YNaija.com & Leading Ladies Africa 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria List
YNaija.com and Leading Ladies Africa are excited to unveil the 2017 edition of the 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria.
In commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day, YNaija.com, and Leading Ladies Africa are proud to present this selection of incredible Nigerian women, celebrating and publicizing their achievements, with the clear intent of inspiring a new wave of Nigerian female change makers, leaders and entrepreneurs.
For the 3rd year in a row, the #100Women celebrates Nigerian women from different spheres and in different stages of work and life, all of whom are constantly leading lives of excellence and breaking new ground in their unique ways.
With over 4 months in the making, the #100Women list has gone through a strict process of vetting, approval and review from external partners and a trusted advisory committee.
“It is impossible to create a list that highlights every single great Nigerian woman, but LLA have managed to come up with a presentation that at its core, celebrates all that we know to be great about the modern Nigerian woman,” says Lekan Olanrewaju, Editor of Y!/YNaija.com. Our collaboration with LLA is hinged on the fact that we recognize and value the achievements women bring to the world, and this is evident in the work we do as an organization.
“At Leading Ladies Africa, our key objective is to promote leadership, diversity and inclusion for African women – a call to have them participate in activities that ensure they lead better, fulfilling, and ultimately more productive lives,” says Francesca Uriri, Founder, Leading Ladies Africa. “The 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria list, ties into that vision – of recognizing the incredible and inspiring work, Nigerian women from diverse backgrounds have put into governance, enterprise, advocacy and business.
As part of activities to further celebrate and recognize the #100Women honourees, they will subsequently be presented with their certificates and honoured at a Gala event, slated to hold on 30 March at the Wheatbaker Hotel.
In addition to the official IWD hashtags of #BeBoldForChange, this year’s hashtags are #Y100Women and #LLA100Women.
Leading Ladies Africa’s 100 Most Inspiring Women List – 2017
It is a big deal to know that in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Abimbola Alale is the only female boss of a major satellite company. As CEO of NIGCOMSAT, Abimbola is championing the move to bridge the digital divide Nigeria is experiencing with great passion.
Who turns waste into beautiful woven wonders? That will be Achenyo Idachaba! Achenyo discovered invasive aquatic weeds and agro waste in Ibadan, Nigeria and started MitiMeth, a company that makes handcrafted accessories from the weeds. MitiMeth is now a formidable company that provides job opportunities for many Nigerians. The company’s steady growth has earned her several accolades and recognitions; from the Cartier Women’s Initiative award to giving her own TED talk.
It is not every day you see someone who lost her limbs at age 20 and yet her zeal for life remains all-consuming. After losing her limbs to cancer, Adenike looked beyond the setback and forged ahead. Today, she is a lawyer, OAP on Info FM and activist that passionately fights for the rights of people living with disabilities.
Logically, most people wouldn’t quit a lucrative job as an auditor and dive into the unexpected by setting up an art gallery. However, Aderenle has proven that it can be done. Even though she studied Accounting at Howard University and went on to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers, her intense love for arts led her to seek for more out of life. She set up the Rele Gallery and became a trailblazer when she hosted “What’s cooking”, a culinary art photographic exhibition in Nigeria, the first of its kind.
Although she had zero experience in the field of medicine Adepeju’s unwavering desire to help sanitize the health sector and reduce the number of maternal and child mortality led her to start Mother’s Delivery Kit. The enterprise has been a resounding success since it was launched. It is currently in 30 out of the 36 states in Nigeria and more than 50,000 women and babies have been reached with necessary maternal supplies. In 2015 Adepeju was honored by Barack Obama as a Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders (YALI).
The beautiful and ever graceful Adesua stole our hearts when she appeared in her first movie ‘Knocking on Heavens Door’ in 2014. Since then, every role she has played, including the famous ‘Dunni Coker’ of the Wedding Party has been a hit back to back. In 2016, she won Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards as Best Actress for her role in Falling. A First Class graduate of Drama and Performance from the University of Wolverhampton, UK, Adesua is a fine blend of beauty, brains and skill!
Whether she is making films, writing stories or non-fiction pieces, Akwaeke exudes sheer brilliance. Her dedication to the craft is evident in not just her results but also the recognition she has received so far. She was a writer-in-residence at Hub City’s Writers Project, and has received multiple awards, both for writing and for filmmaking. Her debut novel, FRESHWATER will be published by prominent Independent American publisher, Atlantic Grove.
Amina J Mohammed
You’ve seen her. Wearing rubber boots and donning a plastic life-vest, trudging through the oil-soaked soil of Ogoni Land. Meet Amina J. Mohammed; Environment Minister of the Federal republic of Nigeria, and former UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Sustainable Development. She has displayed a clear sense of leadership, and service leading the way to the actual clean-up of the Ogoni community, more than 20 years after an oil spill that devastated the people and the land. In 2016, she made Fortune Magazine’s list of ’50 Greatest World Leaders,’ and has continued to be a tireless advocate for environmental sustainability and climate related issues. We love Amina, because hers is a clear example of the incredible impact one woman can make.
“Don’t wait for a crisis to view your finances differently. Look at them differently now and avoid a crisis.” Wise words from Personal Finance and Wealth Management expert, Arese Ugwu. She is the author of hugely popular The Smart Money Woman, a novel that has encouraged women to make more savvy decisions with regards to their finances and wealth creation. Arese is helping young Africans discover their power to build their future and make smarter money decisions through Smart Money Africa, a personal finance platform for the African millennial. In 2016, Arese won the Remy Martin’s ‘Pacesetter’ award, and also an associate member of WIMBIZ. We can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for this inspiring, driven and ambitious woman.
Young, determined and super talented Asisat has put her name, country and continent on the world map with her amazing football skills. Apart from her impressive record with the Super Falcons, Asisiat was the first African footballer in British Women’s Super League when she signed a deal with Liverpool. The 22 year old footballer was recognized by former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who conferred her with the Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) medal.
Ayodeji Megbope, the CEO of No Leftovers, a full scale catering outfit started her business selling moin moin with just N1, 000. Today, No Leftovers records sales worth millions of naira every year, and empowers hundreds, by creating employment. From her humble beginnings to addressing the Annual General Meeting of Goldman Sachs and meeting Michelle Obama, Ayodeji is definitely a woman we are all proud of.
Bidemi Zakariyau is the kind of woman that holds the door open for other women in the workplace to shine through her exemplary leadership. She is a problem solver, PR Guru, CEO and Founder of LSF|PR, a Lagos based full service Public Relations agency. Her company boasts of high profile clientele like Nissan, Medplus, Remy Martin and a lot more.
When it comes to making events memorable and exquisite, Bisola Borha is well known for that. She went from planning a friend’s introduction to becoming one of the most sought after event planners in the country in a few years. As the CEO of Trendy Bee Events, Bisola has planned many high profile weddings and corporate events like the launch of MAC cosmetics and Clinique.
Bola Adesola, the MD/CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd, is a woman who is shattering glass ceilings in the banking industry. Since 2011, she has skillfully led the bank’s progress and unprecedented growth. With over 26 years banking experience this alumnus of Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School is a force to reckon with.
Bola Onada Sokunbi
If there’s one thing many women are struggling with it is becoming financially independent and free of debt. Bola Sokunubi started Clever Girl Finance to solve that problem. She is a certified financial educator, money coach and the go to person when it comes to women turning their financial dreams into reality.
Bunmi represents the new face of fitness in Nigeria. It’s not just the weight loss results that inspire us, but her consistency in improving the lives of people. As the boss lady at Shredder Gang, Bunmi George is producing fitness accessories that ease the weight loss journey and with every new customer, she’s creating a movement!
Captain Abimbola Jaiyeola
Captain Abimbola made history when she became the first female helicopter captain in Nigeria flying the Sikorsky S76 for Bristow helicopters Nigeria. About a year after she was in the news again for saving 13 lives from a helicopter crash after deciding to have an emergency landing on water.
With the backing of Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Chidinma Lawanson is spearheading financial inclusion in Nigeria and supporting Nigeria’s financial service operators. As the CEO of EFInA (Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access), Chidinma is also actively involved in making sure women especially those in Northern Nigeria are also financially included.
Chika is not your regular Human Resource Professional. She carved a niche for herself when she automated HR in Nigeria by starting Talent Base, a Human Resource software for growing enterprises in Nigeria. Talent Base simplifies and automates HR and payroll processes. Before starting Talentbase, Chika worked at several international organizations including The Whitaker Group, World Bank, and Exxon Mobil.
Chinenye Jeanne Nnoli
Lawyer, Poet, and Entrepreneur, Chinenye is the CEO/Founder of Metro Woman – a media production company that produces content that inspires, educate and entertains women. Nenye as she is fondly called is also the host of the Metro Woman Talk Show – a platform that highlights the achievements of female entrepreneurs and explores the solutions to the challenges modern women face daily. According to her: “Our mission is to help women live their best lives.” Chinenye recently launched the Metro Woman Market Place – a product and ideas showcase for female entrepreneurs.
Chinwe is currently changing the face of architecture in Nigeria. She discovered the enormous housing, energy and water challenges facing Nigeria and swung into action with the construction of sustainable houses that run on solar energy and are self-cooling. With over 25 years of experience in the industry, the CEO of Comprehensive Design Services (CDS) and award winning architect is also passionate about making more women home owners and she is making this happen.
Chioma Ude is the brain behind the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) which has been described as the hub for film makers in Africa. The festival has been held successfully six times, with each edition bigger than the last. Apart from celebrating great African films, free training, talent development for participants, film screenings, training, parties and an award ceremony are part of the activities featured during the program. It is not surprising that Chioma is referred to as one of the most influential women in entertainment in Nigeria.
Crystal is definitely a woman with a heart of gold. After going through the experience of removing her daughter’s limb, Crystal extended a hand to other children and started The Irede Foundation. Not only has the foundation helped to provide prosthetics to children, it has also successfully improved the awareness of children living without limbs through its annual walk, Out on a Limb.
With each story she covers, Didi retells the story of Africa to the international community. As the recipient of the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award in 2016, it may be hard to believe that Didi studied chemical engineering and worked as an investment banker before making the switch to journalism.
Ebele is fondly referred to as the Secretary of State of Facebook. In her role as the Head of Public Policy Africa of Facebook, Ebele has at several times, met with various African presidents to reason with them whenever internet access is shut down in their country. Beyond her job, the voracious reader and mother of three is passionate about women’s rights and reclaiming African narratives.
Eleanor is your favorite photographer’s favorite. She is well known for taking fresh, stunning, and timeless pictures. Since entering the industry, the Paris trained Nigerian Portrait Photographer has taken pictures of high profile millenials like Arese Ugwu, Ink Eze and Kudiratu Olayinka. Eleanor has also worked for brands like Business Day and Access Bank.
Eniola is the chairman of African Prudential Registrars. Prior to this, she served as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State, the first Commissioner for Women Affairs & Poverty Alleviation, as well as the Commissioner for Establishment, Training & Pensions at different times in the State. She currently serves on several boards, both in the Public and Private Sectors.
Fierce yet kind at heart, Esther is a leading voice in advocating for the right for women and the girl child. Her NGO, Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children, organizes walks and workshops against rape. Her passion to speak about the cruelty of rape led to write her first book, Breaking the Silence. Esther’s work was recognized in 2016 when she won the Young Person of the year award organized by Miss Tourism Nigeria beauty.
Fati is not your regular photographer. Despite the obvious danger, she has chosen to rebuild the reputation of Borno State, widely known as the birthplace of the brutal Boko Haram insurgency through photography. With her vivid images and words she tells the story of the city, its people, their culture and their resilience to live despite everything.
Fatima is the CEO of Mamza Beauty, an innovative makeup and beauty firm currently based in Abuja. Her motto is, “There is beauty in simplicity” and this is obvious with every face that she beats. She has carved a niche for being the go-to Make Up artist for women in the Northern part of the country, and her clientele base boasts of celebrities like Zara Buhari Indimi, and others.
Dr. Foye made history when she, alongside her husband, opened Life Savers Emergency room in Houston, one of the first in America. She is combining her love for medicine, her passion for entrepreneurship and her desire to help people in a single pursuit. Although running an emergency room comes with its challenges, Dr Foye’s vision is to improve on the services and level of care patients are given in hospitals.
Funke has carved a niche for herself in the events industry. As the CEO of Cocktails In and Out and Grill In and Out, the stunning mother of three caters for top notch events. Her cocktail company is at the forefront of introducing new ideas and trends with their variety of exciting drinks and creative delivery. We love how she’s constantly innovating and staying ahead of the pack. Funke is also one of the visible and highly successful female entrepreneurs based in Abuja, Nigeria.
Dynamic, petite, and power packed, Funto is the Founder of The Beautified Network – a for-purpose and faith-based initiative aimed at inspiring women to live their best lives. She hosts two life changing events – The Beautified Annual Conference and Queens Arising. As if this is not enough, she recently started her interior design company Five28Interiors. We love that she’s living her faith out loud and re-inventing herself.
If you don’t know Maraji on Instagram then we wonder what’s happening. Her hilarious skits are one of the hottest things on social media right now. What started as a way to get out of boredom has grown into something great and has made her one of the biggest Instagram comedians in the country. Her skits have also earned her corporate nods from brands like Indomie and Coca-Cola. You go girl!
Huda Fadoul Abacha
Her eye for detail and ability to create bespoke wedding dresses and exquisite luxury pieces is what sets Huda apart from the crowd. As the founder of Huddaya Bridal Emporium, a leading Bridal Couture company, Huda has created dresses for several high profile clients that have left fashion lovers speechless and breathless. She’s also one of the prominent female entrepreneurs in the Northern part of the country creating value.
Ifeyinwa Afe (MD, HP Nigeria)
As the MD of HP Nigeria, Ifeyinwa has introduced amazing products like the HP Spectre, one of the worlds thinnest laptops, into the Nigerian market and she is ensuring that the company stays ahead of its competition. With the call to have more women represented in STEM careers, having women like Ifeyinwa actively leading that charge is inspiring!
Fondly referred to as Nwanyi Akamu, Ijeoma is proof that no skill or passion is too insignificant to turn into a thriving and sustainable business. Deploying her creativity, Ijeoma has turned the regular locally made pap (Ogi) into a thriving brand with several unconventional flavours that did not previously exist in the Nigerian market. Through Bubez pap, and other products on the Bubez Foods stable, she is meeting the diverse needs of the Nigerian public,
Her irrepressible love for arts and her desire to diversify her talent led her quit a job at Nestle to start her own production outfit, Yellow Tamarind Productions. Today, Isabella is an award winning essayist, writer, film journalist and OAP. She currently has three TV shows ‘Clapperboard’ ‘The Movie Buff Show’, and ‘Africana Literati’, shows that focus on her love for all things African cinema and literature.
Isio is an amazing bundle of several talents is not afraid to explore all of them. When she’s not modeling, she’s painting, writing, or designing beautiful spaces. As the CEO of IDDS, her firm is credited for the design of Ayo Van Elmar’s spectacular showroom, the redesign of My Extentionz Beauty Parlour, and a number of other impressive projects. Isio has shown that a woman can constantly recreate and redefine herself.
The story of Isioma Osaje is one of courage, determination laser-sharp focus, and shiploads of hard work. At a relatively young age, Isioma has racked up nearly a decade of experience across various sectors which include Talent Management, Acting, Film Marketing, and Public Relations. Through her company, Agency 106, Isioma is building one of the most formidable talent management companies in Nigeria, with an enviable rack of talents which include: Blosssom Chukwujekwu, Adesua Etomi, Iretiola Doyle, Deyemi Okanlawon and Linda Ejiofor.
Quiet and steadfastly building a chain of reputable pharmacies, Joke Bakarae is the brain behind Medplus Pharmacy Nigeria; a successful brand that has become one of the biggest retail pharmaceutical chains in Nigeria. She is a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and a reminder that we can achieve what we set our mind to achieve.
From her skin care brand that has its raw materials sourced from Africa to her luxury spa, Joycee and the Oriki brand are a standard of class and excellence. As an organic skin expert, she is empowering farmers and maximizing the use of natural ingredients Africa is blessed with. It’s refreshing to see Nigerians creating brands that can compete on a global landscape.
Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor
In the tech industry, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor stands out. As Google’s Country Manger Nigeria she has proved her worth and the results speak for her. A consummate professional and highly qualified expert, Juliet is a brilliant example of why more women should be encouraged to pursue careers in STEM. Under her leadership, Google Nigeria has launched innovative products and services aimed at building the online ecosystem in Nigeria.
Kemi constantly exemplifies what being a “King Woman” is, and has become one Nigeria’s most inspiring and influential women. A woman of many talents; she has easily and effortlessly segued between being a Music Video Director, a Filmmaker and a Television Director. In 2016, she made headlines with her feature film debut, The Wedding Party. Her directorial skills in the movie, which was regarded as 2016’s most talked about movie, earned her great accolades and commendations from movie lovers and critics. Since its December 2016 theatrical release, the Kemi Adetiba-Directorial debut is now the highest grossing Nigerian movie of all time, grossing an estimated N450m in the box office.
Kemi Onabanjo (Engagement Manager at McKinsey)
We love Kemi because she lives the life most people dream about. We’re inspired by her because she takes it even a step further by actively pursuing her dreams. Kemi is the Engagement Manager at McKinsey Nigeria, serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sector. A valedictorian of her MBA Class at INSEAD – we can’t forget how utterly inspiring her graduation speech was. Kemi is passionate traveler, and visited 30 countries before she turned 30. Whoop!!
Kene is the Founder and Creative Director behind eponymous and indigenous shoe brand, Kene Rapu. Her slippers have become a favourite staple of the Nigerian millennial class, and is growing rapidly. A serial entrepreneur, Kene recently launched Zola and Makena, a boutique event management company specialising in the planning and management of small and medium sized events. We love that she is steadily building a global brand.
Kofo Akinkugbe (CEO Secure ID)
Kofo Akinkugbe is recognized internationally for her inspiring entrepreneurship journey, and enviable business record. She’s a visionary and the CEO of Secure ID – a market leader in smart card technology and digital security. Fusing technology and cutting edge service delivery, Secure ID serves 16 countries across Africa and is fully certified by VISA, Verve and MasterCard. Kofo is one of the few women in Africa, pushing the card for innovation and I.T.
Latasha Ngwube is not one to conform to standards. She sets her own. In a world where beauty is stereotyped to size zeros and bikinis, Latasha is promoting the big, bold and beautiful message. The fashion and lifestyle journalist launched “About That Curvy Life”, a platform to empower plus sized women. She also played a major role in birthing the first curvaceous women fashion show at The Lagos Fashion and Design Week in October 2016. We love that she’s showing women how to love their curves.
Good things start with an idea, great things start with a strategy. Liz Osho is a fabulous writer, detailed strategist and a social media expert. Liz wowed as the Online Manager at Genevieve Magazine before setting up So.Me Solutions, a digital agency that specializes in presenting small businesses to the world using social media and digital marketing. With a broad range of clients including South African Tourism, Liz is definitely shattering ceilings.
We love Lola, first because she’s got such a BIG heart and lovely personality. Being in the industry for over 25 years, Lola easily stands out among the crowd as a phenomenal make-up artist, massage therapist, beauty tutor, spa and cosmetics brand consultant, and so much more. Despite her very impressive résumé, her clients describe her as one of the coolest and most down to earth persons they’ve ever met. When it comes to celebrities, big brands and events, the Founder of The Beauty Insider always adds a touch of excellence.
Lola is currently the Country Manager, OLX Nigeria, a national online classifieds market place She oversees the overall business success across all functions, including technology, and has significant international experience, having worked with global brands like McKinsey and Google. Under her leadership, OLX Nigeria now dominates as one of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading online trading platforms, and boasts of an over 70% female workforce. With her Engineering background, Lola is a powerful example of why more women should be in STEM careers.
Luvvie is a Nigerian-American Award winning writer, blogger, political commentator and socio-cultural activist/critic, based in Chicago. In 2016, she authored the New York Times Bestseller ‘I’m Judging You.’ Luvvie is authentic, renowned for her razor-sharp wit and epic clapbacks on social media, and is one of the pillars of the African-American community in the United States. She is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of ‘The Red Pump Project’, a national non-profit organization that connects women from around the world and raises their awareness on the impacts of HIV/AIDS in societies. Earlier this year, Shonda Rhimes’ production company, Shondaland acquired the rights to adapt Luvvie’s book into a cable comedy series.
Mercy Aigbe Gentry is one of Nigeria’s leading ladies in the movie industry. Her movies roles coupled with her phenomenal interpretation have endeared her to millions of fans. Mercy is also one lady to look out for whenever she steps on the red carpet, as she displays a keen sense of fashion. Apart from her acting career, Mercy is also an entrepreneur and owns Mag Divas Boutique which earned her “Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year” at the Links and Glitz awards.
Mercy Makinde has one of the most impressive résumés and reputations as an experienced entrepreneur, writer, speaker and enterprise advocate. She is the Founder/ CEO of many businesses and outfits including Crested Crane Tours & Travels, IASPIRE BLOG, IASPIRE RADIO (Nigeria’s First Motivational Radio Station). She’s also the Founder of the Amazon Initiative, a platform that encourages African women to break barriers and soar.
Mfon Ekpo is the CEO of The Discovery Centre, a training organization that specializes in developing effective strategies, systems and structures for organizational and individual development with the sole aim of expanding their influence, impact and income. An avid scholar and a development strategist, Mfon holds multiple degrees in Public and International Law, Business law and Social sciences, Journalism, Neuro-linguistic Programming. She launched her ‘The Blueprint of How’ seminar in 2016 which helps women to navigate the maze of success. Today, the seminar has been held in many countries across the world and has impacted hundreds of women who testify to receiving clarity after attending the seminar.
Mo Abudu needs no introduction and is globally recognized as a leading media icon and entrepreneur in Africa. As the CEO/Founder of Ebony Life TV, she has created a platform for Africa to tell its own stories in a way that resonates with audiences all over the world. Through Ebony Life Films, she’s constantly redefining African cinema, and pushing bold and audacious narratives. Mo is the producer of 2016 box-office record breaking movie ‘The Wedding Party’ – a movie that endeared itself to critics and fans alike. Regarded as one of the most influential and inspiring names in the Nigerian media and entertainment industry, Mo is constantly fueled by her passion to help change the narrative about Africa. In 2015, she was listed by Forbes as one of Africa’s most successful women.
Since she launched Salt Lagos, Modupe has been melting hearts with delicious treats across the globe. After quitting her full time job, Modupe enrolled for a culinary course at the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, qualified as an international chef and hasn’t looked back since. Using her culinary skills, Modupe aims to bring the Nigerian and African Cuisine to the limelight by creating a fusion between African and Western Cuisine. A sought-after speaker Modupe also shares lessons learned from her entrepreneurial journey at key seminars, symposiums and events.
After dealing with not being able to spend time with her kids while she had a high-flying career, Mofolusade founded Mumpreneur, a website dedicated to inspiring and building ‘a league kick-ass mums!’ She also serves as the CEO of Trezorlandia limited. A strong advocate of change and self-development in women, Mofolusade’s goal is to help women successfully to manage entrepreneurship and motherhood.
Mosun Bello-Olusoga is the Chairperson of Access Bank PLC, the first woman in the history of that institution to achieve that position. She serves as the Principal Consultant and Programme Director of KRC Limited and she is a dignified fellow at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. She remains a great inspiration to women and girls all over the world, as she continues to break boundaries in a male dominated industry.
Ndidi Olatunji Bello
Ndidi is the owner and Managing Director of B’Natural spa; Nigeria’s foremost Med Spa. Her passion for beautifying women led her to create a business that provides women with quality body care and skin treatment. In 2016, B’Natural Spa won the award of Africa’s Best Quality Cosmetics and Skin Care Treatment Center by The African Quality Institute. Ndidi is also the first person to provide full spectrum Spa services in West Africa.
Nelly’s journey to entrepreneurship was birthed from her post-natal experience of body shaming. Nelly took control of her life when she decided to lose weight, by exercising, and eating healthy. Today, not only has she lost weight but she is also building her own food empire in the process with Nellies Foods, a healthy snack and food company, with remarkably indigenous food options, clientele spanning countries all over the world.
Nibi is one woman who is tirelessly advocating for the Natural hair trend in Nigeria. She established the Kinky Apothecary in order to promote hair education among particularly Nigerian women seeking to grow and care for their natural hair. As the Founder of the first official natural hair shop in the country, her steady growth and success has been an inspiration to other natural hair stores / naturalistas in the country and abroad.
Njideka is a visual artist who doesn’t shy away from showcasing our rich culture and heritage. Her works on paper combine collage, drawing, painting, printmaking, and photo transfers. She tells subtle yet powerful stories through art. She was featured in the Guardian best American art, 2016 and is also listed as a woman of the year 2016 in The Financial Times. More recently, Njideka provided the illustration for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book: ‘Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions.’
Nkechi Harry Ngonadi – Founder, NHN Couture
The ever energetic and stylish, Nkechi is the founder of NHN Couture, a Nigerian women’s wear fashion brand. According to her ““NHN Couture is an inspiration from God and this is rooted in our vision and mission statement –‘Bringing decency back to church first and the society at large, covered yet sexy, fabulous and simply classy.” She is passionate about inspiring and encouraging women to be their best and more importantly, to embrace a Godly womanhood. We love her Instagram posts where she shares inspiration, wisdom and loads of fun moments.
She is the founder of Sickle Cell Aid Foundation, an NGO aimed at raising awareness on sickle cell anaemia and helping less privileged victims gain access to quality healthcare. Her selfless acts gained her an award of recognition by Queen Elizabeth II as well as a spot on Commonwealth Young Achievers’ list in 2015. In 2016, she was listed among the 100 most Influential Young Africans by Africa Youths Award.
Nkem is the founder and CEO of Mamamoni, an NGO aimed at empowering women in rural communities by enabling them to get access to free skill acquisition, financial literacy and mobile loans to set up small businesses. Her selfless impact is not only being felt by women, but also by children. A Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur Fellow, Nkem was also awarded at the Ebony Life Sisterhood Awards, in the recognition for her huge impact as a social entrepreneur and change maker.
Nkem is the Founder of Her Network – a platform that connects and empowers women all over the world. For Nkem, Supporting Women is not just a cute hashtag, it’s a reality that she constantly and consistently advocates for. Through the Her Network platform, Nkem uses her experience as a top-rated PR Consultant to impact, influence and inspire a broad range of women across various sectors.
An Award-Winning Screenwriter, Producer and Director, Nkiru is the head-writer of the M-Net series, tinsel. She also serves as Content Producer for MTN Project Fame, with some of her on-screen work including Hotel Majestic and MTV’s Shuga. We especially love Nkriu because she has inspired all of us to be brave, courageous and open – as she has shared and chronicled all her life lessons and her journey of raising Didi – her gorgeous, special needs daughter. The world definitely needs more Nkirus in it.
Aunty Oby as she is fondly called, is a true example of what decisive, courageous and intentional leadership looks like. As the Convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Group (BBOG), we have seen how Oby and other members of the group have relentlessly pushed for the release of all the Chibok Secondary School girls who were abducted nearly three years ago. When it comes to advocacy, no other group in the history of Nigeria has been this dogged, determined and focused. Early in 2017, Oby and selected members of the BBOG, went on a guided tour of the North East, including Sambisa Forest, as part of a Federal Government Delegation. If that isn’t leadership, then we are not sure what is. Oby is a Senior Economic Advisor at the Open Society Foundation, and has also served previously as Vice President of the World Bank.
Ogwah Ogbeh- Iweze
Co-Founder and Creative Director of Dzyn Couture, Ogwah runs one of Nigeria’s well-known and loved fashion houses. A business she Co-Founded with her sister, Ofure, Dzyn Couture meets the needs of the contemporary, classy woman who desires affordable luxury. A favorite feature of the Lagos Fashion and Design Week, Dzyn Couture is constantly setting new standards in Fashion, Retail and Business. Ogwah is also representative of the burgeoning class of successful female entrepreneurs in Abuja.
Professional, knowledgeable and with an incredible amount of expertise, Omasan is the General Manager for Corporate Affairs at MTN, a position she assumed in 2016. Prior to that she was the former Head of Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility for Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa. A consummate professional, Omasan is one of the few women with adepth competence and skill in Information Communications Technology, and her love for the industry, is evident when she speaks. A passionate business developer and telecommunication strategist, Omasan is a proud advocate for women in STEM careers.
When it comes to makeup and beauty in Nigeria, Omolola is a key player in the industry. She is the Convener, of The Make Up Fair, arguably Nigeria’s biggest gathering of beauty vendors, beauty editors, bloggers, makeup artists and other industry players. Under her leadership, Pops! Concepts has organized over 15 successful editions of the Make Up Fair Series in six major cities in Nigeria. When she’s not planning another event, she devotes her time to motivating young people to follow their dreams and their passion.
Omotade Alalade is a fine blend of beauty, brains and compassion! After struggling with infertility, she decided to help other women struggling to conceive through the Beibei Haven Foundation. She helped shine the light on a subject that was hitherto a taboo in these parts. Omotade has helped raise millions of naira to fund couples who can’t afford fertility treatments. It didn’t come as a surprise to us therefore, when she was recognized on the BBC’s ‘100 Women’ list in 2016.
When Onos sings, the world literally halts in its tracks. An award-winning Singer, Gospel Minister and Vocalist, Onos is recognized as one who ministers hope, inspiration and salvation to all who listen to her. Her music prowess has been felt on stages such as the The Experience and she has performed alongside gospel music icons such as Don Moen, Ron Kenoly and Fred Hammond. A self-avowed lover of God, Onos is working on her sophomore album which should be released sometime in 2017.
Osaretin Demuren is a leading Nigerian banker who has carved an amazing record setting profile for herself in the male dominated industry. In 1999, she became the first female director for Trade and Exchange, Central Bank of Nigeria, and In 2015, she became the First Female Chairperson of Guaranty Trust Bank PLC. She is indeed a strong role model to the younger generation of women.
Most popularly known as Kitchen Butterlfy, Ozoz is a globally respected Chef, and gives an imaginative and creative twist to seemingly ordinary dishes and food. She is also a writer and exploration geologist, traits which are somehow reflected in her explorative dishes and evident love for arts. Ozoz is an inspiration because through her we see that the mundane can become extraordinary. Recently, she was featured as a guest chef, at the prestigious GTBank Food and Drink Fair.
Recognized by Forbes as one of the 20 Youngest Power Women under 40 in Africa, Rimini is the Head of Corporate & Governmental Affairs Director at Microsoft Nigeria. She was formerly the Communications Director at Africa Practice; Africa’s foremost strategy and communications consultancy. A Lawyer by profession, Rimini previously worked at (INTERPOL) in Lyon, France where she was instrumental to the drafting of cooperation agreements between
the 190 member countries and reviewing notices and individual requests safeguarding international security and safety across borders. Talk about being a ‘Power Woman.’
Sandie Okoro is a lawyer and the Senior Vice President of The World Bank Group. She also serves as the Global General Counsel for HSBC Global Asset Management and Deputy General Counsel of HSBC Retail banking and Wealth Management. She is a globally respected foremost woman leader and has been described as “a highly regarded thought leader with a strong track record of developing new legal approaches in the field of international finance” by President Of The World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim.
Vivacious, ambitious and extremely intelligent, Shade is the Founder/CEO of Avienti Limited; a Destination Management and Travel Company. Her love for travel and tourism is evident, and through that she has assisted countless individuals and organizations on fabulous tour and travel packages. A woman of many hats, she is also the Executive Director of WEConnect International, an organisation that is involved in the registration and certification of women-owned business enterprises outside of the United States. An acclaimed Public Speaker and Influencer, Shade was recently appointed as an ambassador for Friska Weight Loss Tea.
Until very recently Sola was the Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc – a full service financial services Group with subsidiaries in Commercial Banking, Investment Banking, Pension and Non-Pension Asset Management and Stockbroking. In January this year, she was appointed Chief Executive Officer, Rest of Africa, for the Standard Bank Group – a huge feat for a woman, and inspiration to millions of others. Described as “extremely fair and a bright shining light,’ Sola is definitely a strong woman leader. An associate Pastor at RCCG, City of David Parish, she was recognized in 2016 as the ‘All Africa Business Woman of the Year’ at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards in Partnership with CNBC Africa.
Simbo is the MD/CEO of Avon Healthcare Limited, a healthcare maintenance organization, which was set up in Nigeria in 2013. She is a trained lawyer, with over 20 years’ experience cutting across a broad range of sectors, including: Banking, Telecommunications, FMCG and health. A determined and focused visionary, Simbo has helped grow the Avon HMO brand into one of the top leading healthcare organizations in the country. A passionate advocate for women empowerment and gender equality, Simbo is a great example of Women in Leadership.
Popularly known as Simply Simi, Simisola is an Afro-pop singer and songwriter, signed on to the X3M Music label, with a distinct, hard-to-miss voice. Known for chartbusters which include: Jamb Question, Love Don’t Care and Soldier featuring Falz, Simi has become one of Nigeria’s most beloved female musicians. She’s also a delight to follow on social media as she uses various platforms to engage with her clients and display her funny sense of humour. Simi was also recently appointed as an ambassador with the telecommunications company, Etisalat. You go girl!
Perhaps a great description for Somkhele would be “Still Waters that run deep.” The delectable Nollywood actress and model who came to limelight through the Nigerian web drama series, Gidi Up, is known to pack a delightful punch in whatever role she plays. We can’t forget her stirring performance in 93 Days, The Arbitration, and most recently, The Wedding Party. Indeed, 2016 appeared to be the “Year of Somkhele,” where she was recognized at various awards including: The Future Awards Africa, The Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCAs) and The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). There’s only ONE place Somekhele can go – and that’s up!
She is the founder and CEO of the5kshop.com; an online retail store, stocking fashion and home solutions all under the price cap of 5000 Naira. With a diverse skillset, Sophia is also a social media strategist and an architect. According to her: “The5kShop was created to provide a safe and convenient way for Africans to shop quality fashion items at the BEST possible price.” A serial entrepreneur of sorts, Sophia is also the Co-Founder of DRYV.Me, a tech-enabled automobile service provider. Not resting on her oars, in 2016, Sophia won the British Council Enterprise Challenge, where she got the unique opportunity to be coached and mentored by Sir Richard Branson.
A multi-award winning and internationally acclaimed journalist, Stephanie is the African Supervising Producer at CNN’s new multi-platform bureau in Lagos, Nigeria. With experience spanning reputable international media platforms including: The BBC, New Nation and Daily Mirror, all in the UK, Stephanie clearly possesses the expertise that her role requires. Since joining CNN in 2008, she has worked across some of the network’s most important African stories. In particular she was central to CNN’s coverage of the Missing Chibok girls, working alongside Senior International Correspondent Nima Elbagir.
Stephanie is the go to person when it comes to online businesses and courses. She is a leading online business strategist in Nigeria and the CEO of ST. HUB Limited. She is also the Founder of Steph B-School, an online business school that teaches people how to take their business online. Stephanie is passionate about helping people build and maintain a successful 7 figure online business.
Tara Fela Durotoye
Tara is a Nigerian makeup artist and lawyer. She is also the CEO of renowned international make up brand, House of Tara International and is highly regarded as the pioneer of the bridal make-up profession in Nigeria. We love Tara because she’s such a strong and positive mentor to thousands of Nigerian women, including Arese Ugwu of Smart Money Africa. In 2015, collaborating with her own mentor, Ibukun Awosika, she launched the TFD Series – a platform to engage and mentor other women, and has reached over 1000 women in different continents since then. In 2016, we love how she turned around a major business challenge into triumph with the #IStandWithTara campaign to encourage people to buy the original Tara products and speak out against counterfeiting.
Temie Giwa is the Founder and CEO of Lifebank Nigeria, a platform that tackles blood shortage in the country. She is a healthcare manager who is passionate about saving lives and making blood available when and where needed in Nigeria. Her humanitarian and social enterprise led to the establishment of LifeBank in 2015, following a near-death experience, and the difficulties she faced giving birth to her son. Using an app, LifeBank provides records of blood banks available all over Lagos, which allows health centres to find the relevant blood types and order for delivery. Her lifesaving initiative has earned her a commendation from Facebook Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, as well as a feature on ‘CNN’s Africa Start-Up.’
Titi is an On-Air Personality at Nigeria’s Inspiration FM, where she hosts a variety of shows that cater to a myriad of people. She’s also a TV Presenter, a Talk-Show Host, A Professional Voice Over Artiste, and the COO of Amber 11 Media Limited – a company she Co-Founded with her husband, Oscar Oyinsan. A passion driven humanitarian and social entrepreneur, Titi is also the Founder of IAMDYNAMITE Network, and runs the ‘I Am Dynamite’ campaign as an online platform to raise funds in order to promote girl-child education. We also love how she and her husband parent their gorgeous twin daughters, Amber and Ruby.
There are a few people who have the ability to redefine themselves and stay relevant, like Tiwa. According to the Roc Nation: “Singer, songwriter, presenter, philanthropist and burgeoning actress; Tiwa Savage is a resilient force within Africa’s ever-growing entertainment industry.” We couldn’t agree more! Since she stormed the music scene in 2010 with her infectious hit ‘Kele Kele Love,’ Tiwa has shown talent, exhibited dexterity, and redefined how the world views female musicians. Fondly referred to as the Nigerian queen of R&B, she signed a record deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation in 2016, and nothing, not even personal challenges stopped her from ascending the path to greatness. She’s garnered a slew of awards, including: Channel O, BET & MOBO Awards. Did someone say Q-U-E-E-N!!
Toke is an award-winning media personality, OAP, TV Host and Vlogger. In 2016, she authored the bestselling and hugely controversial memoir ‘On Becoming,’ which resonated with a lot of women, and gave an insight to some of the life-altering challenges that she has faced. From then till now, Toke’s trajectory has been upward, proving that trials can also be a huge launching pad to success and redefinition. Toke is also a motivational speaker and popular co-host on Ebony Life TV’s talk show ‘Moments,’ and is regarded as one of the most inspiring media figures for young Nigerian women.
Half Woman-Half Amazing, Tokini is the Founder/CEO of the TP Collective – a company dedicated to the evolution of contemporary African culture, through strategic consultancy that aides businesses within the art and design sector. Her list of super impressive clients include: ALARA (the luxury concept store created by Reni Folawiyo), Maki Oh (an artisanal fashion designer worn by the likes of Michelle Obama and Lupita Nyong’o), and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (the film based on Chimamanda Adichie’s novel, of the same title). She is also the Founder and Convener of ART X Lagos – the first international contemporary art fair in West Africa.
Tosin is the poster-child inspiration, for every black girl who thinks she can, and goes ahead to achieve her dreams. Tosin is the Founder and Principal Architect at CMDesign Atelier, an architecture design consultancy established in 2012. With futuristic and cutting-edge designs, she has spearheaded many notable projects, including the design of the sleek Maryland Mall, re-opened in Lagos Nigeria, in 2016. We love that Tosin is breaking boundaries in what many may think to be a male-dominated industry.
With nearly 3 decades of consistently creating mind-blowing designs, and planning exquisite events, Uche Majekodunmi is most definitely an industry leader and a clear inspiration. She is the CEO of Newton & David – a Nigerian-based Event Management, Flora Decor, and Set Design Company. With credentials from the renowned Mary Adams, of Knightsbridge London, England and Paula Pryke, in Islington, North London where she did a brief course, Uche has carved a niche for herself, not only as a pioneer of the event and decor industry, but also as a Florist extraordinaire. With an impressive list of clients and a slew of both local and international awards, Uche seems focused on continually growing the N&D brand, and expanding the business.
If you’ve happened to see Ifeoma Fafunwa’s stage play, Hear Word – then you would vividly recall the powerful and masterful performance of ‘Sister Esther.’ Meet Award-winning Actress, Film Director, and Producer – Ufuoma McDermott. For Ufuoma, the journey to excellence hasn’t been immediate or sudden, as she’s spent over a decade honing her skills as an Actress and well respected thespian. With TV Series and blockbusters like Duplicity, Wives on Strike and Okafor’s Law under her belt, Ufuoma is all about breaking boundaries, and we are so here for that!
Uneku is an astounding serial entrepreneur and achiever. She is the General Manager of Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, a training platform for aspiring technology entrepreneurs. In 2012, she Founded ‘Ride to Shine’ and later founded Malaik Limited in 2015. She is also an Associate Fellow at the Royal Commonwealth Society. She was listed among Forbes Under 30 in 2016 and was also nominated for CBNC Young African Leader.
Valerie is the Founder, R&R Luxury, a business that was set up in 2010 when what started out as hobby for making natural, homemade, scented luxury candles morphed into something more. The business evolved further, according to her, when she had an ‘aha’ moment, based on certain needs she had while pregnant, and thereafter expanded the R&R product range. With a vision to share 100% Natural, Made in Africa products with the rest of the world, the products contain no parabens, artificial colours or mineral oils. The R&R Luxury range of products is fast becoming a staple for those who desire its luxurious and natural products.
Wangi Mba Uzuokwu
Wangi is the Chief Executive Officer for M-Net operations in West Africa with core responsibility for Leading the strategy and mapping the footprint for the Africa Magic brand and channels in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is also responsible for a number of content development and showcasing initiatives such as Africa Magic GO, the Africa Magic Video on Demand service and the Africa Magic Original Films project, an initiative that provides a platform for showcasing original premium African titles. A successful business and media strategist, Wangi’s career spans nearly two decades in top management positions in multinationals such as British American Tobacco, The Coca-Cola Company, and Airtel. We love Wangi because she’s a great example of women breaking barriers in the corporate world.
Witty, bold and immensely colourful woman, Yemisi is a Nigerian Essayist, Writer and Food Memoirist. She is the Author of: ‘Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and the Nigerian Taste Buds’– a collection of essays that takes on “the cultural politics and erotics of Nigerian cuisine” in an amusingly clever way. From 2009 to 2011, Yemisi was the food columnist at the now defunct, groundbreaking 234 newspaper, where she first gained public attention. She is renowned for her portrayal of Nigerian foods as a distinct community and culture. Her memoir won her the John Avery Awards in 2016.
Zainab Bagudu is the Founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation/CEO Medicaid Diagnostic Centre and the Wife of the Executive Governor of Kebbi State in Nigeria. She is a strong advocate of breast and cervical cancer awareness, and is instrumental to have gotten thousands of women screened for these diseases, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. In 2017, Zainab was awarded the Silverbird Man of the Year Award for her outstanding contribution to the medical field.