Who We Are


Who We Are

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African Entrepreneur Collective is a group of professional, hard-working, and fun-loving individuals committed to building the capacity of African entrepreneurs. Similar to our entrepreneurs, we are all in, and we work hard to find data-driven solutions to our daily work. Our team members come from all over including Rwanda, the DRC, Burundia, the UK, and the US. 

Our Leadership

African Entrepreneur Collective was founded in summer 2012 by social entrepreneurs Julienne Oyler and Sara Leedom, whose experience living and working in Africa convinced them that supporting young entrepreneurs was the most sustainable way to move African nations out of poverty. The leadership team brings a wealth of expertise including over 10 years of experience in education and international development, and over 15 years of growing and managing social impact organizations. 


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Julienne Oyler

Co-Founder & CEO

AEC is led by social entrepreneur Julienne Oyler, who brings more than 15 years of experience working in education and international development. Prior to founding AEC, Julienne served as the Director of Development and Communications at College Track, a national after-school program in the US. In addition, she has held leadership and strategic consulting positions at a number of organizations including African Leadership Academy, Capital Partners for Education, and at the Yale School of Management. She attended Georgetown University with a BA in African History, and attended the University of Cape Town. She has an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

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Sara Leedom

Co-Founder & COO

Sara Leedom is the Chief Operating Officer of AEC, and has previously served as the Managing Director of the Inkomoko accelerator in Rwanda. Sara was a Shell Foundation consultant to IntelleGrow, a social impact debt fund in Mumbai, focused on loans to SMEs in India. Sara has 20 years of experience growing and managing social impact organizations, and through Leedom Consulting, a boutique firm based in San Francisco, she provided  operations and fundraising strategy to growing nonprofits and social enterprises. Sara is the former Interim Executive Director and Director of Strategy for the Level Playing Field Institute in California, and also developed affordable housing throughout the US. An MBA from Oxford’s Said Business School, Sara was the 2012 co-chair of the Oxford Business Network for Africa, where she hosted and honored HE President Paul Kagame at the annual Oxford conference.

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Nathalie Niyonzima

Managing Director, Inkomoko

Nathalie is the managing director at Inkomoko. She has over 5 years experience in Administration and Finance working mainly with Not for Profit organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Majoring in Accounting from the Former School of Finance and Banking and she is currently pursuing a Professional Accounting certification CPA from KASNEB (Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examinations Board). Prior to joining Inkomoko, Nathalie was Managing the accounting transactions and Monitoring Budgets of Help a Child Rwanda, FEWS NET (USAID Project) and Vision for a Nation Foundation.

Investment Council

Board of Directors

Maria Palma, Board Chair
RRE Ventures

Meredith Bates, Vice Chair
New Forests Company

Tom Ryan, Treasurer
Century Equity Partners

Francis Gatare 
Rwanda Mines, Petroleum & Gas Board

Sara Leedom
African Entrepreneur Collective

Marion Ntiru
ELMA Philanthropies

Julienne Oyler
African Entrepreneur Collective

Julie Taft
Bloco A

Michelle Brauner
Ares Management, LLC

Carolyn Campbell
Emerging Capital Partners

Harrison Chilton
Advent International

Alex Darden
EQT Partners

Chris Durbin
Vestar Capital Partners

Paul Kaboub
Old Ironsides Energy

Tom Ryan
Century Equity Partners

Irene Wang
Falcon Investments


Our Values

Our Values



  • All problems on the Continent have solutions that already exist on the Continent.
  • We push ourselves to reach beyond what we think is possible.
  • We are committed to continuous learning and growing.
  • The brave rise together.
  • We eat goat. 
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Press About Us

Press About Us

Those working in the field are trying several things: Effective accelerators that help make businesses investment-ready, blended finance that allows public or charity funds to de-risk and unlock private capital, and work to build out a system with additional support for these companies.
— Devex

Our Partners & Institutional Donors

Our Partners & Institutional Donors

While many organizations in Africa support economic development, most focus on the early stages of new business creation or provide short-term services.  These offerings generate an abundance of ideas, but too often fail to generate real enterprises that create meaningful numbers of jobs.

Instead of stimulating new business development, AEC’s programs provide on-going support to existing entrepreneurs to enter new markets, strengthen their operations, and ultimately grow their businesses. The African Entrepreneur Collective believes in a simple concept: In order to create more jobs in Africa, we find the people who are already creating jobs, and help them do it better. In order to do this, we are proud to partner with the following organizations:


Ares Operations
Bank of Kigali
David Weekley Family Foundation
Echoing Green

EQT Partners, Inc.
Gianturco Family Foundation
The HAND Foundation
Music for the Eyes
Segal Family Foundation

Skees Family Foundation
L&R Uechtritz Foundation
Vitol Foundation