As a son of Africa who has built many successful companies in Africa, I’ve seen the game-changing power of research, training and education to improve lives and create new opportunities for many. AKILI is offering its support to African leaders to bring the best ideas in the world, and the best ideas in Africa, together in new, exciting, and innovative ways.
Issa Baluch, Chairman
A 37-year veteran of the global freight and logistics industry, Issa founded the Swift Group in Dubai and led the organization to expansion in more than 40 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He was President of FIATA, the international federation of freight forwarders associations. More recently, Issa co-founded AKILI, the non-profit African Agribusiness Innovation and Leadership Initiative, and was a Senior Fellow of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University.
Africa’s agricultural potential is unlimited, but the risks are real. Our team has invested millions of dollars in African agribusiness, and several years of our lives, to understand how to mitigate these risks. We want to share the lessons of our experience, and the valuable lessons and best practices of many others in the field and around the world, and make these lessons accessible to everyone. We created AKILI to accomplish this goal, to promote research, training, and innovation, to nurture a culture of learning to coincide with private investments in African agribusiness, and to increase knowledge and understanding at every level that will lead to better decisions and more successful outcomes.
Jon Vandenheuvel, CEO
Jon is co-founder and CEO of AKILI, a non-profit research and training initiative focused on African agribusiness and forestry. He is CEO and co-founder of First Hectares Capital, an investment company focused on infrastructure finance for African agribusiness and forestry. Previously, he was co-founder of Africa Atlantic Franchise Farms in Ghana in 2009. Jon also co-founded AKILI, the African Agribusiness Innovation and Leadership Initiative, a non-profit developed in association with faculty from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a visiting scholar during the 2014-15 academic year. Jon’s spent his early career as a congressional leadership staffer and corporate lobbyist in Washington, D.C.