Journal of a Commodity Trader: The Building AFEX Series

by Ayodeji Balogun, CEO AFEX

If you follow me on LinkedIn, these stories have really become your stories.

Over the break, and after the crazy year that was 2020, I began penning down some of the history of AFEX and the lessons I have learnt from building the Exchange over the last six years. The reception has been amazing, in fact, there have been calls for a book from certain quarters, but first I committed to reblogging this series right here so that it is easily accessible to those who can benefit from our stories at the Exchange.

Right now, the ‘AFEX effect’ is definitely felt way beyond the four walls of our HQ in Abuja. Six years in, we have the largest supply chain infrastructure in Nigeria; are integrated into Nigeria’s capital market and are unlocking more and more capital for the agricultural sector in the country.

The journey has been a hard, but rewarding one, and it effectively started from a very resounding vision of our founding investors — Tony Elumelu, Nicholas Berggruen, and Jendayi Frazer — heavily supported from the very beginning by the government of Rwanda — who basically sought to create an institution that unlocks capital for the continent, and more precisely unlocks capital for the least served on the continent and that is the smallholder farmers.

Our smallholder farmers that produce the food we eat are the most financially excluded, poorest, most uneducated on the continent. It is a sad truth that we must confront and address. That was the vision.

I was at the time working with the impact investment team from Heirs Holdings. We were to evaluate the team; help shape it and make the decision on the investment and that was exciting. When the deal was made, I felt this is what I want to be involved with. It brings in my interest in technology, my capacity in finance and also, the commodities trader in me.

The stories I will be retelling here in the coming days will explore how both I and AFEX have grown and are still growing; retaining the vision, executing ruthlessly with a team of Xperts and friends over the years, diving deep into resilience and getting ready once more to change the game and usher in the next five years of our vision.

Read the different parts of the series below.

AFEX Beginnings — Saying Yes and Other Stories

What’s Important in Year One

Invaluable Lessons You Learn in Entrepreneurship

Our #EndSARS Story — The 2017 Struggle

Reshaping the Landscape — Our Survival Story in 2018

Know your True North

Big Audacious Goals : Introducing Project Black Elephant