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Women in Business: Akudo Anyanwu Ikemba

Akudo Anyanwu Ikemba is a Medical Doctor. She founded Friends Africa (Friends of the Global Fund Africa) as an African voice in support of the Global Fund and the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

She is an award-winning global health expert, public health innovator and social entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the field of international development. She is an Associate Dean at Johns Hopkins University.

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Friends Africa mobilizes and builds the capacity of the African private sector, civil society and government to improve Africa’s health and is the winner of the 2012 Stevie Award for Non-profit of the year and finalist for the 2012 ONE Africa Award.

Through her leadership, Friends Africa has been able mobilize over $560 million USD to countries in Africa for the purpose of integrating family planning and HIV services in addition to training over 2700 SMES across Africa to create a healthier workforce.

Anyanwu Ikemba is a World Economic Forum 2012-2017 Young Global Leader and a member of the Nigerian Leadership Initiative. She holds a Doctorate degree in medicine from Tufts University, a Master’s degree in International Public Health from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from Lehigh University.

She also has diplomas in non-profit management and non-profit leadership from Duke University and she has done post graduate studies at the University of London and the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

Anyanwu Ikemba is the recipient of two 2012 Stevie Awards: Female Social Entrepreneur of the year and Female Innovator of the year respectively. Prior to Friends Africa, she was the Technical Advisor for Global Fund Projects in Nigeria, under Columbia University’s Access Project. In this role, she provided technical assistance to countries to enable them access and manage the Global Fund to Fight AIDS TB Malaria (GFATM) and was successful in securing $480 Million in funding for Nigeria from the Global Fund. She has worked for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in

Atlanta, Georgia and as an Associate Scientist with Life Technologies in Palo Alto, California.

She has also worked as a lecturer at Tufts University School of Medicine and has done extensive molecular biology research at Tufts University and Katholique University, Belgium on DNA analysis of Cryptosporium parvum and the motilin protein respectively.

Akudo has also served on the boards of Roll Back Malaria, the Global Health Council and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Anyanwu’s pioneering work on the Gift from Africa Campaign has been recognised by the Rockefeller Foundation as a top 100 next century innovation. She has also been recognised as Tufts University’s Distinguished Service Award (21015), a Harvard School of Public Health Innovator of the Year (2013), an Ogunte Social Leader of the Year (2013) and Stevie Innovator and Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2012).

Her interests are in infectious diseases, economic development and in public-private partnerships for health in developing countries. She is challenged and affected by Africa’s astoundingly poor health indicators and the low quality of health systems and infrastructure. Her life goal is to play a pivotal leadership role in improving Africa’s health status and development as a whole.

Friends Africa is an indigenous, independent pan-african organisation. It is an innovative, multi-sectoral organisation with credible and committed Board of Directors across Africa.

Akudo founded Friends Africa as an African voice to support the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria. She birthed her idea of establishing her NGO while working as Technical Advisor for Global Fund Projects in Nigeria, realizing the numerous untapped opportunities on the continent; she envisioned an organisation that galvanizes the strengths of Africa’s private sector, civil society and government to save lives.

The Friends Africa story is indeed a story of commitment from Africa towards Africa, showing entrepreneurial rigor in the midst of challenges.

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