After its inaugural year in Cambridge, followed by a successful second edition in Dakar, Senegal, the third Transformers Academy will turn virtual for the first time. The new online format will bring Transformers from across the world together with mentors from the Islamic Development Bank and other experts for an informative and inspiring course.

Science, Technology & Innovation

Over the last few years, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has been focusing on developing a new development model which focuses resources on enhancing countries’ competitiveness in strategic sectors in which they have, and can build, a global comparative advantage. As part of the His Excellency Dr. Bandar Hajjar’s Five-Year Program, IsDB invested in creating a first ever Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) department in order to foster innovation as one of the key tools to address and help its member countries meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Dr Hayat Sindi

Chief Scientific Advisor to the President, IsDB

As Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the Islamic Development Bank, Dr Hayat has spearheaded the launch of the new US$ 500m Transform Fund. The largest of its kind, the Fund is focused on promoting and nurturing science, technology and innovation to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. She has also launched Engage, a global digital hub to connect and support innovative entrepreneurs. 

Dr. Hayat is a passionate advocate for the promotion of science- based skills for women, particularly in the developing world. At a young age, inspired by great scientists and thinkers, Hayat convinced her family to allow her to travel alone to England to pursue her higher education, a rare permission for a young Saudi woman. She taught herself A-Levels, in order to meet British entry criteria, and went on to earn a degree in pharmacology with honours from King’s College London in 1996, and five years later, became the first woman from the Gulf to obtain a Ph.D. in biotechnology from Cambridge and went on to study at Harvard. 

Dr Hayat is a Goodwill Ambassador for Sciences and UNESCO; one of the 25 global experts selected by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon to the UN Scientific Advisory board; and a member of the Ten Members group to support the technological facilitation mechanism (TF) for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She was recently featured in the BBC’s 100 Women series; was named by Forbes as the second most powerful woman in Saudi Arabia and listed in Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake the World.” She is one of the first Saudi women to have served on the Shura council. 

Bukky Shonibare

Founder, Invictus Africa & Girl Child Africa

Bukky Shonibare is the Founder of Girl Child Africa, Coordinator of #ChurchMeToo movement, and one of the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls movement in Nigeria. She is a peace and security expert, and a human rights advocate with a focus on women and girls.

Bukky hold a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) with First Class Honours, B.Sc in Business Administration (First Class), and Master's in Managing Peace and Security in Africa (A). She also hold dual Certificates in Journalism, and Creative Writing from the London School of Journalism; and dual Certificates in Social Sector Management, and Entrepreneurial Management from the Pan Atlantic University, Nigeria.

Bukky has received some awards and recognitions, including being named a 'Nigerian Star' by the US Embassy in Nigeria (May 2019), Glazia’s Person of the Year in the Philanthropy and Advocacy category (January 2018), one of the 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria (March 2018), and one of Quartz Africa’s Innovators at the World Economic Forum (May 2017). Bukky is a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow, an initiative of the United States Department of States.

Nathalie Munyampenda

Nathalie is CEO of Kepler, Rwanda

Nathalie Munyampenda is the CEO of Kepler, which is building an innovative global model of accessible higher education and offering new pathways to employment through upskilling in Rwanda and Ethiopia. Over 90% of Kepler’s graduates are employed within six months of graduation.


An advocate of African innovation and female leadership, she is former Managing Director at the Next Einstein Forum, where she helped build Africa’s community of scientists as well as pushing for science driven industrialisation through foresight and policy work. 

Nathalie has also worked in the Canadian public service and international social media consulting before working to build the Government of Rwanda’s central communication unit as Coordinator (DG) in the Office of the Government Spokesperson.


Nathalie has a degree in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa and a master’s in Strategic Communication from Seton Hall University.

Jehiel Oliver

Founder and CEO, Hello Tractor

Jehiel Oliver is the founder and CEO of Hello Tractor, an agricultural technology company that connects tractor owners with smallholder farmers in need of tractor services. At Hello Tractor, Jehiel is responsible for overall management and strategy. He has been honoured with numerous awards for his work in social entrepreneurship including being recognised by Foreign Policy Magazine as a Top 100 Global Thinker for 2016.

He was appointed under the Obama Administration to serve two years as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, where he most recently chaired the technology subcommittee. Prior to Hello Tractor, Jehiel worked in consulting and investment banking. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Wala Saadeh, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering,
Lahore University of Management Sciences

Wala Saadeh received a B.S. degree from the Computer Engineering Department, Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan in 2009, and the M.Sc. degree in Microsystems Engineering and the Ph.D. degree in interdisciplinary program from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in 2012 and 2016, respectively.

From January 2013 to June 2013, she was a Test-Chip intern at Test-Chip Integration team, Global Foundries in Dresden, Germany where she performed quality assurance tests on advanced nodes for DFM. During her PhD, she developed a low-energy Body-Area-Network (BAN) transceiver for binaural hearing aid for long-term continuous monitoring. Since 2016, she has been with Electrical Engineering Department, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan, where she is currently an assistant professor. Her current research interests include ultralow power wearable devices, human gait analysis for elderly people, and system-on-a-chip design for portable medical devices. Her publications can be viewed via Google Scholar here. Dr. Saadeh is a recipient of the IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS) 2015 Best Paper Award (BioCAS Track) and the ISCAS 2015 Runner-Up Best Student Paper Award. Her LinkedIn profile can be accessed here.

Omer Iqbal

Chief Operating Officer, Knowledge Platform

Omer Iqbal has been working in the EdTech industry for more than a decade. Over the past 13 years, he has been meticulously involved in corporate learning solutions, product design, development and management of technology projects at various scales. As COO of Knowledge Platform, he is trying to create a strong, compelling vision of what the future of EdTech needs by leveraging technology. He believes that educational technology must reach students beyond social and economic barriers. Access to quality of education is a fundamental right of every student in our society.

He is trying to address few key barriers with online education in Pakistan, which include access to quality of education, digital inclusion and literacy, affordable access to an internet enabled educational device per family. He is currently heading corporate business development and marketing, B2C initiatives, technology outsourcing and development. He is also involved in management of key client relationships, strategic partnerships, business planning and execution, process optimisation and investor reporting.

Sylvana Q. Sinha, Esq

Founder and CEO of Praava Health

Ms. Sinha is the Founder and CEO of Praava Health in Bangladesh. Praava Health is building Bangladesh’s fastest growing consumer healthcare brand and raising the bar for healthcare with a brick-and-click healthcare platform that combines digital tools with meaningful doctor-patient relationships, quality diagnostics, and pharmacy services. She is now poised to scale the Praava model nationally, and to deepen Praava’s brick-and-click service delivery model. Ms. Sinha is an attorney and entrepreneur with a passion for innovative approaches to impact and human progress. She has nearly two decades of experience leading diverse, interdisciplinary teams in international law, business, development, and government relations, including at major international law firms, management consulting firms, the World Bank, and think tanks in the Middle East and South Asia. Ms. Sinha also served as a foreign policy advisor to the 2008 Presidential campaign of then-Senator Barack Obama.

Transform Fund

In 2018, as part of its new strategy and underline commitment towards STI, IsDB launched a $500 million Transform Fund, providing seed money for start-ups and SMEs to develop their ideas and facilitate the commercialization of technology among IsDB’s member countries. Closely aligned to the SDGs, the Transform Fund focuses on accelerating progress towards achieving greater food security; healthier lives; inclusive and equitable education; sustainable water management and sanitation; access to affordable, clean energy; and sustainable industrialization across the developing world.