Who we are
“Our social impact commodities asset management business is supercharging a profitable and sustainable African agricultural sector by investing in processing capacity, implementing innovation and positively impacting people, place and profitability, wherever we operate.”
Aspuna Group is a social impact commodities asset management business with a proven model for making trading fair. At the heart of our approach is the building of processing capacity to keep value addition within the regions where raw materials originate. Steadily growing our presence in Africa, Aspuna now owns and manages agri-processing factories in The Gambia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
We have strong and fair partnerships with our local suppliers and producers, placing great emphasis on socially responsible processing and trading. Rest assured that purchasing Aspuna’s locally processed commodities has a direct social impact on the livelihoods of small-holder farmers and their wider communities. Additionally, our relatively small manufacturing operations allow for a greater degree of transparency and traceability – two aspects that have gained enormously in significance over the past few years.
Building on our early success, we now offer to share our approach to those committed to social and ecological sustainability through the provision of engineering solutions to strengthen Africa’s agri-processing sector as well as trading solutions that connect sub-regional hubs to fast-growing industries and retail consumer markets, internationally.
Fast-growing, with headquarters in London, we are a University of Cambridge Executive MBA spin-out. Our core team consists of experienced executives with backgrounds in commodities trading, banking, market research & analysis, and commercial law. Our current operations are in the soft or agricultural markets. We plan to be active in other commodities classes too.
“We make trading fair.”
Origin of our name
Our name, Aspuna, derives from the English word ‘Aspire’ and the Wolof word ‘Aduna’, which means ‘World’. The very combination of these words reflects our ambition to become the leading social impact commodity trading house and expand our activities on a global scale.
The River Gambia
Map of The Gambia
Code of conduct
We do not believe in CSR, as this is often treated as a separate entity.
We have embedded our commitment to the generation of socio-economic returns alongside our profits deeply into our company DNA.
We treat people and their communities with dignity and respect.
Our factory operations are managed with the greatest degree of transparency and traceability.
Our team operates with the highest standards of integrity and responsibility.
Our values and business practices put us in a strong position to deliver first-class client services and honour our business obligations.
Aspuna Group Ltd
Maria-Yassin Jah, Co-Founder, CEO, Aspuna Group Ltd.
Prior to co-founding the Aspuna Group, Maria-Yassin was a senior market strategist with E.ON Global Commodities, at the time Europe's largest physical commodity trader. Before joining EGC as an in-house market expert Maria-Yassin had been in market analytics for a number of years – working as an external analyst at Platts, a S&P Global business. Maria-Yassin holds an Executive MBA from the University of Cambridge, an MSc from the London School of Economics and a BA from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She is a citizen of Gambia and Germany.
Dr Luis Prazeres, Co-Founder, COO, Aspuna Group Ltd.
An engineer, Dr Prazeres has a background in commodities and manufacturing. Before setting up Aspuna, Dr Prazeres worked as a director for one of the big-four consultancy firms, as well as the head of commodities for a number of boutique consultancies in London. Prior to that Luis worked for JP Morgan’s commodities trading division, also in London and in manufacturing in Portugal. Dr Prazeres holds an Executive MBA from the University of Cambridge (UK) and a PhD and Master in Engineering from the University of Strathclyde (UK).
Paul Lenton, CFO, Aspuna Group Ltd.
Paul, a specialist finance director, brings strategic as well as financial support and insight to the Aspuna leadership team. He holds an MBA from the University of Warwick Business School, is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and has a degree in Management from Manchester University.
Cobi-Jane Akinrele: Founder, The Aké Collective/ Head of E-Commerce & Marketing, Aspuna Group Ltd.
Cobi, the founder of our partner organisation, The Aké Collective, leads on e-commerce and marketing for Aspuna Group. The Aké Collective, a community of around 400 farmers from North-East Nigeria, is locking in the value of their harvests at source, meaning, they get to benefit from most of the profit their hard work accumulates.
In collaboration with Aspuna Group, Aké curates, procures, and sells, retail-ready superfoods where farmers are not only paid well but fairly. While the Collective offers a number of foods sourced from Northern Nigeria, Aké also exclusively supports Aspuna Group with the marketing and logistics of their wholesale products from other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Nicki Hayes, Communications Partner, Aspuna Group Ltd.
Nicki Hayes is an experienced corporate communications professional and impact journalist. A contributor to the leading social enterprise journal Pioneers Post, Nicki's role at Aspuna is to support the Aspuna community to tell and share their stories where they matter most.
Aspuna Gambia Ltd
Mr. Amadou Jah, Co-founder, Country Director, CEO, Aspuna Gambia Ltd.
Amadou Jah is a co-founder and CEO and country director of Aspuna Gambia Ltd. Mr Jah is in charge of government relations as well as the management of our ecosystem and its stakeholders from the public and private sectors. He manages our partnerships with the country’s farmer associations and oversees the expansion of our operations. Before joining Aspuna Group Ltd, Mr Jah studied business administration at the University of Frankfurt (Germany) after which he worked for Swiss Air and Sony Music before returning to Gambia to set up his translation and education businesses. In 2015, he joined the Aspuna Gambia subsidiary as country director and minority shareholder.
Tijan Ceesay, COO, Aspuna Gambia Ltd.
Tijan Ceesay joined us after a time abroad in several European countries. Mr Ceesay is in charge of factory operations and Aspuna’s supply chain across our expanding portfolio of cassava, tomato, and mango. He oversees Aspuna’s existing and growing network of Gambian small holder farmers, establishing strong and fair partnerships with those communities. Prior to joining Aspuna Mr Ceesay was managing the import and export of consumer products into The Gambia where he gained critical skills in logistics.
Victor Kabegu, CEO, Aspuna Tanzania.
Victor is a bio-technologist by background and qualified as a marketer with STEP in Germany. Before joining Aspuna Victor was the CEO and co-founder of JV Biotech Enterprises Company Limited. He helped the company to build its operation and production site as well as establishing effective sales channels for its products locally and international. Victor has 5+ years of experience in the creation and management of a cassava value chain. Victor is also the General Secretary of the Tanzania Cassava Producers and Processors (TACAPPA) association.
Jacob Tito, COO, Aspuna Tanzania.
Jacob Tito has a degree in Biotechnology from University of Dar es Salaam. Prior to joining Aspuna, Jacob was the co-founder and managing director of JV Biotech Enterprises Company Limited, an agro-processing company focussed on cassava-based products, such as starch, bio-fertiliser, and animal feed. Jacob was instrumental in JV Biotech Enterprise Company winning several internationally recognised awards sponsored by ILO, NEEC, and the Innovation Support Fund sponsored by HDIF and COSTECH.
Anthony Ajose, Chairman, Aspuna Nigeria.
Anthony Ajose MSc, MBA brings 15 years broad experience as an economist and strategy consultant commercialising innovative solutions in the human development field. Anthony has experience in the NHS as a former regional director / head of service at the World Health Organisation, and of strategy consulting with a big four firm. He has also consulted for the Nigerian government, advising the Senate on universal health coverage.
Serving on the board of Aspuna, Anthony brings policy insights, innovative financing, and local subject matter expertise. He received his master’s degrees from UCL and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in addition to an Executive MBA from the University of Cambridge.
Mr Abdulhakeen Alao Tijjani, CEO, Aspuna Nigeria.
Mr Abdulhakeem Alao Tijjani holds a BSc in Botany and a MBA (Agribusiness). He was the Chairman/CEO of Hakams Investment Limited from 1997 to 2010 and founded Atland Foods in 2019.
Ms Khaulat Ayomide Abdulhakeem, Product Manager, Aspuna Nigeria.
Oluwafemi Ajose, Head of Marketing, Sales & Operations, Aspuna Nigeria.
Oluwafemi (Femi) Ajose is a seasoned professional with extensive experience in international trade and development, business operations, strategic marketing and project management. Having worked and consulted for multiple private and public sector organisations, including on-the-ground business experience in Nigeria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, Oluwafemi brings a deep international perspective to the team.
Oluwafemi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Wales and a Master’s degree in International Business and Marketing from London Metropolitan University. He has an MBA and several professional courses in view.