Who are we?

Executive Board

Our Executive Board comprises of 10 experts from the world of politics, economics, diplomacy and civil society all of whom share a desire to support the Mittelstand not just on the basis of a German-African context but also on the European-African level


Mario Ohoven

Mario Ohoven

President of the Mittelstand Alliance Africa
President of the BVMW and the European Entrepreneurs

Mario Ohoven has been President of the BVMW, Berlin since 1998 and President of the Europäischen Dachverbands nationaler Mittelstandsvereinigungen (European Federation of National SME Associations) CEA-PME, Brussels since 2002.

For over 30 years, the trained banker was employed in the field of Asset investment. Throughout the course of his career, he has held a number of management positions where he significantly influenced the development of tax-optimized investments. His group of companies has belonged to the top market leaders in the field of Asset investment for over 25 years. In 2018 he received an honourary doctorate and honorary professorship from the Saint Petersburg University of Economics (UNECON).

His Statement: 

“For the German Mittelstand, Africa is a continent of opportunity full of entrepreneurial und societal potential. The economies of 42 out of 54 African countries are growing faster than that of Germany. A strong Africa needs a strong entrepreneurial Mittelstand; strengthening it, is our goal. “

johannes selle

Johannes Selle, Member of the German Parliament

Vicepresident of the Mittelstand Alliance Africa
Representative of the Political Advisory Board

Johannes Selle is a member of the German National Parliament (Bundestag 4th legislative period). He is deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee of culture and media, member of the parliamentary committee for economic cooperation and development and auxilliary member in the parliamentary foreign affairs committee. In addition, he is also the rapporteur for the CDU/CSU parliamentary Fraction for African political questions, deputy chairman of the "Africa" working committee of the CDU/CSU-Fraction and deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Group for West Africa.  


His Statement:

" I am impressed that the BVMW is responding to the call of politicians to make a commitment to Africa. The Chancellor and the Development minister are now being asked to respond and involve the Mittelstand. We in the political realm can help to remove obstacles and borders so as get contracts implemented. In this respect, Mittelstand companies are especially important since they, unlike the large corporations, operate in this area: They build the market and generate the incomes that sustain and stimulate the market. Since 2015, I have had very good experiences with bringing medium-sized entrepreneurs from my constituency and beyond closer to Africa."

christian römlein

Christian Römlein 

Vice president of the Mittelstand Alliance Africa
Representative from the Entrepreneurial advisory sector
Senator h.c. of the BVMW

Vice President Römlein holds an Executive MBA and has over 30 years work experience in the field of International Management which stems partly from his dealings with 25 African countries and being a member of the Africa-Delegation team of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He is a specialist in Entrepreneurship, Internationalisation und SME structures. He is a founder and Executive board member of the “African Business Academy for Entrepreneurship”, as well as a coach and investor in African SME’s.

His Statement:

"The German Mittelstand would do well to put Africa on the agenda. The continent is a gigantic future market and a geographical neighbour of Germany. This is an ideal match: We have experience, networks and assets. Africa has young people, motivation and growing markets! We can assist to build up prosperous and sustainable mittelstand networks which are the heart of every economy. Beautiful side effect: creation of employment opportunities and provision of regional opportunities in order to combat migratory push factors!"

markus jerger

Markus Jerger

General secretary of the Mittelstand Alliance Africa

Markus Jerger is the current national managing director of the BVMW. Upon completion of his studies in Economics in Munich and Great Britain, Prof.h.c. Jerger was employed in the project development department of the International Olympic Committee and as a finance services provider in the real estate industry; he has also sat on the Executive board of Colony Capital Switzerland.

His Statement: 

“Just 15km off the European mainland lies the continent of Africa. Here is where the largest and most successful business opportunities for both German and African economies, especially with regards to the Mittelstand of both regions, will inevitably develop. It is therefore self-evident that we as one of Europe’s largest mittelstand associations need to fully show Africa our competences and presence. Africa should be perceived as a continent of opportunity whose steady upswing can be decisively shared by the German Mittelstand.”

patrick meinhardt

Patrick Meinhardt

General Secretary of the Mittelstand Alliance Africa

Since 2014, Patrick Meinhardt has been the national director of the BVMW’s political department, Board chairman of the BVMW Mittelstand foundation, Presidium member of the European Entrepreneurs and General Secretary of the Mittelstand Education Alliance. Between 2005 and 2013 he was a member of the FDP political party fraction in the German parliament. He was a member of the party’s parliamentary Executive Board, Education Policy spokesman and chairman of the task group on innovation, society and culture. In addition to this he sat at the top of the German parliamentary group onEast Africa and was deputy chairman of the parliamentary group on Central Asia.

His Statement:

" Up until now there has not been a group initiative which sought to put the Mittelstand in contact with Africa. The new MAA will now act politically to bring together companies from Germany and Africa and to bring all their endeavours to a European stage. It will be a lobbyist for SMEs in the political realm and will raise the themes of hindrances faced by German Mittelstand firms as part of their engagement with Africa."

bienvenue angui

Bienvenue Angui

Managing director of the Mittelstand Alliance Africa

Bienvenue Angui is the director of the BVMW Network - Le Mittelstand which connects German firms with French-speaking as well as African firms. 

Her Statement: 

German Mittelstand companies make up more than half of the world’s 2700 Hidden Champions and yet of the 400,000 German companies with an international portfolio, fewer than 1000 of them are present on the African continent. It is time for the Mittelstand to bring its long-term investments in the African market to an equal footing with the rest of the world. Africa needs the Mittelstand and the Mittelstand Alliance Africa is creating the framework that will unite all actors in both regions that want to work concretely on this new African dynamic.

doktor gernot wagner

Dr.-Ing. Gernot C. Wagner

Representative from the Business Advisory Board
Senator h.c. of the BVMW

Dr.-Ing. Gernot C. Wagner is the honorary General Consul of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thuringia. Furthermore, he is also the director of evagor GmbH as well as the national economics senator of the BVMW. As a graduate of the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology Dr. Wagner is fully acquainted with the wealth of Africa through its many mineral resources.

His Statement:

"The MAA is the first reference point for entrepreneurs who want to have their companies involved in Africa. Its aim is to develop businesses and large projects in which German Mittelstand firms can participate in. I myself have had 20 years experience as an entrepreneur in Africa and have held the General Honorary Consul position for over 8 years; I am aware of the problems that traditional development policy has not been able to solve so far, and we in the Mittelstand have the solutions."

Rosine-Annick Michaelis

Rosine-Annick Michaelis

Representative of the Business Advisory Board 

Rosine-Annick Michaelis maintains an office in Düsseldorf where she works as a strategy advisor in the field of International Global Mobility Services. Her relationship to Africa is drawn above all else from her ancestry in the continent and through international customer contracts for HR-Projects.

Her Statement:

"The new alliance will drive forward the important issues of work and education. In Africa, trade, services and production are characterised by a Mittelstand ideology. The resource-rich continent holds the prerequisites for complete on-site production. A decisive move for the Mittelstand alliance in the future will be "education and training visas" which will play an increasingly role in the specialization of local skilled workers: here, undesirable developments from previous years such as one-sided labor and educational migration must be weakened and turned into a "circular migration" that occurs in both ways and counteracts human capital flight and brain drain. The future will show whether it is dual training strategies, dual study programs, digitized application techniques or different regulatory measures that are the best answer for Africa. I will help to emphasize these points and look forward to being surprised. "

seine exzellenz igor cesar

His Excellency Igor Cesar

Representative of the Diplomatic Advisory Board

His Excellency Igor Cesar is the ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda in Germany. He is also accredited to reprent Rwanda in 7 other European countries and has lived in several other African countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Burundi. Through his Pan-African training and international career as a developer and businessman in countries like Canada, he possesses a key intercultural understanding and a different view for solutions which deal with the African continent.

His Statement:

"The African economy consists essentially of SMEs. The connection between the German and African Mittelstand is the foundation for economic development. It brings much more than development aid. The MAA can build the bridge between the German and African Mittelstand. Rwanda sees its economic future in the Mittelstand, therefore I am glad to be a founding member of the MAA."

clara gruitrooy

Clara Gruitrooy

Representative of the Civil Society Advisory Board

Clara Gruitrooy is the co-founder and General Secretary of the Euro-Mediterranean-Arab Association EMA e.V., which seeks to deepen economic ties between the Mediterranean and Middle East region. Ms. Gruitrooy is a graduate of International Law and Intercultural Conflict Management and works for a political foundation in the field of International Dialog. In 2014 she was nominated for the Emotion magazine "Momentum-provider of the year" award as recognition for her “Ouissal” German-Arab Mentoring Programm (in partnership with the German government) which promoted female-led Start-Ups in North Africa.

Her Statement:

“We understand the cooperation between small and medium-sized companies from Europe and Africa to be a long term, win-win process that will bring economic development and stability to the regions. The firms will take control of their social responsibility and interact with each other on an equal footing. This allows for a situation where good deeds and business possibilities complement each other here. I therefore glady support the Alliance Le Mittelstand because it brings together voices and ensures that we can archieve more together."