The annual list of #100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria was presented by the Leading Ladies Africa for 2018. Now in it’s 4th year, the list features 100 Nigerian women drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds and sectors who are impacting the world and their local communities with the power and strength of their ideas and achievements. Contained in the list below are change-makers, innovators and female leaders who are breaking boundaries and pushing the limits to what women all over the world can achieve.
Aishetu is the General Manager and Division Head, Investment Banking West Africa at Rand Merchant Bank, She is passionate about global finance and demonstrable development impact. She worked closely with President Obasanjo and his economic team of cabinet ministers in crafting the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, which drove several successful reforms including the $18 billion Paris Club debt write-off. While working with the World Bank in Washington, DC, she focused on financing businesses in the manufacturing, infrastructure, and service sectors in the Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and Eastern Africa. Regions. Aishetu is also the Founder of African HerStory a video series where she showcases the essence of an African woman’s life.
Aramide is a media entrepreneur and the Founder of Naija Startups – a virtual accelerator with a base of over 50,000 members of the startup and entrepreneur community in Africa. With a vision to facilitate small business growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, Aramide has collaborated with organisations such as Google and Facebook to deliver digital marketing training to millions of entrepreneurs in Africa. We love her because she effortlessly fuses technology, marketing and strategy.
Ameera Abraham is a Beautypreneur – CEO and Spa Director of both the Nail Bar Abuja and Amali Cosmetics, a premium professional nail care brand, Executive Chair (Nigeria) for the Spa and Wellness Association of Africa and an activist for women and children’s rights, as well as a philanthropist. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations from Royal Holloway, University of London, a CIDESCO Diploma in Spa Management and she is also a qualified aesthetician.
Anike is the Founder Mamalette, a platform that helps, encourages and connects Nigerian mothers. Since it was launched, Mamalette has no doubt become the go-to place for Nigerian mothers to find help and information to navigate motherhood successfully. Anike has gone further to host events offline for the over 70,000 women on the platform and constantly seeks to bring Nigerian mothers closer.
Ayisha is a lawyer, development consultant and communication strategist with 18 years experience in the public and private sectors. She is an advocate for women’s rights in Nigeria and is a director on the board of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund. Ayisha is a regular commentator on radio and television and has been involved in numerous campaigns to improve social justice for women and girls and governance in Nigeria. An Eisenhower Fellow and the Board Chair of OSIWA, an advocacy and grant-making foundation, Ayisha recently released her book, ‘Love Does Not Win Election’, where she documents her experience with politics in Nigeria.
Aisha is the Team Lead at Women Founder’s Group (WFG) and the Co-Founder of Startup Kano, an organization aimed at creating an ecosystem for creative and innovative entrepreneurs in Northern Nigeria. WFG organizes an annual conference for female entrepreneurs in the North which is exclusively attended and curated by women with the aim of bringing together bright minds to deliver talks that are idea motivated and on a wide range of subjects, to foster learning, inspiration and to provoke conversations that matter among women entrepreneurs in the Northern ecosystem
Writer and Editor. Her book, Stay With Me, in less than one year of being published, has been named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications
Lawyer, Solicitor of the Nigerian Supreme Court, certified personal nutritionist and weight loss expert. She is the founder of ASKDAMZ , a weight management, health and wellness company, committed to helping women live healthy lives. She recently launched a sneaker line..
Bella Rose Okojie
Bella is unarguably a bundle of talents. As the host of the morning show on City 105.1fm she does an amazing job but that’s not all. She is an actor, voice over artist, content developer and YouTuber. Her other page, Notbellarose also tackles serious and societal issues with a sprinkle of laugher.
Binta Max Gbinijie
Binta is the Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic Trustees Limited. With few women in the C-Suite in Nigeria, Binta is a bright beacon of light. She is a highly desired public speaker in her sphere of influence with a passion for young adults and in empowering the less privileged. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Arts, a Master’s in Business Administration (Management) and a Master’s in International Law & Diplomacy. She is also an associate of WIMBIZ and a HCIB of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Nigeria.
Co-host on Moments on Ebony Life who recently repositioned as Documentary and filmmaker, Executive Producer and Founder God’s Wives Foundation, an NGO that helps and empowers widows. As an Executive producer she co-founded Sage & Walls, a multimedia production company and began producing and hosting “On the Carpet with Bolinto.”
Bunmi is the Head of Brand, Reputation & Digital Skills at Google Africa. One of her major milestones is leading the Google team to teach millions of Africans digital skills. She is a marketing and strategy professional with over 15 years of experience in N. America, Asia and Africa/ Bunmi has founded and co-founded a number of companies including The Keyline Group in Chicago, an advisory firm that provided business consulting services to SMEs in Africa and Fezah, a live music app developed in Uganda.
Bukky Shonibare is the Group CEO for the 555 Group which includes the 555 consulting firm that caters to HR solutions and consultancy. She has years of experience in the HR consulting field, and possesses a certificate in Journalism and Creative Writing from the London School of Journalism, as well as certificates in Entrepreneurial Management, and Social Sector Management from the Pan African University in Nigeria. Bukky Shonibare has been one of the constant voices to the Bring Back Our Girls campaign when the Chibok girls were abducted. She, along with other advocates, have also visited the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps in Yola. Their tenacity, selflessness, and love for other people has helped the girls not to be forgotten.
Bukola is a lawyer, President of Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF), a non-governmental organisation established to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and related health conditions. She is also the Founder of Haima Health Initiative, (HHI) a platform to link patients to blood donors and to encourage the culture of voluntary blood donations in young people. Although she lives with SCD, Bukola has found life, purpose and support and she is helping others find the same.
She is a journalist and radio broadcaster under BBC News. For 15 years, she has presented BBC Network Africa, a breakfast programme broadcast every weekday airing African news, sport, music and features. Bola also presents and produces the African news and current affairs programme, Focus on Africa. She She co-produced The Story of Africa, a 21-part narrative history of the continent broadcast on BBC World Service.
Bukky is the founder of Bellafricana, an initiative with a focus on Made-in-Nigeria non-oil products development where customers and suppliers engage and transact to bridge the buyer-seller gap and create a wider outreach for Nigerian (African) products locally & globally.
Chika has businesses in the agricultural and health sector and is also the founder of caregiving organization, Greymate Care. Greymate Care is a safe platform for people to look for caregivers for their elderly family members.
Chiamaka is the Chief Executive Officer of Social Prefect Tours, a travel brand which organises group tours, school excursions, corporate retreats, holiday packages and also offer tour guide services within Africa, especially in Nigeria to educate people about the beauty within. The brand has also organised tours to Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic. She also worked with South African Tourism for Indaba 2017, and the Bauchi State Government for the Explore Bauchi campaign.
Community Lead, Social Engagement – Africa & MENA, World Economic Forum’s Global Leadership Fellow and an Associate Member of Nigerian Leadership Initiative. She is passionate about impacting the global narrative with the power of stories founded on the humanist African philosophy of Ubuntu — ‘I am because you are. You are because we are’ — celebrating our shared humanity.
Because of her amazing work, Chidiogo was named as one of the ‘100 most influential Young Africans’ by Africa Youth Awards. She was Founder & Director of the Cultural Diplomacy in Africa Program of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin.
Chinwe is a seasoned Economist with a focus on sub- Saharan Africa. Currently, she works in the 5macroeconomic and fixed income research unit at FBN Capital. (The Investment & Asset Management arm of FBN Holdings). Chinwe has published over 150 economic notes and co-authored multiple macroeconomic and fixed income reports.
Dame Julie Okah-Donli,
Dame Julie is the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP). She has a Degree in Law from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and was called to the Bar in 1992. In 1990 while at ABU Zaria, she won the Dean of the Faculty of Law Award as the winner of the Moot Court competition. She is a highly motivated and result-oriented management and legal expert with over 20 years of invaluable experience with top-notched managerial and leadership skills, and excellent analytical and communication skills. Before her present appointment, she was the Principal Partner: Julie Okah & Co (Legal Practitioners). She is also a philanthropist and engaged in a number of charity work. She is the Founder: Julie Donli Kidney Foundation. She is the Author of the book: Parenting in the 21 Century. Since assumption of office as NAPTIP Director-General in April 18, 2017, she has, among other things, achieved the restructuring and re-organization of the Agency to properly position it to perform its statutory duties and also the handover of these duties to core NAPTIP personnel; got the Government of Nigeria to extend the Whistle Blowing Policy to human trafficking issues. This policy makes it easier for cases of human trafficking to be reported to NAPTIP by informants without fear of their identities being revealed and with some motivation.
Damilola is clearly passionate about media and the African landscape. She was the Editor in Chief at Zikoko.com and she successfully transformed it into a leading youth oriented publication in Nigeria. In 2016, she set up Konbini in September 2016 and has successfully integrated the company into the minds of Nigerian millennials making it one of the most influential media players in the country.
Dolapo ‘LowlaDee’ Adeleke
Award winning screenwriter, Producer, Director and Editor. Dolapo is the Founder and Creative Director of Doreen Media Africa, a Pan African Production Company established with its subsidiaries (LowlaDee Signature Films & LowlaDeeTV) to entertain and inspire the modern African through the art of storytelling. She has been nominated for and won awards for her short film, Brave, and Web series, This Is It.
Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri
Dr Maymunah is the Medical Director of Pinnacle Medical Services, a health and wellness centre which deals specifically with psychological, behavioural, and mental health related issues. She has facilitated the development of “School Based Mental Health Programmes” in nursery, primary and secondary schools across the Lagos metropolis as part of her community mental health advocacy activities. She is also involved in “Counselling Skills Training in Adolescent Sexuality and Reproductive Health” in secondary schools. Dr Maymunah is the Founder of “SPEAKOUT INITIATIVE”, an NGO geared towards creating awareness on psychological and mental health related problems in Nigeria and beyond.
Dr, Nini Iyizoba
She is a Medical Doctor, Advocate for women’s health and an Entrepreneur. Dr Nini believes in preventative healthcare and strives to Inform and empower people by providing them with Health, Wellness and Medical Information to help them live their best life. Her foundation, Dr. Nini Women’s Health Awareness Foundation was created out of love for other women and through the Foundation, she constantly helps women to have access to better health care and medical information necessary to live a good life.
CEO of Oleander House features in the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30. Her company’s first product in the market, Flat Tummy Tea was widely accepted and since that time, the company has grown into owning an online health shop with a wide range of products.
Enuma Okoro is a writer, speaker and strategic communications consultant. She is an award-winning author of four non-fiction books. She employs her diverse global and cultural experience to write and speak on numerous issues and topics based off of four key areas: Africa and African Diasporas, Identity and Belonging, Culture and Narratives, and Spiritual formation, growth and holistic wellness. A widely sought after speaker, has been listed as one of seven top Young Influencers of the next generation by Catalyst, a US based organization. In June, 2012 Okoro had the honor of being the first woman of African descent to speak at the historic American Church in Paris. Her work has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America and NPR, in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Quartz Africa, CNN Africa, The UK Guardian, Guardian Nigeria, AfroElle Magazine, Aeon, Catapult, The Michael Eric Dyson Show, The Huffington Post, amongst others.
Femi Oyedipe founded LoshesChocolate in 2015. LoshesChocolate produces chocolates from cocoa beans sourced from various locations in Nigeria. The company boasts of its premium quality chocolates handcrafted from a single source of cocoa to the finished products. Femi’s vision is to promote indigenous chocolate production in Nigeria, and her goal is to showcase Nigeria as a chocolate country.
She is the founder of MerDroits Limited, an organization that launched the Safe Box which sells condoms online and STI test kits that helps people know their status from the comfort of their home. Florida counsels her clients through WhatsApp, and helps to keep their information and identity protected. She was nominated in 2017 for the 120 under 40 New Generation of Family Planning Leaders.
nominated in 2017 for the 120 under 40 New Generation of Family Planning Leaders.
Founder, Timabee, luxury handbag company. In 3 years of starting the business, Timabee has won a best fashion brand of the year award. She is also the co- founder of Signature Boutique in Canada, a multi-brand boutique that aims to showcase the works of African based designers to the world. She received the WEF “Iconic Woman” award in 2017
Folawe is dedicated to making the educational sector in Nigeria a better place for children to learn. She is a partner CEO at “Teach For All” and is also a member of Association of Private Educators in Nigeria (APEN). Her goal is to ensure that marginalized children have access to good education. She was named among the 100 most influential young Nigerians, an honor that recognizes her experience and commitment to social developmen
Foluso is a Co-Founder at 8191 Solutions. A former Executive Director, Human Resource, Admin & Information Technology at IGI Nigeria (Industrial & General Insurance), Foluso’s career spans over 13 years in the Telecommunications, IT and FMCG industries. In 2006, she joined Procter & Gamble where she was IT Client & Site Services Manager. Prior to joining IGI in 2015, she served as Director of Operations, Monarch Communications Ltd. where she restructured the organization and later prepared it for the sale of its 3.5GHz spectrum to Swift Networks Ltd. Her passion for Information Technology led her to co-found 8191 Solutions, a leading IT solutions boutique for SMEs. She often consults for tech startups and has been a panelist at the past two editions of Startup Friday for Nigeria’s office of ICT Innovation & Entrepreneurship. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of several technology companies including Swift Networks, a telecommunications company that offers state-of-the-art broadband services, Cousant Technologies, a provider of payments and financial markets technology solutions and KudiMoney an online lending platform that provides Nigerians with instant access to short term loans.
Funke is one woman flying the Nigerian flag high in the UK. She is a multi-award winning lawyer, public speaker, TV contributor, diversity leader, General Counsel and Head of Financial Compliance at Roche, making her the most senior lawyer in the world’s largest biotech firm. Funke constantly visits schools and universities to help inspire the next generation. She is currently the most influential black lawyer in Great Britain and was conferred the title of Member of the Order of the British Empire.
Funke was a Deputy Editor with Business Day before she started The Luxury Reporter, a company that reports exclusively on the Nigerian and global luxury market. The Luxury Reporter is the go to website for details on latest trends in the luxury industry and promotes local luxury brands excellently. The Luxury Reporter has recorded a number of successes including attracting close to 3 million views in its first year and launching an app on Google Play.
Funmi Babington Ashaye.
One of Nigeria’s leading risk underwriters, Funmi Babington-Ashaye, Managing Director/ CEO is the Risk Analyst Insurance Brokers Limited. She is also a former Managing Director/ Chief Executive of Cornerstone Insurance Plc and NICON Insurance Plc. During her tenure as the Managing Director / Chief Executive of Cornerstone Insurance, she introduced several innovations among which is Saturday Insurance, the first in the Nigeria insurance industry and she grew the turnover of the company by 80 percent within one year and successfully recapitalized the company. She is currently the President and Chairman of Council, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria. She is also a Fellow of Chartered Insurance Brokers and Institute of Directors, Nigeria and the Author of ‘Insurance in Practice: All You Need to Know about Insurance in Nigeria’ a book aimed at demystifying the world of insurance,
Halima Dangote is currently the Executive Director of Dangote Industries. Her passion for the less privileged led her to build a N7 billion state-of-the-art operating theatre and diagnostic centre at the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital in Kano. This is in addition to several other projects that have been beneficial to the less privileged. At a time when more women are leading global businesses, Halima is right up there leading the charge.
Hannah Oyebanjo is the Principal Partner at REDWOOD CONSULTING; a marketing advisory outfit. She is also the Marketing Director, Colgate Palmolive and has led the company’s regional and local efforts within the region. The immediate past Marketing Director of GlaxoSmithKline, Hannah is a tutor for TMF, a local representative of Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK. She is also a motivational speaker, an author, a columnist and serves as faculty to some management, marketing and business training institutes. She is also the Founder of Predictable Future Foundation, a multi award winner at various levels spanning academics, business and social basis.
She is the founder of SheWrites Woman (SWW) an NGO and a movement of love, hope and support for women with mental illness. SWW has the first 24/7 mental illness helpline in Nigeria that helps people better understand the illness and provides professional help. Hauwa is a recipient of The Queen’s Young Leaders award.
Hajara is a multi-passionate entrepreneur with several successful businesses under her belt. She is the CEO of Tes Amour and Owambe Candles which are brands that specialize in the creation of candles and African scents. She also runs a Digital Marketing Company, Arial View, with offices in Lagos and Kenya. In 2017, Arial View already worked with the Red Cross to send clothes and provisions to IDP Camps in Adamawa and Maiduguri.
Hauwa Saidu Mohammed
She is the CEO of Jaaruma Empire limited. A graduate of ABU Zaria and Istanbul Kultur University Turkey, Hauwa has grown the Jaaruma Empire to include Jaaruma Dresses, Jaaruma Hair Extensions, and Jaaruma Therapy. She is also a Sex Therapist who specializes in helping women to solve the sex-related issues they may have in marriage. She runs a Vlog where she discusses controversial topics and aims to change the perception people have about women from the North.
Ijeoma has been lauded as one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s greatest contemporary poets. Her poetry gives form to the ephemeral vastness of concepts such as “love” and “womanhood.” Ijeoma weaves her unique narrative into complex and intensely emotional subjects, including migration, displacement, depression, the lives of women, and loss. Her debut poetry collection, Questions for Ada, embodies the pain, passion, and power that Ijeoma brings to her work. Her short stories and poems have appeared in various publications, including The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Wildness, The Rising Phoenix Review and The MacGuffin.
After quitting her job as an investment banker, Ini made a decision to pursue her passion for acting by attending the New York Film Academy where she attained the skills of becoming a professional actress. This move has indeed paid off as Ini has become one of the most sought-after actresses in the country. Her first debut in Nollywood was the role of Feyisayo Pepple in the acclaimed T.V. series, “Taste of Love.” Since then, she has been featured in several movies including It’s Her Day, North East and Skinny Girl in Transit. Aside from her acting skills, Ini is also known for her impeccable style and love for fashion.
An award winning media entrepreneur, Kemi is one woman who uses whatever platform is available and necessary to inspire and educate. She began her career as a Senior Features Writer and Correspondent at Business Day and hosted her weekly women column, Leading Woman, in the same newspaper. With this column she inspired other women by featuring women in various disciplines, ideological leanings and strong academic excellence. She initiated the first edition of the Inspiring Women Conference Series, entitled ‘Our Success, The Untold Stories’. When she wanted to reach more women she moved to radio and started Inspiring Woman with Kemi. She has produced and directed a documentary on people living with HIV/AIDS. Currently, Kemi is the Editor of Off-Duty Magazine in Business Day
She is a specialist Obstetrician and Gynecologist with a medical background that extends to Public Health. A qualified and experienced specialist since 2002. A member of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and the American Medical Association; she’s also a board member on non-government organisations. She’s a strong advocate of gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls and she’s the founder of The Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF).
Koko Kalango is the CEO of Rainbow Group, founder of Rainbow Foundation (of which the Rainbow Book Club is part of), Project Director UNESCO World Book Capital 2014, and founder, Colours of Life Ministry. She has over 30 years experience in education, communication and administration
Koko has worked in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and as a volunteer in the United States of America. She wrote a weekly lifestyle column in the Sunday supplement of This Day Newspaper, in Nigeria from 2003-2008 and resumed in 2017. In the year 2005 concerned with the reading culture in Nigeria, she founded the Rainbow Book Club and Kicked off the Get Nigeria Reading Campaign to encourage reading for personal and National development. She organized the annual Port Harcourt Book Festival (formerly called Garden City Literary Festival). In 2012, with the support of the Federal Government Nigeria the Rivers State Government and UNESCO Nigeria, Mrs. Kalango put in the bid which led to the Nomination Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book Capital 2014. The work of Rainbow Book Club has involved over 10,000 children and youth from across Nigeria who have been part of the 200 book clubs, 7 book festivals, and 42 reading and writing exercises organised by the Rainbow Book Club. The book club has also published 51 writers and established 10 ‘seed’ libraries and 3 full-fledged libraries.
Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita (Mrs)
Oyo-Ita was appointed a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service on March 16, 2013. She served as the pioneer Permanent Secretary of the newly recreated Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter Governmental Affairs (FMSDIGA) where she served till April, 2014 when she was redeployed to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, from where she was appointed Head of Civil Service of the Federation on October 2015. Mrs. Oyo-Ita was born on April 20, 1964 and hails from Adiabo Okurikang in Odukpani Local Government of Cross River State. She attended Queen’s College Yaba, Lagos and Federal Government College, Malali, Kaduna for her ‘A’ Levels. She has a B.Sc (Hons) degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos, and holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Nasarawa State University. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). She has worked for over 30 years, starting her working career in the Cross River State Government and later moved to the Federal Civil Service as Assistant Director with Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and from there rose to the rank of Director, Finance and Accounts in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and was appointed Permanent Secretary representing Cross River State in February, 2013. She has recorded numerous achievements both as a Permanent Secretary and as Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.