Ndidi Nwuneli reels out some deeply insightful and disturbing insights into the average Nigerian consumer’s purchase habits, nutrition, household savings and quality of life. She focuses mainly on the nutrition aspect which is deemed fundamental for any nation’s health as a productive entity. According to her, “60% and in some cases, up to 90% of the food on our shelves and in our tummies is imported. Almost 90% of the potato chips served in restaurants across Nigeria are imported! Similarly, almost all of our fruit juice companies use imported concentrate instead of our local fruits – of which 40 to 60% go to waste. And we have some of the highest malnutrition rates in the world !”
Her committed vision is gradually changing the dependance on imports to self-reliance by the local economy, steering it towards her vision of Having the Made in Nigeria tag become a significant influencer in African and global trade, with her non-profit LEAP AFrica and AACE Food Processing & Distribution Ltd.
The diminutive 36-year old, who has over 14 years of experience in international development having started her career as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, post her Masters in Business Administration from Harvard BusinessSchool. She was the Pioneer Executive Director of FATE before launching LEAP Africa in 2002. LEAP Africa provides social entrepreneurs, youth and small scale business owners with leadership training and executive coaching services.
Since its inception in May 2002, LEAP has successfully launched programmes for entrepreneurs and youth in twenty six Nigerian cities including the FCT in collaboration with non-profit and leading financial institutions. These programmes have enhanced the life and leadership skills of over 20,000 youth and business owners.
Ndidi is a leading authority on social entrepreneurship and in 2004 was bestowed with the national honor, Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the Nigerian President at the time, Olusegun Obasanjo. She has now handed over the leadership of LEAP Africa to Mosun Layode, its Executive Director and Ngozi Obigwe, Leap Africa’s COO to devote her energies to the agri-based enterprise that she co-founded with her husband, AACE Food Processing & Distribution Ltd which is both an agri-business and agro-processor enterprise that was formally established in November 2009.
The company processes, packages and distributes nutritious and tasty food made from the best of West Africa’s fruits and vegetables. AACE partners with local co-operatives that form the vital link with the actual farmers, slowly building from ground up a robust and ‘faithful’ value chain for locally sourced, processed and distributed foods for business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales. In short, AACE wants to effectively demonstrate the developmental benefits for direct employees as well as suppliers (small holder farmers and cooperative groups), distributors (SMEs/retailers) and consumers.
Ndidi Nwuneli was selected by Forbes as one of The 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa of 2011, in recognition of pioneering a curriculum and initiative on leadership, succession planning and ethics in the region, and creating a new body of research and publications which have set the standard for dialogue and training on these topics.