Elsie Kanza – Biography Of A Powerful African Female Leader

Elsie Kanza

Elsie Kanza is a Tanzanian Economist, the Head of Africa and Member of Executive Committee, World Economic Forum. Recently, she was named one of the Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women 2020 by Forbes Africa.

See Also: Africa’s Richest 2020 – Dangote, Adenuga, Rabiu And Alakija Makes List

Additionally, Elsie has served in different leadership capacities and is very keen on addressing important issues in Africa; such as climate change, food security and many more.  

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Also, she is one of the leading and most dynamic female leaders emerging from Africa.

See Also: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Biography, Books And Quotes Of A Celebrity Writer

Elsie Kanza

Elsie Kanza Education

Elsie S. Kanza was born and raised in Kenya by Tanzanian Parents. She began her education in Kenya before moving on to the United States.

She holds a BSc. in International Business Administration from United States International University – Africa. Then, she attended the University of Strathclyde, UK and earned MSc. in Finance. Also, she bagged an MA in Development Economics, Center for Development Economics, Williams College, USA.

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Elsie Kanza Career

From 1997 – 2006, Elsie worked and served in various positions in the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Tanzania. Next, between 2006 – 2011, she worked as a Personal Assistant to Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and was responsible for Economic Affairs.

Then, in 2011, Elsie joined the World Economic Forum and have been leading and pushing the African agenda. In 2014, she became the Head of Africa, and Member Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

Also, she has served on a number of non-profit and advisory boards, including the UONGOZI Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable Development and The Nature Conservancy.

See Also: Biography of Arese Ugwu, author of Smart Money Woman

World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an international organization for Public-Private Cooperation. It was established in 1971 by Professor Klaus Schwab (Executive Chairman) as a not-for-profit foundation with its headquarter in Geneva, Switzerland.  

The Forum brings together leaders from across Africa and around the world to discuss issues that are of regional importance. It convenes leaders from all walks of life; politics, business, academics, culture, youth, e.t.c to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

For instance, at the Forum, the Africa Team is responsible for Africa strategy and champions multi-stakeholder regional initiatives. Initiatives such as; Africa Partnership Initiative, Africa Strategic Infrastructure Initiative, Water Resources Group Partnership Initiative, and Responsible Mineral Development Initiative in collaboration with regional organisations.

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Generally, the forum is guided by the Board of Trustees; exceptional individuals who act as guardians of its mission and values, and oversee the Forum’s work in promoting true global citizenship.

See Also: The biography of Nigeria’s finest female architect: Olajumoke Adenowo.

Awards And Recognition

Some of Elsie’s recognition includes;

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow, 2008
  • Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum, 2011
  • Nominee, Rising Talents Program, Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society, 2011
  • 20 Youngest Powerful Women In Africa, Forbes Africa, 2011
  • 50 Influential Africans in The World, Pan-African magazine, Jeune Afrique, 2014
  • Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women, Forbes Africa, 2020

See Also: Famous Entrepreneurs – List Of Successful Entrepreneurs In Nigeria

Elsie Kanza Quotes

“I strongly believe that the 21st century will be Africa’s century, that its young population has the potential to build a world where they are not only materially better off but also where things are fairer, more sustainable and more tolerant than at any other time in history.”

“Africa’s future lies in increased integration and interaction within its own borders as well as overseas.”

“Just as the gazelle is an iconic form on the African landscape, Africa’s own tech gazelles need to define their own identity in the fourth industrial revolution.”

“Leadership matters and increased participation of women leaders is great news, not just in itself but as an inspiration to women leaders in all walks of life.”

“One of the most important determinants of a country’s competitiveness is its human talent – the skills, education, and productivity of its workforce”.

“Women account for one half of the potential talent base throughout the world, so over time, a nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it develops and utilizes female talent.”

“Learn continuously, work hard and be prepared to seize opportunities.”

“Humility goes without saying: there is no “I” in teamwork.”

“My dream is to send a rural African village girl to Mars in a spaceship designed, built and launched in Africa.”

See Also: Internet Entrepreneurs – Successful Internet Entrepreneurs In Nigeria

Lessons From The Life of Elsie Kanza


For Elsie, passion is her major drive. In her words, “my passion is clearly about Africa and that process has driven me to take up challenges, opportunities, and tasks that enable me to contribute to the continent’s development.”

As a result, her passion has paved the way for several recognition and accolades. Not just that, she is ever willing to do more.

See Also: 100 Profitable business ideas to start now for aspiring entrepreneurs and investors.

Carve a Niche

Basically, Elsie is in the business of addressing important African issues. Majorly, she aims to bring issues of regional importance to the forefront, engage and collaborate with leaders to make the right policies. She sees how unemployment can be confronted, and how more jobs can be created to improve competitiveness and economic reform.

This way, Elsie has distinguished herself in the society. As a result, she is referred to as a dynamic leading African woman.

See Also: Young entrepreneurs in Nigeria across different industries and their entrepreneurial journey.

Create Impact

One of the reasons that qualified Elsie Kanza for the 50 Most Powerful African Woman is the impact she has created through her position, and how she has faithfully served overtime.

Also, Kanza has increased the participation of women attending the WEF Summit in Africa to 30%. Basically, this is much more than the usual number of women participants that attend the annual international summit in Davos.

In summary, success is not measured in the amount of money you make, but in the number of lives, you have impact.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be passionate about your journey, create a niche for yourself and create an impact. True joy and fulfillment are attained when the solutions you create impact lives.

Elsie Kanza

Let us help you put your business on the world map. You can do that today by reaching out to tell your story with us.

Photo Credit: #ElsieKanza (Instagram)



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