“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing -- that’s why we recommend it daily.”
"Mentorship is important and you can’t go wrong if you are counselled rightly from someone who is indeed worthy to be called a mentor."
- 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.
"When opportunity comes knocking, do not ask it to come back another day! Take it and RUN!"
- Esmeralda De Souza-Obwaka is the founder of Spez Limited in Kenya, a premium outside catering service operating under the brand 'Spez' and they also create decadent cakes and pastries under the brand 'The Missing Slice'. Her culinary journey began at university where Esmeralda began baking small cookies and sold them at a nearby restaurant. Today, her thriving business boats a client list that includes many of the leading corporates and multi-nationals in Nairobi.
"Failure is the only way that you learn and it’s absolutely necessary."
- Jessica Bonin is the founder of Lady Bonin’s Tea, a Cape Town-based company that blends and distributes organic loose leaf teas sourced direct from farms that use sustainable farming practices and are community driven. The teas and herbs, by their source, are exceptionally high in quality, improving nutritive content and flavor density. Tea is Jessica’s business, her passion and her practice.
"I admire anyone who turns what they believe into a reality, despite the obstacles along the way."
- Khanyi Dhlomo is the Managing Director of Ndalo Media, which she founded in 2007. She is also the founder of DestinyConnect and the founding editor of Destiny Magazine. Before starting her own media company, Khanyi was editor of True Love magazine for eight years. In 2013, Khanyi ventured into retail and launched Luminance, a high-end fashion and lifestyle department store. Khanyi was named most influential woman in South African Media by The Media Magazine in 2003 and made the 2011 Forbes list of 20 Young Power Women in Africa.
"We take pride in the fact that we are a socially responsible firm and believe that giving back to our community and sharing our wealth of knowledge and experience is the only way of building a healthy and economically sound future."
- Janet Nkubana, co-founded Gahaya Links Cooperatives with her sister Joy Ndungutse shortly after the Rwandan genocide ended in 1994. These inspiring sisters had a vision to turn ancient basket weaving skills into a source of livelihood for thousands of rural women. Many of the women, like Janet and Joy themselves, were returning refugees or survivors of the genocide. Today, Gahaya Links manages a network of over 4,000 weavers across the country, organised into around 52 cooperatives that help provide much needed income and stability. The sisters have successfully opened the business to international markets, partnering with the likes of Macy’s, Walmart, Oprah Magazine, and Kate Spade. Today, Gahaya Links "Peace Baskets” are sold and admired the world over.
"Social entrepreneurs are patient, sensitive and they have a strong sense of doing what is right to fix the problem. So, hang in there, your work is needed."
- Chinwe Ohajuruka is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Design Services in Nigeria. Chinwe is a US-based architect who splits her time between the US & Nigeria working on sustainable housing development projects. She is a passionate champion of green building solutions for Africa and she engineers and builds affordable green houses that are both energy and resource-efficient. Chinwe was selected as the Sub-Saharan laureate of the 2015 Cartier Women's Awards.
“It’s always the finances. I constantly had to find the balance between having enough money to expand, and not sinking into so much debt that I would not be able to sleep at night.”
- Carrol Boyes is an iconic South African designer who has built a global brand. She founded Carrol Boyes (Pty) Ltd in 1991 combining her artistic flair and talent in sculpture with her jewellery experience to create an extensive range of distinctive homeware, giftware, flatware and table top products. Today, her company designs and manufactures a meticulously crafted product range of well over 1000 items and sells over a million items every year. Products are always imbued with Carrol's trademark artistic flair and finesse. The brand is available through her 35 branded shops in South Africa and in over 30 other countries around the world.
"I am a strong believer in Africa's potential and a great advocate of all things 'African'."
- Sandra Idossou is the founder of The ServiceMag in Rwanda, an insightful, colourful magazine in English, French and Kinyarwanda, with a 5000 copy print run and a dynamic online version. Sandra has a solid and diversified experience of more than 13 years in the hospitality industry as a trainer in 32 hotels [from 2-5 stars] in 25 countries in Africa. She is the author of the book titled “The Customer Care Handbook” and a weekly columnist on raising awareness on Customer Service in the Rwandan “The New Times”.
“We believe that design can solve stubborn problems and thus we started from a major issue in Egypt: waste.”
- Mariam Hazem is co-founder of Reform Studio in Egypt, an eco-design practice producing furniture and woven textiles from discarded plastic materials. The concept behind Reform Studio in Egypt all started with a plastic bag, with its founders, Mariam Hazem and Hend Riad, believing that design can solve stubborn problems and thus it started from a major issue in Egypt: waste. One experiment after another, and after many design proposals, the duo came up with the company’s first product ‘Plastex’. Plastex is a new eco-friendly material made by weaving discarded plastic bags. More about Mariam.
"The start-up journey is not for the faint hearted, have grit and believe anything is possible."
- Lindiwe Mafavuneh is the founder of LCM Capital in Botswana, an Investment Management Company with a diverse focus on alternative investments, risk management solutions and advisory services. Lindiwe is on a mission to help companies to manage their risk and maximize their investments.
"...to improve and support innovation in Africa, the single most powerful thing to do is to deliver quality broadband internet to the majority of Africans. That, I think, will do a lot more than any 'Ministry of Innovation,' than any innovation fund, or any kind of innovation vehicle that we can think of....Access to information and communication is the most empowering thing we can do to support innovation. It opens doors for greater innovation in farming, education, health, and financial services."
- Rapelang Rabana is an internationally recognized technology entrepreneur, a thought leader and business speaker. She is the founder of Rekindle Learning, a learning technology company, and previously co-founded Yeigo Communications, South Africa's first free VoIP mobile services provider. In 2012 Rapelang was named on Oprah Magazine's O Power List; in 2013 she was listed on Forbes's 30 under 30 list for best entrepreneurs of Africa, and in 2014 she was named one of the Entrepreneurs of the World by the World Entrepreneurship Forum.
"The starting point for entrepreneurship is for aspiring entrepreneurs to adopt a 'can do' attitude within existing companies. There are so many of us with opportunities within our current jobs.”
- Caryn Formby is founder and CEO of Power Plastics a South African company that joins, welds, shapes, sews and seals various plastic materials to fabricate high quality and cost effective end products. The company is well known for its plastic pool-covers and Caryn is passionate about child safety around pools. She is the driving force behind TopStep, the home of pool safety – an educational platform for all things relating to child drowning prevention. In November 2014, Caryn was an awardee at the prestigious global IWEC (International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge) ceremony held in Stockholm.
"I see entrepreneurship as a calling, not as a last resort for those who are looking for employment in the formal sector and not finding it."
- Bernice Dapaah, is co-founder of the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative along with Winnifred Selby. Bernice operates her NGO business as a social enterprise to empower rural dwellers and their communities. She is a member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum and the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity and Natural Capital. Ghana Bamboo Bikes is a socio-ecological green initiative that addresses climate change, poverty, rural-urban migration and high unemployment amongst the youth in rural Ghana.
"...I think that is the folly of many of our people. You make a bit of money and you think you've arrived. You start spending the money and the business does not grow."
– 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.
"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.
"Do not rely on anyone but yourself."
- 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 began 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 began 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.
"It was my dream to capture true African luxury, change the world's perception of Africa and produce a luxury brand that is truly African in origin, nature and tradition."
- Swaady Martin-Leke, an Ivorian entrepreneur, is founder of YSWARA, a growing African luxury brand. YSWARA creates elegant, high-end products using the continent’s natural resources, all produced by African artisans. Products include gourmet tea, chocolates and home and accessories collections such as homeware, spoons, home fragrances and artisan jewellery. Swaady aims to capture a true spirit of African luxury by reviving Africa’s endangered cultural heritage and unique ancestral craftsmanship. YSWARA is present in 4 countries -- South Africa, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and France -- with 15 different direct and indirect retail points.
"The notion is always that women should do art, be fashion designers, etcetera. I don't agree with all that. There are women who are astronauts! So, for me, you can do whatever you put your mind to."
- 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.
"To successfully support Africa’s rise, we must support Africa’s women."
- Susan Mashibe is founder and executive director of VIA Aviation, an international fixed-base aircraft services operation and the first company of its kind in Tanzania. Susan is also the first woman in Tanzania to hold both a FAA certified commercial pilot and an aircraft maintenance engineering qualification. This passionate aviator left Tanzania at the tender age of 19 to learn to fly jetliners in the United States, later returning home to help reshape African private air travel. Today, VIA Aviation provides logistical support for corporate, diplomatic and private jets. Her clients include heads of state, monarchs, Fortune 500 executives, celebrities, and military flights. VIA was the first company to offer such services in Tanzania and East Africa as a whole.
"If you are in it for the long haul, you need to look at your personal brand as a necessary investment that will outlive you. The projects you work on will come and go, but your personal brand will persist and add value to everything you create."
- Raksha Mahabeer is a co-founder of SummerTime in South Africa, a vibrant creative design studio that specialises in fresh graphic design, comprehensive brand development and innovative marketing support services for both SMEs and corporate clients. Raksha is a connector, a communicator, a purpose-driven, inspired inspirer! She prides herself in partnering with SMEs in establishing new South African brands with a view to creating jobs in South Africa.
“With sheer determination and conviction nothing is impossible. We can all achieve the unimaginable.”
- Ally Angula is a qualified chartered accountant and co-founder of Leap Holdings, a group of companies involved in the growing of fresh produce, garment manufacturing and retail in Namibia. She is also the founder of My Republik Brand, Namibia’s first locally designed, manufactured and retailed clothing brand with a flagship store situated in the Grove Mall in Windhoek's Kleine Kuppe suburb. She currently serves as non-executive director for Old Mutual Life Assurance (Namibia) and Rio Tinto's Rossing Uranium mine in Namibia. Ally was chosen as a Desmond Tutu Fellowship programme Associate in April 2013 and was one of two Namibian entrepreneurs selected to attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by US President Barack Obama in Kenya.
"Whatever you do, do well. You never know who is watching."
- 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.
It's okay to start small....
“It’s always good to take baby steps and grow with time. There is no rushed success that lasts.”
- Monica Musonda is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Java Foods, a food processing company based in Zambia. Monica's vision is to revolutionize the eating habits of the youth market by offering them affordable and nutritious food options made from local products. Monica is a dual-qualified English solicitor and Zambian advocate with over 15 years of experience in legal practice and corporate management, including being corporate counsel at the International Finance Corporation and for Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries Limited.
"Our organisations are not just situated at locations – these locations are our host communities, and we must invest in them… give back to them. This is even more important for an African female entrepreneur because, as females, we are nurturers and it is our responsibility to raise the next generation,”
- Olajumoke Adenowo, founder of AD Consulting, is a Nigerian Architect, Speaker, Radio Host, Philantropist and Author. CNN has described her as “Africa’s Starchitect”. She has been featured in the World’s foremost Architectural Journal; Architectural Record and has spoken on several platforms including the Global Women’s Forum and Harvard Business School (African Business Club). Olajumoke also hosts a Syndicated Radio show on Leadership called “Voice of Change”.
"Lionesses, do not shy away from seeking mentors who are different from you as this will benefit you a great deal."
- Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment.
“There is a link between increasing connectivity and GDP. If you increase broadband by 10%, it corresponds to 1,163% increase in GDP. Investment in connectivity is worthwhile. We've only got 15.6% penetration of the internet in Africa – there is so much more to do.”
- Juliana Rotich is a technologist, strategic advisor, and entrepreneur. Juliana serves as an advisor to the councils of BASF, Risk Cooperative, Africa Technology Ventures (ATV) and the Lemelson Foundation. She is a trustee of Bankinter Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Spain, board member of Digital Impact Alliance and the Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Board. She is Co-founder of BRCK Inc, a hardware and services technology company based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her personal mission is to make things, fix problems and help others and she is a champion for internet connectivity and works to support entrepreneurs to scale their work and impact.
"What drives me is living purpose. I think my business is a vehicle to change lives."
- 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 150 employees and a groundbreaking network of over 5,000 reps across the country. 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.
"The future of Africa depends on technology, and the opportunity it gives girls and young women for greater prosperity."
- Mariéme Jamme is a Senegalese born-British businesswoman, who runs a technology consultancy business, Spotone Global Solutions, that helps technology companies to identify 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 named as one of the 100 most influential Africans of 2014 by the Africa Business Magazine and Forbes Magazine.
"Keep a really open mind because life has its own plans for you."
- Yudhika Sujanani is an inspiring South African foodie entrepreneur with many strings to her bow including restauranteur, celebrity TV chef, blogger and author. Yudhika is best-known for her designer heels and signature curry dishes. Her passion for food and zest for life has seen her launch the Holi Cow Deli & Coffeeshop, author two recipe books, launch a spice range, and start the highly acclaimed 'Curry Club'. Yudhika also finds time to work for the UN World Food Programme as its hunger advocate in southern Africa.
"Don’t give up on your passion and dreams. In life we always have to push for the doors of success to open."
- Miyoba Buumba is the founder of Mwabonwa Designs in Zambia, a company that specializes in designing and creating a range of decorative homeware including curtains and duvets, pillows and African prints, and also beaded jewelry and accessories, as well as kids wear. Miyoba has a degree in Environmental Education from the University Of Zambia and is a strong advocate for climate action and women’s rights and is passionate about the natural environment, poverty reduction and gender equality.