Be the Change. Be Inspired. Be You.
Recognizing (40) African women with powerful, inspiring and influential voices.
At the AWP Network, we aim to encourage more African women with powerful voices who will continue to create programs and policies that support the development and growth of African women and girls.
Introducing Africa\’s leading women
(1) Joana Silochina Foster (Ghana) cofounded Africa’s first feminist philanthropic institution, The African Women’s Development Fund. A lawyer and activist, Foster oversaw the expansion of a women’s law network in 26 African countries through her work with Women in Law and Development in Africa. She passed away this year and will always be recognized as one of Africa’s greatest feminist activists.
(2) Thuli Madonsela (South Africa) served as South Africa’s public protector for 7 years. Madonsela also helped to draft her country’s final constitution. Recently, she was honored with the ‘Forbes Africa Person of the Year’ award. A human rights lawyer, Mandonsela helped shape South Africa’s post-apartheid era.
(3) Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura (Senegal) serves as FIFA’s secretary general. Samoura is the first African and the first woman to hold this position. Prior to joining FIFA, she worked at the United Nations in various capacities and more recently, as a humanitarian coordinator and a UNDP resident representative.
(4) Mokgadi Caster Semanya (South Africa) is a sports champion and the first person to win all three of the 400 meters (m), 800m, 1500m titles at the South African National Championships. She also won the gold medal in the women’s 800m at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.
(5) Fadumo Dayib (Somalia/Kenya) is Somalia’s first female presidential candidate. Dayib was the only woman out of 18 presidential candidates running for the position. She plans to serve as her country\’s anti-corruption watchdog.
(6) Ndeye Sow (Senegal/United Kingdom) is a senior advisor at International Alert, a peace-building nongovernmental organization. Sow is also a founding member of Abantu for Development, an organization working to strengthen the capacity of African women and enhance their representation at all levels of the development process.
(7) Joy Ndungutse (Rwanda) is the co-founder of Gahaya Links Cooperatives, a social enterprise successful in turning ancient basket weaving skills into a source of livelihood for thousands of rural women. Gahaya Links manages a network of over 4000 weavers across the country organized into 72 cooperatives. Her company is also winner of the Artisan Hero Award.
(8) Hadia Gondji (Ethiopia) is the owner and managing director at Hadia Flowers and Vegetable PLC. In addition to this, she is the founding member and president of the Ethiopian Women Exporters Association, an organization helping business women increase their exports.
(9) Mame Madior Boye (Senegal) is the first female prime minister of Senegal. Boye is also recognized as the founder and first woman president of the Association of Senegalese Lawyers.
(10) Jo-Issa Rae Diop (USA/Senegal) is the creator of the HBO series, Insecure and Awkward Black Girl. She also wrote “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” a New York Times best-selling memoir where she chronicles her life through a series of humorous anecdotes.
(11) Nwakaego Boyo (Nigeria) is managing director of Temple Productions Limited, a company that produces advocacy films, short films, documentaries and TV adverts. Next year, Boyo will be appointed the 60th president of the International Women’s Society.
(12) Kemi Ajumobi (Nigeria) is the initiator of the Inspiring Woman Series and Editor of the Off-Duty Magazine for Business Day Nigeria. She recently served as a Bloomberg Africa Media Leadership fellow.
(13) Nnedi Okorafor (USA/Nigeria) is the first black person to win the world fantasy award for best novel since its 1975 inception. She is a professor and novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults.
(14) Ebi Atawodi (Nigeria) is General Manager for Uber in West Africa. Prior to working at Uber, Atawodi served as head of corporate communications at Etisalat where she created the Etisalat Prize for Literature – Africa’s most prestigious literary prize.
(15) Asisat Lamina Oshoala (Nigeria) is a professional footballer and was part of the team to win the 2016 African Women’s Championship. She currently plays for Arsenal Ladies of the FA WSL as a forward.
(16) Affiong Williams (Nigeria) is an entrepreneur and founder of ReelFruit – a dried fruit processing and packaging company.
(17) Bukky Karibi-Whyte (Nigeria) is an entrepreneur and founder of Invicta Africa and The Bobby Taylor Company – one of Nigeria’s leading PR firms.
(18) Comfort Sakoma (Nigeria) is founder of Poize Insider, a business development consulting firm focused on supporting women entrepreneurs.
(19) Shade Ladipo (Nigeria) is executive director of WEConnect International, an organization focused on connecting women to procurement and exporting opportunities. Ladipo is also the founder of Avienti Limited, a destination management company.
(20) Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede (Nigeria) is an author, a professor of political science and global affairs, founder of the Young Women’s Guide and principal at Yetunde Global Consulting. Her companies are focused on leadership development consultation and training.
(21) Nkechi Ogbodo (Nigeria) is the founder of Kechie’s project. The organization leads various initiatives that provide access to educational opportunities for girls in Nigeria. Kechie’s project also leads a conversation series for Men whereby they are included and empowered to support women and girls initiatives within their local communities.
(22) Ifeoma Malo (Nigeria) is Founder of the Clean Tech Hub and Energy Innovation Center. She is an Eisenhower fellow, Desmond Tutu fellow, Crans Montana fellow and African Leadership Fellow. She previously served as chief of staff and senior technical adviser on energy policies, regulations, and partnerships to Nigeria’s former minister of power.
(23) Mame Diene (Senegal) is the owner of Bioessence, a luxury age-defying shea butter skincare company. BioEssence sources its shea nuts from a women’s co-op in Kedougou, a small town in south eastern Senegal.
(24) Frances Udukwu (Nigeria) is Miss Africa USA and founder of the Lead Girl Foundation, an organization focused on providing vocational training to girls in Enugu State, Nigeria.
(25) Saudat Salami (Nigeria) is one of the pioneers of the online grocery business in Nigeria. Her company, Easyshop Easycook delivers fresh groceries to your door.
(26) Bukky Shonibare (Nigeria) is a Mandela Washington Fellow, founder of Girl Child Africa, and co-ordinator of Adopt-a-camp, an organization providing educational assistance to Internally Displaced Communities (IDPs) in Northeast Nigeria.
(27) Melanie Hawken (South Africa) is a social entrepreneur, founder and editor-in-chief of \’Lionesses of Africa,\’ one of Africa\’s digital platforms for women entrepreneurs. With a rapidly growing audience of 100,000+ women, the organization provides access to information, community resources, and networking events.
(28) Tosin Jegede (Nigeria) is a child-star and founder of One Book One Child, a platform whose mission is to improve literacy for students at the primary school level.
(29) Rebecca Franks (South Africa) is a leading woman in tech. She is a senior android developer recognized with the status of Google Developer Expert for Android. She is also the creator of the bookdash mobile application.
(30) Elizabeth Magaya (Zimbabwe) is managing director of Blissford Investments, a property development company specializing in residential properties, landscaping and interior design in Zimbabwe.
(31) Patricia Veringa-Gieskes (DRC) is the owner of The Job Factory, a recruitment, and certified vocational training center.
(32) Sonja Sebotsa (South Africa) is the co-founder of Identity Partners, an investment advisory and financing firm.
(33) Divine Ndhulukula (Zimbabwe) is the founder of Securico Security Services, the Harare-based company is a market leader in the provision of bespoke guarding services and cutting-edge electronic security solutions. The full-service security company providing protection ranging from live surveillance monitoring to guard dogs. Her company sees more than $10 million in revenues. each year.
(34) Sibongile Sambo (South Africa) is an airline executive who founded SRS Aviation, the first Black female-owned aviation company providing clients with professional and personalized flight options to destinations around the world.
(35) Njeri Rionge (Kenya) is the co-founder of Wananchi Online, a company that has become East Africa’s leading pay-tv, broadband internet and VoIP services firm.
(36) Abena Amoah (Ghana) is the founder of Baobab Advisors and a Member of the Investment Advisory Committee for Ghana’s Petroleum Wealth Fund. Her company, Baobab Advisors, works to raise capital for businesses.
(37) Hilda Tadria (Uganda) is a gender and social development specialist. Tadria is also co-founder of the African women’s development fund. Dr. Tadria is a founder of Mentoring and Empowerment Program for Young Women (MEMPROW), a capacity building empowerment program for young women ages 16 to 25 years.
(38) Asha Abbas (Tanzania) is the founder of Aurateen, a platform providing sex education to teenagers in her local community by raising awareness and working with medical practitioners to educate about STIs and other sexually related topics.
(39) Lamine Chamsiya (Niger) is the co-founder of E3D-Niger, a startup involved in the production of Neem and the local marketing of bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides, and cosmetic products.
(40) Halima Gidado-Mijindadi (Nigeria) is the founder of Brides & Babies, a one-stop shop for women as they experience important stages in their lives. She is also the founder of Kid for Kid Charity, a nonprofit that provides underprivileged children with school supplies, meals, and other necessities.
In addition to recognizing Africa’s leading women, the AWP Network develops innovative business content, programs and events for African entrepreneurs.
Check out previous lists: