Special focus on Most Outstanding and Result-oriented Nigerian Female CEOs in 2022: Part One
The year 2022 has been quite challenging for corporate governance in Nigeria. The infrastructure and security challenges in most parts of the country, coupled with dwindling oil revenue, combined to pose daunting challenges to the organization’s operation in Nigeria.
As usual, coming out with a list of Nigeria’s top 50 female CEOs is a Herculean task judging from the array of many accomplished players who have distinguished themselves in one way or the other in contributing to the growth and steering their organizations to optimum market dominance. In this era of change, these CEOs have firmly distinguished their organizations as some of the best managed in corporate Nigeria that others should emulate.
Rita Adachukwu James: A Visionary Leader, New Markets Pioneer
Mrs. Rita Adachukwu James is an astute businesswoman and impact coach. She founded Merciport Resources Limited in October 2007 at the age of 27, with the determination to provide real time energy solutions to customers in the downstream oil and gas sector.
As the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, she combines boardroom sessions, business strategy and planning meetings with the running of her women and youth empowerment organisation, a not-for-profit outfit, called Shunammite Foundation.
A graduate of agricultural economics from the Prestigious University of Ibadan, Rita James identified a delay gap in the supply chain of the Nigerian downstream oil and gas sector and she started Merciport Resources Limited to solve this problem.
Under her leadership, the company has become one of the leading independent petroleum products marketers in the country, in the non-depot owner’s category. She has an eye for innovative sustainable energy solutions and is ready to go out of her way to get it.
In her commitment to contribute to the global action towards a clean and sustainable environment, she started Merciport Energy Services Limited. Her companies that focuses on clean-burning energy sources such as the Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG). The firm targets the under-served sectors of the economy, semi-urban areas and the grassroots.
Merciport Energy Services ventured into areas some companies felt were not viable and in two years of its operation the company has constructed two LPG plants to encourage the usage of LPG in low-income areas.
In 2014, Mrs James was nominated in the Master’s Category of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In addition to this, the Chartered Institute of Corporate Marketing and Management of Nigeria in 2016 awarded Merciport a Distinguished Merit Award in Marketing Management.
In 2018, She was recognised as the IWEC 2018 Businesswoman of repute at the IWEC’s 11th yearly Conference and Awards held at the China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS).
As a change agent and social impact humanitarian, her non-profit, The Shunammite Foundation supported underprivileged persons, providing capacity training, and access to capital and other necessary resources, to make them self-sufficient to meet their immediate needs and their families. Some beneficiaries of this include So-Said Charity Homes, Pure Religion Widows among others.
In 2014 her foundation was recognised for its humanitarian activities and also won an award for its outstanding contributions to humanity.
As expected of any visionary leader Mrs James has attended different trainings, conferences and seminars within and outside the country. Some of trainings were held at the London Business School (LBS); Harvard Business School (HBS); Myles Munroe Leadership Training, the ‘She Works Here’ All-Women Accelerator, among others.
She is a fellow of the Wimboard Institute, an alumnus of the Lagos Business School and currently serves on Covenant University’s Board of Regents; the apex decision-making body of the University. She is happily married with four children.
Stella Okene: A Resilience, Uprightness Amazon of the Boardroom
Dr Stella Okene is a Petroleum Engineer. She is an inexorable entrepreneur. She is the astute and exceptional Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Stelog Energy Group which comprises innovative energy solution companies.
Stella also sits on the board of several companies including Stelog Inc. U.S.A; Stelog, Uganda; SSNERG LLC, Houston, Texas; and SteRov Consortium. Aside from this, she has invested heavily in the real estate sector.
Aside from being a trained engineer from the University of Port Harcourt, Stella belongs to different professional bodies among which are the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE); Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE); Nigerian Gas Association (NGA); WIMBIZ; WeConnect International; Women In Energy Network (WIEN), among others.
She holds an honorary doctorate degree in Business Administration from the Commonwealth University of Belize; a distinguished Nigerian Women of Merit Award (TDNWMA 2005); Great African Merit Award (GAMA 2005); Ghana Outstanding 2008 Great African Patriotic Achievers Gold Award; African Women Nation Builders Award 2006; African Leader Par Excellence Award 2009 and others.
Dr Okene devotes her time and resources to the promotion of gender equality, as well as encouraging women to embrace entrepreneurship and acquire skills that will enable them to manage their businesses and excel in leadership positions.
She indubitably thrives on the ethos of diligence and excellence in her sphere of influence. As a humble super achiever, Okene believes in personal development. She is an embodiment of resilience and uprightness.
She is married with a son.
Elizabeth Kings-Wali: Insightful CEO, A Visionary Purveyor
Dr. Elizabeth Kings-Wali is the Chief Executive Officer of BlackStone Capital Limited, an unconventional financial service provider that is focused on closing the financial inclusion gap through innovative capital and advisory support to small and medium scale enterprises, individuals, and emerging corporates.
BlackStone Capital offers innovative working capital and expansion finance to emerging organisations including, manufacturing, telecoms, oil and gas, education, real estate, hospitality and even open market traders.
She has over two decades experience spanning across banking, retailing business, SME and Public sector, growing investment portfolios, and supporting businesses with quality risk assets and advisory services.
Her banking career was on an upward trajectory because of her quest for knowledge and self-development. This self-growth and development earned her several awards, recognitions and certification, both locally and internationally.
She is an alumnus of London Business School, Lagos Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University Wales (UK), University of Abuja, Nigeria, and Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT).
Kings-Wali is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (FCIB) and also an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland (CIBIS), the oldest banking institute in the world. She is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Finance and Control (CIFCN), a Fellow of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), a member of the Institute of Information and Strategy Management (IISM), a Certified Project Manager (PMI), member of the African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO) and an associate member of Women in Management, Business and Public Services (WIMBIZ).
Her stellar performance in the banking sector propelled her to the level of Group Head, Retail and SME, Abuja and North Central in a Tier 2 Commercial Bank in Nigeria. She was at some point also the Regional Head of the bank.
Prior to her banking career, Kings-Wali had a stint in the oil and gas service industry where she worked as a human resource associate with Chevron Nigeria Limited and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Port Harcourt.
Kings-Wali started her banking career in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2001. She later moved to Abuja, the capital city, but returned to Lagos, in 2018 to work in some of the topnotch commercial banks in the state.
Dr Kings-Wali’s uncommon exposure and in-depth knowledge of the commercial and public sector businesses stands her out among her peers all through her years in the banking sector. Drawing from her stores of knowledge, she established Blackstone Capital Limited in 2019. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company.
Blackstone serves as a bridge between capital providers and entrepreneurs, as it provides capital for production.
Most importantly, Blackstone’s offerings are tailored towards the growth and sustenance of SMEs, stimulating jobs and enhancing social and economic inclusion in the country.
The company’s strategy hinges on diligent execution and sound governance practices. It is out to deliver smart, personalised, and efficient financial services to its clients. It has continued to distinguish itself with its core value of trust, which summarises the service-oriented and transparent culture of the firm.
Blackstone Capital Limited is an active member of the Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce and the Nigerian-South African Chamber of Commerce.
For her outstanding contributions to corporate and business management, the prestigious European-American University in 2019 conferred on Dr Elizabeth Kings-Wali an Honorary Doctorate degree in business management and corporate leadership.
Funmi Adewara: Saving Lives, Taking Healthcare To The Nooks
Dr Funmi Adewara is a multi-award-winning United Kingdom-based Nigerian-British Physician. Trained as a bioscience entrepreneur at Cambridge University, Adewara has a multi-disciplinary background in clinical medicine, pharmaceutical and business development across the healthcare and energy sectors.
With a stint in the pharmaceutical industry as a drug safety physician, Adewara for over 15 years worked mainly within the NHS in the UK.
Driven by the passion to change the African healthcare narrative by leveraging information technology, Adewara has engaged her Mobihealth to save many people and has won different awards globally.
In June 2020, the United Nations honoured her with the World Bank Sustainable Development Goals (SDG3). She was also one of the seven global winners picked from the 2,400 contestants across the globe for the award. As the first Nigerian to get this coveted prize, President Muhammadu Buhari at the then nation’s 60th independence anniversary in October 2020 sent a congratulatory message to her.
On Saturday, October 23, 2021, Dr Adewara emerged as one of the eight outstanding Nigerian achievers in the UK and was honoured with the Nigerian-British Awards. The award was presented to her by the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, at the event held at the Hilton Paddington, London.
Adewara’s integrated digital health company has established access to healthcare delivery through the deployment of solar and satellite-powered telehealth cabins in remote areas in Nigeria and across different local councils in seven states — Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Kogi, Kano Benue and Abuja. The company is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other organisations and institutions to deliver its world-class services. The mobile application gives access to instant medical care nationwide to anyone with access to computers and mobile phones for as low as N5000 per year per family. She is passionate about her dream of universal health coverage for vulnerable communities.
Mobihealth also pioneered Integrated Telehealth solutions in the Nigerian Armed Forces to improve the welfare of the officers.
These laudable initiatives attracted more awards including, the Euro knowledge Digital Healthcare Personality Award at the House of Lords in London in April 2022. The company was also featured as a proud finalist at the CISCO Global Problem Solver Awards in 2021. Her healthcare idea is born from her childhood challenges and experience as a medical student and young medical graduate.
Adewara’s leadership qualities earned her the Prof Akinkugbe Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Leadership Award at her graduation ceremony at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where she served as the treasurer of the University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association and Vice Chairman, Action Group on Adolescent Health (AGAH).
During the maiden Africa UK Investment Summit of January 2020, Adewara was invited by PM Boris Johnson as one of the five winners of the African Female Tech Founders (FTF) award sponsored by the UK government. Mobihealth is one of the UK Government Accredited COVID-19 test providers.
As an international speaker, Adewara has been featured as a panellist on Forbes Africa and Philips’ Africa Future Health Summit by CNBC, the United Nations Committee on Science Technology and Innovation, the African Development Bank, Channels TV, BBC radio’s Focus Africa, Channel 5 TV UK, Financial Times London, Telegraph and Voice of Africa — the largest African Diaspora news channel.
Adewara is one of the +600 Diaspora icons honoured by the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission during the nation’s National Day celebration and has been recognised as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent, (MIPAD).
She is a member of the American Telemedicine Association, the British Medical Association, UK and the prestigious Pitch@Palace Alumni network.
Adewara has contributed to shaping policy across the continent through her participation as an external reviewer with the African Development Institute Global Community of Practice G-CoP, under the Africa Development Bank, seminar on “Building Resilient Health Systems; Policies For Inclusive Health In Post COVID-19 Africa.’’
She also featured in the AFDB’s yearly meetings and talks in 2021 along with other global thought leaders including AfDB’s President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina; CDC Director, Dr John N. Nkengasong; and WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti titled, “Building Africa’s Healthcare Defense System.”
Under her strategic leadership, Mobihealth was awarded a $1m grant by the United States of America Government through USTDA. This was made public at the grant signing ceremony at the US Embassy, Abuja on October 17, 2022. Mobihealth also signed a partnership with the Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) to extend telehealth services to its over six million customers.
Barr. (Mrs) Patience Dappa: An Astute Builder and An Accomplished Legal Practitioner
Mrs Patience Dappa is an accomplished legal practitioner. Her record of over 35 years in the profession attests to this.
With a first and second degree in law from the University of Calabar and the University of Lagos, respectively, Dappa set off to Alegeh and Associates, where she cut her teeth as an attorney with special attention on company laws, property and litigation.
Leaving Alegeh and Associates, she moved to T and A Management Consultants, as the company’s secretary and legal adviser.
Having garnered enough experience in the legal profession, the attorney branched out to establish Pat Dappa and Associates, a law firm of barristers and solicitors of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. It is a firm of arbitrators, leasing consultants, and insolvency practitioners.
Not afraid to take giant strides in her career, Mrs Dappa in 2005 moved to Masters Energy Group as the company’s secretary and by dint of hard work and dedication to duty rose to become the company’s Executive Director and later the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer. With this rise, she began to oversee the over 25 subsidiary companies under the group.
Since occupying the topmost position in 2019 in Masters Energy Group, the company has gone through tremendous growth and expansion. For her luminary and expertise in law, the former Governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, appointed her in 2005 as a member of a Review Committee to see to the then Delta State laws alongside other professionals. This availed her the opportunity of knowing more about the constitutional structure of the state.
As an astute reader and lover for knowledge, Dappa despite her second degree in law, went back to the University of Lagos, Akoka, to pursue another master’s degree in humanitarian and refugee studies. This enables her to know more about humanity and refugees.
To adequately arm herself to face complex challenges outside the Nigeria’s shores, the attorney enrolled in a Master’s degree in maritime law at the Metropolitan University, London. Dappa is a Chartered Arbitrator, having qualified to be an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (ACIArb), (UK). She is also a member of the International and Nigerian Bar Associations. An Alumnus of Lagos Business School; Queens School of Business Executive Education, Canada; and the Cambridge University Judge Business School, United Kingdom.
She has attended many trainings and seminars across the globe including, Assessing and Managing Risk in Oil and Gas Contract in New York; and LNG World Conference, Brisbane in Australia among others.
Aside from family and work, Dappa is a philanthropist. Her passion for constantly spreading the milk of human kindness to the indigent has earned her the nickname “Mother General” by the staff of Masters Energy Group and those close to her. She is ever ready to give a helping hand to the needy, irrespective of tribe and creed.
Dappa has bagged different awards and recognitions locally and internationally for her acumen in business, prowess to handle boardroom politics and the ability to groom young people to management positions. Apart from being a virtuous woman and Mother-in-Israel in her church, Dappa is happily married. She has two biological children and numerous others adopted.