In the spotlight of today is an “A list” of influential women, compiled by Y’Naija (In commemoration of International Women’s Day 2016), who in their different fields of expertise have moved the shores and transformed lives both in Nigeria and beyond. They are indeed an inspiration to every woman!
1. Ada Osakwe
A passionate and focused Agropreneur, Ada is the Chief Executive of Agrolay Ventures, an investment firm dedicated to growing the agricultural and food sector in Africa. Some of the food businesses created by Ada include The Nuli Juice Company, Agroblend Foods and Nature’s Bounty (www.reelfruit.com). She is championing the move towards Agribusiness with great passion.
2. Adaora Mbelu
Adaora is Head of Innovation at A2Creative, a business and brand management company. She is by all standards a fierce creative. She has worked on projects across various industries, either as a Project Manager, Content Director, or Brand Manager. Some of these projects include: XFactor Nigeria, The United Nations World Tourism Organization conference, Nigeria Centenary Awards 2014, and many others. Ada is also the co-founder of ‘The Amalgamation Project’– a platform for promoting social causes.
3. Adiat Disu
Founder of adiree.com, a communications and branding firm focused on fashion, home décor and beauty, this young business mogul is charting a new course for African fashion. Her company is the original creator and founder of the African Fashion Week, held in fashion capitals across the world including New York, London, Paris, Milan, Berlin, and Tokyo.
4. Affiong Williams
Affiong is an agropreneur, and the Founder of Reel Fruits, a growing fruit-processing company focused on processing, packaging and branding local, and quality fruit products. In 2015, Affiong made the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 tomorrow’s billionaires list. She is definitely a woman to watch.
5. Aisha Ahmad
One of the most respected and admired women in Corporate Nigeria, Aisha is the Head of Consumer Banking at Diamond Bank PLC, one of the fastest growing retail banks in Nigeria. This classy executive is currently the Chairperson of the Executive Council of Women in Management, Business & Public Service (WIMBIZ), a leading women-focused not-for-profit organization.
6. Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan (Mama Taraba)
Popularly known as Mama Taraba, Aisha is a woman of immense influence and clout. A woman of many firsts, she became the first female to be appointed as Taraba State’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. An immensely formidable politician, she nearly became the first elected female governor in Nigeria, in the 2015 gubernatorial elections. She was also the first woman to be appointed as the Secretary of the FCT Judicial Council. She has shattered several stereotypes that have to do with northern women and politics in Nigeria.
7. Aisha Augie-Kuta.
Aisha is a photographer, film maker and mixed media artist. She is the recipient of several awards, including Creative Artist of the Year at the 2011 Future Awards and the British Council ‘Through-my-eyes’ competition 2014 . Beyond being the founder of the Center for Art and Creative Talent (CACT), she was recently appointed as the SSA New Media in Kebbi state. Aisha’s photos show her keen eye for detail and ability to tell important stories.
8. Dr. Akudo Anyanwu-Ikemba
Passionate about getting rid of malaria, aids and tuberculosis in Africa, Dr. Akudo started Friends of the Global Fund Africa, an African voice in support of the fight against diseases. Till date, Friends Africa has mobilized over $560 million for African countries to tackle these deadly diseases and has trained over 2700 SMEs across Africa, and there’s no stopping them.
9. Amara Enyia
Amara is a former Chicago Mayoral candidate, a race in which she stood against already established politicians like Emmanuel Rahm. She’s an accomplished public policy consultant, the Principal Consultant at ACE Municipal Partners LLC, Lead Writer at Municipal Maven, and ED, Austin Chamber of Commerce.
10. Anie Akpe
Akpe is a business professional and entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ experience in the banking industry. She is the Founder of Inno8tiv Magazine and the Co-Founder of Ibom LLC. Akpe is also the Vice-President of Mortgages (currently managing a $575 million portfolio) at a banking institution. For her, failure is not an option.
11. Anjelica Nwandu
Anjelica started The Shade Room, after she had quit a dead-end job. The ambitious Twenty five year old took celebrity gossip to another level when she began posting celebrity gossip on Instagram as @TheShadeRoom. In less than two years, The Shade Room has successfully carved a niche for itself in the industry. It was recently dubbed as the TMZ of Instagram by the New York Times. Anjelica was recently listed as one of the people to watch in Forbes 30 under 30 list.
12. Arese ugwu
Arese is a money guru and the brain behind Smart Money Africa, a platform that delivers quality content on financial literacy. She is the head of Wealth Management at Partnership Investment Plc. She sits on the boards of House of Tara International Ltd and The Nigeria Higher Education Foundation as a non-executive director and is an associate member of WIMBIZ. Fiercely ambitious and driven, Arese recently organized the first edition of the Smart Money Africa Woman Workshop which was attended by women from all works of life, and is likely to be replicated all around Africa due to its huge success.
13. Arunma Oteh
Intelligent, bold, and confident; many know of Aruma as the former Director General pf the Nigerian Securities Excahnge Commission, and also as the woman who refused to be cowed or intimated at a Senate Panel hearing session. She is currently the Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank, and is already making great strides.
14. Bassey Ikpi
Bassey’s personal and heartfelt work has made her a much sought after performer; she’s a poet and writer, spoken word artist and founder of the SIWE Project. Bassey Ikpi has appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry five times and her poetry has opened shows for Grammy Award-winning artists. Asides’ being an art and culture aficionado, Bassey is also a strong advocate for mental health and speaks out about issues around it frequently. She also frequently shares about her own experiences with bi-polar disorder; and inspires and strengthens countless others by doing so.
15. Betty Irabor
Fondly called “Aunty Betty,” Betty Irabor is a business woman and the Editor-in-Chief of Nigeria’s leading women’s magazine, Genevieve. The magazine celebrated its 13th year anniversary recently; probably the longest running print magazine in Nigeria. Betty is also a philanthropist, mentor for countless women, and a champion for breast cancer awareness through the Pink Ball Foundation.
16. Bimpe Onakoya
An absolutely exceptional woman, Bimpe is an award winning makeup artist, and the Artistic Director of Maybelline New York Nigeria. Bimpe is living the dream of so many aspiring makeup artists as she has worked at the New York Fashion Week with top designers like DKNY, Lacoste, J Mendel and Mara Hoffman. Her work has been published in Vanity Fair Italia, Italian Vogue, Marie Claire and Mania Magazine. As a means of mentoring and paying forward, Bimpe recently commenced professional training sessions for upcoming female makeup artistes in Nigeria.
17. Biola Alabi
Biola Alabi is the Managing Partner at Biola Alabi Media; a dynamic Consultancy that helps clients find solutions for their media related businesses and organizations. She’s also the former Managing Director of Electronic Media Network (MNET). At MNET, she worked tirelessly to increase the company’s Africa portfolio, including overseeing the launch of Africa Magic Hausa and Yoruba in 2010 and Africa Magic Swahili in 2011. She is a Yale World Fellow and one of the most accomplished and powerful women in African media. Biola flagged off her ‘Grooming to Greatness’ mentoring campaign in 2015 which is aimed at grooming the next generation of African business leaders.
18. Bolanle Okusanya Feyita
Bolanle is a diverse entrepreneur who started out as a makeup and Beauty Editor at OK! Magazine, Nigeria. Having worked at several leading brands including body shop, Elizabeth Arden, Lancaster, Clarins, Molton Brown, Nars and Mac, she launched her own line Makeup Pro Collection in 2005. After her father’s tragic passing in 2014, Biola turned her tragedy to purpose and established LTJ Memorial Funerals, an off-shoot of MIC Royal Limited, and has been growing in leaps and bounds since then.
19. Bukky George
Leading pharmacist and CEO of HealthPlus Limited and CasaBella International , a one-stop store for grooming and beauty solutions for men and women, Bukky has been described as the queen of retail pharmacy in Nigeria based on the steady success of her pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies. HealthPlus already has 31 branches across Nigeria with more branches to already in the pipeline. Bukky is also the first recipient of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Board of Fellows’ Award for Excellence in Community Pharmacy.
20. Bukky Karibi-Whyte
Bukky is a PR Mogul, Founder and the Principal Consultant of The Bobby Taylor Company which specializes in Media Relations, Crisis Management and much more. Her passion for PR led her to launch Invicta Africa, a cutting edge company strategically positioned to provide public relations services to Nigeria’s corporate world. We love what she’s doing with PR and how she keeps evolving.
21. Bunmi Laditan
Bunmi is the creator of honesttoddler.com – the cheeky, hilarious brand that has won our hearts all over social media. Inspired by the challenging time she was having with her then spunky two-year old daughter, Bunmi began a twitter account that tried to articulate the mind of a two-year old. Four years on, and we are all still incredibly hooked. Bunmi is also the author of a book on parenting, and contributes to The Huffington Post, Mommyish, Parenting amongst others.
22. Chika Oduah
Chika is an independent multimedia journalist, poet and writer whose work has been published by The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, CNN, Al Jazeera, and many others. Chika, in one of her most notable work, successfully highlighted the plight of the Chibok girls and the fragmented community they left behind, giving the sensitive issue the necessary publicity it required. She has also appeared on various TV and radio stations including the BBC. Chika is the 2014 recipient of the Trust Women, Journalist of the Year Award from the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the winner of the 2015 African Story Challenge project by the African Media Initiative.
23. Chioma Chuka
Chioma is a social media strategist with nearly 10 years’ experience working in technology, governance and citizen participation. She is the Founder of TechHerNG, Nigeria’s first hub solely dedicated to building a support community for women in technology. Her outstanding work has been featured on various platforms including Future Challenges, Bertelsmann Transformation Index, Deutsche Welle, YNaija, etc.
24. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Described as Nigeria’s literary star, Chimamanda is a novelist, nonfiction writer and short story writer, and has received numerous awards and distinctions. She is uncompromisingly unconventional and is unafraid to talk issues that many would rather stay silent on; her thought-provoking articles challenge the conventional mode of thinking. Her book, ‘We should all be feminists’ adapted from her 2012 TED Talk has been adopted by Sweden as part of its efforts to promote gender inequality. The message of the book has also been adopted as guide to conversations in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. Beyonce also sampled excerpts from Chimamanda’s TED talk on her Flawless song.
25. Chizoba Okpala-Astu
Chizoba is the Managing Director and Head Mixologist of Elles Icebox; Nigeria’s foremost event support service company with cocktails and drinks as its specialty. She started off her business after having cocktails at an event and knowing she could offer better. 5 years down the line, she has a full-scale business, has added a smoothies segment to her business, and has also recently published a book on mixology and making cocktails. Talk about impressive!
26. Dr. Constance Iloh
Constance is an outstanding scholar and well sought after speaker who was recently honoured as Forbes 30 under 30. Headlined as a “Higher Ed Powerhouse” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Constance is committed to advancing understanding of the changing landscape of postsecondary education and its impact on underrepresented students.
27. Debo Adebayo
Debo is the Founder of Tomi’s Treats. Her passion for children’s health took her off her 9-5 route and led to the launch of Tomi’s Treats, a company that produces organic fruit and vegetable purees that can be eaten by babies six months old and above. She is a Chemical Engineering graduate and a qualified Chartered Engineer in the UK. In her 10-year career in the oil and gas sector, she worked with Foster Wheeler, KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton and Amec Oil and Gas.
28. Dupe Olusola
Dupe is the MD/CEO of Teragro Commodities Limited. Teragro, a subsidiary of Transcorp Nigeria, deals with the production of fruit juice concentrates for industrial markets. The company recently partnered with consumer food giant, Coca Cola, to produce the Five Alive Pulpy Orange Juice which is a big accomplishment for Dupe and her team.
29. Ehime Akindele
An accidental discovery led Ehime to create a company which is loved and patronized by many in the country. Sweet Kiwi is the name of Ehime’s company and year after year, the company does not cease to thrill its customers with a wide variety of frozen yoghurt flavours of premium quality.
30. Ejiro Amos-Tafiri
Simple, chic and beautiful are just a few ways to describe Ejiro Amos-Tafir’s designs. Ejiro has participated in several exhibitions and fashion shows such as Stars on the Runway and the Creative Academii reality T.V show where she emerged the winner in the Fashion category. The Ejiro Amos Tafiri brand, recently celebrated its 6th anniversary – with a successful exhibition just concluded in the UK, and with the addition of another outlet to her rapidly growing business, the future is looking awesome!
“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.”
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