Eleni Gabre-Madhin

Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin, an Ethiopian economist with Swiss nationality, is a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). She has had many years of experience working on agricultural markets – particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa – and has held senior positions in the World Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington), and United Nations (Geneva).

Eleni Gabre-Madhin
Dr Eleni Gabre-Madhin.png
Alma materStanford University
Michigan State University
Cornell University

Early lifeEdit

Eleni was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She grew up in four different African countries including Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. She speaks fluent Swahili, English, Amharic and French. She graduated from Rift Valley Academy in Kenya with the highest of honours. She has a PhD in Applied Economics from Stanford University, master's degrees from Michigan State University and bachelor's in economics from Cornell University.[1] Eleni was selected as "Ethiopian Person of the Year" for the 2002 ET calendar year (2009/2010 Gregorian) by the Ethiopian newspaper Jimma Times.[2]


Eleni talks about the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange with Helen Clark, head of the UNDP

She was the main driving force behind the development of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). Whilst working as a researcher for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) she examined agricultural markets for many years and noticed, as had many others, that whilst in some years or regions there were severe shortages or droughts in others there were surpluses or bumper harvests. Specifically in her survey of grain traders in 2002, she found that a key factor was the lack of effective infrastructure and services needed for grain markets to function properly. Traders often failed to have access to sufficient credit, information about the market, transportation and other vital resources and contract compliance was difficult to enforce. In 2004 she moved home from the US to lead an IFPRI program to improve Ethiopia's agricultural policies and markets. Specifically she undertook the important role of coordinating the advisory body developing the ECX. She became CEO of the new exchange in 2008, and argued that "(W)hen farmers can sell their crops on the open market and get a fair price, they will have much more incentive to be productive, and Ethiopia will be much less prone to food crises" .... and that the "ECX will allow farmers and traders to link to the global economy, propelling Ethiopian agriculture forward to a whole new level."[3]

In February 2013, she became a director of Syngenta.[4][5]

In 2013, Eleni launched eleni LLC, a company intended to build and invest in commodity exchanges in markets in the developing world, including Africa.[6][7]


In 2010 (2002 ET calendar), Eleni was given the "Ethiopian Person of the Year" honor for the 2002 Ethiopian year.[8]

In 2012, Eleni was awarded the Yara Laurate Prize from the Norwegian fertilizer manufacturer Yara International for her outstanding contributions to sustainable food production and distribution with socio-economic impact.[9] Previous recipients of the prize include former prime minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi

Winner of the African Banker Icon award 2012. Invited to address world leaders at the G8 Summit Camp David 2012. Named among New African magazines 2012: 100 Most Influential Africans. Listed in the 50 Women Shaping Africa 2011. Ethiopian Person of the Year 2009.[10]


  1. ^ "Company profile". Ethiopia Commodity Exchange. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Dr. Eleni Person of the year JT". Archived from the original on 2011-09-25. Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  3. ^ "Ethiopia's Commodity Exchange Opens its Doors". International Food Policy Research Institute. 13 April 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Syngenta, Board of Directors". Archived from the original on 2013-06-09. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
  5. ^ Staff, Syngenta PR. February 6, 2013 Syngenta Board proposes to elect two new directors at AGM
  6. ^ "eleni LLC". http://eleniexchanges.com. External link in |website= (help)
  7. ^ Staff. Africa Report. 19 February 2013 Eleni bets future beyond Ethiopian commodities exchange
  8. ^ "Ethiopian Person of the Year Dr Eleni". Archived from the original on 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
  9. ^ http://www.yara.com/doc/61032_Call_for_nominations_2013_v6.pdf
  10. ^ "Who We Are". http://eleniexchanges.com. External link in |website= (help)

External linksEdit