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After rising quickly through the ranks at Smith Whiley & Co., Tunde Omotoba '03 was named director of the Africa Finance Corporation's private equity initiative in December.

Capital management

Tunde Omotoba ’03 brings Kellogg global perspectives and skill to Africa Finance Corp.

By Aubrey Henretty

1/14/2008 - When the average student in the Kellogg School’s Full-Time MBA Program lands a summer internship, he or she has already spent five years in the workforce and demonstrated intellectual prowess through strong undergraduate work and high scores on standardized tests. That person is well prepared for the challenges ahead.

When Tunde Omotoba ’03 found his summer internship at Smith Whiley & Co. in 2002, it was clear to everyone involved that he was not the average student. He had arrived at Kellogg the previous autumn with 11 years of professional experience, eight of which he’d spent with Arthur Andersen’s Nigeria office. He had been valedictorian of his 6,000-student undergraduate class at the University of Benin (in his home country of Nigeria), where he had earned a degree in civil engineering.

Omotoba recalls that his colleagues at Smith Whiley — one of which was Venita Fields ’88, the organization’s senior managing director — were so impressed with his work that they sent the Kellogg School a letter of appreciation at the end of his internship and asked him to stay on during the academic year. “In my second year, I was working on projects part-time while attending Kellogg,” he says. Smith Whiley offered Omotoba a full-time position upon his graduation from Kellogg.

Five years, three promotions, an M&A Advisor Consumer Financing Deal of the Year Award, and nearly $111 million in private equity and mezzanine transactions later, Omotoba left his position as vice president of Smith Whiley’s private equity division in December to join the Africa Finance Corporation, an investment organization established last year to fuel economic development across Africa.

“We are pleased that Tunde Omotoba has decided to join us,” says AFC president and CEO Austine Ometoruwa, to whom Omotoba will report as director of AFC’s private equity initiative.

Omotoba’s Kellogg mentors couldn’t be prouder.

“Tunde Omotoba is a great example of how Kellogg can make an impact on the entire world!” says Steven Rogers, the Kellogg School’s Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship. Rogers, who worked closely with Omotoba during his initial summer internship search, calls Omotoba “a brilliant young man” with an astute understanding of the Kellogg network — an ability to make the right connections and seize opportunities as they surface.

The latest opportunity with AFC will allow Omotoba not only to do what he does best — manage a $5-billion venture capital fund — but also to play a central role in a continent’s developing economy. The fund will channel much-needed capital into Africa’s transportation, heavy industry, and energy sectors, giving communities critical foundations on which to build.

Rogers, who directs the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice, is inspired by Omotoba’s talent and tenacity. “Tunde, like all entrepreneurs, is one of my personal heroes because he will be directly responsible for investing in entrepreneurs who in turn create jobs throughout Africa. People who have jobs are self-sufficient, and self-sufficient people tend to live in healthier communities. It’s wonderful to know that a ‘Kellogg man,’ one of our own, is now responsible for managing one of the largest venture capital funds in the world.”

Omotoba’s wife and four children will join him later this year in Nigeria, where he has been working since late December. He is eager to put the fund to work.

“AFC was created to drive Africa’s development, and it is recruiting top talent from around the world,” he says. “This is going to be an exciting opportunity for me to give back to Africa.”