Bespoke research and strategic advice for sub-Saharan markets

Bespoke research and strategic advice for sub-Saharan markets

About

Our mission

We help companies and organisations succeed and generate positive impact in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our footprint

We have access to a unique range of people and insights across 35+ sub-Saharan African markets.

Our approach

We value transparency in the way we work, we are innovative in our approach, and we are motivated to be the best at what we do.

Our team has several decades of combined experience advising the most influential companies and organisations operating in Africa. With offices in London and Nairobi, our team works at the heart of information flows, drawing on an in-market network that covers 35+ countries in the sub-Saharan region.

Southern Africa

Recent work: Selected examples
  • Scenarios-based political risk forecast for mining sector client in South Africa
  • In-depth market risk assessment and stakeholder engagement advice for mobile financial services company in Zambia
  • Investment due diligence on acquisition target in Zimbabwe for global mining company
  • Political economy analysis of the food commodity sector in Mozambique for international organisation
  • Regulatory risk assessment in Namibia for global oil and gas investor

Client testimonials

Services

We advise

Companies and investors
  • Multinational companies
  • African businesses
  • Sovereign wealth funds
  • Private equity and venture capital
  • Law firms
Public and development sector
  • Development agencies
  • Multilateral organisations
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Impact investors
  • Research institutions

To address

Market entry
  • Investment strategy

    Targeted ground-level insight, helping CEOs to make the best, risk-adjusted investment decisions in markets where reliable data is scarce.

  • Risk and scenario analysis

    Comprehensive analysis of an operating environment, mapping the various ways events may unfold in order to pre-empt critical challenges.

  • Sector mapping

    Identification of the people, policies, companies and organisations with influence over a sector, and recommended stakeholder engagements.

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Investment advisory
  • Transaction advisory

    Locally informed insight and advice to enable durable local partnerships and to navigate legal and regulatory processes.

  • Due diligence

    Detailed integrity checks on an entity or individual to protect our client against reputation damage.

  • Corporate strategy

    We source opportunities for investors, drawing on our sector expertise and local footprint.

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Stakeholder engagement
  • Political economy analysis

    Analysis of political dynamics, stakeholders, regulatory environment and macroeconomic trends with actionable insights.

  • Stakeholder mapping and analysis

    Identification of the most relevant, influential individuals and organisations; and analysis of highest priority stakeholders to provide insight into their views and priorities.

  • Issue advocacy

    Development and implementation support for robust, locally relevant advocacy strategies to achieve change in targeted areas.

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Our team

Jyrki Koskelo
Chairman, Advisory Board
Jyrki Koskelo leads Sofala’s Advisory Board. Jyrki has over three decades of experience investing in Africa. He worked at the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group, for 20 years. As Vice President of Global Industries, he was responsible for the IFC’s global investment program, overseeing annual debt and equity investments of over $14 billion and an investment portfolio in excess of $30 billion covering financial markets, infrastructure, mining and agriculture, among other sectors. He previously served as Vice President, Africa, overseeing all advisory and investment operations during a period of unprecedented growth in the IFC’s activities on the African continent. Prior to joining the IFC, Jyrki spent more than 10 years in senior management positions in private sector engineering companies. He has also served as board advisor, board member or chairman at multiple African companies including RSwitch (Rwanda), ABC Holding (Botswana), Invest Solar (Botswana) and Africa Agri and Investment Fund (Luxembourg). He was previously Head of M&A and Corporate Development at Atlas Mara, the sub-Saharan African financial services group listed on the London Stock Exchange, and co-CEO of the African Development Corporation. Jyrki holds a Master’s in International Management/Finance from Sloan School of Management/MIT and a Master’s in Civil Engineering from the Technical University of Helsinki.
Baïdy Deng
Advisory Board Member
Baïdy is a Senegalese national with over 30 years’ professional experience as a senior partner at EY. Before starting a new chapter as a business angel and entrepreneur in early 2019, Baïdy held a range of roles within EY, based in Senegal and covering primarily Francophone African countries as an audit partner and then advisory partner.

For his last 12 years at EY, Baïdy held senior leadership positions including Advisory Services Leader for French Speaking Sub Saharan Africa (FSSA), Business Development Leader for FSSA, and member of the Africa Advisory Executive Committee for the Africa Region. Since leaving EY in 2019, Baïdy has created an investment vehicle taking minority influential stakes in SMEs, while participating in Senegalese investment clubs and networks as a board member to support local private sector development. He has also served on the board of the Economic Policies Study Centre (CEPOD) of Senegal’s Ministry of Economy since 2003 as a private sector representative. Baïdy holds a Master’s degree in Management and Finance from the Paris Business School (ISC) and an Executive Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Paris Institute of Political Sciences (Sciences-Po).
Sarah-Jane Boulos
Senior Advisor
Sarah-Jane is an experienced adviser with expertise across multiple sectors in risk management, investment due diligence and investigations. She currently serves as Senior Manager, Integrity Due Diligence at The LEGO Group, where she co-designed and built the organisation’s compliance program. Sarah-Jane works in partnership with the Group’s governance functions to manage third party risk and improve supply chain integrity. Sarah-Jane is not part of Sofala's full-time team but provides valuable perspective as an external advisor. Previously, she worked on long-term projects for a London-based private equity firm; with Global Witness on promoting good governance in Uganda’s oil sector; for South Sudan’s joint donor team on civil society capacity building; and for the Sudan team at REDRESS, a human rights charity. Before this, Sarah-Jane led the Africa team at FTI Consulting’s Global Risk and Investigations Practice, which included a secondment to the World Economic Forum to work on the Partnership Against Corruption Initiative. She is a trained mediator and holds an MA in Politics from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in Globalisation and International Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
Anna Riley
Managing Partner
Anna is an investment adviser and risk and reputation management specialist, having advised leadership from blue chip multinationals, investment firms, and development organisations across the African continent over the past decade.

Anna established and ran the first risk advisory firm in Tanzania from 2011-2014 and subsequently led the Southern Africa business for africapractice from South Africa. She has particular expertise in the mining, oil and gas, and agriculture sectors, having advised companies on project development and stakeholder relations in these sectors across the sub-Saharan region. Recently, Anna has provided advice on managing policy risk to a leading investor in African agriculture; sector analysis on East Africa’s fast-evolving digital payments sector for a leading global payments firm; and market intelligence in support of a multi-billion dollar oil and gas project in West Africa. A dual Finnish-British national, Anna started her career as a reporter at the Finnish News Agency (STT) and later led advocacy for investors in Africa towards multilateral bodies at the Brussels-based Private Investors for Africa. Anna’s motivation lies in supporting private sector-led development in the region. She has degrees in Political Science and International Relations from the Universities of Edinburgh and Helsinki, respectively.
Ashley Elliot
Managing Partner
Ashley is an experienced advisor with expertise in corporate strategy, investment advisory and risk management in frontier markets. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Ashley runs Sofala’s East Africa office and has a detailed knowledge of regulatory, political and investment trends across Africa, having led projects in more than 15 sub-Saharan markets. Previously, Ashley served as General Manager for a Tanzania-based consultancy, in addition to consulting for the senior management teams of two of South Africa’s largest financial institutions, Old Mutual and Standard Bank. Before this, he was Senior Analyst for sub-Saharan Africa at Control Risks, a London-based consultancy, where he advised global companies on managing political and policy risk.

Early in his career, Ashley worked in the office of the Director of Strategy at the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations Development Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. He holds a BA in Social and Political Sciences from University of Cambridge and an MA in International Relations and Economics from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Kitty Llewellyn
Managing Partner
For the past ten years Kitty has supported companies in their operations in Africa, conducting extensive first-hand research across the continent and providing strategic advice to assist clients in their decision making, including some of the largest blue-chip multinationals. Recently, she has advised a Silicon Valley technology firm on market expansion across multiple sub-Saharan markets, and a global Private Equity fund on utility-scale renewable energy project development in East Africa. Kitty was previously editor of the Sunday Times in Rwanda and has reported widely on the East and Central African regions.

Having begun her career at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, Kitty speaks French and has worked throughout French speaking Africa, particularly in Gabon, the Republic of Congo and the DRC. Kitty ran the Africa desk at Aegis Advisory before heading their specialist investigations division. She has a masters in African politics and history from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. In 2009 she founded the charity A Partner In Education which works to improve the quality of teaching and learning in Rwanda.
Rico Natali
Associate Partner
Rico came to Sofala in October 2019 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. An economic and agricultural development expert who has been working in African markets since 2009, he brings extensive experience of managing private sector development and stakeholder engagement projects across Africa. In addition to his broad network in the sub-Saharan region, Rico has deep experience in cultivating and delivering country and sector intelligence in Africa to inform strategic decision-making.

Since joining the Sofala team as an Associate Partner, Rico has conducted ground-level market research to inform product launch strategy for a market-leading Pay-As-You-Go platform in East Africa, leveraging micro-payment technologies to drive financial inclusion. In addition, he has advised an innovative global healthcare provider on market entry in East and West Africa. Based in our London office, Rico will help lead Sofala’s growing market entry and investment advisory practice, drawing on a proven ability to develop custom analytics and tools that enable clients to make informed decisions in data-scarce contexts. He holds a BA in International Studies and a Master’s degree in Policy from the Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington.
Henrietta Southby
Principal
Henrietta joined Sofala as a Principal in early 2018. She is an experienced business intelligence and political risk analyst with expertise in risk management, due diligence and complex investigations across sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the Middle East and North Africa. Henrietta previously worked for K2 Intelligence and as an independent advisor, where she advised clients on risk mitigation and business development strategies by providing actionable advice around political, compliance and regulatory issues, as well as stakeholder engagement.

Henrietta has worked on a range of multi-jurisdictional projects across the African continent for private equity and impact investors, development finance institutions, law firms, and natural resource multinationals. She has particular expertise on South Africa and Iran, recently spending six months at the Dehkhoda Institute in Tehran. She holds an MA in History and History of Art from the University of Edinburgh, and an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London.
Adam Taylor
Principal
Adam joined Sofala in September 2018. He has extensive consulting experience across sub-Saharan Africa, having advised clients for the past five years on investment due diligence, political risk reporting, and bribery and corruption investigations. Adam was previously a director on the Africa Desk at K2 Intelligence. His work focuses on Anglophone and Francophone West Africa and he has spent significant periods in-market leading complex investigations in countries such as Ghana and Nigeria. He has advised clients in the oil and gas, mining, financial services, and legal sectors, among others. Adam was most recently based in Dakar as an independent consultant.
 
Early in his career, Adam spent time in Zimbabwe, carrying out academic research into military involvement in government and working for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party in 2011 during the government of national-unity. Adam has a BA in Geography from the University of Oxford, and an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
Ditte Krogh Olesen
Senior Analyst
Ditte joined Sofala Partners in 2020 and has consulting experience from across Africa. She previously worked as a Senior Analyst for the Risk Advisory Group’s Government Services team, where she advised governments on political economy, stakeholder mapping, and risk mitigation across Sub-Saharan Africa.

As Ditte grew up in Mombasa, Kenya, she is very familiar with central, east and southern Africa. She holds a BA from the University of Cambridge in Politics and International Relations, and an MSc in Defence, Development and Diplomacy from the University of Durham.
Wadesior Rukato
Analyst
Wadeisor Rukato joined Sofala in June 2020 as an Analyst. Prior to joining Sofala, she worked as a researcher on Sudan and South Sudan at the International Crisis Group (ICG) in Nairobi, Kenya.

She recently completed a Master of Social Science degree in Security, Leadership & Society as a Fellow at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in China Studies, with a concentration in International Relations, from Peking University’s Yenching Academy.
Wadeisor is a co-founder of From Africa to China, an online platform that seeks to add a youth voice to the discourse on Africa-China relations.
Quentin Mareuse
Analyst
Quentin is a French-US national with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Columbia University. Quentin recently joined Sofala, following an internship in January 2020, and has interned at a number of African or Africa-focused organisations, including Ghana’s Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), where he developed AgTech portfolio companies’ tools for assessing social impact.

Quentin has also interned for Kenya’s Hivisasa.com platform, where he developed a customer relationship management system to enable engagement with the platform’s network of citizen journalists across Kenya.
Quentin served as university president of the Columbia Association for Foreign Affairs. In addition to his native English and French, Quentin speaks intermediate Russian.

Contact

For information about our team, our track record and our pan-African network of partners and associates, please contact us:

For five hundred years, the port of Sofala was the gateway between Africa and the world. The oldest and largest of the trading centres on the Swahili coast – with links to the Middle East and Asia – Sofala connects the story of African entrepreneurship from its origin to the present day, in which Africa has emerged as the world's fastest-growing continent.

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