Koffi Djondo: The Maverick Togolese Entrepreneur Powering Pan-Africanism

By Duchess Magazine

Founder Ecobank, Asky Airlines.

One word to describe Gervais Koffi Gbondjidé Djondo? Unstoppable! While resting on one’s oars might be the norm after a certain age, key in a well-deserved retirement, to Djondo, the desire to change the status quo for Africa, to see her united and exalted throne on the world stage is one dream that continuously fuels his passion, proving time and again age is nothing but a number and that determination is power.

“I love our continent and wish it awakens. I wish to see Africa truly grow.”

With eyes on pan-Africanism and integration, the top entrepreneur over three decades ago (1985) formed the first pan-African bank Eco bank, the bank boasts a presence in 35 sub-Saharan African countries including London. Decades later in 2010, the business icon launched his award-winning regional Asky Airlines.

So not done, in 2019 Djondo came out of retirement to publish his top-rated book titled L’Afrique d’abord (Africa first, in English) which chronicles his entrepreneurial journey and vision for the African continent.

The business magnet applaudably honed his skills in both the private and public sectors. Born July 4, 1934, an only son and singlehandedly raised by his father, with an iron hand, Gervais Koffi Djondo who holds no resentment says he’s ever so grateful for his strict upbringing as lessons learned helped shape the man he is today.

Way back during his childhood, Djondo for a few years went to school in neighboring Niger, in the early 1950s. He would later launch his career there as an accountant at the General Authority of Railways and Public Works of Niger. Even from way back, his light shone brightly and his impressive performance was well accorded by the administration’s top officers which catapulted him to greater heights, he then became administrative and financial director of Sotra, a French transportation company. While there, troubled by how certain conditions facing staff he decided to join a labor union to help change the narrative, this move however got him fired from Sotra, but the experience would stir up seeds of pan-Africanism in him.

He then decided to return to his country Togo but as he was leaving, he was advised to enroll at Ecole nationale de la France d’outre-mer, in Paris but feathers along the lines were ruffled and politics came into play and he had to be withdrawn. He later proceeded to enroll at the Institute of Labour Social Sciences of Paris. After a year between 1962 to 1963, following the coup he enrolled yet again and Ecole nationale de la France d’outre-mer where he bagged his degree.

Upon landing his degree, Djondo was hired at UTA, but shortly went back to Togo, where he was appointed director-general of the family allocation fund, while there he pulled off many reforms, and in 1973, he became president of the social and economic council.

He held the position very shortly before becoming head of the Togolese subsidiary of the French group Scoa. In 1975, he was elected president of the chamber of commerce and industry of Togo. In 1985, he was appointed minister of industry and Public Companies. In 1978, he created the West African Federation of commerce chambers, this federation will serve as the major inspiration for the creation of a pan African bank, therefore Ecobank was born. Decades later, Asky,

A pioneer in the business world with influence spanning across the continent, the creation of thousands of jobs, Gervais Koffi Djondo has racked up well-deserved awards and accolades including being honoured with AfroChampions Lifetime Award.
He is also the founding patron of the Djondo Fellowship, with a lens on mentoring young entrepreneurs and small businesses to become AfroChampions.

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