Advisory Board

Maidie Arkutu Vice-President, Unilever Francophone Africa

Maidie Arkutu assumed the role of Vice President, Unilever Francophone Africa from 2017 to 2019 based in Côte d’Ivoire after successfully leading the Unilever Ghana business in the role of Managing Director for three years prior to that.

Maidie has also been the Marketing Director for Unilever West Africa (UWA). She joined UWA from Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Business Unit (ECABU) where she was the Marketing Manager for the Horn, Islands and Mid Africa (HIMA).

A professional Marketer, Maidie has a post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK Board). She also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Business Economics with a minor in French from Vesalius College, Belgium.

Maidie has been the Lady Chair and Executive Board Member of the Executive Women Network (EWN), a Non- Executive Board member at Barclays Bank Ghana Limited and an Executive Board Member at Unilever Ghana Limited. She also served as a Non-Executive Board Member at the African Business Centre for Developing Education, a Regulatory Committee Member of the Business Enabling Environment Programme and a corporate advisory Group Member at the University of Ghana Business School.

Maidie has received several recognitions, including the prestigious Marketing Woman of the Year (2015) at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana Awards and Outstanding Manufacturing Executive, Personal Products (2016) at the Feminine Ghana Achievement Awards.

Aida Axelsson-Bakri Co-founder of LadyAgri, and Founder and Managing Director of ADS Insight

Ethiopian and Swiss by origin, Aida is a socialentrepreneur at heart. She believes that LadyAgri is the vehicle by which women agri-entrepreneurs will be able to reach their potential and bring quality, security, and jobs to Africa’s food systems.

With vast experience as a Founder and Managing Director of a leading Brussels-based consultancy, ADS Insight, she has a strong sense of leadership and management in the field of international and European affairs. Her expertise is in public affairs, corporate social responsibility, international relations and European Union policy and funding instruments.

In the area of food safety, agri-supply chains and nutrition, she supports i.a. the African Union Commission notably in their efforts to address the contamination of food by aflatoxin through the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA). She is passionate about the complex debate around social investment – particularly in the area of agri-business and women, and the methodologies that serve to calculate impact.

Thanks to ADS Insight’s corporate social responsibility strategy, Aida and her team have been involved in supporting a wide range of good causes ranging from Adopt-a-Midwife in Ethiopia, to SeaAlarm for oil-spill-responders, to the RFC refugee football club Syriana, and CREAD, the Climate Resilience Executive Agency for Dominica, ADS Insight has been proud to be LadyAgri’s incubator and whole-heartedly supports its cause.

Aida has lived in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Switzerland, and resides in Belgium. She holds a Masters’ Degree in Environmental Science and has previous experience in the European Commission DG Research and at the EFTA Secretariat, and speaks 5 languages.

Diénébou Conde Technical Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture of Ivory Coast

Diénébou Conde graduated from the National School of Agronomy of Abidjan and holds of a Master in Food Science. She has spent her entire career in the Ministry of Agriculture where she started in 1985. Since then, she has held the following positions within the Ministry:

• Head of the Food, Nutrition and Codex Alimentarius Department at the National Committee for Food and Development (1986 – 1990);

• Responsible for studies at the Directorate of Planning and Agricultural and Forestry Programming (1990 – 1995);

• Head of Planning Department before assuming the post of Deputy Director of Studies and Planning at the same Directorate (1996 – 2000);

• Director of Rural Training and Promotion (2001 – 2002);

• Director of Food and Quality (2002 – 2004); • Director General of Agricultural Productions and Diversification (2004 – 2011).
Her professional career with within the Ministry of Agriculture has allowed her to build a very strong expertise in planning, monitoring and evaluation and control of agricultural programmes and projects, food safety, and engineering of agricultural training systems.

She is an Officer of the Order of Agricultural Merit (February 2014) and the Order of the Public Service (October 2014), and is the Commissioner for the prestigious Salon de l’Agriculture et Ressources Animale (SARA) which takes place every two years in Abidjan.


Michelle O’Neill Global Vice President Corporate Affairs, Cocoa – Mars Wrigley

Michelle is Global VP of Corporate Affairs, Cocoa for Mars Wrigley Confectionery since August 2017. In this role Michelle is responsible for global government and public affairs, internal and external communications, crisis and reputation management for Mars with respect to cocoa. She is an active member of the World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative, a platform of civil society, government and industry working to protect children in cocoa growing communities.

Previously at Mars, Michelle was VP of Corporate Affairs for Mars Chocolate Europe and Eurasia, sitting on the region’s Chocolate business leadership team, which covered 17 markets and the region’s chocolate manufacturing sites.

Michelle has been active in government relations, public affairs and communications for over 20 years which began with an internship at the European Commission’s equal opportunities unit in 1996. She has worked as Policy Officer at the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU; European Union Government and Public Affairs manager at Hewlett Packard (now HP), Director of Government Affairs Europe, Middle East and Africa for Honeywell Inc. and before moving to Mars incorporated, she was Vice President of Corporate Affairs Europe, Middle East and Africa for Ingersoll Rand.

Michelle has sat on the Boards of the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU and EuroACE, the European Alliance for Energy Efficient Buildings, and the Executive Committee of Caobisco, the European industry association representing chocolate, biscuit and confectionary companies. She has also been an active member of the food sector’s European trade association, Food Drinks Europe. Michelle co-led the women’s network of Ingersoll Rand and was an active member of their Diversity and Inclusion Council.

Michelle was born and educated in Ireland, has a BA Hons in Arts (French and Spanish) and lives in Brussels, Belgium with her husband and two children.

Stefan Ranstrand CEO and President at Tomra Systems ASA, Leader of the Resource Revolution

Stefan Ranstrand has been the Chief Executive Officer and President at Tomra Systems ASA since 2009. Prior to Tomra, he served in various management positions at ABB Ltd for 18 years. Stefan has also been a Sales Executive Industrial Markets at Data General AG (1988 to 1991) and Ikea Lager und Service AG from 1985 to 1988. He holds an MSc. in Industrial and Management Engineering from Linköping (Sweden) and Darmstadt (Germany).

In 2019, the European CEO Awards named Stefan Ranstrand “the best CEO in the sustainable resource management industry” not the least due to his tireless efforts in the area of re-use, recycling, prevention of waste and promoting a circular economy.

Stefan has been inspiring globally with TOMRA and its 4000+ employees as a sustainability leader and as spearhead of the “resource revolution” towards optimal resource productivity. “We continually strive to find innovative ways to reduce the world’s waste and optimise use of its resources. I’m very proud of the positive impact TOMRA has had on the recycling, food, and mining industries in the past ten years. I’m privileged to lead TOMRA and will continue to do so with a renewed focus on achieving a more circular economy and safeguarding in the future of the global food supply.”

Voré Gana Seck President and Founder, GREEN SENEGAL Senior Advisor, CESE Senegal (Senegal’s Economic, Social and Environmental Council)

Voré Gana Seck is a Senegalese environmentalist and an advocate for sustainable development and coastal resilience. She has over 25 years of experience in sustainable development policy, costal resilience and climate change mitigation. She is the Founder of Green Senegal, an NGO focusing on sustainable development.

Voré is also the Senior Adviser on Sustainable Development at Senegal’s Economic, Social and Environmental Council. She has implemented several programmes on land restoration, food security, coastal resilience, social engineering and community-driven development. She is also the Deputy Mayor of Bargny, a coastal city fighting against erosion and pollution. She recently built Senegal’s National Forum on Seascapes to address pollution, sanitation, food security, and fossil energy exploration issues. Her interventions on saline soil restoration for rice production, sustainable fisheries, and microfinance schemes for local communities, have transformed coastal communities’ livelihoods.

She is the former Director of Rodale International; President of CONGAD, Senegal’s Consortium of NGOs; and President of REPAOC, West Africa and Central Africa’ NGOs Platforms. She has been a key advocate of environmental issues in Senegal and has introduced several policies to revise Senegal’ environmental laws and integrate climate change issues in development planning.

She has received numerous awards for her work from the United Nations Programme for Development, from OXFAM, from the Yves Rocher Foundation for Nature, and from the US Congress.
Voré holds two Master’s Degrees of Sciences in Agriculture and in Environment.

Hoda Galal Yassa (PhD) CEO of H-Yassa Group Chair of the Business Women Association for Development in Egypt and Founder of the Arab Women Investors Union

Dr Hoda Yassa is CEO of H-Yassa Group which today provides employment to thousands of people and owns the following companies: TCL Factories which provides environmentally friendly industrial detergents and sanitizer with bases in Suez, Dubai and St. Petersburg; Rampex Company which provides hotel, hospital and airport supplies and furniture; and TCL Coating Factory which provides environmental long-lasting paints.

Dr Hoda is the Chair of the Business Women Association for Development in Egypt which promotes the role of women and their positive contribution to enhancing the economy and achieving sustainable development.

She is also the Founder and President of the Arab Women Investors Union which has become a main portal for investments in Egypt and the Arab world, achieved through joint ventures of Arab businesswomen. Dr Hoda is Head of the Industrial Investors Syndicate in Suez, a member of the Egyptian Council for External Affairs, a Board member and Head of the Committee for International Cooperation in 10th of Ramadan Investors Association, a member of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Egypt, and a Board member of Capital Gas Company.

Dr Hoda’s name is on the list of the African continent’s most influential business-women. Her business acumen, her vast experience, her determination and her leadership skills make her a role-model for women entrepreneurs world-wide.