Simon Harford


Simon is an experienced investor and business leader with over 30 years of experience working at the intersection of finance, business building and global development across both emerging and developed markets.

Simon has supported emerging market enterprises to raise capital, scale, and deliver positive social and environmental impact. He has advised major organisations on impact investing, particularly in Africa, and various governments on private sector investment and economic development.

In February 2022, Simon joined the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet as Chief Executive Officer in its quest to change energy for good and alter the current trajectory of the climate crisis. This ground-breaking new alliance launched at COP26 aims to unlock USD100 billion in public and private capital to reach 1 billion people with reliable renewable power, avoid and avert 4 billion tons of carbon emissions and drive economic growth by enabling or improving 150 million jobs over the next decade.

In his earlier career Simon created and led a series of entrepreneurial new businesses in Europe, including as founder of two successful low-cost airlines in the UK and Germany. He held senior management roles with British Airways and started his career in investment banking (SG Warburg) and strategy consulting (Boston Consulting Group) in the UK and Canada.

In 2006, he joined Actis, the specialist emerging markets growth investor, as Head of West Africa based in Lagos. He then moved to Johannesburg to become Operating Partner for Africa, responsible for post-investment value-creation in the African portfolio spanning 15 countries. He was subsequently appointed co-Head of the Africa private equity business and joined the firm’s global Executive Committee. He since moved to the UK to serve as Senior Adviser for Actis.

For the partnership, Simon also led new global practices for its next generation of impact investing methods, its operating model for post-investment value-creation, and corporate governance Board effectiveness. Actis receives numerous accolades for its impact investing practices.

Simon also serves as Investment Committee Chair for pioneering venture-capital firm Novastar Ventures LLP and has previously served in roles including for The Larry Ellison Foundation, South Africa’s National Empowerment Fund, and the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town.