Our Team

The Baobab Network was started with two core missions; to help drive growth, innovation and investment across Africa, and to change the way that big corporates think about talent development, innovation and social impact.

Tom and Toby both spent three years working for big corporates in London, during which time they met hundreds of professionals desperate to develop their skills and have a social impact on the world. There weren’t very many programmes around that delivered both of these objectives, which is where the idea for The Baobab Network came from.

Between the founders, they have over 20 years experience living and working in Eastern and Southern Africa, and both share a strong passion to see the region fulfil its potential over the next few years.

toby hanington

Co-Founder

Toby spent two years working at UBS Investment Bank as a Sales Trader in Equity Finance, helping to manage the bank’s relationships with its largest European Hedge Fund clients.

He has also worked for Nomura Investment Bank in London and graduated from Bath University with a first class degree in Business Administration.

Toby has spent time living in South Africa and Swaziland, working in the charity sector, and passionately believes that the entrepreneurship and the private sector can drive development and social change in developing parts of the world.

When he’s not running The Baobab Network’s corporate and consultant network, Toby can usually be found at Selhurst Park watching Crystal Palace suffer yet another defeat.

tom fairburn

Co-Founder 

Tom’s family have lived in Kenya since 1993 and he spent eleven years at school in Nairobi.

Having also graduated from Bath University with a first class business degree, Tom joined J Sainsbury Plc in London, spending two years in a number of brand strategy and commodity buying roles. Tom has also worked for L’Oréal UK in their consumer products division.

Tom fell in love with Africa when he was two years old, and has spent the last two decades travelling the region extensively, getting to know where the challenges and opportunities lie from a growth and development perspective.

When he’s not running The Baobab Network’s start-up and investor community, Tom can usually be found in a dusty Land Rover in Northern Kenya, trying his best to not get lost in the desert.

Ben Wylie

Head of Partnerships 

Ben oversees all of the work we do with our corporate partners, working closely with talent and leadership development teams to design world class, bespoke programmes.

Before he joined The Baobab Network, Ben had completed the prestigious Future Academy Residency at AKQA, one of the world’s most successful creative digital agencies. He is also Founder and CEO of Cue Glasses – an AI start-up that allows the visually impaired to detect people around them and develop situational awareness.

Ben has a passion for social impact and has spent time in Borneo developing innovative access to water projects.

Holly Simmons

Corporate Partnerships

Holly leads The Baobab Network’s corporate partnerships in London, growing and developing our community of big companies across the globe. 

When Holly isn’t playing tennis or scuba diving around the world, she is a keen photographer. Having won a National Geographic photography prize in 2016, Holly founded Piiksel, a website and application designed to allow individuals to sell their own photography through social media. 

Holly has travelled extensively across Sub Saharan Africa, most recently spending a month volunteering at an orphanage in Kampala, Uganda.

Steve Castle

Advisory Board Member

Steve has over 25 years board experience in the international financial services industry. Steve spent the majority of his career in senior roles in the insurance industry, including stints at AIG International, CIGNA/ACE International, RBS Insurance and LV= General Insurance. Steve is now a founding partner at ABC Investors, a UK focused Angel fund. 

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 has worked in over 20 countries, including Libya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

He has a strong affinity for Africa and regularly visits the Continent. Steve’s involvement with and support of The Baobab Network allows him to leverage his significant experience and to make a difference.