“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing -- that’s why we recommend it daily.”
"There is still a woeful lack of women in technology globally and Africa is unfortunately not any better. Development roles, leadership pipelines and leadership development all need attention. We need more role models for women in technology...."
- Nkemdilim Begho is founder and Managing Director of Future Software Resources Limited, an IT solutions provider focused on online solutions, e-learning and IT security. As one of a few Nigerian women in the industry, her success is founded on a passion for driving innovative thinking, building a globally recognized technology brand and setting trends in the Nigerian Technology space.
“There is great opportunity in interconnecting the insides of Africa, continuing to connect Africans to Africans, South Africa to Kenya, South Africa to Egypt, South Africa to Addis”
- Juliana Rotich is is a technologist, strategic advisor, entrepreneur, and keynote speaker. She co-founded Ushahidi Inc., a non-profit tech company, which specializes in developing free and open source software for changing how information flows in the world. Her personal mission is to make things, fix problems and help others. Juliana serves as an advisor to the councils of BASF, Risk Cooperative, Africa Technology Ventures (ATV) and the Lemelson Foundation. She is also a trustee of Bankinter Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Spain and former trustee of the iHub in Kenya and is on the Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Board.
"Find a niche. Turn what you like into a business. Passion fuels business!”
Diana Opoti is founder of leading Kenyan fashion consultancy Diana Opoti PR. This doyenne of African fashion is an avid blogger, the founder and executive producer of the television series Designing Africa, with her hit campaign, 100 Days of African Fashion. Diana is a true champion of the continent’s fashion design market and one of Africa’s most formidable fashion connectors. In 2014 Diana was nominated 'Outstanding Trend Communicator of the Year' by the prestigious Africa Fashion Awards.
“It’s in the most difficult times that we discover our capabilities. When you are passionate, you do not give up.”
- Binta Coudy Dé is Vice President and co-founder of the Jjiguene Tech Hub, the first women tech hub and network in Senegal. A computer science engineer by training, and a technology lover at heart, she’s determined to use the Jjiguene Tech Hub as a platform to increase the number of women in technology.
"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.
“I believe women entrepreneurs can do so much better than men, because women feel their products and want to provide quality as they pay attention to details, causing customers to keep coming,”
- Tabitha Karanja is founder and CEO of Keroche Breweries. She is one of Kenya's leading entrepreneurs, a remarkable trailblazer and an example of a woman made good against all the odds. Tabitha chose to venture where none before her had dared. She took on an 87-year-old business monopoly and entered an industry with a deeply entrenched male gender stereotype. Tabitha broke the mould to become Kenya’s first home-grown beer and alcoholic drink manufacturer.
"With the shift towards political democratic changes in many countries now, this is also creating serious entrepreneurial societies in Africa. The positive thing in countries like Zimbabwe and others, entrepreneurial studies are now a must in the education systems so the new generation of entrepreneurs is developed."
- 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.
"I am working for a dream that is becoming a reality."
- Geraldine Eve Kasambara is the founder of 143 Communications in Zimbabwe, a company that specializes in Social Media, Advertising, PR and Marketing Strategy. Geraldine is passionate about staying on top of the latest online trends and believes the world is making a paradigm shift towards social media marketing. Her team has grown from one young girl with a dream to ten young ladies and gentlemen who are striving to see the vision for the company become a reality.
"Entrepreneurs in Africa could also take it upon themselves to serve as role models by taking time to talk to young people in school and in other programs so the students can understand what entrepreneurship is and begin to consider it as a career path."
- Anne Amuzu is co-founder and lead product developer of Nandimobile Ltd., a young and vibrant technology startup based in Ghana and founded in 2010. Nandimobile’s objective is to leverage the high mobile penetration rates in Africa to create customer service technology that enables businesses to easily connect with their customers on the mobile platform. Amuzu is a graduate of Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, which was established to train and mentor young entrepreneurs in Africa.
“Do not be afraid to try, .... Fail. Fail again. Fail better. He who takes all the risks, takes all the rewards.”
- Maira Koutsoudakis is an internationally acclaimed interior architect and the founder and CEO of LIFE Interior + Architecture + Creative Strategy and the LIFE Group of Companies in South Africa. Her work in the areas of luxury resort, boutique hotel, and exclusive residential residential projects has garnered her multiple international awards.
"Success for me is defined by increased value – not simply financial rewards. I think it is important to focus on the growth of African businesses and leaving a legacy rather than just trading in the moment for short term financial gain."
- 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 co-founded internet service provider Wananchi Online that has since been transformed into Wananchi Group Holdings – one of east Africa’s leading providers of pay-tv, broadband internet and VoIP services. Last year the company raised US$57.5 million in growth capital from a group of international investors.
"When you dream, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars"
- Emelda Mwamanga, is a truly inspiring Tanzanian entrepreneur who a decade ago, without any experience in journalism, started her country's first lifestyle publication, Bang! magazine. The magazine covers lifestyle, beauty, and fashion trends with the aim of educating and inspiring its readers with a snappy mix of bang on trend content. Today, Bang! has a circulation of 15,000 reaching audiences in Tanzania and neighbouring countries Uganda, Kenya and Zambia.
"I wanted to do something that would give me job opportunities myself and the people around me, ... I immediately thought 'I have to start a small business!'"
- 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.
"I am guided each day by these three questions: ‘What are you fixing?’ ‘What are you making?’ and ‘Who are you helping?'"
- Juliana Rotich is a technologist, strategic advisor, entrepreneur, and keynote speaker. She is Executive Director of BRCK.org, a not for profit affiliate of BRCK Inc. for deploying reliable technology for the edges of society, and advocating for internet access and literacy. Juliana co-founded Ushahidi Inc., a non-profit tech company, which specializes in developing free and open source software for changing how information flows in the world. She is passionate about driving partnerships for tackling social problems through connectivity and appropriate technology.
"Every entrepreneur I've met has been dynamic, energetic and just so passionate about what they do, you can't help but be affected by all this drive and ambition."
- Karen Wessels is the co-founder and COO of VA Connect, a South African virtual assistant platform that provides outsourced administrative support; and is also the co-founder of SnappSales, a company that generates quality sales leads for its clients. Prior to establishing both her companies, Karen spent over 10 years in different sales, marketing & admin support roles. This experience has equipped her with the invaluable skills required to run her two successful business ventures.
“There are two important days in a person’s life. The first is the day they are born, and the second is the day they find out why. Your job is to find out why you are here and to list five most important personal goals, and your five business goals.”
- Margaret Hirsch is one half of a dynamic husband and wife duo that founded Hirsch's Homestores. Back in 1979, as a secretary, together with her husband Allan, then an appliance repair man, they unwittingly became entrepreneurs who went on to build an appliance, electronics and furnishing retail empire. Today, Hirsch's Homestores is the largest independently owned appliance and electronics business in Southern Africa, with 18 Hirsch stores and four Samsung concept stores.
"If your heart is in what you are doing, then you will be supported by the universe."
- Candice Johnson is the founder of Miss Knitwear, a Cape Town based designer and producer of luxury knitwear using all natural yarns and materials. Candice founded Miss Knitwear in 2013, creating her first luxurious collection of fine kid mohair shawls scarves and throws. Candice has gone on to expand her collection to include a men’s and décor collection. Candice's belief in treading lightly on the earth means she uses only the finest and purest quality of ethically sourced pure kid mohair.
"We don’t celebrate failure enough."
- Ethel Cofie, is a Ghanaian-born entrepreneur and founder of Edel Technologies. This techpreneur is passionate about technology, female leadership and empowering women entrepreneurs. She runs the women in tech group in Ghana and is a founder of the Women in Tech Africa Alliance. In 2014, Ethel was selected to be a President Obama Washington Fellow.
"Do not be afraid of failure. Live and take risks. If you stay in your safe zone, you won’t learn enough."
- Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola is a Nigerian entrepreneur and innovator, and founder and CEO of WeCyclers. This Lagos-based company is focused on giving low-income communities in developing countries a chance to capture value from waste and clean up their neighborhoods through an incentive-based recycling program. Bilikiss holds an MBA from MIT and a Masters degree from Vanderbilt University. She is a 2013 Echoing Green Fellow and WeCyclers were a Sustainia100 Company Award winner in 2014.
"We can do anything we want, the trick is, it's usually waiting for us just beyond our comfort zone."
- Julia Pimsleur is the Founder of Little Pim, the leading early language teaching program for young children and author of the best-selling book Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big". Julia has blogged about entrepreneurship for Forbes.com since 2012; has been featured on Today, NBC Weekend Today, and Fox News; and Little Pim was featured in Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
"These days, consumers seem to be a lot more conscious about the products that they are spending their money on. They are asking more questions about the source and materials of the products that they are purchasing .... leaning towards quality over quantity, as well as seeking simplified products, without the unnecessary branding and detail."
- Amy de Castro is founder of Bamboo Revolution a Cape Town-based company that crafts unique, bamboo and leather watches, and relies on a business model that is sustainable, and supportive of local industry. For these reasons, Amy was a finalist in the 2014 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, an awards programme that recognises innovative women business owners who’ve thought outside the box and have the one-of-a-kind start-up to prove it.
“Taking an idea that’s on paper or in your head and moving it forward into real, tangible action is the true spirit of entrepreneurship.”
- 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, with 28 years of leadership and management experience across a broad-spectrum of commercial and corporate organizations. Njeri is known for her passion for business to ignite potential for personal and organizational effectiveness, and is regularly called upon as a mentor, facilitator and public speaker by industry, government and civil society groups alike. Today she focuses her time on bringing investors and entrepreneurs together to work on relevant projects.
“The key to success in anything is to be absolutely consistent over a prolonged period of time.”
- 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.
"Start with the end in mind and work towards it."
- 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.
"I love my work. Each day when I go to work, I feel that I am serving my purpose in this world and working towards our goal to transform Africa’s waste into wealth. This renews my strength every day."
- Lorna Rutto is a Kenyan eco-preneur, and the inspiring founder of EcoPost, a social enterprise created in response to the need to find alternative waste management solutions to Kenya's huge plastic waste problem. In 2009 she founded her company, which collects plastic waste and manufactures commercially viable, highly durable, and importantly environmentally friendly fencing posts, used widely across Kenya. In 2011, Lorna was recognised by the prestigious Cartier Women's Initiative Awards as their laureate for sub-Saharan Africa.
"Keep Learning - there is so much I don’t know, so I am always open to new ideas and opportunities."
- Devotha Ntuke Minzi is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of K-finance Limited, a microfinance company providing financial services and business mentoring to small and medium scale entrepreneurs in Tanzania. Devotha holds a Masters in Economics from Youngstown State University, Ohio, USA, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Poverty Analysis from the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Hague, Netherlands. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Devotha worked in the policy and research department at the Central Bank of Tanzania for more than 20 years.
"Women disproportionately face financial access barriers that prevent them from participating in the economy and from improving their lives."
- 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.
"Time pushes everything forward. No stunning success and no sorrowful failure lasts forever. Absolutely everything comes to pass."
- Rapelang Rabana is a South African technology entrepreneur and founder of Rekindle Learning, a company looking to improve education in Africa by turning people’s compulsion to check their phones into an opportunity to learn. Rapelang is a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, was chosen by Forbes as one of Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs, and listed on the ‘O Power List’ by The Oprah Magazine.
"In a few years people won’t be talking about ‘African design’, they will be talking about Senegalese design, Kenyan design or Malian design. There are so many interesting things coming out of Africa and I hope soon people won’t be referring to the whole continent – 54 countries – as one design style."
- Cathy O’Clery is the co-founder and creative director of Platform Creative Agency, overseeing the creative output of the agency including developing creative and marketing, conceptualising campaign and visual production. With a wealth of experience as editor, design director and stylist, Cathy is renowned for her visual acumen, creative and content direction. In her role as curator of 100% Design South Africa, she brings expertise and skill to the bear ensuring the show is fresh, future-forward and of an exceptional standard every single year.
"If you start to see more successful businesses that are playing on a global level, the story of Africa will begin to change"
- Tara Fela-Durotoye is a Nigerian-born lawyer turned Africa's leading beauty and makeup entrepreneur. She started House of Tara at the age of 20, from her living room, whilst an undergraduate at university back in 1998. She's since gone on to launch Nigeria's first ever bridal directory in 1999, and in 2004 she opened the country's leading beauty academy. Today, Tara has over 3,000 reps spread across Nigeria and 14 stores to her name and she is steadfastly dedicated to realising her vision of building a globally respected beauty company of African origin. Tara remains an inspirational role-model and mentor to make-up artists and aspiring beauty business owners across Africa.