About The Baobab Network

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Building Baobab businesses


Our name, brand and identity are inspired by the Baobab tree, an iconic symbol of life and growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. The start-ups we work with share many qualities with the Baobab tree: they flourish in challenging conditions, give life and energy to their communities, and have the potential to develop from something very small into something that can scale and continue to grow for years.

The Baobab Team


We are a team of entrepreneurs and consultants, passionate about driving impact and innovation across Africa.

TOM FAIRBURN
Co-Founder

Tom’s family have lived in Kenya since 1993 and he spent eleven years at school in Nairobi. After graduating from The University of Bath, Tom worked at an FMCG in brand strategy and commodity buying roles before setting up TBN.

TOBY HANINGTON
Co-Founder

Toby met Tom at the University of Bath, and they also spent some time studying in Vancouver. Toby joined the world of investment banking after university, and set up TBN after a brief stint coaching the Swaziland National Rugby team.

RICH SEARS
Head of Ventures

Rich is in charge of scaling TBN’s portfolio companies. In 2014 Rich co-founded Yagro, one of the UK’s fastest growing AgTech start-ups. A Cambridge and SOAS graduate, Rich is passionate about development and holds the world record for the longest journey in a tuk tuk, having driven around the world supporting education projects.

JACK RUMBLE
Head of Strategy

Jack runs TBN’s Entrepreneurs in Residence programmes and strategy consultancy. After receiving his Masters in Chemistry, Jack has worked for big firms in New York and London and developed a passion for SSA working with start-ups in Uganda and Rwanda. You may also recognise him from his cameo in zombie-flick 'Gangsters, Guns & Zombies'.

IZZY JAMES
Ecosystem Development

Izzy works in ecosystem development, building out our ongoing support services for our portfolio of start-ups. From an early age she has been involved in charity work in South Africa, visiting and raising money for local schools. As a keen runner, Isabel enjoys combining this with another of her passions, social impact, to raise money for worthy causes and stay active!

BEN WYLIE
Venture Builder

Ben is a Venture Builder for TBN, helping our start-ups scale globally. Before he joined TBN, Ben had completed the prestigious Future Academy Residency at AKQA. He is also the Founder of Cue Glasses – an AI start-up that allows the visually impaired to detect people around them and develop situational awareness.

Our Advisors


ANDREW SEKANDI
Partner, Sofala Partners

Andrew has had a long career advising companies in corporate law, risk and commercial strategy across Africa, and is now a Partner at Sofala, an Africa-focused boutique strategy consultancy. Andrew has chaired the Business Council for Africa’s Financial Services working group and was previously an Associate Director in KPMG’s Africa practice.

SAMANTHA ROCKEY
Founding Partner, Thompson Harrison

Sam is the ex-Global Head of Leadership Development for SABMiller, and previous to that worked in strategy and transformation for the first democratically elected South African government. Sam is now is a founding partner at Thompson Harrison, a boutique corporate innovation consultancy.

STEVE CASTLE
Founding Partner, ABC Investors

Steve has over 25 years board experience in the International Financial Services industry. Between his large corporate roles he also found the time to be a successful entrepreneur having founded, developed and successfully sold on two financial services companies. Steve is now a founding partner at ABC Investors, a UK focused Angel fund.

SIMON MURDOCH
Managing Partner, Episode 1 Ventures

Simon is Managing Partner of Episode 1 Ventures, a VC firm investing into early stage tech businesses in the UK. Simon sold his own business, Bookpages, to Amazon in 1998, and has held senior roles at Amazon Europe and Octopus Investments before founding Episode 1.