Dinah Hanson

2016 Cheng Fellow

Problem

Africa’s population is estimated to reach two billion people by 2050, of which approximately half are youth under the age of 35. As a result, demand has surged for not only food, but jobs. Africa is endowed with half of the world’s arable land, vast water sources, and a favorable climate but more than half of Africa’s food is imported. Africa’s farmers are constrained by limited access to finance and affordable inputs, lack of infrastructure and limited knowledge of agronomic practices. Consequently, they are unable to maximize yields and gain access to markets. Dinah believes that underlying the sector’s structural challenges is a capabilities gap – there is a dearth of Agribusiness professionals skilled with not only technical expertise but also business and management skills to drive the transformation of Agro- enterprises across the value chain. Agriculture in Africa can be a thriving, profitable enterprise if farmers are given the tools – training, credit, and services– to succeed.

Pathway

Dinah established Aspyre Growth Accelerator as a support platform for growing Agro- enterprises to address the identified gaps by working with Agro-enterprises to develop talent, expand operations, and maximize profitability. Aspyre Growth Accelerator runs hands-on agribusiness management programs and industry tours in partnership with leading institutions, facilitates connections to investors, peer mentors and agricultural value chain actors. Aspyre also seeks to convene multi-stakeholder initiatives and adapt an ecosystem approach to scaling up agribusiness models that work. Dinah’s vision of success is to develop a talent pipeline of
equipped Agribusiness professionals and thriving Agro-enterprises.

Person

Dinah received her MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2018. Dinah is dedicated to a career that helps build the economic transformation of Africa. She has worked extensively across sub-Saharan Africa primarily in international development, agriculture and education. Prior to establishing Aspyre, Dinah led an Agribusiness Consortium –comprising African Business Schools and Industry actors– funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop and deliver Agribusiness Management Training Programs across Africa with a focus on Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania. Previously, Dinah served as an inaugural faculty member at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, where she played a pivotal role in building the Entrepreneurship Department through the design and implementation of the Student-Run Business Program. She has also worked with TechnoServe, Ghana as a Business Advisor for the Believe Begin Become Business Plan Competition and Entrepreneurship Development Program. Dinah is a member of the inaugural class of the London School of Economics Programme for African Leadership and holds an MBA (Entrepreneurship) from the Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa where she was a DANIDA Emerging Leaders Scholar.