 20 power women in Africa, by the London Business School as one of 30 people changing the world; and featured in the BBC Africa Power Women series, and on CNN Innovate Africa. 

With over 25 years experience primarily in Technology, Oil & Gas, and New Media industries across Europe, Middle East and Africa; Juliet is a thought leader, and a leading voice on Innovation, Transformation, and Leadership. 

She has received numerous awards for outstanding contribution to the digital landscape in Africa. Juliet is an Executive Leadership Coach and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. She is the Founder of Beyond Limits Africa, a leadership and organisational capacity building initiative. 

Juliet holds an Executive MBA from the London Business School, a Postgraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge; and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. 

Follow Juliet on Twitter & Instagram – @jehimuan, to leverage tools and resources shared frequently on her page.

Andile Ngcaba

Founding Partner and Chairman Convergence Partners

Andile Ngcaba is chairman, founder and majority shareholder of the investment group Convergence Partners a private equity firm that invests in the Telecom, Media and Technology sector in Africa.

Through the firm, Ngcaba is also involved in significant new communications infrastructure projects across Africa including Seacom (the first undersea fibre optic cable system serving Africa’s East Coast) which was ready for service on 23 July 2009, the first private sector satellite in Africa (Intelsat New Dawn) which was launched on 22 April 2011, a joint venture to bring high capacity, long-haul terrestrial fibre to South Africa (FibreCo) and recently a new joint venture with Google to invest in CSquared, a broadband infrastructure company headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

He has participated on ICT decision-making forums and has influenced the formation of various African forums and organisations responsible for shaping the ICT sector at National, Continental and Global levels through his activities on various bodies including the ITU, ICANN and the African Union. In his international organisational activities, Andile served on the Board and High-level Panel (serving as the business sector chair) responsible for the outcomes of the Netmundial multi-stakeholder conference on Internet governance, hosted by the Brazilian government in April 2014. He also serves on the council of The National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI). The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University appointed him as an Adjunct Professor of the University, affiliated to the faculty of science.

Ngcaba was previously an activist aligned with the African National Congress during the struggle against apartheid, and thereafter the Director General of Communications in the first democratically elected government of South Africa in 1994. He left Government in 2003 to pursue a career in the private sector.

Eric Osiakwan

Managing Partner, Chanzo Capital

MIT, Stanford and Harvard fellow. He is an investor and developer of new businesses with 20 years’ experience spanning across 32 countries in Africa gained through a number of successful tech start-ups. Eric is a leading pioneer of internet in Africa having worked in multiple countries building internet service providers (“ISP”) and ICT businesses. Some of his successful exits include iBurst in South Africa, One2Net in Uganda, BusyInternet in Ghana, etc. Eric also founded and ran the Africa ISP Association for eight years, during which the ISP industry grew by almost 120%. He then moved onto leading efforts to build submarine cables on the continent. Eric was part of a public-private partnership in Kenya that built and launched the TEAMS submarine fiber cable, the first to connect East Africa to the rest of the world. He subsequently contributed to the building of terrestrial fiber networks in Ghana and Nigeria.

Eric has been seeding and investing early stage tech ventures across the continent. In 2013, he co-founded, an Africa wide network of angel investors, and then which brings select entrepreneurs to present to potential investors. Over the 7 years of organizing the event, we have realized US$23m of investment and one exit in 2019. He was an ICT Consultant for the WorldBank, Soros Foundations, UNDP, USAID, USDoJ, USDoS as well as African governments and private firms.

He authored “The KINGS of Africa’s Digital Economy”, co-authored the “Open Access Model”, adopted globally by the telecommunications industry, “Negotiating the Net” – the politics of Internet Diffusion in Africa and “The Internet in Ghana” with the Mosaic Group. He was invited to contribute ideas to Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa.

Adrian Vermooten

Head of Digital Innovations, Standard Bank

Adrian joined Standard Bank Group in 2014 and has held a number of leadership roles across Africa in Digital, Channels and Payments. Prior to joining Standard Bank, Adrian held senior positions at Absa, MTN and Rand Merchant Bank.

Adrian has a strong track record of innovation and is recognised as a leader in digital financial services and mobile telecom. Adrian’s entrepreneurial flair has led to him winning various local and international awards for Best Digital Bank, Best Mobile Bank, for innovation in landing world-first initiatives in mobile banking, internet and messaging.