Laureen Kouassi-Olsson is the founder and chief executive of Birimian Ventures, a Côte d’Ivoire-based investment firm launched in 2020 dedicated to developing African luxury brands. Leveraging her extensive networks in the finance industry to create new pathways to capital, she inked a partnership with Paris-based private equity firm Trail Capital in 2022 to provide annual investment of €5 million (approximately $5 million) to a portfolio of African brands. In addition to the launch of an accelerator programme, she also facilitated partnerships with the likes of Première Classe trade show and the Institut Français de la Mode.
Born in Côte d’Ivoire, Kouassi-Olsson started her career in London in mergers and acquisitions at Lehman Brothers. She then joined Proparco, a subsidiary of the French Development Agency focused on the private sector, where she led private equity and debt structuring and execution for African banks. In 2012, she went on to work at Amethis, a French private equity firm focused on the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Four years later, she moved back to Côte d’Ivoire to launch the firm’s West Africa office and started engaging with fashion entrepreneurs from across the continent before founding her own firm in Abidjan. Kouassi-Olsson is an alumna of Emlyon Business School and Harvard Business School.