African women have long been a significant force in expanding and developing the continent’s economy. Despite many difficulties and setbacks, they have consistently shown resiliency, creativity, and a desire to succeed. Today, we honor the accomplishments and successes of African women in business.
These inspirational women have overcome obstacles to carve out successful careers in various fields. They are still breaking down barriers and opening doors for future generations in industries like agriculture and tech.
Join us as we look into the impact African women entrepreneurs have on the continent and globally.
Success Stories of African Women in Business
African women entrepreneurs are breaking glass ceilings and paving the way for future generations in several industries.
Although women in traditional African traditions aren’t expected to hold powerful positions, these women have exhibited incredible resilience, creativity, and a determination to succeed.
Here, we will look at some of the inspiring business triumphs of African women, as well as the difference they have in local economies and global markets:
African Women in Tech Startups
Tech is a growing sector in Africa, and women are determined not to be left out. African women are increasingly making huge differences through innovative tech startups and in multinational businesses.
For instance, Temie Giwa-Tubosun established LifeBank, a platform in Nigeria that links blood banks and hospitals and has reportedly saved thousands of lives.
Rebecca Enonchong founded AppsTech, a provider of enterprise application solutions with offices worldwide, including the US, Europe, and several African nations.
These women’s success stories are inspiring many young women to pursue careers in technology because they have demonstrated their ability to compete on a global level.
Contributions of African Women to Agriculture
Agriculture is an essential sector for many African nations. And, it’s impressive to see many African women are also making significant progress.
Divine Ndhlukula, for instance, established SECURICO, a security business that offers services to Zimbabwe’s agricultural industry. Her business has grown to be among the biggest employers in the nation and has won numerous international accolades.
Kosi Yankey is another African woman with a hugely successful agricultural business. Yankey founded Nuba Foods and Commodities, a company with operations in Ghana.
Her company buys goods from regional farmers and distributes them to businesses in West Africa. Additionally, the business processes and sells a variety of specialty foods and collaborates with over 100 local women and farmers.
African Women in Fashion and Show Business
Another area where African women entrepreneurs have a significant impact is the fashion industry. Take Anita Quansah-Okoye for example. She is a well-known jewelry designer who showcases her pieces at numerous international fashion shows.
Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, and Rihanna have been spotted wearing her designs. Similar to this, Amira Rasool established The Folklore, a high-end clothing store that focuses on showcasing African designers.
Her business has given African designers new opportunities and assisted in the global promotion of African fashion.
African Businesswomen in Social Entrepreneurship
African women entrepreneurs are also making significant advancements in social entrepreneurship. They do this by taking advantage of business principles to make a difference in the social and environmental spheres.
One example of a successful social entrepreneur is Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who founded SoleRebels, a shoe company in Ethiopia that creates eco-friendly shoes made of recycled materials.
Her business has expanded to sell its goods in several nations globally, providing jobs for more than 100 people in her community.
Hospitality and Tourism
Mofolu Sadeis the founder of Mumpreneur.ng, a business that offers lodging services for mothers and families in Nigeria. She is a beacon of light for other African women who are interested in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Her business makes it simpler for families traveling with children to enjoy their vacations by providing safe and affordable lodging.
Sokunbi has won numerous awards for her entrepreneurship. Her business has also been named among the top 100 innovative companies in Nigeria.
Media and Entertainment
The media and entertainment industry is bustling with so many African women who have even radicalized the space.
A good example is Mosunmola Abudu, the creator of EbonyLife TV, a media company that creates original content for African audiences.
Her company has created several popular TV programs, including The Governor, a political drama series that became the most-watched TV program in Africa.
Due to her success, Abudu has received numerous honors and recognition, including being named one of the 25 most powerful women in international television by Hollywood Reporter.
Other successful African women using their businesses to improve the media space include Biola Alabi, Peace Hyde, Aramide Abe, Tara Fela-Durotoye, and Amira Rasool.
Besides the aforementioned industries, many African women have gone into manufacturing and are making waves.
Zainab Ashadu is a Nigerian entrepreneur and the founder of Zashadu, a luxury leather goods brand that produces handbags and accessories using ethically sourced materials and traditional techniques. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Elle, and other fashion magazines.
Another example is Lorna Rutto, a Kenyan entrepreneur and the founder of EcoPost, a company that manufactures environmentally friendly plastic lumber from recycled materials. Her company has received numerous awards for its environmental impact and job creation.
African Women in Healthcare
African women entrepreneurs are also having a significant impact on the healthcare sector. One example is Dr. Ola Orekunrin, the founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first air ambulance service. The company offers emergency medical services to individuals in remote areas.
Following her sister’s death due to a lack of medical care in a remote location, Dr. Orekunrin founded her company.
Since then, her business has expanded to rank among the top air ambulance services in Africa, saving countless lives. She has won numerous awards for her entrepreneurship, including the 2013 Young Leader of the Year award from the African Leadership Network.
African women entrepreneurs are also significantly contributing to the finance sector. Although she was born in London, Elizabeth Rossiello has spent a significant portion of her life in Nairobi, Kenya where she founded BitPesa.
Elizabeth Rossiello has contributed immensely to African development, especially in the finance sector, and deserves her place on this list.
Rossiello is the founder of BitPesa, a business offering digital currency services to African companies.
Her business has assisted in facilitating international transactions and inspiring other African women to create innovative solutions in the financial sector.
Beauty and Cosmetics
A good example here is Funlayo Alabi, the CEO, and Co-founder of Shea Radiance, a beauty company that uses shea butter sourced from women-owned cooperatives in Africa to create natural skincare products.
Her company is now well-known across the globe. Impressively, Forbes and Essence have both featured her brand. The 2020 Forbes Women Africa Entrepreneurial Award is just one of the accolades that Funlayo Alabi has won for her entrepreneurship.
Read: The African Entrepreneurial Spirit: Stories of Innovation and Resilience
Challenges Faced by African Women in Business
Although they continue to strive irrespective of obstacles, African women still face many problems in business. Here are some of them:
Cultural and Societal Barriers
It is challenging for African women to succeed in business because of significant cultural and societal barriers. Women’s access to education and their ability to launch their businesses are frequently restricted by traditional gender roles.
In addition, societal norms frequently prevent women from holding leadership positions and prevent male investors from funding female-led businesses.
African women entrepreneurs face significant challenges due to these societal and cultural barriers.
Limited Access to Funding and Resources
Any business’ success depends heavily on having access to resources and funding. However, it can be difficult for African women business owners to get the funding they require to launch or expand their enterprises.
Venture capitalists may be reluctant to invest in female-led businesses, and conventional funding sources like banks may not offer loans to women-owned businesses. This may significantly affect the possibilities of African women entrepreneurs reaching their full potential.
Lack of Education and Training Opportunities
Education and training help develop the knowledge and abilities required to operate a successful business. However, there are few free education and training opportunities for many African women business owners.
Their capacity to acquire the abilities and information required to expand their businesses and contend in a global market may be constrained by this lack of access.
Gender Bias and Discrimination
African women entrepreneurs face significant obstacles due to discrimination and gender bias. Women are frequently viewed as less capable or competent than men. Unfortunately, this bias can be a significant roadblock to success.
Women may also encounter discrimination at work or when applying for funding, which can hinder their ability to expand their businesses.
Ultimately, it is of the utmost importance to support and empower African women in business to help them reach their full potential. This will also help propel the continent’s economic growth and development.
In light of this, many initiatives and organizations give African women entrepreneurs access to funding, mentoring, networking, and advocacy opportunities.
Given the rising number of female entrepreneurs and their significant contributions to the continent’s economic development, the outlook for African women in business is positive.
However, to address the issues faced by African women entrepreneurs, such as gender bias, cultural barriers, and a lack of resources, there is still much work to be done. This will allow Africa build a gender-equal society that is empowering for African women in business.
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