Nigeria’s TOFA founder, others take centre stage at UNCTAD’s digital event

By Akanimo Sampson

Founder and CEO of an online marketplace, Traders for Africa (TOFA), Uju Uzo-Ojinnaka.

Founder and CEO of an online marketplace, Traders for Africa (TOFA), Uju Uzo-Ojinnaka, is one of the top speakers for a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) event on Bridging The Digital Divide billed for Tuesday, September 22.

In response to COVID-19 she and 11 other partners created a Pan African digital platform called TOFA Relief to tackle the issue of medical supply shortages.

On International MSMEs Day 2020 Uju took part in virtual dialogue organised by UNCTAD New York on Leveraging MSMEs as Change-makers and First Responders to societal needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic shows the strengths and importance of the digital economy. Today, only half of the world’s 7.7 billion people are connected to the internet and its benefits.

This limits the ability of many developing countries to use digital solutions to cope with the current health and economic crisis.

Countries with poor infrastructure, regulatory frameworks, skills and local content development, and electronic payment systems are missing out on what a fast-growing digital marketplace can generate.

By bridging the digital divide, jobs can be created, informal businesses can enter the formal market, and market access can be increased, in particular for vulnerable groups such as women and youth.

The potential of young, digital entrepreneurs needs to be unlocked, a new generation of game-changers will be sharing how this can be achieved.

Another speaker is Mario Jordan “Magellan” Fetalino III, the founder and CEO of Acudeen Technologies, Inc., an online peer to peer marketplace for receivable discounting in the Philippines, winner of Seedstars Global 2017 and founder, Institute’s Best Global Fintech 2017, and regarded by IDC as one of the Top 10 fastest growing fintechs in the Philippines.

He is currently a member Board of Trustee of Fintech Alliance Philippines and a Board Director of the Philippine Association for Digital Commerce and Decentralised Industries (PADCDI) and an Efounder Fellow.

Another speaker is Nancy Amunga is a digital entrepreneur from Kenya who runs Dana logistics. She is an awardee of the Commonwealth Young Entrepreneur of the year 2018 and the youngest honoree of the African

Nancy took part in UNCTAD-EMPRETEC women in business programme, the Efounders Fellowship initiative and the eTrade for Women 2020 Masterclass.

She is the founder and CEO of Dana Logistics.

Also billed to speak at the event is Arlette Verploegh, a lawyer with extensive experience in spearheading high-level development projects at the United Nations such as the eFounders Fellowship Initiative and the UNCTAD Youth Network.

These programmes are internationally recognised as innovative approaches to the Sustainable Development Goals.

She currently serves as the head of communications and external relations for UNCTAD; boosting the organisation’s worldwide visibility and developing high-profile partnerships with global leaders, while making trade and development more accessible to a diverse range of stakeholders.

She is dedicated to taking cutting-edge approaches to individual empowerment through social entrepreneurship and collaboration.

Brian A. Wong, an innovator and entrepreneur whose career has spanned e-commerce, education, and
digital media will equally be speaking. As the first American and 52nd employee to join Alibaba Group in 1999, Brian contributed to the company’s early globalisation efforts and as vice president of Alibaba Group and member of the Academic Council.

Brian founded Alibaba Global Initiatives (AGI), where he developed and led capacity building programs for entrepreneurs, universities and government leaders in emerging markets with the purpose of sharing how the digital economy can create a more inclusive society for all.   

Today, Brian is Founder and Chairman of RADII, a leading digital media company, dedicated to bridging understanding between the east and west and is Managing Director of Seacliff Partners, an investment firm dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs to build companies that help solve societies’ problems through digital solutions.

Brian was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2015, and he is a China Aspen Fellow and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Another speaker is Alena Dique, the first student from Oman to win the scholastic award for her Master’s research at University of Wales for SME Business Innovation. A finalist of the prestigious Women in Tech Awards Middle East under the category Young Leader of the Year 2018, she has also trained in Executive Leadership development for Project and Stakeholder Management.

She is a TEDx Speaker on Independent Intelligence, an SDG Advocate, a youth representative of Oman at the UNCTAD Youth Network and the author of Sustainable Governance – the Guide on Corporate Governance in Oman. She is the co-founder of One Oman.