Adefunke Kasali

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Ndidi Nwuneli Founder of LEAP Africa Helping Transform the Continent


Her father was an African-born professor of pharmacology and her mother an American professor of history. It seems clear that Ndidi Nwuneli inherited the brilliant intellects of her parents when she was born in Enugu, Nigeria.

From an early age, Nwuneli demonstrated excellent academic skills as she attended primary school in Enugu. Her final year of high school was completed via a bridging program that sent her to the Clarkson School in Potsdam, New York.

She was destined for an Ivy League education. Nwuneli was accepted at the prestigious Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Her academic performance was extraordinary. By age 20, she had earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Economics.

She enrolled at the Harvard School of business in 1997 and was the recipient of both the Harvey Fellowship and the National Black MBA Association Graduate Scholarship. While at Harvard, she founded the Annual African Business Conference. She also served as the publicity chairperson for the Christian Association. In 1999, at age 24, Nwuneli completed her Harvard MBA.

Ndidi Nwuneli’s professional career was already underway during her undergraduate years at Wharton. She held down a job as a business analyst for McKinsey & Company. Starting in New York, Nwuneli’s later took a full-time analyst job with McKinsey in Chicago. She also served in the company’s offices in South Africa.

Her work in the nonprofit sector would begin when she accepted a job as a lead consultant with the Center for Middle East Competitive Strategy, an organization founded by professor and noted economist Michael Porter. Many other activities in the nonprofit sector would follow –- that included two new nonprofits founded by Nwuneli herself.

The first was LEAP Africa. The acronym stands for Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism. The function of LEAP is to offer leadership training to young African students and others to develop their civic and ethical skills as they pursue positions of responsibility and management both in the private and public sectors.

Nwuneli’s vision for LEAP Africa was to create an organization that would do nothing less than transform Africa by uplifting tens of thousands of youths and imbuing them with superior leadership abilities and personal qualities.

LEAP has enjoyed success in forming powerful partnerships with such entities as the Ford Foundation, World Bank, the U.S. federal government, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and many others.


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