“I believe it is important you start even if it Is small, start with a view of putting the right structures in place in your business that would allow you to be big.” Ada Osakwe
Ada Osakwe is a Nigerian economist, food investor, corporate executive, an entrepreneur and agri-business advocate. She is the founder and chief executive officer of Agrolay Ventures, an agribusiness investment firm in Nigeria. She is one of the ladies creating an impact in the agro sector building businesses that creates job and increase access to opportunity in the agricultural sector.
The agri-business advocate was born in 1980 to Gabriel and Tonye Osakwe; both of them; lawyers. She attended high school in Lagos before moving to the UK for her tertiary education. Ada Osakwe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Hull, UK. She also has a Master’s degree from the University of Warwick, UK. Ada also holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, USA.
Ada Osakwe started her profession as an investment banker with BNP Paribas, London. At the age of 24, the agri-business advocate joined African Development Bank Group (AFDB) in Tunisia as a Senior Investment Officer, leading capital market and infrastructural financing across Africa. She was the Vice President of Kuramo Capital Management, New York where she led the firm’s private equity investments. Prior to Kuramo, she worked briefly with Actis, a multibillion-dollar private equity fund focused on emerging markets investment in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the agri-business advocate relocated to Nigeria and served as the Senior Investment Adviser to Dr Akinwumi Adesina, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development between 2012 and 2015. Among all other initiatives, the beauty and brain led the development and launch of the Fund for Agricultural Financing in Nigeria (FAFIN). FAFIN is an agriculture-focused investment fund for small and medium agri-business companies in Nigeria. Working with the ministry helped Ada Osakwe to find her passion and understand policy issues affecting entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
Interestingly, using her savings and financial support from friends and family, Ada Osakwe established her own business, Agrolay Ventures. Agrolay Ventures is an investment firm targeting early-stage agri-business and food-related companies across Africa. The company offers expert advice on agri-business financing, strategy, project fund-raising and investment structuring. The company also helps to develop a policy for early-to-mid stage actors in the African agribusiness and food sectors.
In addition, Agrolay Ventures has invested in four agri-business companies. These are Nuli Juice, Nuli Foods, Reel Fruit and African Courier Express. Nuli Juice is a beverage brand that manufactures juice made from locally sourced fruits and vegetables in Nigeria. Today, Nuli Juice Company is one of the fastest-growing manufacturer and restaurant chains in Nigeria. Also, Ada Osakwe serves on different boards, an example of One Acre Fund, Kenyan based financial and educational nongovernmental organization.
Conclusively, in the words of the agri-business advocate, “Agriculture provides one of the best opportunities for Nigeria. There is an agricultural revolution happening in Nigeria today and a lot of investors are getting involved.”