This is a profile image of Gillian Pais

Gillian Pais


Leads McKinsey’s work in agriculture and sustainable land use in Africa and advises governments, development partners, and private companies on agriculture and sustainability topics

Gillian is based in Nairobi, she leads our Agriculture Practice in Africa and has served agricultural companies and organizations across North America and Africa on topics such as business strategy, market entry, M&A, supply chain, and procurement. Gillian also focuses on broader sustainable economic development topics, such as manufacturing and job creation, rural electrification, and forest protection. She serves governments and donors, as well as the private sector.

Examples of her recent client work include the following:

  • helped multiple major global agricultural-inputs organizations develop Africa growth strategies by identifying innovative mechanisms and business models to unlock agricultural markets on the continent
  • led multiple efforts of digital-ecosystem building and strategy for agriculture companies and financial institutions, specifically targeting smallholder farmers
  • helped an African government improve coffee production by five times over a ten-year period to increase foreign exchange earnings and improve livelihoods in the country
  • developed the national forest sector strategy for an African country, including identifying innovative financing mechanisms and community-based models to expand afforestation and forest protection
  • developed an investment strategy for a major nonprofit foundation to invest in programs to transform rural women’s livelihoods and outcomes in health and gender empowerment

Published work

"What climate-smart agriculture means for smallholder farmers," McKinsey & Company, September 2022

"Addressing the challenges of plastic waste: Circularity and leakage," McKinsey & Company, September 2022

Nature and financial institutions in Africa: A first assessment of opportunities and risks,” McKinsey & Company, June 2022

Power to move: Accelerating the electric transport transition in sub-Saharan Africa,” McKinsey & Company, February 2022

How digital tools can help transform African agri-food systems,” McKinsey & Company, January 2021

Safeguarding Africa’s food systems through and beyond the crisis,” McKinsey & Company, June 2020

Winning in Africa’s agricultural market,” McKinsey & Company, February 2019

Bringing (solar) power to the people,” McKinsey & Company, June 2018


University of Chicago
MA, sociology and economics

University of Toronto
BA, international relations and economics