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Power couple become first to address Harvard Business graduates


The Nwunelis - a power Tutu Leadership Programme couple - made history by becoming the first couple to deliver the keynote address to Harvard Business School graduates.  The two, Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli and Mezuo Nwuneli, delivered the address to the 2020 graduating class in May this year via a videolink as a result of COVID-19. Ndidi attended the Class of 2006, and Mezuo became a Tutu Fellow the following year. Both are also Harvard Business School graduates, which is where they met.  They join a storied list of keynote speakers - last year's was delivered by Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg LP and former Mayor of New York.

In their speech to the 2020 graduates, they recognised the unprecedented challenges that the graduates were facing in the midst of a global pandemic and the health, social and economic impact it would have. 

They urged graduates to define their values, find their purpose, and to lean on their faith and support network.  Mezuo said that when faced by a crisis, the immediate tendency is to be overwhelmed by fear and to focus on self-preservation. But crises can also present opportunities for growth and innovation.  Ndidi echoed the sentiment, sharing an Igbo proverb, Mbelede ka eji ama Dike, which translates to ‘disasters help to sift out the resilient, the resourceful, and the brave'. After recounting incidents of personal struggle, including being shot during a robbery, one of the pieces of advice they passed on to graduates was to 'build your courage and tenacity muscles'.

Both Nwunelis are leaders in the African agriculture and nutrition landscape as well as managing partners of Sahel Capital Agribusiness Managers Ltd., which manages FAFIN, a private equity fund that manages over $65.9 million, and invests in mid-sized agribusinesses in Nigeria. The couple co-founded AACE Foods, a food manufacturing company which sources from over 10,000 farmers and produces a range of packaged food products for local and international markets.

Ndidi is also the founder of LEAP Africa, a youth-focused leadership development nonprofit organization.

In their address, they shared anecdotes of their time together and how they went on to build successful businesses and a non-profit — despite the odds. They also shared life and business lessons and inspired the graduates to use their “talent, time and treasure” to improve the lives of others.

You can watch the entire address below:

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Sunday, 27 September 2020

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