Today, more women are breaking free from the traditional, gender-specific roles and venturing into the business world. Not only are they holding high corporate positions but they are also successful women entrepreneurs who own almost half of all businesses in Nigerian and Ghana (Being the center of attention for this week issue of Pleasures Magazine). The steady rise in female entrepreneurs can be due to many different reasons, most of which share the same rational as their male counterparts—passion for their ideas, the desire to become their own boss.
Studies have shown that successful Women entrepreneurs start their businesses as a second or third profession. Many of them have experienced a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with their previous careers and in working for others. Often times, these innate desires to be their own boss are the driving forces that motivated them to pursue entrepreneurship.
As a business owner, these once unhappy individuals are now more satisfied and content with their personal and professional life. In addition, because of their previous careers, women entrepreneurs enter the business world later on in life, around 40-60 years old. Many of them have higher education degrees, a significant characteristic that many successful female entrepreneurs have in common.
Much of a business woman’s drive to pursue entrepreneurship is due to the immense passion she has for her work. Many women entrepreneurs are not afraid of taking risks and are two times more likely to make above average risks than their male equivalent, making monetary gain a less likely factor in their business pursuits. Instead, they possess very strong business ideas and seek any and all means to share their business ideas with others who may benefit from their discoveries.
Another motivating factor behind women entrepreneurs is the desire for control. Many successful female business owners are provoked by the opportunity to be their own boss and run their own company, a prospect that would never occur if they had worked for someone else. Women entrepreneurs are also motivated by philanthropic commitment to society. Their new businesses will greatly stimulate economic development in their community and create new jobs for many people.
These 60 women we have selected among thousands, even millions of others redefined power by building their own businesses against all odds. From Beauty to Fashion Designers, Financial Services, Media and Real Estate, amongst others. These Power Women are the ultimate business idols. The listing presented is in no particular order.
1. Tara Fela-Durotoye | House of Tara | Nigerian: Tara Fela-Durotoye is a Nigerian-born lawyer turned Africa’s leading beauty and makeup entrepreneur. She started House of Tara at the age of 20, from her living room, whilst an undergraduate at university back in 1998. She’s since gone on to launch Nigeria’s first ever bridal directory in 1999, and in 2004 she opened the country’s leading beauty academy. Today, Tara has over 3,000 reps spread across Nigeria and 14 stores to her name and she is steadfastly dedicated to realising her vision of building a globally respected beauty company of African origin. Tara remains an inspirational role-model and mentor to make-up artists and aspiring beauty business owners across Africa.
2. Mo Abudu | EbonyLife TV | Nigerian: Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV has been listed on Business Insider‘s Top 100 business visionaries creating value for the world. She is the only African on the list with a ranking of 56 on a list of 100 people from all over the world. As the head of one of Africa’s most successful new media ventures, the Nigeria-based television network EbonyLife TV, endeavors to tell real African stories and change the conversation around the continent.
3. Deola Sagoe | Deola | Nigerian: Deola Sagoe, founder of Deola is the leading lady of African haute couture fashion from Ondo State in Nigeria. Deola has been at the cutting edge of high fashion since 1989 and became the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma, Rome’s celebrated fashion week, back in 2004. Her globally appealing style has earned her an enviable clientèle that ranges from Africa’s first ladies, to society girls like Lydia Hearst, top model Alek Wek, and famous personalities such as Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith. Deola, a mother of three, studied at the University of Miami and University of Lagos and earned a Masters in Finance and Management. She was appointed Nigeria’s representative to the United Nations World Food Program ‘Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food’ with the goal of raising money towards halving the number of hungry people in the world, particularly children, by 2015. Deola frequently exhibits her couture collection at Cape Town Fashion Week and has been an invited guest of New York Fashion Week in the past.
4. Grace Amey-Obeng | FC Group of Companies | Ghanaian: A Medical Aesthetician, CEO of FC Group of Companies and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Beauty Industry in Ghana, providing services cutting across beauty care, education, manufacturing, equipment and publishing.
Over the past twenty-five (25) years, she has grown FC from a Cosmetic Retail Shop to a conglomerate.
FC Perfumery & Cosmetics, FC Cosmetics Industry
Salon Equipment and Beauty Supplies (SEBS); Imports and wholesales quality beauty therapy and hairdressing equipment
FC Beauty College, the premier beauty therapy-training institute in Ghana, accredited by ITEC, the Ghana Education Service and affiliated with City & Guilds of London.
5. Olajumoke Adenowo | AD Consulting | Nigerian: Olajumoke Adenowo, founder of AD Consulting, is a Nigerian Architect, Speaker, Radio Host, Philantropist and Author. CNN has described her as “Africa’s Starchitect”. She has been featured in the World’s foremost Architectural Journal; Architectural Record and has spoken on several platforms including the Global Women’s Forum and Harvard Business School (African Business Club). Olajumoke also hosts a Syndicated Radio show on Leadership called “Voice of Change”.
6. Adenike Ogunlesi | Ruff ’n’ Tumble | Nigerian: Adenike ‘Nike’ Ogunlesi is the founder of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble a leading designer, manufacturer and retailer of designer children’s clothing in Nigeria. Nike started out modestly in 1996 selling the clothes she made from the boot of her car and in bazaars. Today, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble is an instantly recognisable brand in Nigeria and has a reputation for being one of the top manufacturers of children’s clothing throughout West Africa. Ruff ‘n’ Tumble successfully caters to the unique fashion sense of today’s youngsters, from new born to age 16, happily mixing indigenous lifestyle trends with an international appeal.
7. Joyce Ababio | Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design | Ghanaian: Joyce Ababio is an award winning fashion designer of choice, when it comes to Kente, Bridal and Evening wear. She has developed a signature style that embodies elegance and an imaginative spirit. From her debut fashion show in 1992, “Catwalk Extravaganza”, she has demonstrated her creativity and tenacity as a leader in the fashion design industry. Ms. Ababio has been awarded many accolades for her creativity and ingenuity as a designer. Some of her achievements include, Best Formal Evening Wear Award, Miss World (1995, Sun City), Ebony Award for Bridal and Pageantry (1999), Best Evening Wear, Miss Ghana (2000), Best Formal Evening Wear, Miss World (1995), Fashion Contributor Award in Education and Mentoring, Ghana Fashion Awards (2012) and the esteemed, Life Time Achievement Award, Glitz Africa Fashion Week (2013).
She has exhibited her designs through solo shows (1994-2003) alongside well know Ghanaian designers like Ozwald Boateng. She has designed costumes for most of Miss Ghana competitions, such as; Matilda Alomatu, Miss Ghana 1994, Manuela Medie, Miss Ghana 1995, Shiela Azontaba, Miss Ghana 1996,Marian Sugri Bugri, Miss Ghana 1999 and Efua Hawkson, Miss Ghana 2000. She has designed garments for elite members of society including several ﬁrst-ladies of the republic of Ghana.
8. Reni Folawiyo | Alara| Nigerian: Reni Folawiyo is the founder and CEO of the luxury concept store Alara, located in the heart of Victoria Island in Lagos, Nigeria. The store opened its distinctly designed doors in February 2015. Alara, or the “wondrous performer” in Yoruba offers a luxury lifestyle experience unlike anywhere in the world, stocking both Western brands and pan-African design. Reni felt that the country needed something iconic that would change the city, change the way Nigerians saw themselves, and also change the way the world sees them. Reni worked with the internationally recognized Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye to design the Alara building. Reni says “Alara was conceived to show the world who we are today, to share how we live and to show Africans that we have a lot to be proud of, that we create and enjoy objects of exceptional quality and beauty, to celebrate those who have done it, and to support and encourage those who wish to exchange, educate, elevate and beautify.”
9. Bilikiss Adebiyi | WeCyclers | Nigerian: Bilikiss Adebiyi is a Nigerian entrepreneur and innovator, and founder and CEO of WeCyclers. This Lagos-based company is focused on giving low-income communities in developing countries a chance to capture value from waste and clean up their neighborhoods through an incentive-based recycling program. Bilikiss holds an MBA from MIT and a Masters degree from Vanderbilt University. She is a 2013 Echoing Green Fellow and WeCyclers were a Sustainia100 Company Award winner in 2014.
10. Kofo Akinkugbe, | Secure ID | Nigerian: Kofo Akinkugbe is founder & CEO of SecureID Nigeria Ltd. She is a highly respected African business leader who has become a market leader in smart card technology and digital security. SecureID is world-class manufacturing company with the only smart card production plant in West Africa and one of only six on the continent. Her company serves 16 countries across Africa and is fully certified by VISA, Verve and MasterCard. In 2012, Kofo won the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship Mature Business Award.
11. Constance Swaniker | Accents & Arts | Ghanaian: The entrepreneur and strategic thinker in her motivated Constance to establish Accents & Art Ltd, the premier purveyor of the finest crafted bespoke wrought iron furniture made in Ghana and arguably, West Africa six months after graduating from school. Constance’s work can be found in a wide range of upscale homes, offices and diplomatic missions both home and abroad. Her maiden exhibition, “Passage of Discovery” dated 22nd June-6th July 2011 marked a chapter in her life as an artist and a sculptor. The event was held at the Artist’s alliance gallery. Her work has been recognized in reputable awards such as “Outstanding Industrial Metal Furniture Firm” in Ghana Award by wAi Africa, The Network Journal Africa 40-under Forty 2010 Achievement Award, Best Entrepreneur SME Innovation Award 2010, VLISCO Be Your Dream Award -2013, Metal Product of the Year 2013 and Regional & Country Winner, Africa’s Most Influential Women in Leadership and Governance-2014. Recently, she also established an Art and Design Institute, working closely with the local universities and polytechnic to aid bridge the gap between archaic school curriculum and industry by providing students a platform to gain practical experience.
12. Dr Ola Orekunrin| Flying Doctors | Nigerian: Dr. Ola Orekunrin is a medical doctor, helicopter pilot and the healthcare entrepreneur founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service. She’s dedicated to bringing trauma care to the most remote parts of Western Africa and her company, an air ambulance service based in Lagos, is doing just that. She was motivated to start the company after her younger sister tragically died whilst traveling in Nigeria as a consequence of their being no medical air service available to transport her to hospital. Ola graduated as a medical doctor from the University Of York in the UK and is a member of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine. Ola currently resides in Lagos, Nigeria where she is considered a national expert of disaster medicine and pre-hospital care. Her company has been featured on various local TV and radio stations as well as the BBC and CNN.
13. Aba Da-Woode Amarh | Miss Dee Clothing | Ghanaian: Aba Da-Woode Amarh the founder of Miss Dee Clothing came up with the idea of setting up a fast fashion business with an excellent customer care when she was working as a banker and realized the stress she and her colleagues goes when dealing with their regular Tailors. With more women seeking to wear made in Ghana attires, she realized she could combine her love for fashion and social media and create a brand that will sell simple but trendy designs to anyone anywhere. Miss Dee was therefore birthed in 2010 and started operating in early 2011 and sells through their Social Media pages where Customers can choose any design on their various platforms. Her clients are in every Region of Ghana and in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, Europe and North America. Miss Dee continues to aim at being a household name churning out beautiful wearable designs to Customers far and near with an impeccable customer service.
14. Uche Pedro |Bella Naija | Nigerian: Uche Pedro is founder of BellaNaija.com, a company that develops and delivers exciting online content aimed at Nigerian and Pan-African audiences. Uche’s savvy grasp of media trends has led to BellaNaija.com becoming the go-to lifestyle, entertainment and fashion portal in Africa. Her website has established a loyal following amongst the young, cosmopolitan, upwardly mobile set in Nigeria, with over 1 million unique visitors and 9 million page views each month.
15. Nkemdilim Begho | Future Software Resources Limited | Nigerian: Nkemdilim Begho is founder and Managing Di¬rector of Future Software Resources Limited, an IT solutions provider focused on online solutions, e-learning and IT security. As one of a few Nigerian women in the industry, her success is founded on a passion for driving innovative thinking, building a globally recognized technology brand and setting trends in the Nigerian Technology space.
16. Chinwe Ohajuruka | Comprehensive Design Services | Nigerian: Chinwe Ohajuruka is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Design Services in Nigeria. Chinwe is a US-based architect who splits her time between the US & Nigeria working on sustainable housing development projects. She is a passionate champion of green building solutions for Africa and she engineers and builds affordable green houses that are both energy and resource-efficient. Chinwe was selected as the Sub-Saharan laureate of the 2015 Cartier Women’s Awards.
17. Abena Amoah | Baobab Advisors| Ghanaian: Abena Amoah was recently named one of Ghana’s Most Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs. Prior to joining the Renaissance Group as the CEO of NewWorld Renaissance Securities and Head of Investment Banking and Finance of Renaissance Capital Ghana, Abena was Executive Director at Strategic African Securities.
Abena noted to be one of Ghana’s leading investment bankers and financial advisors is currently the Founder and CEO of Baobab Advisors a financial services firm which raises capital to invest in Ghanaian and African businesses as an equity partner.
She serves as a Board Member of Access Bank GH, African Women’s Development Fund, Intercultural Exchange Programme Ghana, Ghana Stock Exchange, Ghana Stock Exchange and Assessor (Capital Markets Expert) of the High Courts of Ghana
18. Achenyo Idachaba | Mitimeth | Nigerian: Finding an innovative eco-solution to Nigeria’s problem of its waterways being invaded by highly destructive water hyacinth plants, also created a unique business opportunity for Nigerian entrepreneur, Achenyo Idachaba. Today, her startup company, MitiMeth, takes these nuisance weeds and transforms them into beautiful hand-crafted and highly desirable products. She has taken an environmental problem and turned it into a win-win solution for her business, local communities and the country. Each hand-crafted piece is created from the weeds which are harvested from the local waterways and dried out in the sun before they can be used for weaving into highly intricate and beautiful finished products such as baskets, tableware and even jewellery.
19. Banke Kuku| Banke Kuke Textiles | Nigerian: Banke Kuku is founder and CEO of Banke Kuku Textiles, a company she started in 2011. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Banke moved to the United Kingdom at age eight giving her the innate ability to cross-pollinate traditional African and Western culture to create unique, luxurious fabrics for the interior and fashion industries. Anointed by leading commentators as the ‘Queen of Colour’, Banke promotes African tradition and culture through her exquisite textiles sold in the major capitals of the world and supports and promotes local textile mills in Nigeria. Her interiors range can be been found in major retailers like Selfridges London, and her fashion fabric designs have graced the catwalks of London, Paris and New York.
20. Dzigbordi K. Dosoo | Allure Africa Group | Ghanaian: Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Allure Africa Group an award winning premier Spa & Lifestyle Business headquartered in Accra Ghana with an office in Washington DC USA. The primary business focus of Allure Africa is to develop and grow premium Spa & Lifestyle companies throughout Africa, with an emphasis on forging international strategic partnerships. The companies within the group are Allure Spa In the City, Allure Sales and Distribution Company, and AllureCollege Its Core Business Activities are Day Spa and Grooming Services Delivery, Product Distribution, Education and Training and & Spa, Grooming and Image Consulting.
As an Entrepreneur, Dzigbordi is passionate about raising the standards in the Wellness and Beauty Industry in Africa to reach the Global Standard of Excellence. This focus drove her to lead her team to successfully launch the first ever Spa and Beauty Expo in West Africa called IYABA to create a platform of Training, Education and Networking for Spa and Beauty businesses which are playing a major but unrecognized role in SME development in Africa. Dzigbordi has also co created an authentically African skin and body care aromatherapy and spa line “KANSHI” which incorporates ingredients from West Africa such as papaya, mango, coconut and shea butter with healing and nourishing benefits.
In addition to various Spa Management Qualifications, Dzigbordi has an Economics and Finance Degree from Virginia State University and Executive Education from Harvard University both in the USA. Dzigbordi loves the game of tennis, inspirational reading and worship music. She is married and blessed with a beautiful daughter.
21. Ngozi Opara |Heat Free Hair | Nigerian: Heat Free Hair is the story of a woman entrepreneur with a passion for natural hair combined with the entrepreneurial drive to start a business providing natural hair extensions, plus a movement to educate and inform women on how to care for their natural hair. Ngozi Opera is the founder of Heat Free Hair, the first manufacturer of Virgin Hair exclusively created to blend with African American textured, kinky, and curly hair. The company provides hair extensions in the form of wefted hair, clip-in extensions, and wigs. The Heat Free Hair Movement expands beyond the company’s products and focuses on the education of the natural hair community through seminars and instructional videos, as well as events for natural women to network with other women alike.
22. Irene Ochem |ICO Conferences and Events | Nigerian: Building a genuinely pan-African brand can be a challenge, but it is one that entrepreneur Irene Ochem is more than ready for, as her company, ICO Conferences & Events Limited, is building a great reputation for organising successful and high profile events across the continent. She is also creating a great network for women decision-makers and opinion-formers to come together and help to foster the empowerment of African women. ICO Conferences & Events Limited is a young international and professional conference, exhibition and event management company. The company, which is based in Nigeria and South Africa but which operates across Africa, creates, designs and produces world-class, high-profile business-to-business, multi-stakeholder conferences and corporate events. ICO owns its conferences, exhibitions and events, and takes the process from creating the idea through to concept development, production and execution.
23. Omoyemi Akerele | Lagos Fashion and Design Week | Nigerian: Omoyemi Akerele founded the Lagos Fashion and Design Week in 2011 and is also founder and artistic director of Style House Files, the organising body behind the annual four-day fashion showcase. Style House Files is a Creative Development Agency that primarily focuses on the advancement of the Nigerian and African Fashion Industry. Omoyemi is widely regarded as a driving force behind the burgeoning Nigerian fashion industry. She helps brands gain essential international exposure through presenting showcases at Pitti Immagine in Italy, and through Lagos Fashion and Design Week.
24. Adelaide Ahwireng | Fio Enterprise Ltd | Ghanaian: Adelaide Ahwireng Adelaide Ahwireng, Managing Director, Fio Enterprise Ltd., Accra.A decade ago, Ms. Ahwireng set up Fio Enterprises Ltd. as a limited liability trading concern and manufacturers’ representative.It currently employs over 100 people and has a turnover of approximately 100 billion cedis per annum.It is currently the number one distributor for Unilever (Gh) Ltd, Nestle Ghana Ltd, as well as a leading distributor of Accra Brewery Ltd. and Ghana Breweries Ltd.Fio Enterprise has won several awards for its distribution network and turnover.Adelaide graduated in 1982 with a BSc (Hons) in Building Technology from the University of Science and Technology and worked for 12 years with the State Construction Corporation from 1996 as its Senior Quantity Surveyor.In 1999 she won a Cochran Fellowship to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
25. Oyindamola Honey Oyediyi | fashpa.com | Nigerian: Oyindamola Honey Oyediyi is the founder of Fashpa.com, a Nigerian online fashion store retailing trendy clothes, footwear, and accessories. Oyindamola started Fashpa.com after she couldn’tfind any great fashion in the country and decided to leverage her e-commerce platform to serve others frustrated like her.
26. Olatorera Oniru | DressMeOutlet | Nigerian:
In Nigeria’s rapidly growing fashion retail marketplace, Olatorera Oniru and her new online retail platform are on a mission to contribute to the growth of local manufacturing in the areas of fashion and health & beauty in the country. Dressmeoutlet.com is Nigeria’s foremost retailer for high-quality fashion products, health & beauty products and home-goods. With over 1,000 products to shop from, the platform retails various sophisticated styles from premium designers globally. Dressmeoutlet.com is very strongly focused on quality, with business processes built to ensure that customers experience quality, uniformity and excellence. Dressmeoutlet.com retails the best selection of products sourced locally and internationally, ranging from dresses to shoes, and health to beauty products. Customer service is optimal as the platform ensures each individual customer gets the dedicated service they want.
27. Claudia Lumor | Glitz Africa | Ghanaian
28. Ijeoma Ndekwu |Redrick Public Relations |Nigerian
29. Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola | Radiant Health Magazine |Nigerian
30. Afi Amoro | JANDEL Event Planners and Florist | Ghanaian
31. Aisha Ayensu | Christie Brown | Ghanaian
32. Rainat Komolafe | Babies Essence | Nigerian
33. Femi Olayebi | My World of Bags |Nigerian
34. Eva Sonaike | Interior and lifestyle brand | Nigerian
35. Anita Wiafe-Asinor | OML Africa | Ghanaian
36. Anne Amuzu | Nandi Mobile | Ghanaian
37. Ayoronke Tosin Yeye |iMentor Africa | Nigerian
38. Anne Marie Adoley Addo | Jil Boutique | Ghanaian
39. Olubukola Asafa | Oba Couture | Nigerian
40. Joycee Awojoodu | ORÍKÌ | Nigeria
41. Leslie Okoye | Cookie Skin | Nigerian
42. Berlinda Baidoo |B2 Models | Ghanaian
43. Annette Akye | Beautique GH | Ghanaian
44. Adenike Akinsemolu | The Green Campus Initiative | Nigerian
45. Asabea Agbenu | Windrow Consult | Ghanaian
46. Bernice Daapah | Ghana Bamboo Bikes | Ghanaian
47. Rita Kusi | Kusi Consulting | Ghanaian
48. Zainab Ashadu | Zashadu Bags | Nigerian
49. Damilola Solesi |SMIDS Animation Studios | Nigerian
50. Anastasia Afiyo Atiglo | Afiyo Creations| Ghanaian
51. Ugochi Ugbomeh | Tranzit | Nigerian
52. Nkem Okocha | Mamamoni Limited | Nigerian
53. Oreoluwa Somolu Lesi | Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre |Nigerian
54. Wunmi Amokeodo | Design for Love | Nigerian
55. Gladys Amorkor Commey | All Pure Nature | Nigerian
56. Fatima Babakura | Timabee | Nigerian
57. Gwen Gyimah | Hair Senta | Ghanaian
58. Gloria Buckman Yankson | Plantit Ghana |Ghanaian
59. Beryl Agyekum | Echo House Ghana | Ghanaian
60. Deloris Frimpong Manso | Excellencia Ghana Limited | Ghanaian