Watch the replay


Adapting and Innovating in a Volatile World

**The playlist above has all the video recordings from the public sessions held during the conference. Interpretation is available for the Opening Session in français, español and العربية.**


Fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV) is a global challenge. By 2030, almost 60 percent of the world's poor will live in countries classified as fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS). Chronic instability, civil wars, the global shock of the pandemic, and continued climate disasters have created a complex landscape of intertwined risks, reversing hard-won development gains.

The Fragility Forum 2024: Adapting and Innovating in a Volatile World, provided an opportunity for those working in and on FCV, including those in the development, humanitarian, government, civil society, private sector, research, and security communities, to exchange experiences, and examine the success and failures of developmental interventions in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence. The Opening plenary set the tone for the Fragility Forum by discussing the geopolitical underpinnings of the Forum, and the importance of addressing FCV to achieve the goal of reducing poverty and preserving development gains. Changemaker sessions shed light on how entrepreneurship can make a difference in vulnerable settings and highlighted the transformative power of creative industries to help rebuild and heal people in fragile contexts.

Click here to learn more about the conference.

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Find below the list of public sessions that will be live-streamed on this page. If you want to register and attend more sessions, you can find out more here.

Tuesday, February 27

Opening Plenary | WATCH THE REPLAY
Moderated by Femi Oke

(Interpretation available in Arabic, French and Spanish)


  • Anna Bjerde, Managing Director of Operations of the World Bank
  • Makhtar Diop Managing Director, IFC
  • Succès Masra, Prime Minister of Chad
  • Duška Jurišić, Deputy Minister,  Ministry of Human Right and Refugees, Bosnia and Herzegovina

In opening plenary of the Fragility Forum 2024, Anna Bjerde, Managing Director, Operations, World Bank and Makhtar Diop, Managing Director, International Financial Corporation are joined by Prime Minister Succès Masra of Chad and Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Refugees Duška Jurišić of Bosnia and Herzegovina for a moderated conversation.  Before the conversation Soukeyna Kane, Director, Fragility, Conflict & Violence Group, World Bank welcomes participants and talked about the geopolitical context underpinning the Forum.  Bjerde underscores the importance of addressing fragility, conflict, and violence for the World Bank and what it needs to do more, including mobilizing a stronger replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), which is an important source of resources for fragile countries. Diop speaks to the importance of providing long-term help to develop the domestic private sector and catalyze investments in conflict-resilient sectors.

Masra and Jurišić share perspectives from their countries.  Masra stresses the need to address the root causes of fragility, including existing leadership and institutions in these settings. He calls for emergency and development assistance to complement each other, emphasizing the need to invest more in human capital development and basic service delivery. Jurišić highlights the significance of the international community remaining engaged when conflict breaks out. She provides an example of the absence of the community at the beginning of the war in Bosnia, returning a few years later to contribute to peace and development.

Signature Event: "Changemakers" | WATCH THE REPLAY
Moderated by Kathleen Hays 


  • Will Mbiakop​, African Sports and Creative Institute
  • Pierre Thiam​, Senegalese Chef
  • Paola Mathé, Haitian Fashion Designer

This event explores the power of using entrepreneurship as a force for change in fragile environments.   We hear from Pierre Thiam​, Senegalese Chef, Paola Mathé, Haitian Fashion Designer and Will Mbiakop​, African Sports and Creative Institute.  Ousmane Diagana, Regional Vice President for Western & Central Africa, World Bank stresses on the importance of promoting entrepreneurship.  

Thiam talks about how finding his calling in cooking in New York City led him to study catering, set up restaurants, write a cookbook, and seek opportunities to incorporate underutilized ingredients, particularly Fonio, a grain from Africa, into his cuisine.  He says he is helping smallholder farming communities who grow Fonio in the Sahel to access US and other global markets.

Mathé relates her story of how a combination of overcoming childhood body image challenges and struggling to find a job after college motivated her to find and harness her creative voice in New York City to set up her business. Mathé believes her story can inspire girls to seek to achieve their potential.

Mbiakop focuses on the transformative power of sports to help rebuild and heal people, in all settings, including fragile contexts.

Thursday, February 29

Signature Event: "Changemakers" | WATCH THE REPLAY
Moderated by Femi Oke

Speaker: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this session, renowned Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, celebrated for her novels such as Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah, delves into her creative influences. She highlights the transformative potential of storytelling to empower and humanize people, especially during times of conflict.

[Femi Oke] Good morning. Hello, everybody. It's good to see you. Adapting and innovating in a volatile world. Every couple of years, communities who are involved in fragility, conflict and violence get together online and at the World Bank headquarters. It is a very special moment for people who care about these particular issues. My name is Femi Oke, I am the opening plenary moderator. It's been a while since we've all sat together, either hybrid or in the same room, and we have a comfort level that allows us to turn to our neighbor, shake their hands and say: “Good morning, nice to see you.” I know you've already done that online. It is good to have you online as well. Around the world for the Fragility Forum, there will be moments, Forum when you will want to break into spontaneous applause because we're talking about innovation, we're talking about lessons learned, resilience and what we can do in our community going forward. I suggest that a moment of spontaneous applause is about to happen. I don't know, but I feel it will when I tell you how we're about to start. Oh. You surprised me and I was expecting it. All right. The Director of Fragility, Conflict and Violence at the World Bank is Soukeyna Kane, and she is the only way that we can start our Fragility Forum 2024. Director.

[Soukeyna Kane] Good morning, and it's my pleasure, before getting into the first session, to welcome all of you joining here today, we have 5000 people registered online and in person for the next three days, over 60 sessions. So, before I get into the first session, I just want us to remind all of us, we are meeting at a difficult geopolitical time. Conflicts and crisis are becoming the new normal in too many parts of the world. Not only conflicts that are making the headlines, but those that are not making breaking news. The number of conflict events around the world has risen with a high death toll and with forced displacement. We have almost 110 million people forcibly displaced. The climate crisis, the global shock of the pandemic and threat of future pandemics and complicated landscapes and make things more challenging for all of us. We will have an opportunity during the Forum to dig more into the data, but we should not lose sight of the devastating human suffering. All of us have made important efforts to address these challenges and support people and countries affected by FCV. The World Bank Group has increased financing, substantially enhanced support to client countries striving to prevent conflict and transition out of FCV made significant strides in gender focused programming and helped clients affected by force displacement and other transition spillover of FCV. We are increasingly remaining engaged to protect lives and development gains, even in the most challenging situations. But the World Bank Group and all of us here have much more to learn, much more to do, and much more to challenge ourselves and the status quo to improve impact in all fragile countries, poorest and middle income. But despite the FCV’s bleak landscape, I am looking forward to meaningful discussions with key stakeholders and hearing about the many bright spots of innovation that deserve to be part of our collective narrative on FCV. I am looking forward to featuring artists, authors, athletes who are affecting change in communities affected by FCV. This Forum is an opportunity for all of us to foster collaboration, for greater impact on the ground, and to chart a new path forward for countries experiencing FCV challenges. With that, let me hand over to Femi, our moderator, for the first discussion. Thank you for attention.

[Femi Oke] You may have found on your tear an interpretation device. That interpretation device will bring you French, English, Spanish and Arabic. This language I am speaking is South London. There is no button for that. I apologize in advance. If you are watching online, I salute you. We appreciate you. If you're watching on Cevent or World Bank Live, you also have interpretation in French, English, Spanish and Arabic. So you can do that. As I’m talking and introducing your plenary. I love that the plenary speakers are so keen to get started, they're taking a chair. So, who am I saying hello to? Makhtar Diop, Managing Director of the IFC. Good morning. Nice to see you. Duška Jurišić, his Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Refugees, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Welcome. His Excellency, Succès Masra, Prime Minister of Chad. Bonjour. Welcome. And Anna Bjerde, Managing Director of Operations at the World Bank. You have to clap her. [Applause] [Femi Oke] So, plenary. I love that you're here because you are courageous, because this opening plenary, called the Opening Plenary for simplicity, has to be the best conversation of the whole of the Fragility Forum. We've got to set the standard up here. Lively, engaging, innovative dialog. Okay, we've got to hit the main themes, which are lessons learned, resilience, middle income countries, the private sector, and be interesting and engaging at the same time. No pressure. I know we can do it. But first of all, Anna and then prime minister and Duška, and then also Makhtar. What I'm really interested in, just very briefly, is why are you here?

[Anna Bjerde] Femi, thank you so much. Thank you for doing this. Let me put it just in a nutshell of why I'm here. I am here because the majority of the poor live in fragile and conflict affected places. And by 2030, 60% of the extreme poor will be in FCV countries. And if we don't work in FCV countries, we will fail in our mission to end poverty on a livable planet.

[Femi Oke] Prime Minister Masra, you are here because why?

[Succès Masra] Oh, thank you so much. I'm here. I come from Chad, which is the cradle of humanity. I think the oldest man discovered in the world comes from Chad. And I'm here because my hope is that in the coming years we will make sure that we don't get stuck at fragility, but we move from fragility to humanity so that next year, the coming years, I will leave this place for someone else. This is my hope. This is why I'm here. [Applause] [Femi Oke] Duška.

[Duška Jurišić] Well, the staff of World Bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina was looking forward this time to find one woman politician who would come to the Fragility Forum. So, that was how I was picked up. So, as you could see, Anna, Prime Minister, Director, all of them are economists. Femi and I have two things which are united, which are very, very similar. She was telling to us three times, you need to do this, you need to answer the questions, you need to be prepared to tell the story, etcetera. So, three times, no pressure. I also do have a journalistic background and I know what she's looking for to be the best. She's very, very ambitious. But on the other hand, the difference which I mentioned with the other speakers and myself, I'm a lawyer, I'm Deputy Minister for Human Rights. This is my first political experience, but I'm going to talk about some other challenges and that is how to be a human rights fighter. [Applause] [Femi Oke] Makhtar.

[Makhtar Diop] Now, I'm here because we're living in troubled waters. We've never seen a time where there are so many people dying from conflict everywhere in the world, in Europe, in Africa, in other parts of the world. So, the situation is very dire and we are really in troubled waters right now. And I think we need to build a bridge to cross those. And for people of my generation, we knew a song which is “Bridge over Troubled Water”. And I think that I'm here because we need to build that bridge so people can cross this river which is very troubled right now.

[Femi Oke] Such a simple question, but so many deep answers to why would you even be here in DC this particular week. And I want to dig a little bit deeper into World Bank priorities, climate change, climate issues, climate crises, obviously one of them, another one that is very much a focus of the World Bank is fragility, conflict violence. It is a priority. How does that change the way the World Bank deals with countries affected by fragility, conflict violence?

[Anna Bjerde] Thank you so very much, Femi and let me maybe just take this opportunity to welcome everybody to the Fragility Forum. It's really exciting that we're together 2024. As you know, this event takes place every two years. Two years ago, we were not able to do this in person. We're so excited to be here in person. I think we have something like 4000 people joining in person or online. And I think this is a huge testament to the importance of this topic, interest, commitment, energy. To work on this. I want to just thank you all. I want to thank you, Femi, for being with us. And I want to thank all the fellow panelists for being with us. I will come to your question. Before I do that, I also wanted to, as we get started with our day, if you allow me, just take a moment to acknowledge all the people who have lost lives and lost loved ones because of tragedies, conflict and war. There are too many of them. They're all over the world. So, if you join me just in a few moments of acknowledging and paying our respects.

[Anna Bjerde] Thank you for doing that. Now, let me turn to your question. So, as the fellow panelists have said, we want to go really from a world where we are living with fragility and conflict, where a world where we can focus on humanity, where we can make sure that we can turn to the next page, but it's very difficult. And you mentioned some of these intertwined risks. If you look at a list of the most fragile and conflict affected countries, it actually overlaps with countries most vulnerable to climate change. If you look at water scarcity, food insecurity, there's an overlap. So, we need to address these issues in a different manner. How is the World Bank doing this and what do we need to do more? I want to focus on five things, and I really want to leave you with these five aspects. First and foremost, incredibly important. And to me, one of the most fundamental pillars of our strategy is we have to remain engaged. When trouble comes, we cannot leave. We have to remain engaged. And we do that from countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ukraine, Palestine. We do it across the board and we have to, and we do it thanks to partners. And I want to thank all of you who are partners with us. Take Yemen, for example. It's a good example where, thanks to UNICEF and the ICRC, we've been able to remain engaged and have been able to do operations over a long period of time, even though the country's been going through such a difficult time, number one, remain engaged. The second thing is that we need to recognize that conflicts do not recognize borders. “Do not recognize borders”, which means that we need to make sure that we also work very hard in the country where the conflict is, but equally, neighboring countries that are feeling it. I saw this firsthand when I was in Chad in September, and I traveled with UNHCR to the border of Sudan and Chad, where so many refugees are coming in over the border. And what I found very, very powerful is that you can take humanitarian and development support and assistance, and you can twin it, because what we need to do is help the people who are coming over in a desperate situation, but also, of course, the host communities. And between UNHCR and the World Bank and many other partners, I feel like we can do that, and we can, in many ways, make sure that everyone gets better off. And from a development point of view, it's important to me because we can leave something behind. I think that's important. We're doing this, and we're doing it pretty well, I think. Now, what do we need to do more of? I'm going to focus on three things. First, one is part of our strategy that I find difficult. I'm going to be very honest with you. It's our first pillar. It's called prevention. We are not preventing conflict. Look, the world, Makhtar said it very well. The world is strife now with conflicts and fragility. So how do we get better as an institution to analyze, detect, identify fragility? Can we prevent the conflict breaking out? Not necessarily. Can we be better prepared to know what the drivers are to increase our support in areas that need increase for resilience? I think, yes. So, we're working now to look at various monitoring and preventive predictability tools, learning from others. And here I want to give a shout out also to the International Rescue Committee, which has a tool that I just discussed a few days ago with them. We need to learn from each other. We need to get better at doing this so that we can also invest where we think the fragility is the highest. My fourth point is, and this is something a minister told me early on when I was in this job, we have to stop treating a crisis like a crisis, because now they are every day, everywhere; whether it is climate change, natural disasters, or conflict. Which means our clients need to have resources at their disposal, not two months later, five months later at their disposal. For this reason, we have introduced something called the Crisis Response Toolkit. And what this does is actually allow our clients to move 10% of undisbursed balances in their program with us immediately, so that they can use those resources to respond to the crisis, the conflict, right away. And my fifth point is something that is particularly important this year, and that is that we mobilize a very strong IDA, International Development Association. This is our fund for the poorest countries in the world. A huge amount of it goes towards fragile and conflict affected countries, and we need it to continue. So, this is a shout out to all of you who follow the fundraising and the importance and the result stories coming out of IDA to spread the word, because this is an incredibly important source of resources for our clients. Thank you.

[Femi Oke] So, Anna, when you started speaking, Makhtar got out his notebook and started making notes. I don't know how he was inspired that quickly, but I do want to know what he wrote down. No, we want to know what he wrote down. Makhtar, what did you write down in your notebook, please?

[Makhtar Diop] I am a nightmare for my team because I prepare briefings and I never use them. I just read them, but I never go verbatim. So, my colleagues here are just sometimes frustrated. I try to respond to the question. So obviously I use what they told me, but I try to make it my own. So that's what I was trying to do. But before we start, I would like to give a shout to Soukeyna [Kane] and the FCV team. Please, stand up for the wonderful job. [Applause]

[Makhtar Diop] I really do believe that this setting is unique and excellent, gathering people from various parts of the world. Thank you for doing that. Now, I was writing to say, because I think that what Anna said is very, very important. As we are in a world today where we have conflicts which are not the same type of conflict, first. We have had, unfortunately, and heterogeneity is the nature of conflict. So the conflict in Ukraine, the conflict in the Sahel, the conflict in the Papua [New Guinea] are very different. So, they require a much more refined analysis of the root causes and understanding of what needs to be done. That's the first point because I think that we move from a place where conflict tend to be localized in the same type of geographies, in the same type of countries, and the tools that were prepared and developed were responding to that reality. Today, we have a much more diverse reality, so it requires much more. That's the first point. The second point is that there is a huge contagion effect on conflict, not only on spreading the conflict, but on the perception of the risk. When I used to say, when I was leading Africa region at the World Bank, that when there is a conflict in the whole of Africa, people talk about Guinea. And I tell them Guinea is closer to Paris than it is to the whole of Africa. But the perception of the market, the perception of people was Africa is a whole. So, when there is a conflict somewhere in Africa, Africa is bad. Third, when there is a conflict, FDIs leave quickly, foreign direct investment leave. So, in this situation, for us, it's even more important to work with the local private sector, the local investors, because there are those who are resilient, there are those who will be staying where there is a conflict, and there will be those who will be able to attract more investment. So, shifting with a very strong and determined and clear focus on domestic private sector is important. To do that, we need to be with them on the long run, not to give them a loan and leave. We need to put money in their company, to take equity, so that they know that we are with them on the longer run. And Anna made a very strong point on IDA. IDA should be used to derisk that, so that people can put their money in it. So, a second lesson is, we need to be there on the long run. Why I'm saying that. So, I saw it with my own eyes, my team and I prepared the reengagement of the World Bank to Somalia in 2002. I was Vice President for the Africa region from 2012 2018. We had twelve roundtables to address the debt issue on Somalia. We are just now starting to find a solution. It takes time, it takes resilience. We need to be there. I was also at that same time covering Kenya. I saw the first generation of refugees in Hagadera camp. I saw how the people grow without ID. I saw how the children needed services, but also I saw how the countries, the host country, were not recognized enough for the effort that they were making. Listen, we need to recognize more the effort. And I'm happy that the refugee windows have been put in that sense. The fourth point, and I will stop here, because I know, is we need to have investments which are helping to reduce the probability of an event, but also which are addressing these issues. A lot of them are about service, financial service, social services and others. So, we need to invest in those and bring the private sector to be able to multiply, catalyze in their effort, and be able to have investment which are conflict resilient. When you invest in agriculture, even if there is a coup in a country, people will not stop the agriculture project. If you invest in water. Even if there is a coup, people will not stop those projects. So, we need to start learning from those lessons.

[Femi Oke] Prime Minister Masra, you are nodding. I want you to articulate that nod. What are you thinking?

[Succès Masra] Oh, thank you so much. Let me take the example of my country, Chad. This is a country. I'm not going to go into the details of the indicators. We are at the bottom, but we have to face a new situation, which is the situation of the refugees coming from the neighboring countries, which basically is an exogenous kind of impact for our country. When we have 1 dollar today, we have to divide this 1 dollar in 25% for immediate needs of the population, maybe 25% for security, 25% for the refugee and the humanitarian problem, and the rest for other, like, climate, etcetera issues. Which means that compared to the existing or the initial situation, there is a new situation on which the government of Chad or the population of Chad don't really have a direct impact. So the question is, how can we? And I'm happy to hear Makhtar referring to the roots of the problem. And in my sense, we should focus on the roots instead of focusing on the consequences, actually, of the fragilities. And on the roots, I think the main thing we need to focus on is the question of the leadership in place in those different countries. When I look at the situation in Chad, we have the existing number of refugees ten years back. And now ten years later, we have a new number adding to the initiate situation in ten years’ time. We didn't change much the situation, which means that this looks like a global failure for all of us. So, we need to focus on the leadership, the existing leadership, the institutions in place, the policies we are designing, how are they really inclusive? How are they making sure that we build strong countries, stronger institutions? I think this is one of maybe the next steps we need to make to make sure that we can solve those problems in a sustainable kind of manner. This is number one. The second thing I would like to add the question of the skills. While we are trying to solve the immediate situations of emergency, food emergency, humanitarian emergency, etcetera, how are we also preparing the population in term of skills for the next generation? And this is where our investments on specific needs like education, health and others are strategic, even if we are facing a situation of emergency. And this is why, for Chad, for example, we decided to design within this problem, we decided to design a program named… In those different countries, fragile countries like 70% to 80% of the population is the rural area population. Unless we solve the problems of those rural area populations, we are not really solving the problems of the vast majority. So, we decided during this transitional period to design a one village, one development package program. And within this program, for each village, we have around 20,000 village. We don't have access to education, to health system, to local industry, for local transformation, access to electricity, to clean water facility. So, these become very basic needs. We need to solve those problems too. We designed what we call one village, one school, one village, one health center, one village, one clean water facility. And this, I think it becomes a shift for the vast majority of those population. And by doing so, we are also preparing the next generation and laying the foundation to make sure that the same fragility ten years or 15 years later, we don't remain in the same situation. Thank you so much.

[Femi Oke] Duška, you are thinking something. I want you to articulate it, and then I want you to take us on this path from being a conflict country to getting to peace and how that happens. What does the international community do from your experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina? But first of all, I know there's something else that's going on in your mind that I think was just triggered by the Prime Minister. Go ahead.

[Duška Jurišić] The war ended in 1995. And I must say something. Maybe it's not appropriate, and I apologize because of that. There was some misunderstanding between me and Femi. She told me that I should say the anecdote, and on my language it means the joke. But I'm definitely going to say what was happening the first day after the peace accord was signed. And that happened on November 21, 1995. Since I was a journalist, I met American journalist afterwards and he said, “Congratulations. But I do have a joke to tell you.” And I was asking “What?“ So just to give a little bit of history. So, there were three presidents who signed peace accord. One Serbian president, Slobodan Milošević, another one Croatian, that was Franjo Tuđman, and on behalf of Bosnia Herzegovina, that was Alija Izetbegović. So, that journalist was telling to me. “So, all of them came to God. So old joke, but varieties. And the first one, the Serbian president said to God, ‘I would like to have great Serbia, including of course, the pieces of Bosnian Herzegovina.’ And God said, ‘Yes, I'm going to fulfill your wish in 100 years.’ Then, Serbian president started to cry. And God asked him, ‘Why are you crying?’ He said, ‘I'm not going to be alive by that time.’ Then Croatian president came and God asked him, ‘What is your wish?’ And he said, ‘I would like to have great Croatia, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, of course.’ And God said, ‘Okay, well, you are going to have it in 50 years.’ And Croatian president started to cry, saying, ‘I'm not going to be alive by that time.’ Then the Bosnian president, Alija Izetbegović, came and he said, ‘Well, I would like to have united Bosnia and Herzegovina.’ Then God started to cry.” So, to be honest, that was a really bitter joke for somebody who spent the whole war. I'm born Sarajevan. I'm born Bosnian. I was there all the time under the siege, etcetera. But I'm glad that you laughed. I very much support what Anna is saying, that international community should stay involved. And unfortunately, in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it didn't happen in 1992 when the war started and when there were a number of war atrocities which we are seeing now in Gaza and Palestine. But however, it got involved in 1995, and 60,000 international troops were deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina to maintain the peace and to achieve freedom movement of the people and freedom of movement of goods. The estimates said that international community donated to Bosnia and Herzegovina around 20 billion dollars. Out of it, World Bank facilitated 2.3 billion to water supply, to electricity facilities, to improvement of job opportunities, etcetera, around 120 projects. So talking about the engagement of international community, I also need to say that we do have something, let's say, very, very special that has been agreed in the Dayton Accords, and that is called “Office of the High Representative.” That office still exists in Bosnia and Herzegovina almost 30 years after the war. And his assignment or her assignment, we didn't have any woman, but we did have men, is to oversee civilian implementation of the Dayton Accords. So that is a presence of international community. And since I was talking about atrocities and I was talking about human rights, I need to stress out that there was also international crime tribunal for former Yugoslavia established in 1994, and its role was crucial because it really brought a bit of justice to victims. So, that is also important. But on the other hand, having in mind such a, let's say, enormous role of international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which could be maybe the recipe for some other countries, but on the other hand, I cannot agree more than with you, Prime Minister, saying that how important is to build and to strengthen state institutions. According to our peace accord, this part is constitution. Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two entities, three constitutional people, one district, ten cantons, and it is very, very complex. And the only way to deal with that is to strengthen state institutions. To make them more powerful. The danger, the threat, the main obstacle for Bosnia and Herzegovina, still 30 years after the war, is the fact that we do have the threats of cessation of the part of the territory. And although so many years passed, that's why this combination of doing two, having, two, having engagement of international community and having strong state institutions are necessary. And unfortunately, Bosnia, I would say that it is still fragile, society and state. And I would give you only one example. So around 2 million people left Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war, but according to our census from 2013, there were 3.5 million inhabitants in Bosnia and Herzegovina as we speak now, ten years after. So, that was a peacetime. We do have only 2.4 million, which means that 1.1 million people left Bosnia and Herzegovina. What happened? Yes, we do have water supply. Water is not the problem anymore. We don't have a electricity problem. Yes, we do health care almost in every village. Yes, we do have the schools. There is a lack of job opportunities. But for resilience, it is necessary to have both political stability and not only economic growth, but also economic development.

[Femi Oke] Duška, I'm so glad you mentioned resilience. [Applause] [Femi Oke] I'm so glad you mentioned resilience because I want us all to talk about that from our various different expertise and experience. Anna, resilience in this world of fragility, conflict, violence, what does that even mean?

[Anna Bjerde] Thank you. And very, I think, powerful interventions by the panelists. I think if there's one thing, and I was asked this question actually a few days ago when I visited an institute of technology with students, recognizing that the world is increasingly fragile. I think it is institutions. I think it is institutions, and I think that's why in our work, it becomes so important that we do not just focus on services, we focus on the institutions behind the services and making sure that the capacity is built because when things go wrong, when things get difficult and hard, it's those institutions that need to actually step up even more. But I would also go further and say something you were getting to also, Duška, which is rule of law and enforcement of law, because it's very easy that things can trickle out of control, and then you have a whole different issue at your hands. So, I would say that this is an area that we should do more on, and we haven't talked that much yet, and I know you will, about another part of our strategy, which is the violence part. We talk a lot about the conflict part, but some countries around the world where the biggest fragility is actually domestic violence. It's not necessarily cross border conflicts or within civil war, but it's violence. It's gangs, it's other types of violence that threaten society and citizens. So, I would say it's around that. I would also say that we need to take a segmentation approach, which means what does building resilience mean for different people? If you are a 14-year-old girl, what does resilience mean for you? Means being able to go to school and finish your school. It means being able to get safely to that school. And it means coming home from school where you have also safety, you have electricity, you can do your homework, and you have your family fabric. But if you're a 45-year-old farmer, what does resilience mean to you? It means your family, of course, which might mean that 14-year-old girl, but it also means, will the rain come this year, as I expect it to? Will I be able to have a yield on my farming and my crops? Will I be able to make a livelihood? What does this mean for me? So, understanding resilience from different eyes and the eye of the beholder, I think is very important for our work.

[Femi Oke] Prime Minister, we met just over an hour ago, and I said to you, I would really love you to share a story that will stay with our Forum for the days to come. So, if we're focusing on resilience and Chad, what story would you want to share with us?

[Succès Masra] Can I share two stories? [Femi Oke] Two short stories. [Succès Masra] Thank you. Thank you so much. Look, let me take a personal kind of story. I started my school in my village, like 30 years back, and I had the opportunity to go to school because my grandmom has to sell in the market, the rest of the food, etcetera. And I got that opportunity to go to school. And then I left my village and I traveled and I went to different countries. And then I came back 30 years later and the school remained the same. And at that time, we had the opportunity, thanks to the World Bank, to finance the production of our oil 20 years back. But in that village, which is in the region of the oil production, the same school, no health center, no clean water facility, no road for farmers, etcetera. So, what is the missing point here? And when I went back; now, at that level, at that position, I felt a little bit ashamed. My question was, “What did we miss here? We had resources. Maybe we had the appropriate program design. We have very smart people, but maybe the development was not inclusive. Right? Maybe we didn't focus on the basic and very important needs of the population.” This is what we need to change and to build the appropriate resilience solutions. So, this is a story that could be shared across the Sahel region. How do we move from, if you allow me the word, from desert to power, in empowering people and giving them the appropriate solutions they need to build their own resilience. For someone who is sick, your resilience is to get medicines. If you are thirsty, then you need clean water, drink. If your bottom is empty, you need something to eat. This is your resilience, right? And your spirit, education to build. And this is the most important weapon you can use to change the world, as would say Nelson Mandela. Those are the different eyes of resilience I think we need to build. The second story I would like to share is when I was coming here for this Fragility Forum, I used to have some chats with my supporters, my fund, etcetera. And one asked me two questions I'm happy to share here with you guys. He said, “Are you really happy to go to this Fragility Forum? I said, “Yes, why not? Because I'm going to meet very beautiful people and they are going to help us to solutions, etcetera.” And he said, “Look, fragility, are you happy that your countries refer as a fragile state?” And he added, “Remember a few years back, we were happy to be eligible to the heavily indebted countries. You remember that program, how can you be heavy? Because you are part of the heavily indebted countries. So, your mission is to go there and making sure that in the coming years you are out of the fragility. Our country is out of the fragility and out of some programs which are designed for countries with problems.” You see, so this gave me a sense of, I feel a little bit confused by this story and this kind of question asked by the people. So, in my sense, I think the fragility in many countries is also maintained by exogenous kind of impacts. Money laundering, for example, the international financing of terrorism, how international powers can impact local politics also. This is something that could have a huge impact on local violence, on local fragilities. So, unless at international level, we have a clear commitment to solve those problems which are very cross cutting problems, we can't fix local fragility situations. So, if there is a role to play by the international partners is also to focus on those international situations which have local impact on fragility. This is what I wanted to share with you. Thank you so much. [Applause]

[Femi Oke] Duška, I know that you interpret resilience through people, through vulnerable populations. Can you help us understand in the context of Bosnia and Herzegovina why that is the case?

[Duška Jurišić] First of all, because I was really struck with what Anna said, that we need to get engaged. This is just my personal opinion. It doesn't have to be a part of some important and serious analysis. But however, I believe that we are living in a world where in which actually the war actually doesn't have the winners. It was very different talking about the Second World War and the First World War when it was so clear who was defeated and who was the winner. But talking about the war since late nineties and in this era, this century, you actually cannot say who is the winner. And again, what Anna said, we need to get involved, we need to stay involved. What you would usually hear, that's not my business. That is what the countries used to say. But if you follow what was happening in the last 30 years, you would clearly see, especially with Europe. So, the first wave of immigration was from former Yugoslavian countries. Because of the conflict, millions of the people were immigrating. They did have a refugee status. Afterwards there were people coming from Asia and Africa, not only the people who are attached by the conflict, but also that was economic immigration. What do we have now? Ukraine, millions of people who are fleeting to Western European countries as well as other countries. And there is going to be another wave. It's going to come from Middle East after the Israelian invasion of Palestine, actually on Gaza and plenty of atrocities that is definitely going to trade the world. And developed countries do have a choice, of course, to say, “Okay, this is not my business and the war will spread all over.” But having in mind the nature of these wars, we see that not only by migration crisis, by all the others, this affects the rest of the world, this affects developed countries. So of course, there is another choice, to get and to continue being involved in solving the problems, in solving the conflict, in maintaining the peace, in strengthening the state institutions. So, these are important ways. And to get back to your question. So, we are forgetting at least 50% of civilization are women. And I believe that in all of our countries there are some similar problems, there are some differences, etcetera. But I believe that we don't truly focus on women, which role is not anymore to stay at home. We need to build capabilities, resilience for women to get involved and to spend 35 years of their life working, improving their living conditions. But for that, at least in my country, it is necessary to have better childcare and elderly care. And I cannot agree more than with you talking about one very important vulnerable group. And that is the children. Higher education means progress for everybody else. And another one, we still do have a number of returnees in their homes after the war. And when you talk to these people, of course, the security is the major issue, but they don't speak about revenge. And they are the members of the families where somebody was killed, murdered, suffered of another kind of atrocities. There is no revenge, there is no retaliation. There is not even the hate as the mean, as the trigger for the conflict. Those people are a very, very vulnerable group, as women, as children, they take care about their present and they are very much concerned for their future. [Applause]

[Femi Oke] I am going to ask your opening plenary speakers to do something that is going to be incredibly difficult. But I have confidence that they will be able to do this, which is in one sentence. What wisdom would you like to impart to the Forum on day one, hour one that you have learned about fragility, conflict or violence again, in one sentence, Makhtar, I know that sentence is right at the tip of your tongue.

[Makhtar Diop] I would like to say a few words before getting to that. [Femi Oke] I knew there would be a few words. [Makhtar Diop] I think that you kind of short change me on this one. [Femi Oke] No, it is the program. [Makhtar Diop] But I want to say a couple of things. [Femi Oke] Please, go ahead. [Makhtar Diop] I understand what it is. There is a singer that some of you like, Bob Marley, who said “A hungry mob is an angry mob.” Okay. When people are angry, they are upset, and when they're upset, they create conflict and violence. So, for me, I would like also this discussion, as the Prime Minister said, to lead us to some concrete actions. For me, food security is a main source… There are many sources of conflict, but I'm sure that food insecurity is a source of conflict. And we need to take some critical, aggressive, ambitious step to address it. So personally, in the discussion we have on the current IDA replenishment, I would love to have it as a main pillar. How many acres and thousands of acres have been irrigated in the Sahel to allow people to have access to water? How much investment has been done in the agricultural banks to help people finance investment in agriculture? How much school, vocational school have been built to help people to learn the jobs which are related to agriculture? And the list is long, but I would like us to take some targets which are under our collective reach, us together to be able to make a difference on some of the sources of conflict. So, food security for me is a major one and access to water. The second one, we talk about institutions. There are varies institutions, many institutions, some which takes time to change and others. We have all these issues about resource management, mining resources. We have the EITI initiative, but is it not the time to revamp that initiative, to give more visibility? You refer to the oil situation in Chad. EITI was involved in that conversation. We are now moving in the world of digitization where there are all these resources about battery, cobalt, etcetera. Are we having the right governance in place internationally to manage those resource properly so that we can avoid conflict related to mining? Second. Third, that I think which is important, for me, is water. Water is something which has always has been a source of conflict, particularly transborder and shared waters. So, I would like to just for Femi, just to say that this Forum is great because it's putting all these issues before us. And we are a development agency, we are not people who are working, we are not the UN. So, there are some political issues that we cannot solve, but collectively here, there are some issues that we can address. And I would like us to pick three or four or five. So you want my words for the Forum? I would like us to pick three, four, five verticals that we will be able to work with on and try to have results that we can monitor for the next Fragility Forum. So, these are my words.

[Femi Oke] All right, thank you. Duška, final thought. What did you want to share with this audience just before we wrap up our plenary? In a sentence, please.

[Duška Jurišić] Makhtar said, food, water. And what was the third? I forgot it. [Makhtar Diop] Mining. [Duška Jurišić] Mining. I would say just human resources. Nothing would be able without human resources. [Femi Oke] No, that's more than enough. Thank you, Prime Minister Masra.

[Succès Masra] For me, let me just quote the greatest African of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela used to say, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to transform the world.” If we educate people at country level, at continental level, at global level, then we can transform the world because we help them through their skill and through education, to be able to design the solution of the world which is coming even. Makhtar is referring to digitalization. Ten years or 20 years back, digitalization was not so important, but today it's mandatory. So, let's go from education to health. Because no matter what you do, if you are not in good health, then you are not going anywhere, right? And food, whoever you are, President, Vice President, Prime Minister, IFC Managing Director, whatever you need to eat, right? So, unless you fix this, there is nothing you can do. Then electricity, energy, nothing is possible. No development, no industrialization is possible without energy. So, I have to pick five. Education, health, food, electricity, digitalization. And let me add also water, right? So, these are the priorities.

[Femi Oke] Six. Anna, thank you so much. What do you want to leave our Forum with for now?

[Anna Bjerde] Well, I agree with everything that's been said, but I want to tie it back to the theme of the Fragility Forum this year, which is adapting and innovating in a volatile world. And that means we have to learn what actually works because it's easy to focus on all the difficult things, but we also have to, in order to remain engaged, learn what actually works. And to underpin that, I would add one word which I think is very important for people to move forward, and that's hope. Hope, because I don't want more brain drain out of Bosnia. I worked there in 97 onwards and there was actually hope. But what we're seeing now is a lot of people are leaving because there are no jobs. And the feeling is that there is no solution to moving forward. So, we need hope, and we need hope on the basis of adaptation, innovation in this difficult world that we're in. Thank you.

[Femi Oke] Thank you. Your next plenary will take you from fragility through to resilience in a lot more detail. Your next moderator is gifted and talented and way more knowledgeable than I am. Your next moderator is Soukeyna Kane. So, she will be coming up and taking the hot seat from me. But for now, Forum, this is your opening plenary panel. Thank you. [Applause]

[Kathleen Hays] Well, good afternoon, I have to say, and this is one of the things I love often about coming to events at the World Bank, is when I walked in that front door and I was hoping I had everything to make sure I would get registered okay. I did. Didn't leave it in the hotel room. I just felt the energy. Everybody comes in, they're talking. It seems like you're happy and getting together, and it's a great way to start. I'm so happy to be here again. I'm very honored that I've been asked by the World Bank to participate in one of their events. And this one is, well, let's just say we know that the Fragility Forum is addressing many, many important issues, many of them difficult. And I think this is the question, people are in this rapidly evolving world of FCV. They're trying to adapt, they're trying to innovate while the world is shifting under their feet. And we're going to talk to some people today who are involved in that process in their own way. Look at what they're doing and how they're helping to lift everyone up. So, to kick things off, right here in the front row, Ousmane Diagana. He's the World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa. You lead 23 countries, man, 40 billion dollars’ worth of resources on your plate. You got a lot to do. So, welcome.

[Ousmane Diagana] Very nice countries. [Applause] [Ousmane Diagana] Good afternoon, everybody and good to see you. I would like to thank Soukeyna and the team for giving me the opportunity to be here and obviously to thank in advance our Chargemaker speakers for sharing their inspiring stories with us and for joining us today to discuss how the global community can create an environment to support other entrepreneurs and creators. The best lesson we can learn are from those who have already forged the path that we would like others to follow. I'm very, very honored to speak to you today on the important topic of entrepreneurship and its important role in building stability and promoting resilience in a fragile and conflict environment. I just came back from Mali. I just spent four days there, and in four days I will be on my way to Burkina Faso. And in Mali, I had a wonderful opportunity to engage with the private sector actors, to entrepreneurs, women and men, young and relatively less young, but all very committed to support the economy in a time of fragility and very difficult challenges. And they are doing well, of course, it's not specific to Mali. Everywhere we know that the private sector provides the essential of jobs in term of quantity and sometimes even in term of quality, especially in FCV countries. The jobs which entrepreneurs create are critically important for giving opportunity to youth and to women and to building social and economic stability. Of course, as entrepreneurs on this stage will tell you, entrepreneurship is not easy. Creating the condition for the private sector to thrive and create jobs and opportunities is also not straightforward, particularly in fragile and insecure contexts. Entrepreneurs in FCV contexts often face great challenge to access services, financing and new market. It can often be difficult for an entrepreneur to turn an idea into a bankable project. This can be a major bottleneck to even getting off ground. But I want to emphasize that none of these conditions are deal breakers. The World Bank Group supports countries every day to overcome their challenges. It's important to emphasize that one size doesn't fit all. The World Bank Group recognizes that different environments require different approaches. The strength of our institution is that working together we can offer public and private solutions to even the most difficult problems. The work we are doing internally to create a bigger, better Bank is intended to increase the impact we have on the ground for our client. As a World Bank Group, we have many tools in our toolkit which allow us to address different challenges at the same time. As you know, IFC, our private sector arm, provides assistance to grow the pipelines of bankable projects in countries. For example, IFC supports entrepreneurship in the Africa region through the Local Champion initiative. This initiative aims to create a pipeline of investable transaction in particular in Sahel and West Africa by improving the investment readiness of domestic companies. The IFC can also help lower regulatory barriers, improve legal protection for creditors and stakeholders and expand access to finance for small and medium enterprises. Financial inclusion is crucial in a FCV environment where the financial market tends to be shallow and financial inclusion is particularly low. MIGA provides assistance to reduce risk to investors including in FCV contexts. Using guarantees and other instruments, these interventions can help increase foreign investment in fragile and conflict environments by covering risk related to expropriation, war and civil disturbance. The World Bank, IBRD and IDA support private sector development in FCV states by focusing our effort on removing constraints through reforms, supporting entrepreneurship, business development, market access, internal capacity, regulatory environment, financial inclusion and financial infrastructure, or by mobilizing private capital. We have, for your information, 40 advisory and analytic projects and 30 lending projects in FCV countries with a total budget of over 3.4 billion and a strong in-country presence. For example, in Burkina Faso, we are initiating a new 160 million entrepreneurship skills and technology project to build the capacity of SMEs and extend government services to business in secure areas. In Nigeria, the Development Finance and Entrepreneurship project promotes digital financial products and skills for more than 4550 women entrepreneurs. The Trade Facilitation West Africa program promotes the efficient and reliable movement of goods in six trade and transport corridor linking nine countries, including those in Sahel. In Mali, the support to the agro-industrial competitive project supported more than 14,000 farmers and other beneficiaries in the Sikasso, Bamako, Koulikoro agricultural basin. The project led to tripling of the volume of mangoes processed and a doubling of mango export. We are also financing through a number of programs in Mali, including the mining sector in the pastoralism area in agriculture, a number of initiatives that help support the resilience of community, in particular of women and youth. Finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of partnership in supporting entrepreneurship in FCVs setting. The World Bank Group has developed a strategic partnership framework with the United Nations and other agencies to join forces in FCVs from data collection to programs’ implementation. By working closely with country actors. For instance, with the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali, the World Bank Group can provide rapid development support as soon as secure areas are stabilized. The importance of entrepreneurship in fostering job creation and economic stability in fragile and conflict affected countries cannot be overstated. Our commitment to empowering entrepreneurs is longstanding. As always, we must be listening, listening to the need of the people on the ground and listening to their ideas and their aspirations. With that, I look forward to hearing the inspiring stories of my fellow panelists and I would like to thank you for your attention and wish you all the best. Thank you. [Applause]

[Kathleen Hays] Now… Oh, can you hear me? Great. All right. Thank you so very much. And I love that you use the word “entrepreneur” so much, because when I think of FCV and I think of these troubled areas where it's hard for people just to be able to get up out of the door some days and get food for their children in the most extreme circumstances. Basically, people don't just want to survive, they want to thrive. And there's so much talent and there's so many ideas around the world. Anyway, I'm so glad you stressed that part of it. So, let's get right to this. Changemakers, these guys are changemakers. They came up, they became very successful in their fields, fine dining, fashion, social entrepreneurs, sports, business and sports. And before we get into some of the specifics of the issues we want to raise, particularly in relation to you guys, this is what you do, this is what you're involved in. What can you learn? How can all this help you? I want to give them each a minute this is like a lightning thing. Where… Tell us your story in a minute. What is it? What got you from there to here? And chef Thiam, I didn't even introduce him. Chef Pierre Thiam, that's you. I said, you brought cuisine to the world. Western African cuisine. You've done so much. You got 60 seconds.

[Pierre Thiam] 60 seconds. Well, born and raised in Dakar and moved to New York City and really found my calling there, really, as a young cook, cooking in the so-called food capital of the world and realizing that the cuisine of my background, my origins, was absent of that world. It was late 80s, early 90s New York City, and I saw it as an opportunity. And that opportunity I've seized into deciding to be intentional about finding inspiration for my cuisine as I'm growing into the field of cooking, becoming a chef, and really, truly taking that food culture with me. And that led me to studying catering. Then the first restaurant, early 2000 in Brooklyn, then a second restaurant in Brooklyn. Then my first cookbook. That first cookbook led to the idea of this other opportunity because I had to think of ingredient’s substitutions, because the market here didn't have access to those ingredients. And I didn't get that. I was like, why shouldn't we create a value chain for those ingredients? And in thinking about the ingredients, thinking about ingredients that are underutilized, that are grown by small farmers in Africa is a way to giving back, to create opportunities there. And the first ingredient platform of this company that I created became Yolélé. It became fonio and underutilized grain that I will talk to you about a lot. And this is a grain that we have been distributing across the US in platforms like Whole Foods and other supermarkets. And I'm a chef, restaurateur and cookbook author.

[Kathleen Hays] Pretty good. He's good at that, right? He could win a contest or something. And of course, you had fonio you at lunch today. I'd never had it. Wow. All right, next on board, Paola Mathé. She is Haitian born, raised in Newark and Harlem. As a little girl, she started getting interested in photography, went to college, fashion. It's hard to sum her up. Social entrepreneur, creative director, big campaigns like The Gap, L'Occitane. And this all led up to Fanm Djanm. Did I say it right? [Paola Mathé] Fanm Djanm.

[Kathleen Hays] Fanm Djanm. See, because she's such a lovely dame, right? A young damme. That's what she is. She's lovely. Anyway, sorry, but I'm very excited, you can tell. I'm so happy to be here. And I want to say that this beautiful head wrap she's wearing this is what Fanm Djanm started, and it now includes a line of accessories made in Haiti. And so, your minute. Okay, what's your story?

[Paola Mathé] Sure. I was born and raised in Haiti. I moved to the states when I was twelve. As a young girl, I was shy, and I quickly realized, or I was made to believe, that some of the best traits about myself were not celebrated or were taught to me, that they were not enough. And so, I spent my early adulthood challenging myself to place myself in uncomfortable situations and to redefine who I was. I went to college to study economics, and I thought I would work, and I thought I would work for a non-profit, and I would go back to Haiti and serve in that way. I tried to get different internships, different volunteering opportunities, and could never find one. And so, I decided to challenge myself once more and move to New York City and Harlem right after I graduated, and started working in hospitality and working there, I found my voice, my creative voice. I kept meeting people who told me I was a strong storyteller, and I believed them and I started to practice. That led me to create my company, that I sold in indoor and outdoor markets in Harlem on a folded table, never realizing how far it would take me. And here I am.

[Kathleen Hays] Here she is. I studied economics, too. That must be. We were meant to get together here. Although my path is different and certainly not as creative as yours. But at any rate, now, finally, Will Mbiakop, born in Cameroon, loved basketball, loved sports. You can just tell, you can see, right? You don't have to look at him and not know that he's an athletic person, but he's taken major steps, big steps at NBA Africa, developing these groundbreaking partnerships with top public and private organizations in Africa. He is now the Executive Chair of the African Sport and Creative Institute, ASCI, and known as well for the business of African sports. But it just seemed like waiting to happen, what you're doing, it seems.

[Will Mbiakop] Yeah. Look, I'm just really blessed, to be honest with you. My name is Will Mbiakop, as you mentioned originally from Cameroon, my mom is from Morocco. I got the best of both worlds, north and south Saharan Africa. And yeah, for ten years I was leading the NBA growth in Africa. So, focusing on the business development, but also partnerships. And also, I have to say, I'm very honored to be here. Thank you again, Soukeyna. Really appreciate you having me here because I'm a son of FCV setting. I'm coming from very humble area of Yaoundé, Cameroon, and I was just been blessed with exposure with opportunities. And I truly believe that within those 1.4 billion people we have in Africa, they just need one opportunity to make a major change. And I've just been one of the beneficiaries of the transformative power of sports.

[Kathleen Hays] So, yes. [Applause] [Kathleen Hays] Applause, applause. I agree. So much more to discuss with you guys now. And I want to go to you, Pierre. This is so amazing, right? I mean, he could have just been doing shows on Food Network and writing more cookbooks and know all kinds of things. And yet, how much was it a combination of you wanting to help African farmers or realizing, dang, I can't get any fonio in the states, and it kind of sort of led to that. And how does it help African farmers?

[Pierre Thiam] Well, it does help African farmers because they didn't have access to markets. So the whole thing. I can give you a brief summary of how it happened. And I did continue cooking and writing cookbooks, and I just released my fourth one and running two restaurants in New York City at the moment. But what happened is, as I was exploring, writing those cookbooks, traveling to remote areas of Senegal to do research on the cookbooks, because I wanted the book to be about the story of those farmers, the story of those fishermen, the story of those producers who are never talked about; but without them, there's no cookbooks, there's no restaurants, there's no chefs. That's where it starts. So that connection was important for me. I wanted the reader to know that. And as I'm traveling to learn myself, to learn more about it, I'm seeing in this most remote part of Senegal, where they serve fonio, this grain. This is also one of the poorest regions of the country. This is a region where there's no youth. Everyone is gone. There's like, just migration is amazing. I think it's the highest rate of migration. Everyone is looking for opportunities out there. They try to make it to Europe in the most drastic ways. Some try to go on the [unintelligible] boats, fishermen. The [unintelligible] boats. And the fishermen are happy to be the one doing it because there's no fish in the ocean because of also the exploitation, overexploitation, overfishing. So how it helps them, to answer your question is, now we can contract them to grow something that they've been growing for 5000 years or more. Fonio is the oldest cultivated grain in Africa, and we can contract them. Before this time, they didn't have access to market. They were growing it for their own subsistence. This grain is so fantastic. It's one of the grains that grows the fastest, you can grow it within two months. It's a grain that's so resilient, and it's drought resistant. It's a grain that relies on the first rain. As soon as it rains, it doesn't matter how the rainy season comes. The fonio is guaranteed to grow, and not only is guaranteed to grow, it regenerates the soil. It can grow in poor soil, and it regenerates it because it has deep roots that add nutrients to the soil. There's so much going for this grain. Not only that, it's also very versatile. You can adapt to different type of cuisines. I've dedicated a whole cookbook on fonio, the fonio cookbook, just to tell you that you can go from the traditional recipes all the way to sushi or pasta with fonio. So, it's really that type of a grain. It didn't make sense to me that a grain like this didn't have access to market. And I thought, as a chef based in New York, from a vantage point, I've seen how quinoa was successful, and fonio is also that type of grain. It's gluten free. It had possibilities. This is how it changed. By contracting them and opening the market for them.

[Kathleen Hays] You know, in an area where people, all they could do was leave. That starts it right there, I think, in terms of how powerful this kind of thing can be. So, Paola, to you, Fanm Djanm is closely connected to Haiti, first in your birth and part of your upbringing, and then in terms of how you developed it. Headdresses, accessories. But I want to know specifically in terms of how does this move forward and how does it help some? I mean, Haiti had a very tough time for a while, and violence, gender violence. What is the link there? What is the support that this gives?

[Paola Mathé] Thank you for this question. I want to start with something Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said. It's not a direct quote. She said, we dehumanize people when we reduce them to a single thing. Right? And I agree. And she goes to saying how dignity is just as important as food, and that when we talk about people in need, we shouldn't only talk about their needs. We should talk about what they love. We should talk about what they aspire to, and we should talk about what makes them happy. When I think about young women in Haiti, after being one myself and knowing who I was and the kind of dreamer I was, I can't only think of the suffering and all of the heartbreaking news that has happened and continues to happen in Haiti. I think about their intelligence, their beauty. I think about their potential. And so, growing up here in the United States and trying to understand who I was when I first started Fanm Djanm with the market, I quickly realized that… To begin, let me explain to you what the term Fanm Djanm is. It directly translates to “strong woman” in Haitian Creole. And when I think of strong women, I think of my great grandmother, who raised my mother and myself, and I think of the women who work in the markets who carry loads on their heads, who tie their heads out of necessity, not as a fashion statement, but because they need those products, right? And so, I think of myself stepping into myself, trying to find my voice, and I realize that I had to fight to not accept the future that would be handed to me, but to define my own. And so, with Fanm Djanm, I wanted to defy what acceptable accessories were and what was the beauty standard or what was considered elegant or chic. I said, we don't wear head wraps just to run errands or hide our messy hair. We wear head wraps to show up and take space. We wear headwraps as an extension of our natural beauty. And that's the work I've been able to do for the past ten years. So, when I think about that work in terms of the visual stories that I've been able to create with the very few resources that I've had, I think about my younger selves who can see these images, who can then allow them or give them permission to find their voices. And I feel that when you find your voice, not only do you show up for yourself, but you show up for your community. And so, I think that's the most important aspect of my work. It's not the different campaigns we've run in the past to help support organizations, although those are important, too. It's not only creating work for Haitian workers. It's the life work. It's the legacy. It's what are we leaving for generations to come? Because they are not their suffering. They are their potential. [Applause]

[Kathleen Hays] So, Will, you cover a large gamut in Africa, in African sports. And this is a… I'll ask the question, so what are the returns on your investments in African youth sports? Well, I mean, there's a number of ways to answer that. And I think certainly in this context, and certainly after what Paola just said and the whole thing about being an entrepreneur and what that can bring to people and how important that is, what it gives you, right? Then that's how you answer that question for the work you've done over the years and the work you're doing now?

[Will Mbiakop] Yeah. Thank you. So, look, I think I'm going to try to share with the FCV community a key learning from sports. And just keeping in mind that the topic today and over the next three days is adapting and innovating in a volatile world. Right? So, in sports, and I'm coming from basketball, as I mentioned, we talk about the term understanding the game. Understanding the game. So what game are we on? And let me take the African perspective. Africa is a 1.4 billion people continent, as you know, and the average age is 19 years old. So, first of all, that means that the world, the youth of the world, is in Africa. Number two, by 2050, one out of four, one human being out of four will be African. The driving demographic force of the world is in Africa. Again, understanding the game, understanding your tangible and intangible assets. I'm honored to be with my brother Pierre here when we talk about food. So, let's talk about food security. 65% of arable land in the world is in Africa. When you talk about food, you're going to be talking about Africa. My sister here is in fashion. You probably heard about the cotton four, the top four countries producing cotton in Africa. I recall Benin, etcetera, producing quality cotton for your industry. So, what I mean by that, understanding the game, is understanding that when you deal with people in FCV settings, you have to understand, you make them understand that what is at stake is not only their future. It's not only their region future or their nation future. It's not only the continent future, it's actually the world’s future. This is what is at stake. And once they understand that they have the power to make a change at their level, to do their part, then you've won the game. So, that's what my learning would be from sports. [Applause]

[Kathleen Hays] Yeah. So I guess another thing we wanted to raise with you is, in terms of resilience, broad question, peacekeeping. Do you see in the work you've done so far or where it's heading next? And again, linking it to everybody in this room that your work, what your vision is, and maybe even in some cases, if you can be a little more specific, because I think that's what we're trying to get at here, too, like things you've actually seen on the ground or others have seen, but that, I guess you can answer any… And I'm going to go back to you, Paola, to start on this one. How do you fit yourself? One person, person with a big foot, but big footprint and a large presence? You guys are all kind of stars in your own way, right? How does what you're doing and how does it link to actually that?

[Paola Mathé] How does my work link to this.

[Kathleen Hays] Whole question of helping to build resilience in society? And ultimately, I mean, peacekeeping, obviously, you're not troops on the ground, but we need a lot more than that anyway, don't we? How do you get there?

[Paola Mathé] Okay, so when I think about the work that I've done for Haiti and to be completely transparent, I don't even think I've fully begun. It's my life's work. I think of my work when it comes to Haiti as tending to a community garden. Maybe without experience. And what I've realized is that we tend to get frustrated when things don't go our way, when we start something and we don't see the results right away and we say, “You know what? It's just not meant to be.” We give up, and then something terrible happens, and then we go back and we try to patch it up. To me, I believe that my life's work, as my lifestyle in general is to continue to feed into the work that I'm doing. And it takes patience, especially when you don't have a lot of resources. It takes a lot of research. It takes finding ways to collaborate and adding value to some of the people who are already doing great work on the ground. And so, that's what I've been able to do in terms of showing up for my community, knowing that I will continue to do that for the rest of my life. I'm not just showing up and sending a one time donation. I am constantly trying to find ways to amplify the voices of the women doing the work on the ground in Haiti and the voices of people in general who are looking at all of the different talents that we have, right? And so, I think right now my value is learning because that's important. It's doing my research and constantly collaborating. And some examples I have, I work with companies, with organizations like Haiti Cultural Exchange. I love their mission because they're bringing artists from Haiti and they're giving them an opportunity to show their work in New York City, which is incredible, because imagine you're in a country where you think there is no hope. It's so fragile, and how do you show up? How do you create? How do you even inspire others if you don't think there are opportunities? So, someone like Regine, the founder of Haiti Cultural Exchange, who says, I see you. I'll fight for you to take your work so your work can be celebrated. And I think that's so impactful. And, yes, we need food, yes, we need security, but we also need to invest in the human beings and all of the work they can do. You've said it yourself; you were fortunate enough to have the privilege to travel, and your voice carries others. So many that are coming after you. And so, I believe by investing in the talent that we have, they can go back like me and pay it forward and continue to show up.

[Kathleen Hays] I want to hear more from you in terms… because this question is kind of a broad question, right? What your work has been doing help this broad sense of resilience, what you're trying to be developed in these communities, and even in many of them, peacekeeping, how it all comes together. But I can just see those villages you were talking about. I've never been there, but in my mind, I can see the coastline. I can see things. Empty boats, or I can see older people. I can see all the kids have left because they've got to get some place where they have an opportunity. So, with this kind of work, from what you've experienced then and again, trying to create this, well, what more can be done and how do people do it? What have you experienced and what kind of fruit is it borne? So far on these friends, you said some of the poorest people even in Africa. How do you see what's happened so far and how that could progress and broaden?

[Pierre Thiam] So, what we did, within five years, really, to take a grain that was not known in this market, in the US market, and to be able to introduce it through the larger supermarkets to add even new products from those grains. We have not only the fonio grains, we have different fonio pilafs, all inspired by the tradition of our cuisine. Now we are in the snack category. We have fonio chips. We have different type of chips that really addresses the consumers here. And these consumers, who are also the conscious ones, who want to have an impact, who want to be part of the solution, are now going out there. And in addition to having an impact, they also having something that's good for their health, that's nutritious, and that's delicious, too. Those chips are really well received. And we even went beyond that. We introduced the grain to other industries. Now we have fonio beer that you can find at Whole Foods.

[Kathleen Hays] Did you say fonio beer?

[Pierre Thiam] Fonio beer, yes, fonio beer. We have pilsner, double pilsner. We did collaborations with Brooklyn Brewery, and you need grains to make beer. And they realized that, hey, we can meet our goals, sustainable development goals, by introducing fonio beer. And that's what they did. It turns out it's a delicious beer. And now other breweries are into the conversation. We travel to Copenhagen to meet Carlsberg people, which are the fifth largest brewery in the world. And they're very interested because that is aligned with the way they see the impact they could be having. And Heineken is in the conversation, now Guinness is in the conversation. So, we created a demand, and that all started with that will to create a brand to tell the story. And that was the first thing that we did, create a brand, Yolélé, tell the story. Now the demand is here. We have a challenge now. We have to make sure the supply is following the demand, and we want to make sure that supply is doing it in a way that's having an impact and I'm saying boom is being very careful because we don't want fonio to become the next quinoa. That's something that we are also very intentional about. We don't want fonio to be this grain that becomes this “it” grain and then is taken away from small farmers in West Africa and being grown in Montana or in Texas or in Ukraine. It should be. And I think this is where we are. We have created a model of development that would start from the small farming communities, which they need support. Mr. Diangana talked about the type of support that the World Bank would do. And this is the kind of thing that needs to be. They need to be supported in growing fonio in the same ways and as they do it. Introducing fonio not only to the breweries, but also the other food companies, Nestle's and Kellogg's and Unilever and Mars. They're all using grains. So this is how you can see now something happening, creating an industry. And another thing to finish, making sure it's not only about fonio. We need to support the hundreds of other underutilized crops that are grown in those regions, too, because if you do it just for fonio, fonio becomes a cash crop and they just stop growing the others. We need to support multicropping. We need to support crops that are grown in rotation. And that's how you have an impact on the environment, impact on the communities with economic opportunities, and impact on the consumers. Who have now access to a diversity of products.

[Kathleen Hays] We're going to go to audience Q&A in just a minute. But Will, there's been something I wanted to ask you, because I saw a piece that was done about the big sports arena that's been built, hotels are going to be there in Africa and how this is part of this whole business model, you could say, of expanding a sport across a very athletic nation, etcetera. So, in terms of this same idea of... Does it work this way? Well, if I can start making a living and if things are growing, then all the other conflicts and things start fading away for people? Is there something about furthering sports in an area that is a troubled area or whatever, that when you're doing your work with basketball and everything you've done all over in Africa, how does that work? Do you see any direct link? Am I kind of silly to say that it's just a general process of growth, of things getting stronger and rising up that way again, when we're talking about fragility, conflict and violence areas?

[Will Mbiakop] Yeah, absolutely. Look, first of all, I think sports is just a fabulous vehicle in any setting, FCV and non FCV. But sport is definitely a fabulous vehicle to engage with people at all age, all gender, all communities. Just to give you a number, 80% of the world population are sports fan. 80%. That means sports is a universal language. Wherever you are, wherever you go, you speak the same language. That's one thing. Number two, from a social and social impact perspective, sports help address six out of the 17 sustainable development goal, gender equality, women empowerment, economic empowerment, wellbeing, creating sustainable jobs. And we'll talk about the business side of sports afterwards. But first thing first. Yes, sport does help in FCV setting to rebuild people, heal them, help them build confidence, build relationships and get back to who they were and maybe more. So, I think the social aspect and the social impact of sports is something that all people in the FCV community would like to consider. But furthermore, if we think about, you talked about earlier of relationship, I think one thing someone said this morning, senior leadership was saying from the World Bank, she was saying prevention. Well, sport does help prevent those situations of fragility or violence because you develop relationship. And I'm not talking about sports at elite level, I'm talking about grassroots sports. The fact that one team from one country will go visit another team from the neighboring country and have a game; but it's not just about the game, it's what happened before, during and after. It's all those lifelong relationships that you will create through the game of basketball, football or whatever. That is for me, how you help preventing conflict. Obviously, sports diplomacy, it's another aspect of sports that you may want to consider. But once you've healed someone, once you create hope, and I'm going to have to quote the great Nelson Mandela, he was saying that sports can bring hope and can change the world and can bring hope where there was only despair. So, yes, indeed, once you create hope and you've rebuilt character, you've instilled those value of tolerance, self-confidence. You also have to think about business. So, here in the US, sport is a humongous business, right? You got the NBA, NFL, MLB, so and so on and so forth. Roughly worldwide, sports is 3% of the world GDP. So that means there are a lot of jobs available for all those entrepreneurs. Who wants to get involved? I wasn't good enough to play basketball and I didn't play in the NBA. Actually, I played for the NBA, but in the corporate games. I don't know if that's eligible. But I did make a career from a passion to a job representing the NBA at the very highest level, leading the business development effort of the NBA in Africa. Sports do provide a lot of jobs for all those people. So again, in a volatile world where we're trying to innovate, let's look at sports from a different perspective, a holistic perspective, from prevention to healing, developing hope, developing people, developing business people, and making sure that they can make a living out of their passion.

[Kathleen Hays] Perfect. And that's one thing I started thinking about a lot after I was asked to participate. You know, again, there are certain kind of tools. The World Bank, obviously, decades, hours and hours of people's lives and work and money spent. But maybe there's another kind of tool that could go in the toolkit. And I think that's what you all make me think of. So now, please, there's a microphone right there. We got a good chunk of time for questions. So just hop right up there and ask. Don't be shy. I can't mention you guys are shy. Here comes. Here's come one. All right, say your name and then ask your question.

[John Weiss] Hi, my name is John Weiss and I have a question for the gentleman on my left about grains, African grains. And my question is, how will you prevent large non-African corporations from taking over the farming and stealing the farming industry from African farmers?

[Pierre Thiam] Excellent question. And that's something we've been struggling from the beginning. We knew that the quinoa story was inspiring but it was also a thing that we had to avoid. Like I mentioned, we didn't want fonio to become the same method of agriculture, intensive agriculture, because that's not the way it's supposed to be. That's not the way it got to us. So one is, we needed to innovate on the processing. The processing of fonio is not adequate for the goal that we have of being a world class crop, meaning there's already close to 50% of post-harvest waste. We have to address that. There's also the inefficiency in the cleaning of fonio. So, we hired a company, Buehler, to come up with the solution to create a mill that would not only remove the waste from 50% to, like, single digits, but also to take it from one ton per day to two tons per hour in the processing. So, truly revolutionize the processing so that we can access fonio to the big food companies. So, once you have that solved and you're making sure you're working with small farmers, at our own level, we're already controlling the supply. We're making sure we have the supply. So there's no Texan farmers who can come and decide to grow fonio in Texas. We can compete with them, which is what quinoa couldn't do. Quinoa. They kept growing mean quinoa without controlling the processing, the way it's being done in the US. And now the US is doing intensified type of growing quinoa, and the farmers in Peru and Chile couldn't compete. We also have to have support from the regional level, at the policy level. We want the government to protect fonio, to protect the seeds from not traveling. If it's not for research, the seeds cannot go outside of the region of West Africa, particularly in the US or in Europe, unless it's for research. It’s still a work in progress. It's an uphill battle. We're fighting big foot right here. But that's one of the ways we're addressing it. Protecting the name of fonio. It cannot be called fonio if it's not grown by small farmers in West Africa. That's something we can do. It's being done for other products in other parts of the world. So, the appellation is something that we are working on with indication, geographical indication.

[Pierre Thiam] So those are some of the tools we are using.

[Kathleen Hays] Next.

[Stephen] Hello, panelists. My name is Stephen, and I'm an intern at the United Nations Populations Fund. So, my question has to do with scalability, right? I was an entrepreneur in college. I had my own small business. I pitched it, and the big problem I faced was scalability, especially in the FCV setting. How do you leverage that social human capital involving local communities while scaling your business at the same time? Thank you very much.

[Kathleen Hays] Okay, you guys take that, too, because you've scaled different kinds of businesses already.

[Pierre Thiam] Well, for me, the answer was already what I've said, investing in the innovation, and once you can turn fonio from one ton per day to two tons per hour and removing the waste from 50% to 10%, now you have a meal that you can duplicate as the demand grows, and then you support the small farmers by contracting them, and that's how we scale.

[Paola Mathé] I think that's always been one of my struggles, especially as the founder of a company that really values sustainability and making things in small batches and trying to do what's right. We came across this issue a few months ago where I created this product, and it's not something I've heard about before. And so, I make head wraps, right? And over the years, we listen to our customers. We've had a lot of customers without hair or who suffer with alopecia or just different hair loss issues who have written to us, and they would say that they want their head wraps as tall as mine, as tall as Paola's, specifically, but they don't have hair. So how do we do it? And so that question has haunted me for years, and I've overthought it. And then last year, I decided, I came up with a solution, and we launched it, and we did not anticipate the demand for that product. I created this product called wrap base, and it basically allows people with little to no hair to create these tall, voluminous head wrap styles. And I thought about all of the different features. It had to be lightweight. It had to be non-slip. It had to fit various head shapes, and it could be versatile. You could wear it forward or backwards. But we did not anticipate the demand, only because when I told people that idea, no one jumped up in their seats about it. No one called me brilliant until I released it. And then it sold out within a matter of hours. Then, we had so many issues trying to find all of the different parts that made the product what it was. And so, I find myself constantly trying to weigh between creating things sustainably and also scaling. I've decided that my work, in terms of impact and my legacy was not about the size or how big of a space that my creations took. I've decided that… I use the term powerhouse. I said I don't want to be a powerhouse if it means that I have to use people. As a founder of a company like Fanm Djanm, I cannot create products that are not made ethically or sustainably. And, so I said, then, is scaling something that I sacrifice or do I constantly try to find the balance between the two? I don't think I found a solution. I'm just constantly working to see what works. And honestly, we have been emailed a lot of opportunities, and sometimes the big names are not always the best moves. I think just because something carries the big name does not mean that it's for you. And that's something I've learned to do, and I'm learning to scale with what feels right for me. Perhaps that's not what most business people would do, and maybe that's why the state of the world is the way it is now.

[Kathleen Hays] So Will, again, when it comes to scaling…

[Will Mbiakop] Yeah, look, my fellow panelists, they did a great job answering already. So, I'm just going to make it very short, especially for this gentleman right there. In a FCV environment. And overall, I think technology is a no brainer. Obviously, it helps you to scale up very quickly. Technology innovation, I think that's what Pierre was alluding to. That's one. Number two is your distribution level. So how much of your distribution network do you have from both sides? Supplier and clients. So that will help you scale very quickly. And more specifically now on a FCV environment, I think we look at human capital, the people that we have, I think those are the critical, those are the key for any scale up program or strategy. So those will be my three answers for you.

[Kathleen Hays] Hello.

[Fatima] Hi. Thank you. Thank you. It's a great panel. And my name is Fatima. I'm part of IFC's Creative Industries Initiative, and I'm leading IFC's investments in the media, sports and entertainment sector. So, very exciting panel, to see the soft power of creative industries in a fragile and conflict affected environment. My question is to Will. Will, we're seeing a lot of activity in the sports and entertainment sector in Africa. How do you see the future in a fragility and conflict affected situation, such that we've seen foreign leagues like NBA Africa coming in, and there are a couple of other NFL, PFL, and all of these leagues coming in. But how do you see foreign investment in a fragility setting? Because even the investment took very, very long in Africa to come in. So, investors are shy of coming into more fragility affected countries. What is the solution? How can we help as private sector investors and the World Bank Group?

[Will Mbiakop] It's a great question. Thank you, Fatima. And the straight answer is, you are the solution. I'll come back to that. So first of all, you're right, there's a lot of investment pouring into Africa. The NBA, we did it with the Basketball African League. Multimillion dollar investment. The folks at NFL are also understanding that Africa is a big market. I gave the number initially, right? 1.4 billion people, 19 years, average age, people who are going to consume and practice sports for the next 50 years. So, a lot of consumption, a lot of money to be made; but you're right, when you look at FDIs over the past, the foreign direct investment. Sorry, foreign direct investment over the past seven years have halved. So, they were from 12% to 6%. So why people are not investing in Africa? Why is the cost of capital so high? Why is the access to finance so high? Those are questions that are not only applicable to sports, but overall economy on the continent. So now what does the future looks like? I think actually the future is bright. There's never been a better time. I always say that there's never been a better time to invest in sports in Africa. It's right now. Ten years from now, you're too late and the yield that you're going to make is going to be too small. So, if you want to invest in sports in Africa, it's right now. And you have so many opportunities throughout the value chain, merchandising, events, you talk about media. I'd like to point out entertainment, such a great... Sorry. Sports and Entertainment are so intertwined, right? You look at music, art, all of these come together. It's the perfect time to invest. We are actually witnessing the fourth industrial revolution, what I call the revolution of IP for intellectual property. A kid from, I think Ousmane was mentioning Sikasso, which is a small, well, second largest city in Mali, actually, or a kid from Yaoundé or Uganda for those who know the ghetto kids, people can produce content locally and be viewed globally and make money out of it, which is amazing. So, for me, the future is bright because of this revolution; but what needs to happen is you guys to be the solution. The solution comes from the private sector, indeed. We need more entrepreneurs. We need to equip them, and this is where the development banks come into the picture. I often say that I think sports can change the public development banks’ game. So how can it change it? We need to cut up on those processes because it takes a long time for any entrepreneur to get funds from different banks. That's one, we need to lower the cost of capital. That's number two, we need to allow for banks, public development banks to view sports as a space for innovation, where you try new instruments, where you take more risk, where you put more skin in the game. If you do that, I believe that the future is really bright for Africa.

[Kathleen Hays] Perfect. And we just have to wrap up here. But I want to ask a real quick question of everybody, because I've been thinking of this, I'd like to ask you guys in the audience, too. Maybe we'll do that in a coffee. But in some sense, is that the development makes making more capital available, etcetera, helping investment of various kinds; then is it pretty clear that from what you guys know, you guys know better maybe than us, because you're here. But still, that these kinds of tools, these kinds of “Here's what you can do in your toolkit of working with FCV.” Does that need to be in the toolkit for these people to apply to consider? And I wonder, is a healthy dose of social media training and promoting things of worthwhile investment too?

[Pierre Thiam] 100%, absolutely. Especially for small businesses that can't afford; “We don't have a big marketing budget, we can't afford this type of campaign.” But social media allow us to reach the world, and that's what we have realized from the get go. We knew that we needed to have someone at Yolélé who is in charge of IG and TikTok and Twitter, and that's like the way we could get to this audience of people who are those conscious consumers who also become ambassadors. And they use the same social media to really amplify your message. And they cook with fonio and they take pictures and they throw it to their audience, and that has a ripple effect. It really is a powerful tool. Absolutely.

[Paola Mathé] I would also like to add, without social media using it as a tool of marketing for my company, I wouldn't have been able to take it from my head wraps from the markets to shipping products around the world. It has definitely helped and people also felt connected to my story. And then I was able to grow. Even now, I use social media as a way to discover new talents in Haiti, to keep up with all of the brilliant minds and the way they create, from comedians to artists to singers to dancers.

[Will Mbiakop] So, yes, just to compliment on that, I think, yes, toolkits are essential. You're absolutely right. I think one thing that we kind of discount or don't look at much more is the collaboration between people. We are here before a crowd of top expert in FCV. You know better than us, but what we don't do, maybe enough, is to have meetings where we sit and we listen to you. We learn from you, your context, your challenges, where are the opportunities? And we may come up with some solutions from our worlds as well, I think. So. My recommendation will be, yes, toolkits, you're absolutely right. Technology, you're absolutely right. But maybe more collaboration between people from different worlds.

[Kathleen Hays] Amen. Very good. Well, let's give a big hand of applause to Will Mbiakop, Paola Mathé and chef Pierre Thiam. Oh, quickly, just quickly, some very important announcements. Chef Thiam's food is going to be served in the main lunchroom tomorrow. Don't miss that. Get in line. You might even leave a panel early. You get the front of the line. Ha ha. And also, Will is going to be back tomorrow as part of the lightning rounds that's going to start at 09:00 in the morning. Be here, get earlier, get your coffee. Eight people talking about, again, innovative things maybe you haven't thought of, or at least not in the way you thought of them before, to be part of these solutions. And, oh, four concurrent sessions now starting at 04:00, you have to drink your coffee a little bit faster. I did go a little bit over the limit, but it was worth it, right? I mean, come on, this is a great panel.

[Soukeyna Kane] Good afternoon and a warm welcome to everyone present here, saying that we are honored to have the opportunity to listen to Chimamanda, the one and only is certainly an understatement an author who I have in deep esteem and as someone who shares her African roots, moved by her nuanced and vivid depictions of African life, particularly her insights on the civil war in Nigeria, Chimamanda has beautifully articulated the power of stories that can be wielded to dispossess and malign, yet that also possess the capacity to empower and humanize. Several aspects of her work have been particularly inspiring to me. Feminism, unapologetic advocate for gender equality what did she say? “We Should All Be Feminists”. [Applause]

[Soukeyna Kane] Challenging gender stereotypes and the notion that feminism is an exclusively western ideology. Identity. The complexities of identity, in particular African identity, reminding me, close to home of the “Ambiguous Adventure” by Cheikh Hamidou Kane. Struggle to reconcile traditional African identity with the influence of western education and culture, politics and social justice. Highlighting issues such as poverty, inequality, corruption, immigration and diaspora, experience of migrant and forced displacement. Hope. Her writing celebrates the fact that the human spirit can stay intact even amidst the most daunting challenges. All these themes are not only relevant to World Bank's mission, but align with the Fragility Forum's themes. We included the segment with change makers in the Fragility Forum for a reason. During this Forum, we are looking into questions that are central to the World Bank's mission. How can we enhance our effectiveness of our intervention remaining engaged when countries go through conflict? How can we play a better role in preventing conflicts? How can we manage better the spillovers of conflict, such as force displacement, which are compounded by climate change? However, we must acknowledge that there are times where we fall short when our imagination does not rise to the challenge, and it is through the lens of writers like Adichie that we can adopt new perspectives, find inspiration as we tackle these arduous issues in the most challenging environment. We are immensely grateful to Chimamanda Adichie for sharing her precious time with us this afternoon. Now I'd like to hand over to Femi.

[Femi Oke] Hello, my sister.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Hello, darling.

[Femi Oke] You work with words all of the time and as you are in the Changemaker signature series in the Fragility Forum 2024, I looked up the definition as changemaker to make sure that you qualify because you know how much Nigerians love qualifications. Changemaker, intentional about solving a social problem. Empathy for others?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I hope so.

[Femi Oke] Okay. Driven by a genuine goal to make the world a better place.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes.

[Femi Oke] Okay, good. Motivated to act. That's a long pause.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] So I'm already thinking about how we need to qualify that.

[Femi Oke] With an example.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] What do we mean by act? Yes, I would say yes.

[Femi Oke] Keep trying to make a difference.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes.

[Femi Oke] Alright. You've got most of those correct. You can stay.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Thank you.

[Femi Oke] So, Chimamanda, in your work, you write about conflict in different circumstances. Often, it's human relationships, conflict. In one particular novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun”, it's actual war. Conflict in Nigeria. How do you deal with conflict in your work as a writer?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I think. Well, thank you for being here. I'm really happy to be here, and I just am really thrilled to be with this wonderful woman. In particular, conflict in my- I think. I don't think I set out… I think one of the things about storytelling and writing is that. I don't know that one sets out and says, “I shall write about conflict today.” Right? I mean, the stories call you. Stories speak to you in a way. And so, for “Half of a Yellow Sun”, for example, when I was growing up, I was so aware that my family had experienced something and that the shadow of it still existed. And I felt haunted by it. And it's something that I can't intellectualize it. I can't say to you, here's why I wrote about Biafra. It's sort of this almost intuitive thing. And when I decided that I was ready to write it, I wanted to write about human beings. I mean, yes, the Nigerian Biafran War had happened, tens of thousands of people had died; but also I was interested in food. What did you eat the morning that you had to run from your home? What did you take with you? Because I think, in some ways, conflict shows us what matters most to us. And so, I remember my uncle telling me that when they had to run from my hometown because the Nigerian soldiers were advancing, the thing he did was to collect all of the photographs they had. And I was very moved by that, because it just said to me that when we're faced with this thing, what we're thinking about is that we want to keep our memories, you know? And that's the reason we have one photo of my grandfather, because everything in their house was destroyed, but my uncle had taken the pictures. So, I now have that picture of my grandfather in my house. I think I want to understand what it is internally in human beings that changes in conflict, that leads to conflict. Obviously, I think talking about this in big terms is important, but I also think that it's important to think of it in the smallest of ways.

[Femi Oke] If we're looking… At the Fragility Forum, we are looking at conflicts that are all over the world. As an artist who is very engaged with the world, what particular situation that's fragile, involving conflict or violence, is in your mind right now, top of mind, that you want to share with us and your perspective of what is happening?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I think maybe that two things. I think the first would be the Palestinian people. I just find it now almost unbearable to watch the news or even to read about what's happening there, because it just seems to me deeply immoral that people who are barricaded in a very tiny area are just being bombarded. Human beings, civilians, children. I find it deeply, deeply affecting. I was reading yesterday about the writers who have died, and of course, everybody matters. But I remember thinking, so now even the people who will tell the story are gone, the Palestinian writers who've died. And so that is very much on my mind, especially thinking about children. I find that the older I get, the more unbearable for me it is to think about a child being hurt. And the other thing I would say is, in Nigeria right now, there's just so much hunger, and obviously that's different from being bombarded. But there is something about not being able to eat that I also find deeply immoral, by which I mean that you have a government that has taken decisions that ultimately translates to people being so hungry that their dignity is gone. And that just utterly breaks my heart. And it's going on now in Nigeria. Actually, yesterday and today, people have been protesting. Yeah. And there's just something, you know, sometimes you just think, “what the hell is going on with the world.” Yeah. And I find myself thinking, “What if Putin had been well loved when he was a child?” I mean, I don't know. Would it make a difference? “What if Mr. Netanyahu didn't?” I better not.

[Femi Oke] So, if there were more hugs.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] No, honestly, I mean, it's easy.

[Femi Oke] And, “Darling, you did great today at school.”

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Not even so much that as I think that's a very western idea of love. People say, “My mom didn't hug me.” There are many people all over the world who were not necessarily hugged every day, but grew up knowing that they were loved. I remember, actually, it was when… I think it was when Russia… I think it was Crimea. I then sort of wanted to understand. So, I went and read a biography of Putin. And honestly, I remember thinking that if certain things had happened differently in his life, would we be where we are. This is maybe a way of saying something larger, which is that I really think leadership matters. And I don't mean yes, the policies the leaders take, but also the personality and how they look at the world. And, yes, how they were loved. It makes a difference. Hugs or not.

[Femi Oke] People gravitate towards your stories the way you see the world. Your essays, your stories, very often talks that you do, not even the books, the talks that you do, they resonate. People share them. Beyonce samples them. Your work seems to transcend many parts of the world and all over the world. So that really is the way you tell a story, the way you put a narrative together, that has value and power. So, in a venue like where we are at the moment, at the World Bank headquarters, people also watching online around the world, that power of telling a story, using narrative, what can it change in the world?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I hope it can change a lot. I… Just thinking about the way I tell a story, I think maybe I'm very interested in truth, but for me, truth is not… And I like to make a distinction between fact and truth. And so, when I was writing “Half of a Yellow Sun”, for example, I would often say to people, “I know the facts, because I've read everything published about this war, but now I want the truth. So I want those sort of textured things.” And so, I think telling stories about. I'm also very resistant to romanticizing things, even though there is a very strong streak in me that wants to romanticize, because I love love. I'm actually just hope there's a part of me that's just hopelessly, “Why can't we all love each other?” But then there's the other part of me that I sort of like to call the real politics side of me. And I want, in my storytelling, to merge both. And so, in other words, if one writes about somebody who's done something really remarkable and good, it doesn't necessarily mean that that person is perfect, because we're all flawed. And I'm interested in that. And I think maybe that's what people… I hope maybe that's what people kind of respond to. I don't like purity. I don't trust it. And I also don't trust perfection.

[Femi Oke] So, I have seen storytellers who have gone around the world. They've spoken in displaced people's camps. They've encouraged young people to tell stories, to draw pictures. It's genuinely used as a tool.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yeah. Of course it is. I mean, therapists will tell you all the time that even your ability to tell yourself your own story is important, how you tell yourself your own story. Which is why I think there are many people all over the world who are told to look in a mirror and say, “I am great.” I mean, that doesn't work for me, but I appreciate that it works for some people. But, no, I think it's also that we need to… And even just the idea of going around asking people to tell stories and draw pictures, I think it's also a way of giving people dignity. And I think that's so important. Saying to people, “what you've experienced matters,” and what you've experienced isn't necessarily the same thing that somebody else has experienced. I'm really interested in... This is the other thing, just thinking about storytelling in multiple perspectives. I've found that people who read fiction, and I wish more people would. And I'm not just saying this because I write fiction, but… There is that, I think if you read fiction, you start to know that your perspective is not the only perspective. And it's so important that people say that you don't stand in one place to look at a masquerade. People, you sort of stand in different places to see it in a sort of holistic way. And it's so important to think about conflict in that way as well. People understand things differently. People remember things differently. For me, I'm always really interested in that. If I read something in the news, I'm thinking I want to read about it from the other point of view. It really helps you understand. And as a storyteller, even if you don't use those facts in the story itself, it informs the writing, right? It just brings a particular quality to the way that you tell the story.

[Femi Oke] What story, short story would you like to share with us? Right now.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Oh Lord, I can't think.

[Femi Oke] I'm going to preface this by, if you've watched Chimamanda do talks, pick up another honorary degree, and then she does a little speech. She always talks about, “I have this friend,” and then goes into an extraordinary story. So Chimamanda, you have this friend.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes, but we just fell out so... That's the story actually.

[Femi Oke] Actually, it's a short story.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yeah.

[Femi Oke] This one friend, who shall be nameless.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes.

[Femi Oke] We also don't like her either now.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Good.

[Femi Oke] Supplied many of your “I have my friend” stories.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes, she did supply.

[Femi Oke] Oh, what a shame!

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] But, you know, hopefully one has other friends. Does it have to be related to conflict?

[Femi Oke] It does not. I think people would love to say they came to the Fragility Forum, or they were watching it and Chimamanda told them a story for them in this very moment.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Oh, Lord, Femi. That's too much. No, I mean, I know, right?

[Femi Oke] We'll keep going, and then you'll think of a friend and it will come to you. At the moment, you are working. And I'm not going to say too much because that's up to you to talk about what you're working on. But when we talk about the world, and sometimes it's very, I'm a journalist, sometimes it's hard for me to watch the news. And that's my job as a writer. And you're writing, and the world is, to use the phrase from this Forum, is a volatile world. How does that volatility reflect in your work, your writing?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] That's actually interesting and maybe also reflect in even the process. So, I'm working on a novel. I feel more confident now to say that because I'm very superstitious about my work. And I feel as though for a while I've been banished from my creative self. And there's a lovely, see, I'm blanking, so I haven't slept. Who said this? Who said that when you're not writing, you feel as though you've been kind of divorced from yourself? And I felt that for a while. And so, being able to get back into that space is just magical. But what's happening to me now, I find, is that if I wake up and I sort of look at newspapers first before I write, I don't know, it deflates my spirit. So, what I've been doing in the past sort of few weeks that I've been in writing hibernation is that I'm just like, I'm not looking at the news. It's still difficult sometimes you sort of find yourself looking, but just the idea that the world… there's just very little to be hopeful about. But I'm still hopeful. So, I, in addition to being superstitious, I am addicted to hope. I think that as human beings, we have no right to despair. We can't, because if we do, then the all is lost. But even just thinking about this country and just Nigeria breaks my heart. The US, it seems to be sort of heading hurtling to another disaster which will remain unnamed. And so, sometimes I just think, “What the hell is going on with all these people?” Like, “Why can't people be sensible? “And then, of course, it's easy to think, “Well, if I were in that position, I would do it better.” But who knows? Actually, I think I would do it better. I think I would.

[Femi Oke] If you would like to chat to Chimamanda, there is a microphone there in the middle of the room. Do not be shy because we have 15 minutes left. If you stand there, I will see you, and then you will be able to talk to Chimamanda right in the center of the room. And we continue. Every summertime you spend time with young people.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes.

[Femi Oke] And you teach?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes.

[Femi Oke] What do you get out of it? I can see what they get out of it. What do you get out of it?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Oh, I do. I actually love teaching because I learn when I teach. I found that when I started doing this workshop, which is… And they're actually young at heart and young. The idea is if you're sort of new to writing, it doesn't matter how old you are. And my vision for it was to be Pan-African. But of course, Nigerians dominate because, you know, we're Nigeria. Hello. If there are any Ghanaians here that want to open their mouth, we will talk about this after this chat. You see Senegal, they're even talking.

[Femi Oke] So, we are teetering around the great conflict about jollof rice.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] There is no conflict. Nigerian jollof is superior. The Senegalese claim that they invented it. We don't really care who invented it. We care about who's perfected it.

[Femi Oke] That was the technical session about jollof rice. Hello, sir. Your question.

[Michael Rodriguez] Good morning, and thank you very much. Michael Rodriguez from Action Against Hunger. Very much an admirer and a raiser of four feminists in my family, only one of which is a woman. Thank you very much for your books and your works. You sit on the top shelf with Tony. Thank you.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Thank you. That's so kind. Thank you. I appreciate that very much. And also, really love the idea of just one feminist among one female feminist among four. We need the boys and men. We really do. Especially because men, for some reason, seem to prefer listening to men. So, we need the good men to do the work. [Speaker 1] Hi, Chimamanda. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Hi. [Speaker 1] How are you? [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I'm very well, thank you. [Speaker 1] I'm so happy to meet you. I've read all of your books. My favorite is “Purple Hibiscus”. So, yeah, I enjoyed it. And the second one is “Americanah”, so I completely relate. And on the comment of jollof, you may have won the jollof, but I think the Africa Cup escaped you. Okay. [Femi Oke] And now real conflict breaks out at the Fragility Forum. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Well, we are convinced, right, that Didier Drogba, we don't know what he did, whether he gave them money. We don't know, but we just think that we deserve that cup. But moving on, I don't see why we should be having this conversation. [Femi Oke] I thought you just came here to make wahala, which is vernacular for trouble. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Where are you from? [Speaker 1] I'm from Zambia. I have no dog in this fight. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] You see? You don't know you should be on. You're supporting anglophone. You don't know that you should not support francophone. [Femi Oke] I feel we are undoing all the good work of the Fragility Forum and we should take our petty grievances outside. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Alright. Oh, they're not petty at all. [Speaker 1] We'll save it for the next forum. Thank you so much. My question is, what advice would you give to your younger self? You've been successful, you've written, you've told stories, you've related to a lot of people in the world. So, what advice would you give to your younger self? Thank you.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Wow. I think I would tell her to try and learn how to dance properly, because these things are really important. I never learned, and now it's too late. [Femi Oke] How would we know that?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Femi. But really, I think it would also be, I think we spend, I mean, that wonderful saying from Oscar Wilde, that “Youth is wasted on the young.” I think we waste a lot of time when we're young worrying about things we shouldn't worry about. And I would love to say that not just to my younger self, but to younger women. There's just so much that… Just breathe and enjoy. You're perfect, really, you're perfect the way you are. You're perfect for yourself at this moment. And I say that because, and I don't want to go into a rant about social media, but I will. I've been reading studies about young women on social media, also young men, but particularly young women. High rates of depression, high rates of anxiety. The higher your use of social media is. And partly, I think it's because there's a sense in which it makes you believe the worst of yourself. Actually, it makes you believe lies about yourself. And, okay, here's a story. Some years ago, my niece, she comes to me, she says, “Oh, there's a problem. I have a problem.” I'm like, “What is the problem?” She says, “I have hip dips.” And I'm like, “What is that?” So apparently, there was now something on social media that had told young women that if your hips didn't do something, maybe it didn't flare out, it was a problem. And this problem was called “hip dips.” And there were exercises you should do to change it. And for me, that was the moment where I thought, this is just an absolute disaster. So, I said to her, “There's nothing wrong with your hips, they're fine.” But she'd watch these things. Other young girls were passing it around, and she wanted to start the exercises. And so, what I would say to… I'm so happy that when I was young, we didn't have social media, honestly. And it's easy, I know, to rave and rant about it, but I do think it's important to talk about and talk about it in a practical way, like, how do we get it to harm young women less? And I would say to young women, stop worrying. Young women don't see their beauty and their worth. I would say, go out and take a walk, go running, breathe, discover things, read a book. I think I spent a lot of time, my younger self, caring about just nonsense. What did people say about me? What did they think? And now I'm 46, and I'm just like, why did I waste time? I could have read more books in that period. I could have learned how to dance when I was wasting my time with nonsense. So, yeah. [Applause]

[Tiani] Hi, Chimamanda. My name is Tiani, and we met at the Johns Hopkins when you were giving the opening talk, at opening reception at Johns Hopkins School of Women's Studies. And I'm going to ask you the same question I asked you back then. [Femi Oke] But were you not happy with the answer the first time? [Tiani] I was. [Femi Oke] There are people behind you. [Tiani] It's very relevant even in this setting, especially as it relates to conflict. So, Femi, may I please ask my question? Thank you. Thank you, Femi. So, my question then, and still is now, what do you do in instances when you have influence but not tangible power? Because a lot of us, as we're facing these conflicts and seeing them around us, we want to act, but we don't have what would be deemed or termed as tangible power. And we exist in institutions that have certain requirements that dictate how you must conduct yourself even in the face of these conflicts. So how would you recommend or what practices can we look to take action if you have some influence but not tangible power? Femi, did you approve of my question?

[Femi Oke] I'm actually beyond why the first answer was not appropriate for you, but please, Chimamanda, continue.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Now, what did I. I think I said, “Use your influence to get power.” And I stand by that. But you know, the thing about this question, when you were asking the question, I'm already thinking about the story behind it, because this is one of those, we have influence, we don't have power. There are certain ways that one should be. And I'm thinking, wait, are you saying that as a black woman, they just didn't let you do the real thing? Do you see what I'm saying? I'm interested in specifics, but really, I would say. It's hard to say because I don't know the specifics, but if I were to give one of those floaty answers, I would say, use your influence to get power. Both are very important, and I think it's so important not to shy away from the desire for power, especially for women, because we're often apologetic for wanting know.

[Tiani] Thank you. Thank you, Femi. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] And thank you for wearing one of the best designers in Nigeria, who happens to be my dear friend, The Ladymaker. [Tiani] I'm from South Africa, so, I mean, I wanted to show that we have peace between us. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Okay, I won't start with South Africa this afternoon. No, I should say, just in case it's not clear that I am just avidly Pan-African in my worldview. I'm very proudly Nigerian, very proudly Igbo. But I adore my continent. Just I feel emotionally, I really do. And so, when somebody from Zambia does well, I'm just sort of like, yes, you know? Because… [Femi Oke] Yes, they're like Nigerians! [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Well, yes, I often think, well, yeah, they're finally acting like us, but… Joke. [Femi Oke] Next question. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] It's increasingly important to say that in the world. [Femi Oke] You have to. Preface. [Speaker 2] Thank you very much for the opportunity to ask this question. And I never imagined that waking up this morning, I'd be here speaking to you, Chimamanda. So, I feel delighted. My question. We are here at the Fragility Forum, and for the last few days, we've been talking about what to do to respond better to the challenge of fragility and conflict and violence. And I have pondered to myself, after having worked for this, in this space for some 30 years, whether I'm learning anything new and whether the stories we are telling ourselves about what the problems are, are the truth. And so, I want to just ask you, I know this is not your space. You're a writer, but as a Nigerian, as an African, you've come to this space. It's a development space and development. The industry has a particular story about our continent, where it is, who it is, what it is, what its history is. Do you ask yourself some of those questions, or do you feel… Does anything I'm saying resonate with you in the sense that the story that I tell myself about the continent as a Pan-Africanist, as a Nigerian, is often not the story I find reflected back at me in this space? And I think it is the big challenge I feel we have in terms of crafting our own story about what our past is, was and what our future is likely to be. So just any reflections on that?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Well, first of all, I just really admire the ability to question oneself. You've been doing this for so many years, and I feel like it's a particularly female quality which is so essential for leadership. I admire that. I gave a TED Talk called “The Danger of a Single Story” many years ago, and in some ways, I think it's because of this, because I had come to the US and the Nigeria I carried in my head was not what… I realized it wasn't what people saw. So, people would see me and feel sorry for me. And I, with my Nigerian arrogance, I thought, what is wrong with these people? Still the ways in which things are slightly better, but largely, there's still this idea that one should look at Africa through very narrow lenses. And I think it misses a lot. There are times when I question myself about whether having class privilege, whether that blinds me, whether my resistance to this very single narrative of Africa needs help, like Africa cannot. It's on both sides. There's a very liberal western view. There are certain liberal circles in the US in particular, where they'll say things like, “Oh, things are terrible in Africa. Well, that's our fault.” And they mean well, but I find that a bit offensive because it also means that you're taking a kind of agency away from Africans. And on the right, of course, is just madness. They'll just tell you that Africans, I don't know, they should be in the jungle or something. And both, for me, just… Something is lost. Okay, here's another story. So, I'm talking to someone who is American, and I'm saying that I went to Kigali, and I was just very impressed. And this person's immediate response is, “Oh, my God, that's a dictatorship.” And I remember thinking, what's missing here? What I have and you don't have is love. So, whether or not it's a dictatorship, the policemen were slim and standing strong on the streets. People stood in line. The market was clean. I'm an African. For me, that is wonderful. No, but really. And so, there's a sense in which I can recognize political problems if there's a dictatorship and also the part of me that loves cannot just see it only as a dictatorship. I also see it as an African country that, in some ways shows what we can be and what we can do. So I was looking at the market thinking, my God, I really wish that Tejuosho would be this clean. But also it shows me that Tejuosho can be this clean, you know? And this is why people like you and all of these brilliant Africans who are in positions of this sort, and we also need to tell the big white men to listen, is that we can't just have a very narrow view of our continent, because if we do, then in some ways, we are unable to actually do the work. Because if you're looking at Africa only as a place that. Okay, here's another story. I went to a thing once with unnamed celebrities. [Femi Oke] Excuse me, first letter, last letter?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] No, that's not going to happen. Forget it. [Femi Oke] Fill in the blanks? All right.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] And I'm very reluctant to do this thing where it's about people because I often think that problems are about larger things. If a celebrity…

[Femi Oke] Yes, sure. Anyways, you were out with a celebrity?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Excuse me. No, I happened to be invited to an event and they were talking because they had done some work in Africa, but I was struck by how all of the talk was about somebody who had worked here and worked here and worked here. [Femi Oke] So how was Bono? [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] No, it wasn't Bono. It was not Bono. And I remember thinking… [Femi Oke] Angelina. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Femi stop. And I remember thinking, my goodness, this is not how I look at this continent as a place where work is done. I mean, I remember just being struck by that. And I also remember that nobody mentioned one single African. Nobody. And listening to them, I'm thinking, my goodness, something is missing. Right? And also, a woman in Paris who said to me, “Oh, Mali is terrible. There's nobody there who can lead Mali.” And I remember thinking, you're crazy. Right? Because, of course there are Malians who can lead Mali. You just don't know them.

[Femi Oke] So, Chimamanda, I'm going to ask you this, and very briefly, how do you deal with disappointment in a sentence? Because I have seven people here who are hugely going to have to deal with disappointment, but it will make them feel better if they say, “But Chimamanda gave me tools to cope with my disappointment.” [Speaker 3] Can we get a selfie with her? [Femi Oke] They have told me to go and take your seats. I am so sorry. [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I am so sorry. I think I rambled on. Sorry. [Speaker 3] How about a selfie with us after? [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes. [Speaker 3] All right.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I'm really sorry. I rambled on. [Femi Oke] Thank you. Thank you so much. You're amazing. How do you deal with disappointments?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Oh, I don't.

[Femi Oke] I figured that.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I don't deal with it well at all.

[Femi Oke] Well, you make sure whatever you're disappointed about probably happens eventually.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I try.

[Femi Oke] Yeah.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] That's actually a really interesting question. How do you deal with disappointment?

[Femi Oke] I don't give up. I'm relentless and slightly irritating.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] That's wonderful. I think I'm kind of like that too.

[Femi Oke] Yeah. I’m slash Nigerian.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yes. This is the thing.

[Femi Oke] Yeah. So, I've got one more thought for you. And this is adapting and innovating in a volatile world. That is our entire overarching theme for the Fragility Forum 2024. How are you doing that?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Adapting. And what was the other?

[Femi Oke] Innovating in a volatile world.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yeah, that's the kind of language I don't like. I'm sorry.

[Femi Oke] How would we? [Applause]

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I mean, adapting, but I understand that it's sort of thing.

[Femi Oke] You can copyedit it and be happy.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] No, but I understand that. I suppose it's what the World Bank would say.

[Femi Oke] But I do realize that the person who came up with that title is sitting here in the room.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] And I’m sure that it works for you, but I personally, I'm sorry, I do not. So, adapting and innovating in a volatile world. Another word I really dislike is capacity in the way that it's used when people say there's no… And I'm like, what is that?

[Femi Oke] How do you feel about stakeholders?

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] I cannot take that expression.

[Femi Oke] It's going so well, and we should not ruin it at the last moment.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Okay. I do like fragility, and one of the things that actually interested me about this, and one of the reasons I said yes, apart from you, was I thought, it's really lovely. Fragility is such a beautiful word and isn't the sort of word you would assume would sit alongside adapting and innovating. So that's quite lovely. And I was very moved by that because I think fragility is so important to talk about. We're all fragile as humans and even the strongest of us. Did you see that? I just gave myself a… I guess I'm open to new things. My father and I used to have this conversation where I would say to him, “Daddy, I want to be a student for the rest of my life.” And he would say, “There's no better way to be.” And so it's sort of just learning all the time. I'm just curious. I'm always thinking about what I don't know. I want to know everything. I'm an eavesdropper. I want to know, Femi, I want to know about your love life. You haven't told some...

[Femi Oke] It's a really short story.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Yeah, we'll talk about that. I'm curious, and I think it helps in the way that one looks at the world. I'm always willing to learn. I want to grow. And lately I've been thinking about herbs as a terrible sufferer of PMDD. Can we talk about women's health? I've lately been thinking about herbs, and I say this only because I grew up in a family that sort of science, it has been science and the test, and increasingly I'm a bit more sort of wishy washy. I'm thinking, “Oh, so they said that holy basil can help. So why don't I try chasteberry?” So, this is how I'm innovating.

[Femi Oke] Okay. Fragility Forum attendees around the world online at World Bank Live, at Cevent right here in DC. I am going to say… Our sister, Chimamanda, thank you.

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] Thank you.