M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Nkiru Balonwu

Thursday, March 2, 2023,  4:15-5:45pm    Belfer L-4  Conference Room

M-RCBG Senior Fellow Nkiru Balonwu will be joined by guest speakers  Fola Aiyesimoju and Toni Oki.  

This study group / discussion is open to all. Registration is not necessary.

M-RCBG welcomes individuals with disabilities to participate in its programs. To request accommodations or ask questions about access provided, please email: mrcbg@hks.harvard.edu

Fola Aiyesimoju head shot smilingFola Aiyesimoju is the Group Managing Director of UAC of Nigeria Plc (“UACN”), responsible for shaping overall strategy and driving long-term value creation. He is also the Founder of Themis Capital Management, an investment firm focused on concentrating capital and talent on high-potential opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to founding Themis, he worked with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a leading global investment firm. His experience also includes working with the Standard Bank Group, where he led mergers and acquisitions in Nigeria. 
He spent the early part of his career with Ocean and Oil Holdings Limited, a principal investment firm in Nigeria and ARM Investment Managers, one of Nigeria’s leading investment advisory and wealth management firms. Fola co-founded Foodpro Limited, a nutritional snacks business focused on edible nuts, where he currently serves as a non-executive director. He also sits on the Boards of MDS Logistics Limited, Grand Cereals Limited, UAC Foods Limited and UPDC Plc. 
Fola holds a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Estate Management from the University of Lagos. Over the course of his career, he has lived and worked in Sub-Saharan Africa’s most important economies and has a deep understanding of the operating landscape in the region.

Toni Oki head shot smilingToni Oki is finishing his Economics PhD at Harvard University, focusing on macroeconomics, finance and energy in African countries. He has worked across various governments in West Africa, including as a Consultant on Economic Policy at the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Special Assistant to the Deputy Minister for Finance in Ghana and an Advisor to the Mayor of Freetown in Sierra Leone. Outside of government, Toni began his career at McKinsey & Company and has experience in infrastructure private equity at Blackstone.

Nkiru Balonwu head shot smiling, pink top

Nkiru Balonwu is Founder of The Africa Soft Power Group, which includes the Africa Soft Power Project (ASP), ASP Global, and African Women on Board (AWB). She founded the group having recognised the need to incorporate vital - and all too often still unseen - African perspectives into the global conversation; an important mission not only for Africa itself, but the global economy at large, particularly at a time when a host of intersectional issues threaten future (and present) growth. Over the past years, these organisations have worked tirelessly to put modern African discourse on the world map, creating and convening Africa’s highest level gathering of the continent’s creative and cultural industries, advancing new and bold narratives about African women’s leadership and taking African soft power to important global events, including the UN General Assembly, Davos and US-Africa Leaders Summit. Nkiru consults with some of the world’s leading organisations on designing an effective Africa strategy. Prior to her work with ASP Group, Nkiru was CEO for Spinlet, which at the time was Africa’s largest music streaming app with 2m+ subscribers, and has also served as the inaugural Lecturer of Gender & Law at the University of Lagos. She holds a Doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley; Masters from University College London; a Law Degree from the University of Manchester, and has been called to the bar in England, Nigeria and New York. In 2019, her work as an innovator and change-maker saw her receive the 2020 Powerlist International Award and in 2022, she was named amongst New African magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential Africans. Nkiru is currently a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School, where she is focused on the role of the private sector in influencing and constructing gender policy. Her faculty sponsor is Iris Bohnet, Co-Director, Women and Public Policy Program and Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government. Email: nbalonwu@hks.harvard.edu