Our Activity Areas
Our areas of activity encompass innovative programs in the fields of access to technologies, law and governance, and social impact development. The Foundation seeks to establish co-operation platforms for institutions, investors and innovators, and to promote ideas to support them.
Our Thematic Focus
The following thematic areas influence our work:
INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGYwe release untapped potential in Africa, driving pragmatic, African-led solutions (Africans for Africa)
GOVERNANCE AND COMPLIANCEwe promote African governance and access to law and legal resources
SOCIAL IMPACT DEVELOPMENTwe sustain livelihoods through empowering the local population and through income generation.
We are driven by the following values:
INNOVATION is the heart and soul of our work
We are PASSIONATE about Africa’s progress
We create effective solutions with LOCAL IMPACT
We are MARKET-ORIENTATED
INTEGRITY is essential in our work and interactions
We are inspired by People Participation Partnerships
We work with multi-sectoral audiences and focus on diverse industries and disciplines where innovation is needed in Africa, always exploring opportunities for making impactful interventions in line with serving our mandate. Our core programs seek to support & strengthen the African innovation ecosystem, promote African governance and access to law, and realize social impact.
African Law Library
Developed in 2012, the ongoing African Law Library (ALL) is a “one-stop-shop” free online portal and database for Africans from multi-disciplinary sectors, including business, government and civil society. ALL aims to deepen the continent’s integration agenda and renew commitment to a sustainable path of growth and development through free and innovative access to African law and governance. The online library is easy to access with a simplified registration process, and offers:
- downloadable and printable full legal texts, selected court decisions and secondary literature from African countries
- a multi-lingual platform, searchable by subjects, keywords, country, type of document
- collections classification by country, themes, type of organization and document, including secondary literature
- online articles on law and governance in Africa harvested from diverse sources.
Innovation Prize for Africa
The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) was initiated in 2011, to strengthen the African innovation ecosystem by rewarding and mobilizing for African innovators. IPA honours and encourages innovative achievements that contribute towards developing new products, and increasing efficiency or saving costs in Africa. Specifically, IPA targets breakthroughs in the following key areas: manufacturing and service industry, health and well-being, agriculture and agribusiness, environment, energy and water and ICTs. The IPA focusses on: ◦ Mobilizing leaders from all sectors to fuel African innovation ◦ Promoting innovation across Africa in key sectors through the competition ◦ Promoting science, technology and engineering as a rewarding career path among African youth ◦ Encouraging entrepreneurs, innovators, funding bodies and business development service providers to exchange ideas and explore innovative business opportunities. By providing USD 150 000 to winners who deliver market-oriented solutions for African-led development, the IPA acknowledges and encourages the endeavours of innovators and entrepreneurs, and works to raise their profiles on the development agenda. Beyond the prize, IPA aims to contribute to Africa’s socio-economic growth through sustained, home-gown solutions to social and development challenges.
Social Impact Program for Angola
The Social Impact Program for Angola (SIPA) focusses on innovation for social impact. Its core function is to solve pressing social problems via socially responsible sourcing of solutions, through collaboration, products or services. SIPA looks at providing solutions to specific issues such as basic access to medical diagnostics, low-cost services in health, water and sanitation or energy provision, education and rural development. The program engages models that serve communities in need and employ the poor, with an emphasis on demand-driven services and market approaches. The aim of SIPA is to empower the local population through poverty alleviation, based on the following approach: - finding solutions that emerge through forging strategic partnerships - skills building and job creation for socio-economically disadvantaged people - high-quality and sustainable services/support to domestic and international public and private sector clients - focusing on building relevant skills for employment in the areas that are needed - organizing knowledge on social development focused on a few sectors of activity as well as on innovative approaches developed in Africa to solve similar problems.
Elodie de Warlincourt
Elodie de Warlincourt is Director of the African Innovation Foundation, responsible for overall management of the Foundation, with a key emphasis on social impact programming. She focuses on market-based approaches for poverty reduction, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa. Elodie has 14 years’ experience in private sector development and project management in international development programs and humanitarian aid. Prior to joining AIF, she worked for the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, managing a portfolio of programs that supported SME finance and entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa. Earlier in her career, Elodie focused on development strategies, donor policies and coordination with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, as well as accompanying the OECD peer review of Swiss cooperation. She represented the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kosovo and Eritrea, and has worked for the Inter-parliamentary Union in Geneva and Moscow, as well as at UNCTAD in Geneva. Elodie has an MSc in Philosophy and in Development Management. The values of her work, the potential to transform her environment, identify new opportunities and innovate, as well as achieving tangible performance-related results are her main motivation. Elodie is married and has two wonderful daughters. She lives with her family close to Zürich.
Aulora Suerga Stally
Aulora Suerga Stally is the Communications Manager for AIF, responsible for shaping the Foundation’s overall communications and media outreach, as well as branding and marketing. Aulora has more than 12 years’ experience in leading, managing, designing, implementing and monitoring communication programs in Africa. She has served as the Africa communications focal point for leading agencies such as Gates Foundation, International Media Women’s Foundation, Open Society Institute, UNAIDS, SAfAIDS, World Bank, EU, Water Supply and Sanitation Council (WSSCC). Having worked in both the private sector and in development, Aulora has spearheaded extensive training and facilitation on public health and knowledge networking in east, west and sub-Saharan Africa. She authored a capacity building program series for African NGOs in Botswana (Academy for Education Development), designed and implemented the payroll audit communications plan (World Bank, Zimbabwe), conceptualized the east African health media strategy (USAID, Kenya) and supported SADC in advocacy communication towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. Aulora has written several development publications and training manuals, targeting wide audiences, including the media and young people in Africa. She has an MA in Mass Communications from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom. She is based in Zurich with her children, and is a Zumba dance fitness enthusiast.
Pelthia is a South African native based in Switzerland since several years. She worked at the World Health Organization (WHO) where she organized outbreak response’s web and media activities in major programs such as Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response (EPR) and the Global Influenza Programme (GIP); as well as served as an assistant to the communications team of the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR). She also worked with the WHO’s office of the Governing bodies during the World Health Assembly and Executive Board meeting’s yearly event. Her previous job was with the Council on Health Research Organisation (COHRED) where she oversaw general office management including the human resources, finances and assisting the Director’s office. She has strong IT skills and holds a diploma in creative writing and is certified in accountancy, billing and file management.
Sandra Teixeira is the Administrative Assistant for the African Innovation Foundation. She is responsible for the office management support tasks. In addition to her duties as Administrative Assistant, she also undertakes translations in English, German and Portuguese.
In 2007, she concluded her degree in English/German, after five years of higher education at the University in Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, in Vila Real, Portugal. After her degree, she worked as an English teacher at Mirandela secondary school in Portugal. Between 2008 and 2011, she worked as a Portuguese teacher on Portuguese Teaching Abroad (EPE) in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In 2012, she joined AIF as a Portuguese teacher. When she is not working at the Foundation, Sandra teaches Portuguese at various language schools in Switzerland. Sandra has also written articles focusing on education for the magazine “Lusitano” in Zurich. In 2013, her first book of poems entitled “Cantos do (A) Mar” was published, in partnership with Miguel Passarinho, a Portuguese writer. Sandra currently lives close to Zurich in Switzerland.
Country Director, SIPA
Carlos Figueiredo joined the African Innovation Foundation in September 2014 as Country Director of the Social Impact Program for Angola, SIPA which focuses on innovative ways to respond to Angola’s social and development challenges. He is responsible for facilitating links between donors and those requiring program support to foster growth and equity in Angola. Carlos is an Angolan agronomist and rural development planner with extensive experience on development projects since the early 1990s. He has worked with Angolan and international NGOs such as Development Workshop and SNV, as well as UN agencies such as UNDP. Carlos served as a volunteer in different Angolan and southern African organizations, and is a member of the Socio-Political Observatory of Angola (OPSA). He has been a member of various boards, mainly Action for Rural Development and Environment (ADRA) and the Center for Development and Partnership (CDPA). He was also an active board member of Open Society Institute for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Southern Africa Council of ICCO, a Dutch inter-church organization for development cooperation. Carlos graduated in Agronomy and his areas of expertise include rural development, social housing and water and sanitation hygiene. His key interests include participative development and engaging use of appropriate technology.
Pauline Mujawamariya joined the African Innovation Foundation in July 2011 as the IPA Program Director, but is also responsible for managing the innovation and technology programs of the Foundation. Pauline focuses on cultivating market-orientated solutions for African-led development across the continent, building an innovation ecosystem that will invigorate economic growth across Africa. Pauline has more than 15 years’ international development experience with organizations such as UNICEF and GTZ in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ENDA Tiers Monde in Senegal, and the Jewish Family and Children’s Service and TANGO International in the USA. Prior to joining the AIF, she worked for the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement Foundation in USA. Pauline currently serves as a board member of the Flame Tree Initiative, a US-based NGO that focuses on using ICTs to address the digital divide through collaboration with African universities. She is also one of the Bellagio/PopTech Catalysts, a joint initiative between the Rockefeller Foundation and PopTech which brings together a global community of innovators and thought leaders from different fields to share insights and work together to create lasting change. Pauline has a BA Honors degree in international studies from the University of Arizona with a core focus on sub-Saharan Africa development. She also has a Master’s degree in Poverty and Development from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex University, United Kingdom where she was a Fulbright Scholar. In addition, Pauline served as a Fulbright Fellow at UNESCO, Paris, focussing on freedom of expression, democracy and peace. Pauline has a passion for people and their development, and dedicates her time towards ensuring the economic and social empowerment of Africans. Recently, she received the Social Responsibility Alumna Award from the University of Arizona Honors College for her commitment in promoting social responsibility throughout her life.
IPA Program Officer
Laura Yuego is the Program Officer for Innovation Prize for Africa, a flagship program of the African Innovation Foundation. Her main responsibilities include supporting the IPA team on all operations, as well as program and administrative assistance. Laura is from Cameroon where she initially studied for her Masters in African Business Law, after which she began her teaching career as a PhD Assistant at the Faculty of Law at the University of Yaoundé 2 in Cameroon. She then obtained a Masters in Management of Development programs in Africa from the University of Paris 11 in France. Prior to joining AIF, Laura worked as a Program Officer for a Swiss NGO, assisting livelihoods in the Himalayas. As a lawyer, she also worked for a humanitarian NGO inspired by Christian faith to relieve human suffering in some of the world’s most remote and devastated areas. Laura has over seven years’ experience working in the non-profit sector in Africa and Switzerland. She joined AIF because the Foundation’s mandate was a right fit with her desire to work for an organization focused on increasing growth in Africa through African human potential. Laura is married and has 2 daughters.
IPA Process Manager
Robinson Esialimba joined the African Innovation Foundation in September 2013 as Process Manager, responsible for operational running of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) and related activities. Prior to joining AIF, Robinson founded and was managing an online platform that provided African technology startups with business strategy consulting and connections to viable sources of financing. Robinson comes with a wealth of management experience of over 10 years, having worked in senior management positions in international organizations and UN agencies in Africa and Europe. He was a Senior Technical Officer with the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, advising on patent licensing for vaccine and pharmaceutical companies in Africa. Robinson holds a law degree from the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and a Masters in Law from the University of Lund in Sweden, specializing in intellectual property law and innovation. In addition to intellectual property law, he has interests in private equity financing, international trade law and project management.
John Miller is the Senior Librarian of a key program of the African Innovation Foundation, the African Law Library (ALL). He joined the African Law Library in 2012. His main responsibilities include operational management and liaison with partners on technical issues related to ALL. John is a chartered librarian and holds a BA Degree in History, Politics and International Relations. Prior to joining AIF, John was Chief Librarian and Sustainability Management Focal Point at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France for six years. His other posts have included Library Director for the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, Regional Information Coordinator for Eastern and Southern Europe for the British Council, Assistant Director of Libraries and Automation for the Open Media Research Institute and Library Director of the Central European University in Prague. John has also studied law, and qualified in Carbon Accounting. He enjoys travelling and his personal library has a huge music collection with a vast amount of books.
Ghislain Patrick Lesséne
Senior Legal Advisor
Ghislain Patrick Lessène (Ph.D) is the Senior Legal Advisor for the African Law Library (ALL) a core program of the African Innovation Foundation. His main responsibilities include content management for legal texts for the online library, as well as share and exchange of information. Patrick holds a PhD in Law from the Faculty of Law, University of Geneva. He also has a Masters in Law from the University of Bangui (Central African Republic) and a Masters in Human Rights and Democracy from the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin). He has a diploma in advanced studies in international humanitarian law from the University Centre for International Humanitarian Law (UCIHL), currently the Geneva Academy for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Patrick has been a lecturer/researcher at the Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH) in Geneva since October 2007. He is also lecturing at the Faculty of Law of the University of Cean Basse-Normandie in France since 2009. Patrick conducts seminars on « Action for NGOs in Africa » in the optional course « Medicine and international humanitarian law » at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Geneva since 2009. Between 2004 and 2010, Patrick was a consultant and legal adviser to the Africa Program of the Association for Prevention of Torture (APT) in Geneva. He managed the working group on the prevention of torture in Africa during the Forum of NGOs participating in the sessions of the African Commission for human and peoples’ rights. He has authored several resolutions and recommendations adopted by the African Commission. Patrick provides expert advice to several international organisations as well as international and African NGOs, and has collaborated with a number of research projects on law in Africa.
Sophie Bussmann Kemdjo
Sophie is the Director of the African Law Library, a core program of the African Innovation Foundation that advocates for open and free access to African legal resources.
Sophie joined the Foundation in June 2014, and speaks French, English and Spanish. She holds a Masters in Political Science as well as an MBA degree, and is a member of the advisory board for Africa Business and Legal Expertise (ABLE) an international network of lawyers who specialise in African business law. Prior to joining the Foundation, Sophie was Senior Manager for the Africa region at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva. In this role, she was responsible for key relationships and strategic initiatives with African governments and business leaders. Sophie also worked in the Geneva's audit department of Ernst & Young (EY) one of the "Big Four" global audit firms, as well as the tax division of Lenz & Staehelin, Switzerland's largest business law firm. She started her career as Public Relations Manager for Summit Motors in Cameroon. Sophie is passionate about contributing to - and realising - Africa's growth story.
Office Manager, African Law Library
Eloïse Ouedraogo joined the African Innovation Foundation in February 2015 as Office Manager for its Geneva-based African Law Library program. She is delighted to share her strong IT and organizational skills in her new position at the Foundation. Eloise has more than 10 years’ experience in the private sector, having worked with firms in the communication, financial and legal areas. Prior to joining AIF, she was team coordinator in a law firm that specialized in Intellectual Property. Her main role included dispatching and organizing workflows, managing information exchange and office systems, and providing support to legal and paralegal team members. Eloise is a French national. In addition to French, she speaks English, Italian, German and Norwegian. She has studied Languages and International Commerce. Eloise has been living in Geneva for several years. She enjoys playing the cello in orchestra and participating in music chamber groups
Chairman of the Foundation Board
Ambassador Walter Fust is Chairman of the Board for the African Innovation Foundation, providing strategic guidance to the Foundation’s mandate. After studying Public Administration at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, he commenced his diplomatic career, serving Swiss embassies in Baghdad and Tokyo. He subsequently assumed various functions in the Federal Administration and in the private sector, including the role of Personal Assistant to Federal Councilor Dr. Kurt Furgler, Minister of Economy and President of the Swiss Confederation. W. Fust then became Managing Director of the Swiss Trade Promotion Office (OSEC) and Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior. He headed the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for 15 years. Since his retirement, Amb. Fust holds mandates in the Broadband Commission for Digital Development (ITU/UNESCO) and the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA). He chairs the Global Crop Diversity Trust (Bonn) and serves on the boards of the Coalition for Dialog on Africa/CoDA, the Library of Alexandria, CATIE, the American University for tropical agriculture and forestry in Costa Rica, and different national Foundations. Amb. Fust is a well-known and a widely-connected personality in international development, with particular knowledge and expertise in trade, development and humanitarian affairs.
Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais
Founding Board Member
Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais is an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and philanthropist with a deep interest in African socio-economic development. In 2003, Mr. Bastos de Morais founded Quantum Global Group (QGG) an international group of companies focused on African development, particularly in the fields of corporate finance advisory, asset and private wealth management, real estate and investment consulting. As the Chairman of the QGG Advisory Board, he provides instrumental expertise on financial markets, especially across Africa and other emerging markets. More recently in 2014, he established Quantum Global Research Lab, which aims to provide bottom up econometric models for inclusive development in Africa. In 2008, Mr. Bastos de Morais founded Banco Kwanza Invest, Angola’s first investment bank. As a Member of Board, he advises on the bank’s strategic direction. At the core of his philanthropic work is the African Innovation Foundation (AIF), an organization he founded in 2009 to drive African-led development through fostering innovation. Key programs of the AIF include the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), the African Law Library (ALL) and the Social Impact Program for Angola (SIPA). The AIF initiated and implements the annual IPA which was launched in 2011 in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). In 2012, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) passed a resolution to promote an innovation-based society in Africa. Mr. Bastos de Morais is on the advisory board of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) and the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. He is also a member of the international Board of Foundation for Globethics.net, a leading global network that advocates ethical corporate and social practices. He began his career as a management consultant and holds a Master of Arts in Management from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.
AIF Board Member
Mr Omar Balafrej is a newly appointed Board member of the African Innovation Foundation, providing strategic advice and technical support to build the innovation landscape across Africa. Omar Balafrej is the CEO of MITC, a Moroccan public private partnership that manages Technopark (www.technopark.ma). Casablanca and Rabat technoparks host 230 start-ups and SMEs with a natural 20% turnover. Several business services are offered in both technoparks, ranging from hosting to coaching and assistance to finance. Technopark’s ecosystem has been significantly enhanced lately with the installation of various entities that aim to support start-ups and a host of SMEs in Morocco. A new technopark shall open in 2015 in Tangiers (north of Morocco). Omar Balafrej is also President of MITC Capital, entity that manages the Maroc Numeric Fund (MAD 100 million venture capital fund) mnf.ma and board member of the CMI, Moroccan center for innovation cmi.net.ma. Besides this, Omar Balafrej is actively involved in supporting various associations in Morocco. He has been president of the Abderrahim Bouabid Foundation (fab.ma) from 2009 to 2012 and is a Board member of The Cinémathèque de Tanger (www.cinemathequedetanger.com)
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
Member of the Foundation Board
Bethlehem founded SoleRebels, the fastest growing African footwear brand and the 1st global footwear brand to emerge from a developing nation. In doing so, she has created jobs and prosperity, empowering her community and country while presenting a galvanized dynamic face of African creativity to the global market. She was the first female African entrepreneur to address the Clinton Global Initiative as a speaker and panelist (September, 2010) and was named one of the World Economic Forum’s 2011 Young Global Leaders. That same year, Bethlehem was selected as 2011’s Outstanding African Business Woman by the African Business Awards. Most recently, FORBES magazine published their 2012 World's 100 Most Powerful Women list and named Bethlehem as Woman to Watch! This followed featuring her AS “Africa’s Most Successful Women” AND one of its 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa in 2011. A trailblazer in every respect, Bethlehem has shifted the discourse on African development from one of poverty alleviation orchestrated by external actors, to one about prosperity creation driven by local Africans maximizing their talents and resources.