our work in Africa

We believe that solutions to Africa’s greatest challenges can come from within Africa. Our role is to support African partners whose bold ideas and creative approaches have the potential to save lives, improve health, and help farming families all across the continent. We devote half of the foundation’s resources to projects in Africa and to helping African countries learn from one another.

What We Do

Africa is a continent with both rich resources and great challenges. Since making our first grants here, we have worked closely with governments, academia, the private sector, and civil society to help advance progress across the continent and share the ideas and technologies developed in Africa throughout the world.

We focus on the 10 countries where we believe we can have the greatest impact, and we partner with organizations and individuals across 45 nations. We support a range of programs from the international to the local level that emphasize health and nutrition; disease prevention, treatment, and research; water, sanitation, and hygiene; agriculture; financial services for the poor; and policy and advocacy.


Cheikh Oumar Seydi
Director, Africa

Cheikh Oumar Seydi leads the foundation’s work in Africa. He joined the foundation in 2018 from the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), where he was IFC’s regional director for sub-Saharan Africa, based in Nairobi. In this role, Oumar managed IFC’s investment and advisory operations covering the region’s 49 countries.

Oumar has also served as IFC’s director for eastern and southern Africa and as its global director of Human Resources, covering more than 100 offices around the world. He originally joined IFC in 1997 as an investment officer focused on oil, gas, mining, and agribusiness development.

Prior to IFC, Oumar was a manager at Ernst & Young in New York, where he advised corporate clients on restructuring, reorganization, corporate finance, and business valuation. He also spent five years with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and began his career working for a variety of private banks and commercial auditing firms in Senegal and Belgium.

Oumar earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in Boston. He was born and raised in Senegal.