Most of the times because women are under subjugation, they hardly view themselves as people who can take charge of their own affair. Sadly though, these thoughts quickly envelope the minds of women especially African women. The issue of self branding is slowly becoming an anathema especially because of the system and structure of the African culture.
It is however important to note that some women here in Africa have defied all odds and risen to glory with their entrepreneurship skills in very less time. Interestingly, these women have proven their mettle and talent to the world to even receiving global honor for their enterprise and their work, these women entrepreneurs are going places. Let’s peer into these women and see how they can inspire the young women of our time.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
When she started in 2004 with the name soleRebels, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu exactly knew where her enterprise of making hand-crafted shoes would take not only her but also her local community in Addis Ababa. According to her, the fine and skilled artisans employed from her local community (in Ethiopia) form the backbone of the company and the essentials of the company’s ethics. With the joy of spreading a bit of their cultural heritage with every shoe crafted, Alemu has emerged as a commendable entrepreneur consolidating her business in less than a decade with her gumption. Owing to Alemu’s grits and dedication towards soleRebels today, the company is the only achiever of WFTO fair Trade Certified Footwear Company title worldwide. Following the success of her business, Alemu was invited by Bill Clinton for addressing as a speaker by The Clinton Global Initiative’s panel. Subsequently in the year 2011, Alemu was again given the distinct honor by the World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, she was the first African woman entrepreneur to get the invitation ever. In the same year, she received global recognition for entrepreneurship by different institutions. soleRebels was among the top 5 finalists of the 2011 Legatum Africa Awards For Entrepreneurship. Alemu gives workshops & mentorship to young rural girls for their economic empowerment and to equip them with self-reliance. Alemu envisages coming 3 years as the period of expansion of her business beyond Ethiopia in more than 10 locations with annual revenues topping $10 mill.
Isabel dos Santos
“I think there’s lots of people with family connections but who are actually nowhere. If you’re hard-working and determined, you will make it, and that’s the bottom line. I don’t believe in an easy way through.” – Isabel dos Santos
Isabel dos Santos is the oldest daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Isabel Dos Santos started her first business; the Miami Beach club at the age of 24. The night club was one of the first night clubs and beach restaurant on the Luanda Island in the 1990s.
Angolan Isabel dos Santos now owns 25% of Unitel, Angola’s largest mobile phone network, 7% of oil and gas firm Galp Energia and about 19% of the Angola’s fourth-largest bank, Banco BPI.
Forbes puts Isabel dos Santos net worthat $3.4 Billion, which makes her the richest woman in Africa.
Controversial Isabel Dos Santos is an inspiration to all African women out there.
“It’s essential to draw up a “things to do” list on a daily basis and set priorities in executing them, making sure that any unfinished task get posted to the next day’s list”. – Folorunsho Alakija
She started her career as a secretary at former merchant bank of Nigeria. After that, She studied fashion design in England, and she set up supreme stitches; Supreme stitches was a fashion outfit which served the Nigerian elites.
In May 1993, Folorunsho Alakija’s Famfa Oil was awarded an oil prospecting license for one of the most lucrative oil blocks in Nigeria thanks to her relationship with one of he biggest clients, the first lady of Nigeria at the time, Maryam Babangida.
Forbes estimates her net worth to be $2.1 Billion; this makes her therichest woman in Nigeria and the second richest in Africa.
Rising from a fashion designer to a billionaire is no piece of cake, it takes dedication, intelligence and out-of-school wisdom, Folorunsho Alakija has demonstrated all these qualities, and she is an inspiration to African women.
“When I became finance minister, they called me Okonjo-Wahala – or ‘Trouble Woman.’ It means ‘I give you hell.’ But I don’t care what names they call me. I’m a fighter; I’m very focused on what I’m doing, and relentless in what I want to achieve, almost to a fault. If you get in my way, you get kicked”.- Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala graduated from prestigious Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts. She earned her Ph.D. in regional economic development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981 and received an International Fellowship from theAmerican Association of University Women (AAUW) that supported her doctoral studies.
Okonjo-Iweala has had a two stints with the World Bank Group, first as the vice-president and corporate secretary of the World Bank Group during her first tenure as minister of finance in Nigeria and as managing director in 2007. Okonjo-Iweala was re-appointed as Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy by President Goodluck Jonathan fro 2011-2015.
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala led the team that negotiated an $18 billion debt write-offfrom the Paris Club in 2005. Okonjo-Iweala also introduced the practice of publishing the monthly financial allocation to each state from the federal government in the newspapers. She played an important part in Nigeria obtaining its first ever sovereign credit rating (of BB minus) from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the daughter of a king, but that is not her CV. The Harvard-educated economist has risen to become one of the most respected economists in the world; she is an inspiration and a pride of Africa.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist, nonfiction writer and short story writer.
She has been called “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has received prestigious awards for her literary works; BBC Short Story Award, The O. Henry Prize, the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, Orange Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award to mention a few.
“The most prominent,” says it all, the author is an inspiration to all African Writers and African women.
“I wish we questioned the aid model as much as we are questioning the capitalism model. Sometimes the most generous thing you can do is just say no.” ― Dambisa Moyo
Dambisa is a Zambian born international economist and author who analyze the Marco economy and global affairs.
She acquired her post graduate degree in business, public administration and economics from American University Harvard and Oxford.
She’s currently serving on the board of Barclays Bank, the financial group, SABMiller, the global brewer, and Barrack gold. She also worked for two years at the World Bank and eight years at Goldman Sachs before becoming an author and international speaker.
Dambisa is an accomplished economist; she is a source of pride and inspiration to Zambia and Africa as a whole.
“If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.” – Uzo Aduba
Uzo Aduba, popularly known as “crazy eyes” is an American actress who was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
She graduated from Medfield high school in 1999; she also did attend Boston University to study classical voice and completed in track and field.
She first gained recognition for acting in 2003 and has been actively involved in television movies and short films. She also has won 4 awards as regards to the movie “Orange is the new black”.
She’s a strong Nigerian woman thriving in the best movie industry in the world; she is a source of motivation and inspiration to the African film industry.
7. Mimi Alemayehou
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a perfect position or a dead-end job. At every step, you learn. Life is a journey of learning.” – Mimi Alemayehou
President George Bush appointed Mimi as the United States Executive Director on the board of the African Development Bank (AfDB). President Barack Obama also appointed her the Executive Vice President of The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the development finance agency of the U.S. government. OPIC’s portfolio grew by more than 24 percent to $18 billion during Mimi Alemayehou’s tenure.
Ms. Alemayehou is credited as one of the architects of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access across Africa.
Mimi Alemayehou is currently an Executive Advisor and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure L.P.
The Ethiopia-Born Mimi continues to prove to the world that, there is more to Africa than poverty and foreign aids.
“It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things. When you play it safe, you’re not expressing the utmost of your human experience”. –Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o earned her bachelor degree in film and theater studies from Hampshire College and a master degree in acting from Yale school of drama.
She started her film career with working as part of the production crew for many years and also doing short films.
She came to the spotlight in 2014 due to her performance in her first featured movie role as Patsey in Steve McQueen 12 years a slave. Her role earned her 25 awards from 2013 to 2014.
At age 32 Lupita Nyong’o is already a well-respected brand ambassador of Africa, she has remained true to her color, roots, and mother Africa is proud of her.
Saran Kaba Jones
“I decided to focus specifically on water because the issue of water really crosses all aspects of development, it affects education, it affects health, it affects gender issues, so for me there was nothing more basic than the issue of water so I decided to make that my cause.” – Saran Kaba Jones
Saran Kaba Jones is a clean water advocate and social entrepreneur from Liberia.
She founded FACE Africa, a nonprofit organization that provides marginalized communities with clean and safe drinking water for thousands of Liberians.
Sara Kaba Jones is not just making Africa proud, but she is enriching the life of people in her country through her foundation.
“I used to say way back that I want to become the President of Uganda”. – Proscovia Alengot Oromait
Proscovia Alengot Oromait became a member of the Ugandan Parliament at age 20; she is the youngest parliamentarian in Africa.
In 2012, Alengot Oromait decided to contest the National Resistance Movement primary elections to replace her late father. She was elected Member of Parliament for Usuk County, Katakwi District in Uganda with 54.2% of the vote
Alengot Oromait is an inspiration to her people; she has removed age from the list of possible excuses a young African woman might have.
There is no motivation better than self motivation. These gallant entrepreneurs were all daughters of the soil, they have defied the odds of this male dominated world and have taken the world by storm. A lot of women are held in their own small corner, viewing themselves as people who can make it and earn respect only by succumbing to the whimps of men. Women stand and fight yourself NEVER LET CULTURE RESTRICT YOU FROM ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS.
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