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Some of these women have been around in commerce and industry for several decades. Others have made their impact in just the past few years. But they all have at least a couple of things in common: their willingness to beat the contrarian economic tides that drive against them, and their sterling performance in their respective niches. Here are our picks for the most inspiring women in business, discussed in no particular order of importance.
Odunayo EweniyiOdunayo is a co-founder and Chief Operations Officer at PiggyVest. In this role, she oversees the functioning of one of the country’s most widely patronized FinTech platforms. She’s also co-founder and General Partner at FirstCheck, an early-stage VC fund that invests in female-led startups in Africa. Her sterling track record goes back a bit; she graduated from Covenant University in 2013 with a First Class in Computer Engineering. Following this feat, she teamed up with Somto Ifezue and Joshua Chibueze to launch PushCV, a database of prescreened candidates for employers. The three went on to find PiggyVest in 2016. Odunayo also cofounded the Feminist Coalition, which played a pivotal role in the #EndSARS protests of 2020.
Mo AbuduMosunmola Abudu is a well-known entrepreneur who has thrived in Nigeria’s vibrant entertainment space. She is the founder and CEO of Ebony Life Group, a media and lifestyle conglomerate. One of the outfits under this banner, Ebony Life Films, has put out some of the country’s most-watched movies to date: Chief Daddy, the Wedding Party, and Oloture. Born and educated in the UK, Mo Abudu began her foray into the media scene by anchoring the TV talk show ‘Moments with Mo’. In 2006, she set up Ebony Life Television; the station is received in over 50 countries across Africa and the Caribbean. In 2021, Forbes named Mo among the most powerful women globally.
Maya Horgan FamoduBorn in the United States, Maya started out as a blogger for Huffington Post in 2012. But after spotting a largely unmet demand for funding from businesses in Africa, she decided to launch a VC to tackle that problem. The VC, Ingressive Capital, is now one of the better-known players in the African startup funding landscape. It specifically finances seed-stage startups on the continent—a segment of the tech ecosystem that hasn’t always gotten the support it needs. Maya has been recognized for the work she does with Ingressive Capital. In 2018, she was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of entrepreneurs in technology. And in 2021, she was listed on the 30 Under 30 list for players in the Venture Capital space.
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Adenike OgunlesiAdenike Ogunlesi is the founder and Creative Director of Ruff n’ Tumble, one of the top children’s wear production companies in Nigeria. The accomplished entrepreneur detoured into fashion after leaving Law School (at Ahmadu Bello University) while still in her second year. She joined her mother’s tailoring venture and got grounded in the business. Mrs Ogunlesi founded Ruff n’ Tumble in 1996. This happened after she struggled to find quality clothing for her children, and decided to make some herself. Her friends liked the clothes she made and requested that she produce some for their own children. This eventually led her to launch what has since become a leading brand in its niche in Africa.
Olamide BrownOla Brown (nee. Orekunrin) is the founder of Flying Doctors, a Medical Emergency Service which operates air ambulances and medico-logistics out of the Muritala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. She is also Director at Greentree Investment Company, a Venture Capital firm that funds startups in Africa. Born in London, Ola attended the Hull York Medical School and worked briefly with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). In 2007, she established Flying Doctors, West Africa’s first air-operated emergency medical service. In 2013, the World Economic Forum named Ola to its list of Young Global Leaders.
Olajumoke AdenowoOlajumoke Adenowo is an architect, entrepreneur, and polymath, who has gained a global following for the work she does. She’s the founder of AD Consulting, an architectural firm that has taken on projects from top organizations, including Coca-Cola, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, GT Bank, and L’Oreal. In 2019, she was appointed a Visiting Professor at Germany’s Technische Universitat Munchen.
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Jumoke was a prodigy in her early years. She enrolled at the Obafemi Awolowo University at age 14 and graduated at age 19 with honours. By the time she turned 26, she had founded AD Consulting, which is now one of Nigeria’s leading architectural outfits. In 2018, she was named one of the inspirational women in architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Bimbo Alase-ArawoleLeatherworld, which Bimbo founded and owns, is one of the largest furniture store chains in West Africa. But it began in 1994 as a small retail outlet in the Ikoyi district of Lagos. In the decades that followed, it has grown tremendously, and now serves up some of the more luxurious furniture available on the Nigerian market. It’s also present in a number of locations, including two in Lagos, and one in each in Abuja and Calabar. Bimbo is an alumnus of Pitman College London, Regent Academy, and the London Design School.
Final WordsNigeria has no shortage of inspirational female entrepreneurs. This article simply highlights some of the better-known figures among them. We can expect even more women to emerge and dominate Nigeria’s business scene in the coming years. Featured Image Source: Nairametrics
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