level one judges

Edward Kessy

Principal Investment Facilitation Officer with National Economic Empowerment Council under Prime Minister’s Office, United Republic of Tanzania. Edward has over ten years experience working in both reputable private and public institutions in Tanzania. Advocate of entrepreneurship ecosystem development as he believes Small and Medium Enterprises is the life line of the developing world economy as the most African countries aspire becoming a middle income country by 2025.

Principal Investment Facilitation Officer with National Economic Empowerment Council under Prime Minister’s Office, United Republic of Tanzania. Edward has over ten years experience working in both reputable private and public institutions in Tanzania.


Mondher Khanfir

Mondher Khanfir is an impact entrepreneur and investor with a special dedication for startup industry in Africa. He’s a seasoned professional with a strong background in business consulting, governance and strategic planning for both private and public sectors. His passion for the Digital Economy had driven him to policy analysis and advocacy, mainly in Africa and MENA region, where he is regularly appointed as an expert in Science, Technology & Innovation.

He conducted several assignments with different International institutions like the World Bank, UN-ESCWA, AFD and the OECD, and assisted Governments to manage large investment plan in order to better integrate international standards and value chains. Authored several reports and led many missions to the EBRD & the GIZ to implement framework programs, or to deliver studies on private sector competitiveness and analysis on the capital market development in emerging economies. During the decisive period of transition to democracy in Tunisia, he acted as Head of the Cabinet of the Minister of Transportation. He was behind the Road Map 2014, which included a very ambitious program of Digitization labelled MoVility. Mondher is also a visitor lecturer in many incubators and accelerators. His publications are searchable on (https://www.slideshare.net/MondherKhanfir)

Bruce Nsereko-Lule

Bruce Nsereko-Lule is an investment and finance guru that passionately contributes to the development of African businesses. Bruce established and still leads the operations of Chandaria Capital, one of the most pioneering and respected Venture Capital funds in East Africa. With intent to fuel African development, the fund proactively provides African SMEs business expertise, contacts, and funding to successfully scale.

Chandaria Capital has participated in debt, and equity fund raises worth over USD 23 million for burgeoning businesses that are now scaling across Africa and economically empowering over 17,000 Africans. The fund’s portfolio includes award-winning and impactful companies such as SOKOWATCH, KOKO NETWORKS, and KOBO360. Before Chandaria Capital, Bruce worked at Credit Suisse's London office for over five years, assisting in the management of Investment Banking businesses with operations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He holds a BSc in Economics with Politics from Loughborough University and an MBA from Strathclyde Business School, Scotland.


Yan Kwizera

A Techpreneur with over a decade of experience involved in building, growing and managing startups, Yan is a product go-to-market specialist with an African experience where he has occupied key roles in some of the most interesting companies. He is an active member of the Sub Saharan Africa ICT ecosystem, as a startup mentor, projects contributor and early stage investor.

A regular speaker in worldwide conferences, Yan focuses on trade, investment and creating sustainable digital ecosystems particularly in Africa and the emerging world in general.

Olugbenga Agboola

Olugbenga Agboola is a Senior Entrepreneur with 14 years of experience in building scalable financial technology firms. He is the CoFounder and CEO of Flutterwave; a post Series A payments technology company headquartered in San Francisco with operations and offices across Africa and Europe.

Flutterwave was launched in 2016 with the goal to build digital payments infrastructure for Africa and enable businesses receive or make any payments across Africa and globally. Since inception, Flutterwave has processed over $3.6B across all product platforms and has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including the "Best Technology Platform" as awarded by The Asian Banker, the "Top 100 Fintech Firms" among others.Prior to cofounding Flutterwave, Olugbenga contributed to the development of fintech solutions at several tech companies and financial institutions such as PayPal, Standard Bank, among others. He is a serial entrepreneur with two successful exits under his belt. He is a software engineer with a with a Master Degree in Information Technology Security & Behavioral Engineering and an MBA.

Emmanuel Mimshach Obioha

Director of Partnerships Ventures Platform Foundation, Nigeria Mimshach is driven by the belief that entrepreneurs that leverage technology to create solutions to problems are the last frontier for Africa's Development. In line with this belief, he is devoted to supporting young entrepreneurs on their journey by designing/implementing programs, advocating for policy and brokering strategic partnerships. This ethos has been the guiding force for all major decisions in his career and he has dedicated his life to making this belief a reality.

This led him to join Ventures Platform Foundation -an enterprise development organization with a mission to support innovators and entrepreneurs in order to unlock the potential of underserved sectors, people, and places in Africa. As the Director of Partnerships at VPF, Mimshach has designed, developed, and executed programs with partners ranging from the World Bank to the European Union in order to create innovative solutions in ecosystem development and unemployment in underserved communities. In this position, he has raised over $1 million to support the success of these programs. As a strong believer in the power of youth as an agent of change, Mimshach spends his free time mentoring high school children on career development and leadership, and uses soccer to teach children at IDP camps essential life skills. He is a 2013 Future Africa Leaders award recipient and a 2016 Mandela Washington fellow.

Selma Ribica

Selma Ribica is a fintech entrepreneur-turned-investor in African and European VC space. Recently, Selma built, scaled and sold a fintech business in London serving underbanked migrants in Europe. Previously, she was in charge of growth for M-Pesa, scaling mobile money through geographic expansion and product innovation, expanding M-Pesa to new use cases and industries: international remittances, savings, agriculture, and setting up foundations for mobile money industry interoperability.

Selma is currently a Venture Partner at Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund, and an Advisor for global impact investors, as well as an active angel investor and board member. Selma lived and worked in 8 countries so far, speaks 6 languages and is passionate about using technology to drive economic development.

Mahmoud Sirry

Venture Capitalist

Tamer Azer

Tamer Azer is an entrepreneur and business builder. Prior to joining Sawari Ventures as a Principal; he co-founded startups and worked closely with entrepreneurs in several different countries across 8 industries. Tamer started his career working at the forefront of policy making with one of the world’s most influential business designers at The Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity; working to redesign economic, innovation and entrepreneurship policies.

He later joined global innovation strategy and design firm Fahrenheit 212 as a Senior Innovation Consultant. In 2016 he joined A15 to lead its investments and the venture development of portfolio companies including PayMob, Mumm and Shezlong as well as managing the exit of TPAY.Tamer received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and his Master’s degree from the University of Oxford and is also an On Purpose Fellow. In his spare time he enjoys to ride around Maadi on his neon yellow bicycle.


Keet van Zyl

Keet is a ‘Venture Catalyst’ with extensive high-growth investment experience. He structured various private equity funds in Southern Africa and worked at industry-leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Investec Bank and Mark Shuttleworth’s ‘Here Be Dragons’ (HBD) Venture Capital. In 2010 he co-founded Knife Capital to continue funding and building scalable innovation-driven businesses. Keet is passionate about building the early-stage funding ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Francis Osifo

Francis is the Co-founder and VP of Engineering at 54gene, he has over 10 years software development experience building enterprise solutions for businesses across Nigeria. He has also led teams to build solutions for Visa, DFID, Microsoft, and more.

He managed implementation for World Bank funded Startup SouthWest project across 6 states in Nigeria as well as the implementation of AFBD/Microsoft Code for Literacy program across Nigeria The products he has built have gotten local and international recognition for innovation and performance. He is an alumni of Fate Foundation and Lagos Business School.


Ik Kanu

MKauffman Fellow Class 23. Experienced in the technology, media and telecom space: Private Equity, strategy and operations consulting, technology commercialization and due diligence, business modeling and valuation, telecom experience in design and product engineering, supply chain management, and risk management.

Kenechukwu Osakwe

Kenechukwu Osakwe earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Health from Madonna University, Elele, Rivers State and has three years’ experience in the nonprofit sector. Presently, Kenechukwu works as the Member Services Coordinator of AfriLabs, a network organization of 158 technological and innovation hubs in 45 African countries.

As the Member Services Coordinator she manages strategic partnerships and communications with organizations that offer services to network members at a subsidized rate. She also develops the curriculum and organizes the AfriLabs hubs learning week that last for five days and is targeted at improving the capacity of the hub managers in the network.Prior to her job as the Member Services Coordinator, she also worked with AfriLabs as the Community Engagement Officer where she grew the membership participation from 30% to 80% and also increased the membership base from 35 hubs to 151 hubs. She also successfully organized the 2016 AfriLabs Annual Gathering and successfully managed the agenda and speakers for the 2017 and 2018 AfriLabs Annual Gathering. Prior to working in AfriLabs also, she volunteered for a year at the Society for Family Health (SFH) as the Program Assistant under the Rapid Access Expansion Program (RAcE), Nigeria’s foremost Integrated Community Case Management of Childhood illness program (iCCM). During this period, she successfully engaged in training of health personnel’s, advocacy programs and monitoring and evaluation activities. Kenechukwu has successfully organized and participated in outreaches to local communities, school of the blind and internally displaced persons homes. She also is the leader of Prov418Gems a community of youth who are goal driven and spearheading a lot of youth empowerment activities in their locality. Through these experiences she has developed strong project management skills and leadership skills and has an interest in public health, youth empowerment, and civic and community engagement.


Manirafasha-benjamin

He is the founder and CEO of Irs Hub. Benjamin has 5 years experience in management, technology, marketing, media and entrepreneurship. He holds directorships and advisory roles on various startup boards and is a world speech National ambassador or Aegis Trust Ambassador, Peace Tech Alumina and startup mentor. He has completed a Bachelor of Technology (B .IT) in software Engineering and Transformative Technology Academy

He is a co-founder of Iris magazine and Oasis group. Benjamin is passionate and optimistic about Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Innovations and Sustainable solutions solving community problems.

Harriet Adinkrah

Harriet Adinkrah is an Investment Analyst at 4DX Ventures, an early staged Pan-Africa focused Venture Capital fund. She is responsible for sourcing deal flow, company due diligence, research projects, and also works closely with the early stage companies in the portfolio. Prior to joining 4DX, Harriet worked for Zenith Bank in Ghana. She was born and raised in Accra and has a BSc in Business Administration from the University of Ghana Business School.

Karen Serem Waithaka

Karen Serem Waithaka is a Founder and Director at Ertan Consulting Ltd, an Investment Consulting firm based in Kenya. She is also a Venture Partner at Africa Technology Ventures (ATV), a tech-focused fund focusing on investing in SMEs in East and West Africa.

Prior to this, Karen worked with TBL Mirror Fund (www.tblmirrorfund.com), a Private Equity Fund that was set in 2006 with investment portfolio including Cellulant, Software Technologies, Research Solutions among others. Karen also managed the Safaricom Spark Venture Fund, a Venture Capital Fund set up by Safaricom, with the investment portfolio including Sendy, Lynk, MSurvey, Eneza, iProcure and Farm Drive. (https://www.safaricom.co.ke/spark/) Karen has also worked as an Actuarial Officer with the Retirement Benefits Authority, as a financial analyst at pwc in the Deals and Transactions department and as an Actuarial Consultant at Russell Investments in Sydney, Australia. She holds a Master of Finance specializing in Funds Management and a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science.

Abdellah Mallek

Abdellah is the founder of a tech and entrepreneurship hub in Algiers called Sylabs, and works on empowering young Algerians who want to start their own businesses, or gain new skills. In less than four years, Sylabs has helped dozens of small businesses/startups start or grow their activities, and gathered a community of thousands of people sharing the same passion for tech, digital and entrepreneurship. Abdellah was listed among Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2018.

Damilola Solesi

Damilola Solesi is the CEO and creative director at SMIDS animation studios, a company she founded in 2010. SMIDS animation studios is one of the leading animation companies in Africa and also rated by the PWC (Price Water Coopers) industry report as being in the top 2 animation companies in Nigeria. They have handled several 3D animation projects for several clients and are now busy working on children content for tv and web.

Their first TV series 'The Makerbolts' was a finalist at this year’s Annecy (the largest animation festival in the world) 'Animation du Monde’. After qualifying through the regional and continental stages. One of their top projects is the BOXED series now showing on YouTube. Dami’s work in leading and managing the day to day strategic and operations of the business has been critical to the success of SMIDS. She was also the First Lady of TechDivaz, an initiative she started at the Co-Creation Hub (CCHub). TechDivaz is a platform where women are inspired and their capacity for technology are built through collaboration, networking, training, mentorship and funding to help them play a stronger role in growing the technology startup scene in Nigeria and Africa. Her drive, passion and youth has earned her interviews in the Huffington post, The Punch, Guardian and Sun newspapers in Nigeria. She has been a panelist at the annual conference of the Women in Management, Business and Public service (WIMBIZ) at her 2014 annual conference where she spoke on challenges and opportunities available to 'millennials' in the Nigerian Business space. She is also ‘Mandela Washington Fellow-Young African Leader’, a President Barack Obama flagship program for young Africans. She was also one of the recipients of the USADF (United States African Development Fund) Award of $25,000. Damilola Solesi has a bachelor's degree from Bowen University in Computer science and has over the years acquired several business skills through the Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management (CEM) at the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Pan-Atlantic University, Basic and Advanced leadership course at the Daystar Leadership Academy (DLA) and has benefited immensely from the WIMBIZ(Women in Management, Business and Public Service) mentoring program. She is also a Goldman Sachs Scholar, mentee on the IBM Women Enterprise Challenge, recipient of the Empowering Women series award and one of the 1,200 exceptional women who won the federal government YouWin (Youth enterprise with Innovation) grants for young entrepreneurs in the second run of the program tagged "YouWin Women”.

Thomas Kowalczyk

Passionate of team sports and music, Thomas has brought is passion of collective intelligence in all his tasks. Thomas has always tried to build human communities in several areas to find concrete products and services for people in France and West Africa.

Thomas has worked for companies who push human at the center of their strategies included SIGFOX the leader of internet of things network. In the last two years Thomas works for the African Innovation Lab of Société Générale based in Dakar, Sénégal. Thomas lead all the innovative projects and support West African and Maghreb startups to increase their business especially in financial education, mobile money services, agriculture and sustainable services.


Anthony Stonefield

A serial tech entrepreneur with 27 years of scars and successes building exponential talent, products and businesses, Stonefield has conceived, designed, productized, financed and/or taken to market projects in Telecoms (mobile, apps, media & entertainment apps, IP-comms and advertising apps), BioMed, FinTech, AgriTech, Solar Energy, and e-Learning.

Expertise in capitalization strategies and execution, business expansion and internationalization, talent and product development strategies, as well as product innovation, user-experience interface design, and intellectual property management. Listed as “one of the top 50 mobile content executives” by Mobile Entertainment Magazine, between 1997 and 2005 he spearheaded the multibillion-dollar downloadable song and ringtone industries and, in 2009, developed a solution for projecting media peer-to-peer between 3G phones. He has co-founded or advises exponential startups in the US, UK, Sub-Sahara Africa, and U.A.E. Stonefield is also co-founder of AutoRegenic Cell Laboratories, a BioMed start-up that is productizing pioneering stem cell treatments for numerous major diseases, starting with an immune system transplantation solution for blood cancer victims (www.autoregenic.com). With a penchant for impact activities, Stonefield is also CIO of Alternative Initiative for the Development of Africa (www.aida.co.bw) where he focuses on the development of “Reverse Innovations” and “Leapfrog Technologies” in and out of resource-rich Sub-Saharan Africa. He provides venture development services to dynamic and disruptive startups that have regional or global scope. His current engagements include development of the African business bases for www.syntonic.com, www.starnewsmobile.com and www.pmconnect.com, spearheading the capitalization strategy for www.thesunexchange.com which crowd finances solar power installations in the developing world, and the chief technologist role for leading e-learning service, www.e-classroom.co.za. Prior to these engagements, Stonefield headed the Nokia’s mobile application developer ecosystem in what was that company’s largest market region—India, Middle East and Africa—managing 33 staff spread across the region to source, finance and support new concepts, applications and businesses that added value to wireless devices and local communities. Prior to joining Nokia, Stonefield served as CEO-in-Residence for a Qualcomm Labs project, Yagatta, a visionary Internet communication solution. Before the Qualcomm Labs engagement, Stonefield raised $14 million in US venture capital to build and sell Emotive Communications, a pioneering solution for transmitting interactive media programs between 3G mobile phones, which was acquired by Appconomy. Ahead of developing the Emotive venture, Stonefield founded and ran Moviso LLC which he sold to Vivendi Universal Networks in 2002, resold it to InfoSpace in 2003, where the venture created and dominated the mobile data industry in the USA and UK until 2007, generating over $1.5 billion in mobile content sales and precipitating the global mobile content industry and was then sold again to FunMobility in 2007 for $135 million. Stonefield is co-author of 11 patents, has served as an advisor to industry analysts and an expert on digital media and telecoms. His degree in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is a US and South African citizen, an Advanced Open Water SCUBA diver and commercial multi-engine instrument pilot.

Olawale Adebiyi

Olawale Adebiyi is the Chief Executive Officer of Wecyclers Corporation. Olawale was born on November 29th, 1980 in Lagos, Nigeria and is the immediate elder brother of Wecyclers founder, Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola. Olawale spent his early years in Nigeria where he graduated from Kings College Secondary School Lagos, and then relocated to the United States at the age of 18, to pursue his tertiary degrees.

Mr. Adebiyi holds an MBA from Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, and holds both a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology. While pursuing his Master's degree in Chemical Engineering, he was able to work on groundbreaking research on Hydrogen Production utilizing solar energy, and co-authored several patents and publications in the renewable energy field. Between 2006 and 2016, Mr. Adebiyi worked for the largest steel maker in the United States, Nucor Steel. During his time at Nucor Steel, Mr. Adebiyi worked on several projects such as a green field blast furnace construction project, where Mr. Adebiyi was selected to lead the efforts of coal supplier selection and coal blend testing for the $3 billion greenfield project. Mr. Adebiyi also worked as a production supervisor for the company's $700 million greenfield Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) project, which is the largest of its kind in the world. While working on the DRI project, Mr. Adebiyi was involved in every aspect, ranging from raw material (iron ore and natural gas) acquisition, construction engineering, talent recruitment, plant commissioning, operations and maintenance. After studying and working in the United States for 18 yrs, Mr Adebiyi moved back to Nigeria in February 2016 with his wife Idowu, and two children, Damola and Demide. Mr. Adebiyi then joined Wecyclers in 2016 as the Chief Operating Officer, and focused on streamlining operations and installing a world class team and structure to help tool the company for rapid growth. In September 2017, Mr Adebiyi was announced as the new Chief Executive Officer of Wecyclers, after the C.E.O. and Founder, Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola joined Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency. Mr Adebiyi is also a CrossFit enthusiast and operates his own CrossFit affiliate in Lagos.


Patricia Chin-Sweeney

Managing Director/Co-Founder at I-DEV International. Emerging Innovations. Impact Investing. Exponential Technology.



Alesimo Mwanga

Alesimo is the Managing Director and Founder at PAWA.AFRICA. She has worked for the private sector and international NGOs for 8 years focusing on development projects and innovation. She has spent over six years working with startups and corporations to design projects and create market access opportunities for small businesses in five African countries. Alesimo has founded her own business to provide seed grant capital funds to aspiring young African entrepreneurs. She is also available to facilitate workshops, designing projects, content development, as well as private consultations.

Warren Cronje

Warren is passionate about business in Africa, with a keen interest in early-stage ventures. Providing capital and strategic insights to help entrepreneurs grow. Warren is currently the Venture manager at Allan Gray Orbis foundation. He is also the founder of 22 Capital, an early stage investment & advisory company. 22 Capital invests in high potential, high growth companies. 22 Capital also consults to later stage startups on capital raising



Ali Hussein Kassim

Ali is the CEO of FinteXX Technology Ltd, a Pan-African Fintech company that enables the financial ecosystem to utilize digital technologies towards enhancing efficiency, bring innovative financial solutions to the unbanked across the continent and create awareness towards the transformative nature of Financial Technologies.

Ali is a Co-Founder and Partner at Demo Ventures. DEMO Ventures is an early stage, smart capital fund, currently raising its inaugural fund, focused on digital innovation and digital transformation in selected sectors in Africa. We leverage our proprietary Pan African deal to catalyze investment into early stage, high growth potential startups in Africa. He is also the Principal, AHK & Associates, a Digital Transformation Consultancy focused on enabling clients leverage Digital Technologies to achieve Transformational Change in their organizations. He is also an investor and mentor to startups the Demo Ventures Franchise. Ali was the founding CEO of Wunderman (Kenya), a Global Digital top ten Agency, where he successfully implemented the Balanced Scorecard, a management tool for translating strategy into action. Ali also serves on the Board of Longhorn Publishers, the leading publishing house in East & Central Africa where he is instrumental in defining the Digital Strategy for the company; Law Africa, a leading Law Publisher in East Africa and Alive & Kicking, a social enterprise with operations in 3 African countries. His board experience also includes a six year term as a board member at the Kenya Network Information Centre.ke Registry between 2006-12.


Ms. Lina Ng’inja

Ms. Lina Ng’inja is Talent Partnership Manager at Andela. She is an experienced emerging market professional with competent strategy and financial skills; a proven track record of achieving excellence with strengths in capital markets, communication and organizational skills to build corporates through economic, strategic and project management disciplines. Lina holds an MSc (Distinction) in The Economics of International Business and Finance from Reading University (UK); a BCom (First Class) in Finance, from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. She was selected as a delegate to attend the Emerging Markets Forum at the London School of Economics – London, United Kingdom (UK) and has contributed and participated at the Reading United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) International business conference in Reading, UK.

Prior roles were in the Banking, Capital Markets, Entrepreneurship and social enterprise Industries. Her roles involved driving business, the development and implementation of products and markets, project implementation and management and management of information services. She has also worked for a Dutch social enterprise that specializes in Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing for Organizations’ CSR activities. Lina has a keen interest in community work and development, cross-cultural management, mentorship and enjoys hiking.


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