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Dr. Eleni Becomes UNDP’s Chief Innovation Officer in Africa

ADDIS ABABA – Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin has been appointed on Monday as Chief Innovation Officer within UN Development Programmes’ regional bureau for Africa.

She will be taking a lead role in launching timbuktoo, a new revolutionary private-public Youth Start-up Innovation Financing Facility for Africa, according to UNDP.

“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 Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Assistant-Secretary General and UNDP’s Regional Director for Africa.

Dr. Eleni, 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.

The UN agency described her as a highly recognized thought-leader and respected voice on African development, agricultural markets, entrepreneurship, and youth innovation.

Prior to her new role, Eleni 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. Eleni is also 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.

She also 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.

Eleni 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.