15 Famous African Women CEOS

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Africa has been famous for a lot of things since the continent’s geographic identification over a century ago. The growth and success of an African woman is the growth and success of generations after hers.

However a research report by Africa CEO forum stated that only 5% of CEOs in Africa are women. he report revealed that women occupy a low representation of chief executives in Africa even after the findings that businesses have an operating profit 20% higher with women on the board.

Countries like Central Africa Republic, Angola and Botswana are the only ones that have about 50% female partnership. Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and some other countries fall under the 25-50% female participation in ownership.

Mauritius, Nigeria and South Africa are countries that have less than 25% participation in ownership and partnership in Africa.  Advaita Naidoo, the COO of Jack Hammer stated that ‘the corner office does appear to be the final frontier for women in South Africa’.

In South Africa, a study shows that the female leaders in top companies have been the same since 2015 and has dropped since 2012. The fight for Africa’s gender transformation has, however, had moderate success in some senior positions and executive level but there has been no success recorded at the CEO level till date.

Recent years have seen an increment of African female owned businesses around the continent. Female entrepreneurs are pushing past gender stereotype limitations and permeating any business sector you can think of.

In this article, you will find that females are ambitious and hardworking and a great asset to any organization. We have outlined fifteen famous African women CEOs in no particular order, who have dominated and aced their ventures and in so doing have built reputable names for themselves.

NJERI RIONGE (KENYA): Njeri co-founded East Africa’s first leading internet company, Wananchi Online. She is one of the top female investors in the IT sector in Africa. She is a Kenyan business mogul who started business at the age of 19. She has dabbled into a lot of business ventures and she is the founder of a host of thriving businesses like; Ignite lifestyle, Ignite consulting, business lounge and insite.

Njeri Rionge (Kenya)

FOLORUNSHO ALAKIJA (NIGERIA): Folorunsho has an oil exploration company called Famfa Oil. She was once a secretary of Merchant bank, Nigeria. She is estimated by Forbes to be Africa’s wealthiest woman with a net worth of 2.1 billion dollars. She also invests massively in real estate and has a fashion venture where clothes are sewn for the elites of Nigeria. It is called Supreme Stitches.

Folorunsho Alakija (Nigeria)

SIBONGILE SAMBO (SOUTH AFRICA): Sibongile is the first black female to own an Aviation company in South Africa. She is also the MD of the company, SRS Aviation. She had always nurtured a dream of working in the Aviation industry but when she applied as a flight attendant in the South African Airways, she was rejected because of her height and looks. However she did not allow that setback to deter her as she went ahead to start up her own Aviation company.

Sibongile Sambo (South Africa)

DIVINE NDHLUKULA (ZIMBABWE): Divine is the founder and MD of SECURICO. The company is a security company she started with very little capital. Despite the security business being a male dominated one, divine plunged on to make SECURICO stand out among its peers and today it is one of the largest security firms in Zimbabwe. Divine is set to take SECURICO to other parts of Africa. Divine was selected as one of the most influential female leaders in the world.

Divine Ndhlukula (Zimbabwe)

HAJIA BOLA SHAGAYA (NIGERIA): Hajia Bola’s company has its hands on almost every top venture in Nigeria. She has competencies in the oil sector, real estate, communications, banking and photography. She is the founder and also the CEO of her company, Bolmus group International.

Hajia Bola Shagaya (Nigeria)

ISABEL DO SANTOS (ANGOLA): Isabel is the richest woman in Africa with a net worth of 3.3 billion dollars. She accumulated wealth in diamond, oil, communications and the banking sectors. She is also the chairwoman of Unitel SA, one of the largest networking companies in the country.

Isabel Do Santos (Angola)

BETHLEHEM TILAHUN ALEMU (ETHIOPIA): Bethlehem lived in a very poor neighborhood in Addis Ababa but she soon discovered that her people although poor, possessed excellent artisan skills. She founded SoleRebel in 2004. The company is one of the largest footwear companies in Africa. It is also a world class company with stores in countries like the U.S, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and so on.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu (Ethiopia)

TABITHA KARENJA (KENYA): Tabitha is the CEO and founder of the largest scale brewery industry in Kenya, owned by a Kenyan, Keroche Breweries. She broke all the stereotypical barriers and has expanded Keroche with a 29 million dollars opening. She plans to have Keroche in other parts of Africa soon.

Tabitha Karenja (Kenya)

SALWA AKHANNOUCH (MOROCCO): Salwa is the CEO of Akwa group. They distribute petroleum products. She is also the founder of Aksal group, which are chain retail and departmental stores. Her company has 50% stake investment in Morroco mall and she has an exclusive license to sell high end fashion brand products like Gap, Zara and the likes.

Salwa Akhannouch (Morocco)

BRIDGETTE RADEBE (SOUTH AFRICA): Bridgette is Africa’s first black female mining entrepreneur. She founded Mmakau mining, a thriving venture that has vested interests in gold, coal, uranium and other assets. She is also the president of South Africa’s biggest mining chamber.

Bridgette Radebe (South Africa)

SIZA MZIMELA (SOUTH AFRICA): Siza is the first black woman in Africa to set up her own commercial airline, fly blue crane. She is also the first woman in 70 years to be appointed a governing board member of the International Air Transport Association.

Siza Mzimela (South Africa)

STELLA CHINYELU OKOLI (NIGERIA): Stella is the current CEO and founder of Emzor pharmaceuticals. Her pharmaceutical company has become one of the leading companies in the pharmaceutical and drug sector in Africa. They have over 50 products to their name.

Stella Chinyelu Okoli (Nigeria)

MOSUNMOLA ABUDU (NIGERIA): Mosunmola, popularly known as MO, is a media whiz. Mo created EbonyLife TV, a network station that airs in more than 49 countries in Africa. It is one of the most successful ventures in Nigeria and Africa. She was described by Forbes as Africa’s most successful woman.

Mo Abudu (Nigeria)

KHAYI DHLOMO (SOUTH AFRICA): Khanyi is the CEO and founder of Ndalo Media. The company is in partnership with Media24. She also created Ndalo Luxury Ventures, Destiny magazine and Destiny connect. She is also a co-founder of other thriving and successful ventures.

Khayi Dhlomo (South Africa)

ADENIKE OGUNLESI, (NIGERIA): Adenike is the founder of ‘Ruff ‘n’ Tumble’, a line of clothing for children. she started off with selling clothes from the trunk of her car, then she moved to a small shop but now her company is centralized all over West Africa where she is aiming at focusing on for the time being.

Adenike Ogunlesi (Nigeria)

One of the greatest assets Africa has is its people, especially its women. They are very intelligent, hard working and hungry for success. Whenever they are given the right opportunity and circumstances they would thrive and excel well beyond anything you could ever imagine.

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