#BlackGirlMagic and other hashtags have recently spiralled a focus on celebrating the success and achievements of black women around the world. To continue this trend, we’d like to further zoom in and celebrate our very own female Nigerian entrepreneurs.
As we know, Women rule the world, but did you know they also rule Nigeria?! From Make-up to Technology, female Nigerian entrepreneurs are thriving! They are breaking boundaries and establishing themselves where they belong — at the very top. Here are some you may or may not know along with a brief summary of their accolades and achievements.
1) Tara Fela-Durotoye of House of Tara International
A name known for changing the cosmetic game in Nigeria, Tara is the Founder and CEO of House of Tara International.
She is also the Creator of Tara Orekelewa Beauty brand, Inspired Perfume and H.I.P Beauty range.
Tara started her make-up business at the age of 20 whilst a student at University — from her living room! Today, her brand stands as a franchise with three core lines of business: make-up products, the make-up studio and the make-up school — which was incidentally the first one in Nigeria.
In 2014, Tara hosted the Make-up in Nigeria Conference (MINC), the first ever gathering of makeup professionals in Nigeria. She is seen as a pioneer in the bridal make-up profession in Nigeria.
Her entrepreneurial success has been acknowledged by Forbes — 20 Young Power Women in Africa, World Economic Forums — as a Young Global Leader, CNN’s African Voices and many more. She has mentored/trained thousands of women across Africa, empowering them to follow her steps in the walk of entrepreneurship.
2) Mo Abudu of Ebony Life TV
Mo Abudu is a media entrepreneur, human resources management consultant and according to Forbes, ‘Africa’s most successful woman’.
She was headhunted to join Esso Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited (now ExxonMobil) in 1993, following a successful Human Resources career in the UK. In 2000, she went on to establish a private human resources development company known as Vic Lawrence & Associates Limited (VLA).
However, Mo felt a need to positively project Africa on the global stage and this need led to her transition from human resources consultant to host and Producer of ‘Moments with Mo’ in 2006. The show is one of the most successful syndicated talk shows on African regional television with TV coverage in 48 African countries.
Her vision to display Africa in a more positive light, further spurred her to launch Ebony Life Television in 2013. Ebony Life TV is Africa’s first Global Black Multi-Broadcast Entertainment Network, on a mission to portray a more independent and confident Africa; an Africa that speaks for itself.
In recognition of her work in diverse fields especially in media, Mo has received laurels from Forbes Media as the first African woman to launch a Pan-Africa TV channel; and Women Werk in New York — Entrepreneur of the Year award. She has also been listed as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Global TV by the Hollywood Reporter. Did somebody say ‘Girl Power!?’
3) Kofo Akinkugbe of SecureID Nigeria Ltd
Kofo is the Founder and CEO of SecureID, Africa’s leading Smart Card manufacturing and personalization company.
She started out within the banking industry working with International Merchant bank plc and Chartered Bank Limited over the span of 12 years. She went on to work at Interface Technologies — a security management and biometrics technologies company for nine years.
Using all her experiences, an MBA from the University of Strathclyde and her innovative mind, Kofo decided to start SecureID Nigeria. Today she stands as a market leader in the smart card technology and digital security industry, in Africa. She is one of six smart card manufacturers in West Africa, and one of 80 worldwide.
In 2012, Kofo won the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship Mature Business Award; she strongly emphasises on maximising creativity within ourselves and our workers — pointing out that innovation is the drive forward. We can’t argue with her there, her success tells.
4) Olajumoke Adenowo of AD Consulting
CNN described Jumoke as ‘Africa’s Starchitect’ because of her exploits in architecture and philanthropy.
At the age of 14, Jumoke enrolled in Obafemi Awolowo University where she graduated with a BSc Hons Architecture at age 19. She went on to design the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, at age 23!
Jumoke is the founder of AD Consulting, an architecture and interior design firm, which she started at the age 26. AD Consulting has been involved in the design and construction of more than 70 projects inclusive of government buildings, healthcare facilities, financial institutions, private residencies and more. AD Consulting also has a clientele of the likes of Coca-Cola and L’Oreal.
In 1999, Jumoke founded Awesome Treasures Foundation, an NGO that focuses on helping under-served women and children. She also hosts a radio show called ‘Leadership — Voice of Change’, which inspires and mentors young Nigerian entrepreneurs.
She has received recognition from the United Nations Information Centre, CNN and Women’s Optimum Development Foundation for her work with women empowerment and philanthropy. Is it even possible to say everything she does in one mouthful?
5) Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola of Wecyclers
Bilikiss is an inspiring social entrepreneur and the brains behind the waste management company that is ‘WeCyclers’. WeCyclers uses great initiative, strategy and concern to battle the issue of waste management and recycling in Lagos.
Teaming up with Lawma, Bilikiss devised a reward based method of trash collection — in particularly inaccessible areas of Lagos to encourage recycling. Rewards are given to participants for every kilogram recycled, via points sent by SMS. These points are then redeemable against goods they value, such as cell phone minutes or basic food items.
The idea came to her whilst on her MBA program at MIT in 2012; since then, WeCyclers has grown and formed partnerships with the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, Coca-Cola, Unilever and DHL.
WeCyclers is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Initiative Award, Yunus Challenge Prize at the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge Competition, Carroll Wilson Fellowship and Sustainia100 company Award. Bilikiss was also awarded the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award and selected as the Laureate for Sub-Saharan Africa. She really did spin trash to work in her favour.
6) Funke Opeke of Main One Cable Company
Funke is the Founder and CEO of Main One, she is known to be a hardworking woman, a detailed planner and the mastermind behind the major leap in internet accessibility across Nigeria and Ghana.
She had a successful career in telecoms in the US where she worked as an executive director at Verizon; after which she decided to move home to Nigeria where she could potentially make a difference.
On returning to Nigeria, she was met with very little connectivity and noted not just a gap in the market, but also a gap in societal development. In a bid to fix this problem, she joined NITEL for a brief period where she birthed the idea for Main One.
In 2007, she founded Main One which today is reputable for providing internet and telecom services, fibre optic networks and data centre facilities across West Africa. Main One’s coverage currently spans across 8 West Africa countries, the largest telecom and internet company in West Africa.
Funke has played a significant role in increasing connectivity across Nigeria. As a result of her efforts, Nigeria has seen a rise in Digital/Online Banking, a boom in e-commerce and introduction of mail order companies like Konga and Jumia aswell as worldwide apps like Uber. Funke really is the plug.
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