Barbara Iyayi

Barbara Iyayi is a growth investor and entrepreneur with over 13 years’ experience in financial services. She is passionate about building and investing in high growth tech-enabled platforms that transform industries and economies.  

She is currently the Chief Growth Officer and Managing Director, Africa for Element, Inc.  Element is a pioneer of mobile deep learning and deploys AI-powered mobile biometrics software to scale and secure digital platforms. Element’s end-to-end solutions are being used globally to identify large populations and drive financial services, digital payments, and healthcare coverage and services, amongst others.  Barbara also serves in an advisory board and investor capacity within the venture capital and tech ecosystem in Africa.

Barbara was part of the founding team of Atlas Mara, a London stock exchange listed company, co-founded by Bob Diamond, ex-CEO of Barclays Bank, which was the first ever entity to raise over $1bn to invest in, operate and manage financial institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. As the Regional Lead for M&A and Investments, she led investments into banks and developed the banking platform’s entry into 7 countries in Africa. Notably, she led the acquisition and first ever merger of 2 banks in Rwanda, to be the leading innovative retail bank – Banque Populaire du Rwanda and led a $250mm equity investment in Union Bank of Nigeria. Barbara also led the company’s fintech and digital banking strategy, that included partnering with fintech companies.

Prior to Atlas Mara, she worked on global transactions of over $15bn at various financial institutions. She worked in investment banking as a Vice President at JPMorgan, in principal investments at Centerboard Group, a New York based merchant bank, in the Leverage Finance and Restructuring Group, Technology Investment Banking Group at UBS Investment Bank, and at JPMorgan Private Bank in New York. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Columbia University; and an MBA at Harvard Business School.


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