Lelemba Phiri

Lelemba Phiri, PhD(c) is an award winning educator, author, keynote speaker and gender-lens investor. She is the Principal at the Africa Trust Group, the fund managers for the ZAR100m Enygma Ventures gender lens fund focused on women entrepreneurs in SADC and the ZAR20m Shift fund focused on post pandemic solutions. Lelemba is also a director and shareholder for Zoona, an African mobile payments business that enables community entrepreneurs to provide much needed financial services in their communities and Startup Circles, an online accelerator platform that fast tracks entrepreneurs to launch their business and access investors. She is passionate about women leadership and entrepreneurship development in Africa and has committed her life’s work to advancing equality and empowerment for women.

Lelemba Phiri

Lelemba has worked with private, public and government organizations for over 16 years with experience extending across South Africa, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Angola and other sub-Saharan countries. Her work experience at strategic and executive levels includes having been managing director, heading marketing, people development and finance functions in multi-nationals and providing leadership and personal development training including lecturing and speaking at Universities such as University of Cape Town and the University of Oxford and Cambridge.

Entrepreneurial History

As part of the C-suite executive team and a shareholder at Zoona, Lelemba was a key part of successfully growing the business from one operating market to three, raising over $25m in financing and scaling of their agent network that provides entrepreneurship opportunities to women and youth from poor communities. This has created over 5000 jobs across Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique and since inception, over $2bn has been transacted over their mobile payment platform. Backed with this experience and more, she set up Africa Trust Group in October 2018 to invest in and handhold early stage women owned, led and enabling businesses towards scale and investor readiness.

Gender Focus

Lelemba is passionate about developing women leaders and creating opportunities for women to be empowered. Recent consulting projects she has worked on include the development of gender-lens strategies for a debt fund in East and Southern Africa in 2019. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Gender-lens Investing at GIBS. In 2009 she authored an e-book entitled Financial Fitness in Five Workouts to educate women on personal and business finance management. This won her the Rising Star award at the 2010 Mwape Peer Awards in Washington, DC. During her time at Zoona, she led key initiatives to drive for gender balance both within the leadership teams and within the agent and teller networks. This included key initiatives as the The ‘Girl Effect’ Empowerment Program that saw the company proactively working with community leaders in Zambia to identify young women with high potential from poor communities and recruit them to become part of the Zoona teller network and being up-skilled with business, finance and technology skills. Over her career she has spoken on stages across the world on the topics of women’s empowerment and leadership development.


Lelemba is currently pursuing a PhD in Gender-lens Investing at Gordons Institute of Business Science. She holds a Masters Degree in Development Finance with distinction from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. She is a UK Certified Chartered Accountant (FCCA) and also holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Accounting (Hon) from the Oxford Brookes University (UK). She has also received extensive personal and business development training from various world renowned experts such as Dr John Demartini and Roger Hamilton.


Lelemba was the financial expert TV presenter for SABC 3’s lifestyle magazine show, The Power Within. She is also the author of an e-book entitled ‘Financial Fitness in Five Workouts’. She has been featured in several media including CNBC Africa, the Oprah magazine, Destiny Magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine, the New York based Diaspora Voice Talk Show, Radio France, Zambia Daily Mail and South Africa FM.


  • 2017: Named 50 Change-makers Advancing Gender Equality in South Africa
  • 2017: Awarded global top 5 most influential marketers by World Maketing Congress
  • 2016: Named Cordes Fellow for 50 most promising social entrepreneurs globally
  • 2015: Zambian Woman of the Year – Rising Star Award
  • 2014: Awarded one of Africa’s Most Influential Women in business and government by CEO Magazine.
  • 2012: Shoprite Woman of the Year Nominee
  • 2010: Rising Star Award for 2010 at the Mwape Peer Awards in Washington DC in recognition of her contribution towards financial education in the community.


Lelemba is passionate about Africa and Womens leadership development. Her personal mission is to educate and empower women to transform their lives. She is a firm believer that empowering women creates better sustainable communities.