Eleni Gabre-Madhin joins UNDP as Chief Innovation Officer to launch Africa’s new private-public Youth Startup Innovation Financing Facility

September 27, 2021

New York, 27 September – The United Nations Development Programme announced today that Dr. Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin has taken a role as Chief Innovation Officer within UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, taking the lead in launching timbuktoo, a revolutionary private-public Youth Start-up Innovation Financing Facility for Africa. 

“Fostering digitalization and empowering youth to lead in developing Africa’s future are amongst UNDP’s priorities and Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin’s leadership for this new initiative will have a major impact and greatly support our efforts in harnessing and catalyzing the tremendous innovative and entrepreneurial talent of Africa’s youth,” said United Nations Assistant-Secretary General and UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa.  “I am very pleased that we will have the opportunity to benefit from the breadth and depth of her professional experience at this significant point in time, when African youth initiatives, innovation and the private sector will play a critical role in recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.” 

Dr. Gabre-Madhin, a member of UNDP Africa’s eminent group of African Influencers for Development, comes with over 25 years of experience in designing and implementing innovative solutions and is a highly recognized thought-leader and respected voice on African development, agricultural markets, entrepreneurship, and youth innovation. She has held several senior positions straddling private and public organizations, notably as chief happiness officer of blueMoon, Ethiopia’s leading youth business incubator, as well as chief executive officer of eleni LLC, Africa’s premier commodity exchange builder. 

Dr. Gabre-Madhin is the founder and first CEO of the highly acclaimed Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, which achieved US$1.2 billion in annual trading value in three years. Before joining UNDP, she held prior senior positions with the World Bank, UNCTAD, and the International Food Policy Research Institute, and served on the boards of a number of international corporate and non-profit organizations.   

She holds a PhD from Stanford University in Applied Economics, and is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including Top 50 Disruptors 2020 by The Africa Report and Devex’ Top 5 Global Women of Impact in 2016. She was named among the 125 Global Women of Impact by Newsweek in April 2013, among 100 Most Influential Africans by New African in 2012, and received the prestigious Yara Prize for Agricultural Transformation in Africa and the African Banker Icon Award in 2012, among others.

For further information and interview requests, please contact: 

Eve Sabbagh, Strategic Communications Specialist, UNDP, eve.sabbagh@undp.org, +1 484 904-5730


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