Mimi Alemayehou
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Visionaries - April 23, 2022

Mimi Alemayehou: Spearheading Twitter & Mastercard’s Expansion in Africa

Despite living through the red terror era in Ethiopia, Mimi Alemayehou grew up a successful and exceptional career woman. She used her early life lessons as a wake-up call for financial independence.

She became a development finance executive, serving as Executive Vice President of the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

Mimi Alemayehou attained all this despite being told by practically everyone that a non-American citizen can’t work on Capitol Hill. According to her, “I got to where I am today partly because I did not always listen to the advice I got.

For instance, I was always interested in working on Capitol Hill earlier in my career. Still, many people, including some of my family members, told me that there was no way a Member of Congress would hire someone who was not an American citizen.

I pursued this dream anyway and was ultimately hired as a legislative staffer on Capitol Hill. I have found it invaluable to question things and not necessarily take ‘no’ for an answer”.

Early days

Although a naturalised American citizen, Mimi Alemayehou was born in Ethiopia but spent her formative years in Kenya before immigrating to the United States. She has been gathering experiences from all of her life’s events since she was a child. 

There was a time her parent and grandparents’ properties were seized, along with that of many other families. They lost all they had worked for. To her, “That’s a lesson that’s hard to forget”.

Despite this, her parents prioritised their education. She considers herself fortunate to have had parents that valued education, particularly a progressive, loving mother and grandmother who, like my brothers, had impartial expectations for her.

With this mindset, she had her bachelor’s degree from West Texas A&M University and a master’s degree from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in International Business and International Law and Development.

Career Achievement

Mimi Alemayehou has achieved several milestones in her career path. She founded and served as the Managing Partner of Trade Links, LLC, a development consulting business that advised companies on developing market concerns and encouraging African exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

In 2010, she served under the Barack Obama administration on the board of directors of the African Development Foundation. She was also the Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) from March 2010 to April 2014.

When she was in OPIC, Mimi spearheaded a $16 billion portfolio of investments in more than 100 nations. During this period, the agency collaborated with President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, a roadmap for boosting energy access in Africa’s undeveloped regions.

Before joining OPIC, she worked at the African Development Bank (AfDB) as the United States Executive Director, where she oversaw board decisions on behalf of the US government. 

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As a result of her exceptional work in this capacity, she earned a Distinguished Honor Award from US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Before this, she worked with the International Executive Service Corps, where she oversaw an African multi-country trade initiative. She also worked at WorldSpace Corporation, a satellite telecommunications business focused on emerging markets, as a Director of International Regulatory Affairs.

In 2013, Forbes Magazine ffeatured her in “The 20 Young Power Women in Africa 2013” in December 2013.

Mimi Alemayehou: Twitter and Mastercard

Currently, she works as an Independent Board Director at Twitter and Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnership at Mastercard. In 2021, Twitter appointed her as an independent director on its board of directors. 

According to Twitter, she brings decades of investment and financial expertise across developing countries, focusing on Africa.

She said, “I have long respected Twitter’s focus on supporting the diverse global communities that drive public conversation, and I am proud to join the team as they work to expand Twitter’s reach worldwide. 

I look forward to working closely with Twitter’s management team and the rest of the board to help oversee and execute the Company’s long-term growth objectives”.

As the Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at Mastercard, Alemayehou is helping to build a commercially sustainable ecosystem. 

She oversees Mastercard’s partnerships with private foundations, international development organisations, and non-governmental organisations.

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