Builders of Africa’s Future


Date: Thursday, June 23, 2022 8:00am - 9:45 am PST

African Diaspora Network hosts the fifth annual Builders of Africa’s Future Pitch Session! Join us for a celebration of innovation and impact among early-stage African enterprises. This session recognizes the rising stars of African entrepreneurship as they build the future of the continent through nonprofit and for-profit businesses addressing key community needs. The BAF program awards 10 to 15 of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs with enterprise development training, partnership and mentorship opportunities, and a platform to boost brand visibility and investment potential in Silicon Valley. This virtual showcase of pitch presentations by grassroots African entrepreneurs is the perfect opportunity for venture capitalists as well as angel, impact, and philanthropic investors. Since 2018, Builders of Africa’s Future has recognized and catalyzed 42 African startups.
Chairman of the ADN Board, Founder and Managing Partner – IgniteGB Inc., Co-Founder and CEO – Small World Brands Inc
Josh Ghaim is the Founder and Managing Partner of Ignite Growth Brands (IgniteGB), a new brand and innovation accelerator focused in the Health and Beauty markets as well as investments and support of Women and Minority led start-ups. Josh is also the Co-Founder and CEO of Small World Brands, the parent company of Nuria Beauty and Recharge Health brands.
Chief Partnerships Officer and Managing Director of the Office of Global Partnerships at U.S. Department of State
Thomas Debass currently serves as Chief Partnerships Officer and Managing Director of the Office of Global Partnerships at U.S. Department of State, providing thought leadership on partnerships related to economic growth, global finance, environment, and sustainability governance, impact investing, and innovation. He has served under five secretaries of State with various partnership and program accomplishments. Thomas is also an adjunct faculty at George Washington University School of Business teaching strategic foresight, resilience, and strategy. Prior to joining the State Department, he was the Lead Economist with the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Senior Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Chief Strategy Officer, United States African Development Foundation
Kwasi Donkor joined USADF as the Chief Strategy Officer in April 2020. In this role, he is responsible for driving efforts to incorporate digitization and innovative finance across USADF’s country programs and strategic focus areas, including the energy, entrepreneurship and agriculture portfolios. Kwasi brings a wealth of knowledge gained over 20 years working in the private, nonprofit and government policy sectors to address a wide range of enterprise development and socially responsible investment issues. Most recently, as a Senior Advisor at USAID he was charged with implementing USAID’s global strategic focus on payment models and digital technology for financial inclusion. Prior to USAID, Kwasi worked for the Grameen Foundation in Uganda as the Interim Country Director where he led a strategic turnaround and served as the overall risk manager for country operations, anticipating and responding to potential threats to execution, financial viability and regulatory compliance.
Associate Vice President of Program Operations and Head of Catholic Sisters Initiative, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Sister Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, a member of the institute of the Little Sisters of Saint Francis, Kenya. Wakahiu provides leadership and direction of the Hilton Foundation’s program department operations budget, contracts, consultant management and policy implementation. She also oversees the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of the Catholic Sisters Initiative. Responsibilities include advancing the vitality of congregations of women religious globally, enhancing global capacity-building, and enabling sisters to contribute more profoundly to sustainable human development, as well as to enhance the effectiveness of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. She also contributes to the Foundation’s strategic planning. In her previous role, Wakahiu led the Foundation’s grantmaking program department in an interim capacity.
Executive Director, Segal Family Foundation
Andy Bryant joined Segal Family Foundation as executive director in 2010. He leads the foundation’s team and implements the vision of the Segal family. He has overseen an increase in the foundation’s annual giving from $2 million in 2010 to over $16 million in 2021. He has worked in international development for many years in Africa and Asia, including positions with Tanzanian Children’s Fund and TechnoServe. Andy completed a BA from Princeton University in 2003 and subsequently graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a MPA in International Development. He also served as a Princeton in Africa Fellow. He currently serves on the board of directors for Komo Learning Centres.
Andy believes that local solutions are the best solutions.
Manager, African Visionary Fellowship, Segal Family Foundation
Beatrice coordinates the African Visionary Fellowship (AVF). She connects visionaries to capacity building resources, plans AVF Summits, and manages the program’s administrative aspects.
Beatrice joined SFF from Acumen, where she provided support for the Acumen East Africa Fellows Program. Prior to joining Acumen, Beatrice served as the President of AIESEC in Rwanda from 2012 to 2014, working with university students to develop their leadership potential through global exchange programs and experiential learning activities. She also served as the public relations officer at the University of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics (then School of Finance and Banking). Beatrice is interested in leadership coaching, women’s development, and being a positive change agent.