Adaeze Osakwe, also known as Ada Osakwe, is a Nigerian Agro-economist, Economist, Entrepreneur and Corporate Executive who is the founder, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Agrolay Ventures and Nuli Juice.
In an interview with Vanguard Ng in 2015, when asked about her decision to build a career in the agricultural sector, she replied by stating,
I am not the typical farmer, you would say, but while I was with the ministry, we were always going around trying to get people to look at agriculture in a different way and bring the sexy and the umph back…
She was also asked about what it entails being a creative food entrepreneur. To which she replied,
As a creative food entrepreneur, you are going over and above just the farming of agricultural produce and even the processing which is value addition. You are taking an added step to think about innovation and creativity when it comes to food products. So, you can’t just stop at adding value, you have to grow that value and make it a product that will actually sell; a product that people will be attracted to, a product that people will feel safe to pick when it comes to food
Early Life and Education
Ada Osawke was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1980. Being an enigma, not much is known about her formative years. Although she attended both primary and secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria before travelling to the UK for her tertiary education where she studied Economics and graduated with a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours) Degree from the University of Hull.
She obtained a Masters of Science Degree in Economics and Finance from the University of Warwick. She also holds a Masters of Business Administration Degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwest University in Evanston, Illinois, in the United States.
Ada Osawke began her career as an investment banker with BPN Paribas at their London Office. Afterwards she worked as a Senior Investment Officer at the African Development Bank (AfDB) for four years, mainly in the area of infrastructure finance. At this point she was based in Tunis.
She also served as Vice President at Kuramo Capital Management, a private equity company based in New York City. After which she worked with Actis, a multi billion dollar dollar equity fund focused on emerging markets investment, albeit briefly,
She relocated to Nigeria and served as the Senior Investment Adviser to Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development between 2012 and 2015. Her biggest accomplishment being leading the development and launch of the Fund for Agricultural Financing in Nigeria (FAFIN), an innovative private equity fund dedicated to investing in small and medium agribusiness companies in Nigeria.
After her work with the Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture, Osakwe founded Agrolay Ventures, an agribusiness investment company based in Nigeria which invests in agricultural start-ups and food-related companies on the African continent, and Nuli Juice, a restaurant chain in Nigeria.
In 2017, she was appointed to the board of One Acre Fund, a Kenya-based financial and educational non-government organisation that serves small-scale farmers in Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Awards and Achievements
In 2008, she was named one of the ‘Top 40 Under 40 Nigerian Female Professionals’ by the Nigeria Professional Network (NiPro).
In 2014, Adaeze Osakwe was selected to the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship Program.
In December of the same year, she was named among the “Twenty Youngest Power Women In Africa 2014”, by Forbes Magazine.
In 2015, she received the ‘Achiever in Agriculture’ Award. She is also a 2016 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.