Over the years, women in Africa have been able to destroy the gender stereotype where they are seen as weaker vessels whose role is limited to household chores by proving that they too can own businesses and be successful in fields such as aviation, fashion, farming, information technology IT, mining, manufacturing, oil, etc.
Here are five bold and fearlessly ambitious women who broke the bias, made something out of their passion, and emerged as mentors/role models to millions of women and youths in the world today.
- Bethlemen Tilahun Alemu – Ethiopia
Although Bethlemen Tilahun Alemu was raised in a poor community that could only boast of artisan skills, she didn’t let the odds defile her and instead, turned those skills into a business that set her on the path to greatness. In 2004, Bethlemen founded SoleRebels, a company that has grown to become one of the most successful world-class ventures with stores in many parts of the world simply for its ability to provide eco-friendly foot-wears and employment opportunities for many.
Good deeds are rewarded and Bethlehem has received several praises for her efforts towards reducing the unemployment rate in Ethiopia. She’s regarded as one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa by Forbes, and one of the Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum.
- Divine Ndhlukuka – Zimbabwe
Divine Ndhulukuka launched Securico, a Zimbabwe-certified security firm. She began her journey into the world of security with just four employees working at her cottage, but today Securico has over 3500 employees and has empowered millions of women.
Globally, Divine is known as an influential female leader by a global women empowerment program. We’ll definitely see more of this successful entrepreneur as she plans to expand to Zambia, Mozambique, and other countries in Africa.
- Folorunsho Alakija – Nigeria
Folorunsho Alakija began her journey into the business world in 1974. She worked as a secretary in Sijuade Enterprises, became a banker, entered the world of fashion, and finally switched to the oil industry. She has launched several establishments such as the Rose of Sharon Foundation to help widows and orphans and the Famfa Oil limited which is a major source of her wealth as well as real estate investments. As a prowess in the world of fashion, her knowledge and experiences have also been used to promote Nigeria.
Folorunsho currently serves as the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN) trustee.
- Isabel dos Santos – Angola
Industry: Banking and Energy
Isabel dos Santos holds the title of being Africa’s first female billionaire as well as being the daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. Her journey into business kicked off when she established an expensive nightclub in Luanda and a transport company to deliver goods to her club and other customers.
Isabel also ventured into the diamonds, oil, banking, and communication industry. Currently, she is a shareholder in Portuguese energy firms and banks like Energies de Portugal and Banco Portugues de Investimento, and the chairwoman of Unitel SA, Angola’s largest mobile network company.
- Julian Adyeri Omalla – Uganda
Julian Adyeri Omalla established Delight Uganda Limited which produces a fruit drink called Cheers. She also engages in farming, bakery, and real estate. In 2014, Julian Adyeri Omalla was awarded the Commonwealth Entrepreneur of the year. In Uganda, she leads the advocacy of women’s rights and economic empowerment.