Mr. Kofi Adjepong-Boateng, the banker, has taken up a board position with the Economic Advancement Programme of the Open Society Foundations – the charity founded by George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist.
Mr. Adjepong-Boateng joins the EAP board following the announcement made in October 2017 that George Soros has given US$18bn, the bulk of his personal wealth, to Open Society Foundations, bringing his charitable giving over his lifetime to around US$32bn – starting when he gave scholarships to Black South Africans living under apartheid. He founded Open Society in 1984 to support democratic practice, human rights and good governance.
Mr. Soros’s foundations, with offices in 39 countries and a budget for last year alone of US$940.7m, are the second-largest private charity in the world after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mr. Soros is the 29th-richest man in the world, according to the Forbes rich list. He used his fortune to create the Open Society Foundations—a network of foundations, partners and projects. Its work, and its name, reflect the influence on Mr. Soros’s thinking of the philosophy of Karl Popper, which Mr. Soros first encountered as a student at the London School of Economics. In his book Open Society and Its Enemies, Karl Popper argues that no philosophy or ideology is the final arbiter of truth, and that societies can only flourish when they allow for democratic governance, freedom of expression, and respect for individual rights—an approach at the core of the work at Mr. Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the Economic Advancement Programme.
The Soros Economic Development Fund is a key part of the EAP. It is an investment company within EAP which deploys capital by making investments in commercial institutions, enabling them to play a meaningful role in promoting open societies. EAP has offices in London, New York, and Johannesburg.
George Soros was born in Hungary in 1930 and lived through the Nazi occupation. He left Budapest for London in 1947 and made his way to the US, where he founded his hedge fund in 1973. Since then he has made US$41.8bn for investors in his hedge fund, estimated to be the second-highest level of profits generated for shareholders by any firm in the global hedge fund industry. Now 87, Mr. Soros has retained an active role in OSF as chairman of its global board, which also includes his sons Alexander and Jonathan.
Aside from his position on EAP’s board, Mr. Adjepong-Boateng is a founding partner of the Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund, which invests in African infrastructure, and a Senior Advisor to Credit Suisse, the global wealth management firm. He is a former Vice Chairman at Standard Chartered Bank Group, which he joined following the bank’s purchase of First Africa, the firm he established in 1995. Mr. Adjepong-Boateng is also currently a Member of the Board of Trustees of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and also chairs the Policy Committee of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the Department of Economics, University of Oxford.
This is the second appointment that Mr. Adjepong-Boateng has taken up as part of the governance structure of a major global charity. For several years until June 2015, he served on the Investment Sub-Committee of the Finance, Budget and Compensation Committee of the AGRA Board. AGRA was created as a policy advocacy group by the Bill & Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, and provides funding and other support to Africa’s food and agricultural sector.
Mr. Adjepong-Boateng joins the EAP Board along with Ms. Dawn Fitzpatrick, who in April 2017 became chief investment officer of Soros Fund Management.