Leading ladies Africa – 100 Most inspiring women in Nigeria 2020
Now in its fifth consecutive year, Leading Ladies Africa in conjunction with YNaija presents its 100Women list, chronicling 100 of the most inspiring, influential, powerful and innovative women in Nigeria.
“We’re thrilled to be able to show the world the diversity and multifacetedness of what it truly means to be a Nigerian woman,” says Francesca Uriri, Founder, Leading Ladies Africa.
“Nigerian women all over the world, in politics, business, social enterprise public policy, the corporate space, the creative sector are present and redefining what leadership and excellence mean. This list reflects that diversity and acts as a catalyst to motivate a new generation of female changemakers, innovators, and disruptors. This year, we are asking how we can actively challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, celebrate and recognize the contributions as well as the impact of Nigerian women. What do we need to do to help create and maintain a gender-equal world? These and many more are what this 2020 list hopes to highlight.
Amanda is an advocate of safe spaces for people living with disabilities. Co-founder at Initiative for National Growth, she focuses on building social and emotional capacity in differently-abled persons and training caregivers. She sits on the Board of Directors for Global Youth Initiative and Ambassador of Global Peace Chain, Nepal. She is also a partner in the KEC, USA, Cherie Blaire Foundation for Women and Spring Foundation where she offers mentoring support to both undergraduates and entrepreneurs.
Abimbola is the founder and managing partner at AUDEO, a firm that focuses on providing SMEs across Africa with bookkeeping and accounting services as well as leveraging the accounting information obtained to proffer initiatives to improve efficiency, reduce costs and wastages, create capabilities and optimize capacity. As a social change activist, Abimbola is committed to finding and implementing solutions to some of the most intricate problems that affect youths and their society. She is also the founder of The Healthy Salad Company, a wholesome healthy meal company based in Lagos.
Abisola is a beauty professional and a graduate of English from the University of Ilorin. In 2012, she landed a job as a Make-up Artist with Africa Magic, where she worked between 2012 and 2015, playing make-up artists on set to a host of Africa’s top celebrities. In 2015, not only did Abisola open her flagship studio, she took a bold step by extending her professional portfolio to include make-up products manufacturing with the launch of Beelashes, her own eyelash brand.
Adekemi is the founder, Dentoville Foundation and co-founder, Komplete Woman. A dentist, her foundation focuses on providing free oral health education and treatments to the less privileged, especially people in rural areas. She is also the co-founder of Komplete Woman, an organization that mentors young women to discover their purpose.
Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes
Adesuwa is the founder/Managing Partner, Aruwa Capital Management, one of the few women-led and owned investment firms in Sub Saharan Africa and is committed to advancing women’s economic empowerment throughout all of its investments through its gender lens investing approach.
Amara Kanu Nwankwo
Amara is perhaps famous for her football celebrity husband but over the years, she has proven that there is more to her than being a celebrity’s wife. She is a fitness and wellness coach as well as an author. Amara has a degree in Architecture and Entrepreneurial Management and has spent the past few years coaching women around the globe on achieving healthier lifestyles through exercise, nutrition and lifestyle choices. Recently, she launched her gym and sportswear brand for women “AKhealthy” and it definitely is making waves.
Amba is an international development consultant with over seven years of experience applying mobile and digital strategies for improved businesses in local communities and the development of the private sector in Nigeria. She is also the founder of iDareNotDread Nigeria, a social engineering platform promoting innovation, creativity, and enterprise through storytelling and value sharing. She is also the Team Lead of the Build My Business initiative born out of iDareNotDread’s enterprise, centred on building skills and capacities for young people in the business. She has gone from transforming ordinary people who would have never thought of writing their own books, to making them authors. Presently, over 250 women have become authors ever since she launched her ebook Program last year.
She has also organised free digital marketing skills training for over 4000 people, many of whom are women. She has also supported over 1000 small businesses to achieve scalability and growth especially, by helping them identify and understand the importance of target markets and market validation.
Apaokagi Adedoyin Maryam aka Taaooma
Taaooma whose real name is Apaokagi Adedoyin Maryam is a popular Nigerian online comedian, content creator, and cinematographer from Kwara State known for her comedy style of making jest of typical Nigerian mothers. She emphasizes the unique manner African mothers respond to the actions of their children.
Arit is a Nigerian journalist and television host of CNN International’s African Voices Changemakers and former presenter/producer at EbonyLife TV. She is the current voice of CNN’s African Voices and is the host for web talk show Untold Facts, produced by The Initiative for Equal Rights. Arit worked with the CNN team on Richard Quest’s visit to Nigeria for Quest Business Traveller. She has hosted corporate events within and outside Nigeria and is an experienced panel moderator.
Osowobi is passionate about teaching men to respect women’s rights. As the Executive Director of Stand to End Rape Initiative (STER), she is responsible for conducting advocacy and project implementation and ensuring survivors of gender-based violence receive medical, legal, and psycho-social services. Through her work, she was selected as one of 200 Obama Young Leaders: Africa. As an advocate, she is proud to have broken the culture of silence on rape in Nigeria and establishing an NGO to provide support to victims. In 2019, she was one of 53 women on a list of 100 names Time has dubbed “the world’s most ascendant leaders” who are “rising stars in their fields”. In March, she won the title of Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2019 after helping thousands of sexual and domestic abuse victims in Nigeria.
Barbara is a Cake Designer, Founder and Managing Director of Oven Secret Limited. A graduate of Electrical Electronics Engineering with an MBA in Oil and Gas Management; after years of searching for a job, and finding none, she learned a skill and started baking cakes. This became her profession and career. In 2015, she registered for cake-baking and decorating training at Fair Cake, a premier cake school in London. By September that year, she returned to Nigeria and her business officially kicked off in Port Harcourt. Barbara was on the 2019 Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list.
Beverly won Most Promising Talent at 2010 Best of Nollywood Awards. She also won the award for Fast Rising Actress at the 2011 City People Entertainment Awards. In 2019, she shot a documentary called “Skin” that featured several victims and highlighted the issues related to loving one’s skin.
Blessing is a Nigerian freestyle wrestler. She competed in the freestyle 63 kg event at the 2012 Summer Olympics and won the bronze medal in the women’s middleweight at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Banker-turned photographer, Busola is the Founder of Integrated Services Ltd, The Skills Kitchen, and Me Too Movement Advocate. In 2019, she became a strong advocate for the “Me Too” movement when she bared a no hold back interview on overcoming rape which led to several movements on and offline. Busola is a brave survivor and by speaking out, has helped women speak out against the patriarchal traditions continuing to stigmatise rape survivors in Africa.
As a Girl-child expert, Carolyn is passionate about empowering adolescent girls and women to access basic rights education and build requisite skills to enable them to champion advocacy for their rights exploring innovative approaches to promote gender equality. She founded Girls Voices Initiative and inspires girls and women to use technology and digital media to amplify their voices on critical social issues affecting them. As a tech evangelist with an equal fascination for digital media, she heads the work at the Initiative, whose focus is to build a Girls’ Rights Movement and empower adolescent girls and young women to explore technology and digital media to champion advocacy for girls’ rights and innovative solutions to critical social issues affecting girls and women.
Dr. Cassandra is currently the team lead for The Nigerian Child Initiative, a non-profit which promotes child health awareness and sustainable education to empower them with healthy choices. Her work centres on helping these children understand that sound education and good health are vital determinants in ensuring their success as future leaders. In her years of working with the initiative, she and her team have reached out to over three thousand children in schools on SDG education by organising inter-school essay competitions, workshops, research masterclasses, seminars and capacity building programmes.
Chiamaka Ndukwu Theresa
Chiamaka co-founded Agrohive to boost rural smallholder farmers’ productivity by giving them access to advanced Agricultural Extension services, access to improved farm inputs, and agricultural technologies. AgroHive has created more manpower in rural agriculture through organizing and assisting over 1,800 underserved youths and women in rural communities to participate actively by establishing 123 community demonstration farms and also training rural farmers, women, youths, and children in communities across Ekiti, Abeokuta, Lagos and Oyo state, with sustainable, innovative and climate-smart agricultural practises as a means to reduce rural poverty through increased household income and help to achieve national food security. This initiative has helped 2,300 households combat hunger, created over 300 employment opportunities and ensured improved livelihoods of 300 people.
Ogwumike is a Nigerian-American professional basketball player for The Los Angeles Sparks of the Women’s National Basketball Association. In February, Chiney via her Ogwumike Sisters Foundation organized a sports development and mentoring programme for female basketball players from secondary schools to a professional level. She holds the record for most rebounds in the history of Stanford Women’s Basketball and the Pac-12 Conference, as of January 3, 2014. In 2014, she signed a deal with Nike soon after being drafted first overall in the WNBA. As of 2016, she was elected Vice-President of the WNBA Players Association and signed an endorsement deal with Adidas.
Chinny is the founder of The Women International (TWI), a Self-Improvement and Personal Development platform for women dedicated to helping women from all walks of life build a better future for themselves, their families and businesses by equipping them with the tools and resources to realise their full potential. Her passion for women empowerment began in the US where she studied public policy and philosophy and took courses in women studies and political science. She is highly experienced in non-profit management and research analysis focused on women affairs, policies and social development. She has worked in Nigeria and in the US, including the Centre for Women in Politics and Public Policy, Boston Massachusetts, The Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights in Boston and The Health Care Federation of Nigeria (HFN).
Chinwe oversees Citi’s Global Anti-Bribery and Corruption (AB&C) Program and is responsible for global AB&C governance, policy maintenance and communication, risk assessment, advisory-related activities, training, and due diligence on third parties. She was previously VP and Anti-Bribery Compliance Officer at Goldman, Sachs & Co. (GSCO), and also VP in the Reg Audits & Inquiries Group at GSCO. Prior to her return to GSCO, Chinwe served as Assistant Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, MN, where she taught Law and Finance in Emerging Markets, Securities Regulation, and Business Associations.
Chioma is the founder, Accounting Hub NG, which launched in 2015 to offer online and retail shops, professional accounting services. With Accounting Hub, Chioma brings together a collection of brilliant accountants and consultants offering quality accounting services to SMEs.
Clare is the Founder and Managing Director of JNC International, a Turnkey Medical Equipment Solutions company that presently has 16 exclusive Distributorship agreements with major Global Medical Equipment Manufacturers. In the span of her 27-year career, Clare has developed the required capabilities to effectively monitor and oversee installations/turnkey projects from the budding phase through execution to commissioning and post-commissioning.
Damilola is the co-founder and CEO of Shuttlers Logistics Company, a Lagos-based startup that uses web and mobile app tech to enable users book trips along fixed routes at 60-80 percent less than ride-hailing services. Damilola and her co-founder used their savings to start the company after her sister was robbed on her way to work by armed men disguised as public bus drivers.
Vlogger and beauty influencer, Dinma has been blogging and sharing beauty tips since 2011. A regular feature on most Nigerian blogs, Dimma’s YouTube makeup tutorials have garnered over 12 million views and she is well known for supporting both Nigerian and international brands. Dimma has been featured in big publications such as Essence magazine. Her blog Dimmaumeh.com won ‘Best Beauty Blog’ by popular votes and Judge’s choice in the 2013 Nigerian Blog Awards.
Dr Amy Jadesimi
Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL) and commissioner for business and sustainable development commission, Amy has an MBA from Stanford University, an MA (OXON) and BMBCh from Oxford University. She was voted the Young CEO of the Year in 2018 by the African Leadership Forum, an Archbishop Tutu Fellow working to reduce maternal mortality. She is also a Young Global Leader (WEF), Rising Talent (Women’s Forum for Economy and Society), 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa (Forbes), a Top 25 Africans to Watch (Financial Times) and was named as one of 2018’s Most Influential People of African Descent (Under 40) Worldwide, in support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (UN IDPAD). She is also a member, Advisory Board of Prince’s Trust International and contributor to Forbes.
Dr Anino Emuwa
Anino is the founder and managing director of Avandis Consulting in France which has a subsidiary in Nigeria. Her firm provides strategy and financial advisory services with expertise in SME finance. A former banker with Citibank, she is an experienced non-executive director and most recently, was a member of the board of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company PLC where she chaired the Audit Committee and was appointed board strategy lead. Anino is an advocate for women business leadership. As an AACSB certified business school instructor, she runs programmes for women leading businesses and convenes the women CEOs and the women business owners’ networks in Nigeria.
Dr Irene Olumese
Irene Olumese trained as a Nutrition Scientist with a Doctoral degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, working as a Nutrition Specialist with UNICEF for 15 years in three countries. For twenty years, she lived with chronic respiratory disease (Bronchiectasis) and debilitating neuromuscular disease (Myasthenia Gravis), which resulted in bilateral lung transplantation in April 2013. Following a complication from the surgery, she had bilateral mid-leg amputation in May 2013. She established the Feet of Grace Foundation, a charity organization that raises funds to provide prosthetic limbs for amputees in poor communities. She manages her bead jewelry-making business, Hands of Grace Creations, which supports the fund-raising efforts of the Foundation.
Dr Nneka Abulokwe (OBE)
Nneka, a British-Nigerian tech and digital governance entrepreneur is the founder/CEO of MicroMax Consulting and one of the first Afro-Caribbean professionals in the UK to sit on the board of a top European digital transformation organisation. She is also one of the first black female professionals to sit on the board of a multinational tech company in the UK and has received many awards. Highly regarded in the field of tech enablement and governance, she was recently ranked number four of the Financial Times Top 100 Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic (BAME) Tech Leaders for 2018. She was named as a finalist for the Governance Professional of the Year 2018 Award by the Governance Institute. She was also named in the 2019 Powerlist 100 most influential black business leaders. Nneka was awarded Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to business.
Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu
Shola is a New York Attorney and Solicitor of England and Wales with broad expertise in the financial services industry, an author, public speaker and political commentator featured in mainstream and online media. A political and women’s rights activist, she also teaches intersectional feminism to female refugees and asylum seekers; scrutinizes government policies from a gender and diversity inclusion perspective; and co-organises women’s marches and social campaigns.
Dr Wendy Okolo
Wendy is an aerospace research engineer in the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center and the first Black woman to obtain a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington and was also a winner of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards. She is also the Special Emphasis Programs Manager for Women at Ames.
Dr Yolanda George-David
Yolanda is a Neurosurgeon with her primary residency in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She is also a Clinical and Relational Psychologist with a concentration in child development. She is an Academic, a multiple award-winning International Public Speaker and Radio Show Host. She is also a Human Rights Activist and humanitarian. She began her charitable work aged 16 and has been very passionate about getting people off the streets. Driven by her passion to change the world, one person at a time, she founded Aunt Landa’s Bethel Foundation where over 25,000 sexually abused teenagers have been counselled and empowered with key vocational and life skills. She picks up prostitutes in dangerous areas for rehabilitation, rescues sexually abused girls and boys, fights for the oppressed, gives shelter to the abandoned, feeds thousands and covers educational and surgical fees amongst other life-changing initiatives. Aunt Landa works with a team of passionate volunteers and together they have helped redefine and add purpose to over a million registered and non-registered members with different needs.
Emem is a project manager and certified coach with expertise in Life Coaching and NLP. She has helped families restructure their lives and homes through personal and business projects as they deploy a work-life integration plan and structure at homes and in their businesses. Among her remarkable career achievements is her creation of a solution for busy professionals and entrepreneurs to manage and integrate their work-life and business. Using insights from her book “Parent Organizer”, several people have been able to set goals, deal with emotional issues and live their lives in more organized ways whether as parents, professionals or business owners.
Etimbuk was nominated for over six awards last year and won three for her contribution to agriculture among which are ELOY Foundation Award for Enterprise and SME100 Nigeria (Agriculture Category). She also provides training to most women on how to set up their agricultural businesses. In two years, Agroinnovation Business Hub has trained more than 5000 people directly and indirectly on sustainable farming techniques in the snail, vegetables, plantain, and mushroom production among which are members of Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (NASME), Agrobiz without Borders, Oron Women Association, Lagos Branch, churches and other associations.
Fabia is a lawyer and corporate executive with 19 years’ experience working in the fields of law and development across Corporate Organizations and nonprofits in the healthcare, gender, and entrepreneurship sectors. After working as an independent consultant, she joined WISCAR in March 2018 as an executive secretary. At WISCAR, she is responsible for strategy execution, programme development, and oversight, brokering partnerships, fundraising and stakeholder management.
Author, SDGs Advocate, Women Empowerment Advocate, Founder (Lumo Naturals) and Founder, Jamuje NG, an NGO empowering women in the North, Farida was in 2015, selected as one of 10 youth leaders to meet the then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon to discuss development, climate change and the role of youths in promoting sustainable development goals and increasing momentum and ownership in Nigeria, produce and communicate key messages to influence national political actions towards the implementation of the SDGs, and increase the knowledge of young people in Nigeria and across Africa on the new development agenda, especially on its opportunity for dealing with youth development issues.
She is a mentor for the SOS (Skills Outside School) foundation, and “I am Nigeria” Initiative; she mentors over 200 young girls on career choices, skills acquisition, and political inclusion using creative writing, workshops, and peer education.
Folake Kuye Huntoon
Folake is a fashion blogger and designer who owns Style Pantry, one of the most famous fashion blogs of our time. Whether on her Instagram with over 600k following or on the red carpet, her fashion style is elegant, classy and colourful.
Style Pantry is a network that features interviews on industry folks, street style, lookbooks, campaigns, and haute finds. In addition, she regularly updates her daily looks (as a working mother of three kids), sharing tips and secrets on where/how to shop for bargains and find vintage treasures.
Funke is a Nigerian lawyer, social justice advocate, and international development enthusiast. She founded Hope Behind Bars Africa in 2018 to increase access to justice for indigent inmates across Nigerian prison facilities as well as help correctional facilities in Nigeria achieve inmate rehabilitation and reintegration.
As a lawyer with six years experience, she has personally handled over 20 pro bono cases from the lowest courts up to Court of Appeal, most of which she secured an acquittal for inmates who had been wrongly accused. Funke is passionate about volunteering and involving people to be part of the change they seek to see.
Founder of iKapture Networks, a skill acquisition training organization and an after school program that educates, engages and equips students and out-of-school youths in Nigeria with skills to become leaders and entrepreneurs; Grace has reached over 3000 young people since inception. One of the services offered by ikpature is the YLEAD, a six-weeks intensive program, aimed at equipping young people in their transitional years with the necessary leadership, personal development, and entrepreneurial skills. She is also the founder of Opportunity Desk, a platform designed for women entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, providing mentorship, training and a network of information on relevant learning and growth opportunities for youths around the world.
Hajia Lami Tumaka
Former Director of Special Duties, Hajia Lami worked with NIMASA for 22 years. She joined the services of the then National Maritime Authority (NMA) as Chief Research Officer and her rise to the rank of Director has been characterised by several awards and accolades from within and without especially in the field of Public Relations which has defined most of her stay in the agency.
Ifeyinwa holds a B.Sc. in Accountancy but upon realizing her passion for interiors, established Design Options Ltd. In 1987. Since inception, Design Options has grown and is now widely recognized as one of Nigeria’s very best in its area of expertise, in recognition of which it was honoured with the 2004 St. Moritz Style Award for Interior Design. She is a volunteer mentor for the mentorship programme of the Fate Foundation.
Ijeoma is the Founder/CEO of dynamic gifts and surprises company, White Rabbit Favours, which creates and delivers unique gift packages and beautiful surprises for any celebration. Since being launched in 2013, the company has served over a thousand clients.
Intisar Bashir Kurfi
Founder of Ifrique Collections and Designs Ltd, Intisar works to promote SDG 6, which is providing clean water and sanitation through Sustainovation Solutions. The company now produces interlocking tiles and eco-friendly toilets using wastes from pep bottles and used sachet water plastics.
Irene is the Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF), a non-profit and pan-African women empowerment organization that works to promote and support women enterprise and innovation in Africa. She is also the Founder and Managing Director of ICO Conferences and Events, an international conference production and event management company. Before venturing into entrepreneurship, she worked for more than 20 years with international organisations in Europe and Africa and gained wide experience in management and international development.
Jade is the founder and creative director of the ready-to-wear Afrocentric fashion brand, Melia by Jade. In a short time, Jade has been able to not only carve a niche for herself but also become a household name. Successfully making fashion that cuts across all social status, she gives a percentage of her sales to organisations that look after women with breast cancer. Jadesola also has vast experience in media, television production and public relations spanning almost a decade across different organisations in Nigeria. She started out as the Media Officer at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and currently works as a Policy and Partnership Associate at All On, a Lagos-based impact Investment firm.
Jemima is an actress, model, and presenter who came into limelight after playing Leila in the television series, Shuga. She holds a degree from the University of Lagos in Physiotherapy, which she practices in addition to her acting career. She has managed to combine both worlds and in the past year, featured in some internationally recognised grossing movies such as Lions Heart and New Money.
Joana Nnazua Kolo
A humanitarian, advocate of good governance and youngest serving commissioner in Kwara State, Joana is a 2018 graduate of Library Science from Kwara State University and is believed to be the youngest commissioner in the history of Nigeria. A grassroots mobiliser and an ardent advocate of community development, Joana was nominated for appointment two weeks before the end of completing the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). As Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development in Nigeria, she was responsible for hosting the seventh Kwara State Sports Festival which held earlier in the year.
Karo is the founder of Sanitary Aid Initiative, a humanitarian and advocacy body that has aimed to promote the sanitary health of the girl-child across Nigeria. The organisation aims to provide free sanitary pads and other sanitary products including soaps, wipes, toilet bags, disinfectant, clean underwear and so on to girls from low-income families across public schools in Nigeria and girls in Internally Displaced Person Camps across the country. She has given out nearly 11,000 pads to girls and women across nine Nigerian states, all in under 24 months.
After graduating from theUniversity in 2012 with her degree in International Business, Kehinde went on to run My Extensionz natural extensions beauty company as CEO since 2012 in the United States and recently, in Nigeria. She further expanded My Extensionz Nigeria into a full-blown hair and nail salon as well as laser teeth whitening centre. In a short time, she has received recognition and endorsements from brands such as Revolve, Oh Polly, Simmi and many others. She intends to use her role as the brand ambassador of Revolve Clothing to advocate for more diversity and inclusivity by working with both local and international brands.
Kiki is a Nigerian journalist, media personality, filmmaker and writer. In 2016, she won the award of Outstanding Radio Program Presenter at the Nigerian Broadcasters Merit Awards. In October 2019, she and a team at the BBC Africa Eye released a documentary exposing sexual harassment of students by lecturers at the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana.
Boniface Igbeneghu of the University of Lagos, Ransford Gyampo and Paul Kwame Butakor of the University of Ghana were the lecturers in the viral video that came with the exposé. Her documentary led to the proposal of a senate bill against sexual harassment in universities. She also produced the documentary, Life at the Bay which tells the story of the inhabitants of Tarkwa Bay and the survival and struggles of their women.
Laurie is a pastor, motivational speaker, author, co-founder, Big Ben Children’s Hospital and a mentor. She also trained as a missionary, an Emergency Medical Technician, First Aid, and CPR instructor and a Disaster Relief Responder. She is an event manager, real estate investor and has owned several businesses. Most recently, she spearheaded the campaign to raise relief materials and funds for the support of Internally Displaced Children. She also works with other organizations to bring relief to other refugee camps throughout the country.