Eleni Gabremedhin (PhD) is a globally recognized thought leader on agricultural markets and African Development. She is a founder and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). She is credited for transforming Ethiopian commodity exchange, and is considered the visionary of modern and efficient market that benefits especially small holder coffee producers in Ethiopia. She took the exchange from its initial phase to annual trading of 1.2 Billion USD in just three years. Eleni is also awarded for her remarkable leadership in managing the transformation process of the Ethiopian traditional commodity exchange in to modern and efficient platform. She was a CEO of ECX from 2008-2012.
Eleni was born on July 12, 1964 In Addis Ababa Ethiopia. She left Ethiopia when she was just four years old. Her father was a diplomat who moved to different countries, and she was raised in six countries including Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. Eleni credits her multicultural upbringing for her success later in life. She is multi lingual speaking Swahili, French, Amharic and English.
Eleni attended he primary school in Kenya, Rwanda and Mali. She moved to the United States to attend a high school. Eleni has a PHD in applied Economics from Stanford University, Master’s degree from Michigan State University and bachelor’s degree in Economics from Cornell University.
Eleni has decades of experience on agricultural markets in Africa. She served in many senior positions in the World Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington), and United Nations (Geneva). She served as a Non-Executive Director of Syngenta AG from April 23, 2013 to June 26, 2017. She received the American Outstanding Dissertation Award in Agricultural Economics in 1999. She was awarded the prestigious Yara Prize and the African Banker Icon award in 2012 and invited to address world leaders at the G8 summit in Camp David. She was named among 100 Most Influential Africans 2012, the 50 Women Shaping Africa 2011 and Ethiopian Person of the Year 2009.
While working for IFPRI, Eleni, as many others in the filed noticed that in Africa, while there is draught and shortage of food in some parts, there is surplus and excess product in others. In her survey of grain traders in 2002, she identified lack of effective infrastructure and service for grain market as a key factor contributing to inefficient market. Traders often failed to have access to sufficient credit, information about the market, transportation and other vital resources and contract compliance was difficult to enforce. In 2004 she moved home from the US to lead an IFPRI program to improve Ethiopia’s agricultural policies and markets. Specifically she undertook the important role of coordinating the advisory body developing the ECX. She became CEO of the new exchange in 2008. Eleni is known for her determination to incentive small holders with a better price from their product. She argued that when farmers can sell their crops on the open market and get a fair price, they will have much more incentive to be productive, and Ethiopia will be much less prone to food crises and that the ECX will allow farmers and traders to link to the global economy, propelling Ethiopian agriculture forward to a whole new level. She was one of the most successful leaders for the exchange. She took the exchange from its initial phase to annual trading of 1.2 Billion USD in just three years.
Eleni moved from ECX in 2012 to become a director of Syngenta. She also founded Eleni LLC in the same year.
She is currently a founder and CEO of Blue Moon, Ethiopia’s first youth agribusiness incubator and seed investing platform.
- In 2010, Eleni was given the “Ethiopian Person of the Year” honor for the 2002 Ethiopian year
- In 2012, Eleni was awarded the Yara Laurate Prize from the Norwegian fertilizer manufacturer Yara International for her outstanding contributions to sustainable food production and distribution with socio-economic impact. Previous recipients of the prize include former prime minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi
- Winner of the African Banker Icon award 2012.
- Invited to address world leaders at the G8 Summit Camp David 2012.
- Named among New African magazines 2012: 100 Most Influential Africans.
- Listed in the 50 Women Shaping Africa 2011.
- Ethiopian Person of the Year 2009
Eleni currently lives in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.