“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing -- that’s why we recommend it daily.”
"Conquer your fears as that is what enslaves most women."
"You’re not in a dynamic business if you’re not experiencing challenges."
"Live your life with an open mind, open heart, and open arms; you’ll be amazed at what gifts life has to offer.”
Farai Simoyi, founder of Farai Inc.
"I am an entrepreneur. I was born a free spirit and I cannot think of any other way to work or live."
- Johanna Mukoki, co-founder & CEO of Travel With Flair (South Africa)
“I am an advocate of business being an important instrument of development. In fact, business is the fabric for development.”
- Eva Muraya, founder & CEO of BSD Group (Kenya)
"There is so much potential in Africa's people, in their minds and hearts. Being an entrepreneur in Africa means being a part of unlocking that potential."
“Be creative, be unafraid, and take that step off the mountain. I assure you it’s worth it.”
- Lynn Worsley, founder of All Women Recycling (South Africa)
“Entrepreneurship is what is going to build Africa. Integrity is also going to build Africa.”
- Njeri Rionge is one of Africa’s leading entrepreneurs and one of the very few women pioneers in the ICT sector on the African continent. She has co-founded internet service provider Wananchi Online, Ignite Consulting, Insite Limited, Business Lounge, and Njeri Rionge Business Consulting Inc. These days Njeri describes herself as a global citizen cross-pollinating her business interests in Africa, North America and Europe. She 'telecommutes' and regularly travels between her offices in Nairobi and Toronto.
"Once you have a good plan and a good concept and you work through it, the funds will always come."
- Kofo Akinkugbe is recognised globally for her entrepreneurial success story and strong business track record. She is founder & CEO of SecureID Nigeria Ltd a market leader in smart card technology and digital security in Africa. SecureID is a world-class manufacturing facility with the only smart card production plant in West Africa and one of only six on the continent. In January 2015 the company commissioned a new state-of-the-art EMV-certified smartcard manufacturing plant – the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa. The company serves 16 countries across Africa and is fully certified by VISA, Verve and MasterCard. In 2012, Kofo won the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship Mature Business Award.
"Choose to be visible, choose to be known – find mentors, find sponsors, and make sure the decision makers at all levels know who you are."
- Dee Poku is a social entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of WIE, an innovative women’s leadership and empowerment network. WIE, which stands for Women, Inspiration and Enterprise launched its first symposium in New York City in 2010. Their mission is to provide a platform for curating dynamic conversations with powerful industry leaders via its global conferences and salons, all designed to inspire emerging women leaders. The organisation has attracted an incredible range of speakers to its US, European and African events, including Donna Karan, Arianna Huffington, Queen Rania, Graca Machel, Ted Turner, Melinda Gates, Diane von Furstenberg, Nancy Pelosi, Jill Biden, Katie Couric, Tyra Banks, Lauren Bush, Elizabeth Banks, Iman, Deepak Chopra and Christy Turlington.
“Leadership is not about you. It’s about us. I believe women are God-made leaders.”
- Dr. Jennifer Riria is the Group CEO of Kenya Women Holding and one of Africa's leading women entrepreneurs who has always been on a mission to transform the lives of women and their families in her native Kenya. She is distinguished as a microfinance banker and practitioner, researcher and gender specialist. She has served in many leadership roles for which she has been recognized locally and internationally. In 2013 she was awarded the Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the year, East Africa 2013, and subsequently, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2014, at which point she was admitted to EY’s Global Hall of Fame.
“Success for me is a journey. It is not a place you would say you have reached. It is not only about money, it is not about awards or accolades. It is about what you stand for, what your values are. For me, there has to be a wholesome definition to success.”
- Adenike 'Nike' Ogunlesi is the founder of Ruff 'n' Tumble a leading designer, manufacturer and retailer of designer children's clothing in Nigeria. Nike started out modestly in 1996 selling the clothes she made from the boot of her car and in bazaars. Today, Ruff 'n' Tumble is an instantly recognisable brand in Nigeria and has a reputation for being one of the top manufacturers of children's clothing throughout West Africa. Ruff 'n' Tumble successfully caters to the unique fashion sense of today’s youngsters, from new born to age 16, happily mixing indigenous lifestyle trends with an international appeal.
“The growth of mobile technologies and internet access is now the backbone of any knowledge economy — we must learn that the more information we share, the more people will benefit.”
- Mariéme Jamme is a Senegalese born-British businesswoman, who runs a technology consultancy business, Spotone Global Solutions, that helps technology companies to identify a new markets, generate leads, increase revenue and set a foothold in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa. Mariéme is best known for her role in promoting technology, good governance, transparency and a better education standard in Africa. She was recently named as one of the 100 most influential Africans of 2014 by the Africa Business Magazine and Forbes Magazine.
"At every African’s heart is an entrepreneurial spirit: we are survivors of struggle, malleable enough to embrace change and celebrate doing things differently."
- Tammy Frazer founded Cape-Town-based Frazer Parfum in 2008 creating organic and natural perfume products, all handcrafted in collaboration with local artists. Tammy is part of a growing new generation of African women entrepreneurs transforming quality local raw materials into world-class African luxury products.
"I might fail in a business venture but I do not consider myself a failure until I have given up. Failure is giving up on my goals and dreams."
- Damilola Solesi is founder and CEO of Smids Animation Studios based in Lagos, Nigeria specialising in computer animation, motion graphics and visual effects. Damilola's passion for animation dates back to her childhood when she used to dream about producing her own cartoons. Today, her work fuses the richness of African stories with the latest world-class animation techniques.
"If success means living with joy, contentment, and doing great things with my talent, then failure is the opposite of success. It means not living with joy, contentment, or using my skills and gifts. Failure would also mean not pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and not daring to try new things and ideas."
- Oreoluwa Somolu Lesi is founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre a Nigerian NGO working to empower girls and women socially and economically, using information and communication technologies. Oreoluwa is a 2014 Vital Voices Lead Fellow, 2013 Ashoka fellow and a recipient of the Anita Borg Change Agent Award for her commitment to issues of women in computing in Nigeria.
"... when I feel like giving up I think about the big picture and ask myself the question - why am I doing this?"
- Sonia Mugabo is the founder of Sonia Mugabo (SM), Rwanda , a fashion brand established in 2013. It was born out of Sonia’s strong interest in design; and the desire to tap into the existing local artisan talent to make high quality men and womenswear. Sonia Mugabo develops 2 collections each year, and all year round makes bespoke items for its clientele. A pioneer of Rwanda’s fashion industry; Sonia is setting the standard for Rwandan fashion in global and local markets.
"I encourage African women to embrace African luxury brands the way they have embraced foreign brands."
- Fatima Babakura is the founder of Timabee, an up and coming luxury women's handbag brand in Nigeria. Back in 2014 Fatima decided to bring to reality, one of the sketches that she couldn't forget about after she had drawn it. It was special and different from the others in her sketchbook. That sketch turned out to be Timabee's very first design, 'The Classic'. The response from people was just amazing and that was when Fatima decided to turn her hobby into a business.
“For the longest time, we have left it to everyone else but ourselves to tell our own stories.”
- Mo Abudu is founder and Chief Executive Officer of EbonyLife TV, Africa's first and fastest growing black entertainment and lifestyle network. This Nigerian media entrepreneur and talk show host is the first African woman to launch a Pan-African TV channel. The channel currently on DSTV Channel 165, as well as in the UK on the TalkTalk platform, providing premium, original and home-grown programming to its ever increasing viewership. She has received many awards in recognition of her outstanding work in media and her services to humanity, and was most recently honoured with an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Babcock University.
"If your 'why' for looking to start-up does not compel you, it will not compel anyone else."
- Vere Shaba is the founder and Director: Green Buildings & Certifications at Shaba & Ramplin Green Building Solutions in South Africa. She holds a BScEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Cape Town and is a Green Star SA Accredited Professional with the Green Building Council of South Africa, a Green Star Accredited Professional with the Green Building Council of Australia and a LEED Accredited Professional with the United States Green Building Council. In 2013, she was selected as one of SA's Top 100 Women in Business in the "Top Women in Business and Government 10th Edition" publication, featuring as one of the ten Top Women in Engineering. In 2017, she was selected as one of the Inspiring Fifty women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in South Africa by the Kingdom of Netherlands and as one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans for Environment.
"Success is not Gender Biased. It is not more prone to a particular gender at the expense of others. Being a woman does not limit you. That means you are capable, all you need is to figure out how."
- Josephine Marie Godwyll is the founder of Young At Heart in Ghana, a social entreprise bringing the world of learning to young Ghanaian children through digital platforms. Josephine has developed a Digital e-learning platform driving computer literacy for rural and deprived communities in Ghana; and the Ananse the Teacher App to help young children to learn through animation. Josephine Marie is a young enthusiastic engineer and a passionate Social Entrepreneur. She is a Mandela Washington Fellow and in 2016 won the Tigo Digital Changemakers Competition globally.
"All the experiences I have had, have made me into the strong woman I have become. It was a journey I needed to take to be the leader that I am. All the good and bad experiences, I take them as they come."
- Johanna Mukoki is the co-founder of Travel with Flair, a company she started 18 years ago with her two partners. She started with only 3 employees and one office in Pretoria. Currently her company employs 800 staff country wide and they have offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. She is the first person from the African continent to sit on the Global Tourism Board (ACTE) - Association of Corporate Travel Executives where she represented the Middle East and Africa.
“It took me a decade to employ 400 people but it shouldn’t have taken that long — and it wouldn’t have either if I’d had access to the right partners.”
- Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is founder and Managing Director of soleRebels, the world's fastest-growing African footwear brand and the only Fair Trade-certified footwear company in the world. Growing up in a poor suburb of Addis Ababa, Bethlehem decided that there was only one way to defeat poverty – use local craftsmanship to make products that can compete in the global marketplace. She decided on footwear and today 70,000 pairs of shoes leave her factory every year. soleRebels has been expanding rapidly and today exports to no fewer than 45 countries and is targeting 50 stand alone soleRebels retail stores across the United States by 2018 and 500 worldwide by 2022.
"My advice to women all the time is: If you want a certain future, go out and create it. Conquer your fears as that is what enslaves most women. Opportunities are now galore. We just need to roll up our sleeves, lift our feet, and walk through the door as no one will carry us."
- Divine Ndhlukula founded SECURICO Security Services from humble beginnings in Zimbabwe in 1998. Divine identified a need in the market for a quality oriented security company and she has driven SECURICO to become the market leader in Zimbabwe. She has tackled a previously male-dominated industry head on and her business success story is nothing short of remarkable - marking her as one of Africa's most tenacious and inspiring women entrepreneurs.
"Passion is the driving engine for anything you want to achieve in life."
- Adèle Dejak is founder of the Adèle Dejak brand which creates handmade fashion accessories for the modern, sophisticated and multidimensional woman. Adèle cut her teeth in the world of typographic design in England and Italy before moving to Nairobi, Kenya in 2005 and turning her attention to accessories design. She found herself intrigued by the natural beauty of horn and begun to experiment with techniques of creating unique shapes and fashioned pieces. Her flair was noticed and spurred on by an admirer of one of her creations who encouraged Adèle to set up shop creating unique shapes to wear. Dejak’s Nigerian roots begun to merge perfectly with European influences and she set out on her never-ending quest for that essential artefact that allows you to express your own style.
"When you have the interests of people at heart, you can do anything."
- Lydie Hakizimana is co-founder and Managing Director of Drakkar Limited, a specialist reseller and distributor of educational textbooks. It all started back in 2006 when this avid bookworm decided to follow her passion and opened a small bookshop. Before long, her entrepreneurial instincts had her developing relationships with numerous publishing companies. Today, Lydie manages 45 employees and thirty part-time distributors covering the five provinces of Rwanda, with exclusive distributor deals with Longman, Heinemann, Penguin and Pearson.
"You are the right person to change the world, so just start."
- Temie Giwa-Tubosun is the founder of Lifebank in Nigeria, a company that helps hospitals discover blood and other essential medical supplies and delivers them to hospital in the right condition. Temie deploys mobile and web technology, smart logistics, and Artificial Intelligence to build an end to end marketplace and cold chain logistics. Her mission is to save 1 million lives in 10 years. In May 2017, Temie was selected as part of "six entrepreneurs who demonstrate the positive role women are playing in creating opportunities and preparing the region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution" by the World Economic Forum on Africa.
“We are done teaching women how to fish,... We want to give them the whole lake.”
- Olajumoke Olufunmilola Adenowo is an award-winning Nigerian architect, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, as well as a speaker, radio host, and author. She is the founder and Principal Partner of AD Consulting, a leading architecture and interior design company based in Lagos. Olajumoke Adenowo has received numerous Architecture awards and has been called the “Face of Architecture” in Nigeria. She was featured on CNN African Voices, and profiled on CNN as Africa’s 'Starchitect', and has been featured in the world’s leading Architectural Publications such as America’s Architectural Record Magazine.
"Ultimately being an entrepreneur allows me to be in charge of my own destiny. And there’s nothing better."
– Winnifred Selby was just 15 when she co-founded Afrocentric Bamboo, a company that manufactures and markets bicycles made from bamboo. Today, she is heading what has become a growing brand that is struggling to keep up with demand. Designed in-house, Afrocentric Bamboo bikes are sturdy, affordable – US$100 for the local market – and made for the high terrain and rough roads of rural Ghana. The frames are built in one piece, making them stronger and more economically viable.
"Your background does not determine your destiny."
- Dr. Ola Orekunrin is a physician, helicopter pilot and entrepreneur founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service. She was motivated to start the company after her younger sister tragically died whilst traveling in Nigeria as a consequence of there being no medical air service available to transport her to hospital. Flying Doctors Nigeria today provides just such urgent helicopter, airplane ambulance and evacuation services in Nigeria and other countries across West Africa. Ola graduated from the University Of York in Britain and is a member of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine and holds their board certification.