African American Business Tycoon Financing Education of Women Kidnapped by Boko Haram

Robert F. Smith, founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners and the only African American man on the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, has been identified by the Nigerian government as the Good Samaritan who is sponsoring the higher education of 24 women from the village of Chibok. The women were among a group of 276 girls who were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School by members of Boko Harem and subsequently escaped or were released from captivity.

The women’s education at American University in Yola in the Adamawa State of Nigeria will be financed by Robert Smith. He has also expressed his intention to support the education of other women who escape or are rescued from Boko Harem.

Robert Smith is a native of Colorado. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. After working for six years at Goldman Sachs, Smith founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000. The firm manages $26 billion in assets.

In early 2016, Smith pledged $50 million to Cornell University to support chemical and biomolecular engineering education at the university. As a result of the donation, Cornell has renamed its School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in Smith’s honor.


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