5 Leading Female Entrepreneurs in Africa

The past few years have seen a rise in the number of women-owned businesses in Africa.

Women-owned businesses in Africa ranges from IT, oil, mining, aviation and various sectors. It is a widely known fact that female entrepreneurs are breaking gender stereotypes.

Here are some of the female business leaders who shape the future of the continent and inspire not only countless other women, but also anyone who dares to dream.

1) Njeri Rionge (Kenya)

The Kenyan business magnate started her first business at the age of 19, selling yoghurt at schools in the capital, Nairobi.

She went on to sell clothes and run a few other small businesses. Today, Njeri Rionge is one of the women pioneer investors in the IT sector in Africa, having co-founded Wananchi Online, East Africa’s first mass market internet service provider which has grown to become the region’s leading internet company.

Over the years, the serial entrepreneur has established a host of other thriving businesses, including Ignite Consulting, a flourishing business consultancy; Ignite Lifestyle, a health care consultancy; Business Lounge, one of Kenya’s largest startup incubators; and Insite, a booming digital marketing agency.

Asides expanding her business empire, she also delights in imparting knowledge and skills to young entrepreneurs in her country, and helping them grow their own businesses.

2) Isabel do Santos (Angola)

With an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion, the eldest daughter of Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos is the richest woman on the continent.

Isabel accumulated her wealth in oil, diamonds, as well as in the communications and banking sectors. She boasts shareholdings in Portuguese banks and energy firms such as Banco Portugues de Investimento and Portuguese Energias de Portugal respectively.

In Angola, she’s the chairwoman of Unitel SA, one of the country’s largest mobile network companies, valued at more than $5 billion.

While it’s unclear how the 42-year-old mogul got her start, she says she used her savings to open one of Luanda’s most expensive nightclubs, Miami Beach. From there, she started a trucking company to transport products for the club and other businesses.

3) Folorunsho Alakija (Nigeria)

Folorunsho Alakija started her career as a secretary for the now-defunct Merchant Bank of Nigeria. She quit her job in the 80s to study fashion design in England, returning to her native country a few years later to set up Supreme Stitches, a fashion label that catered for elite Nigerian women.

Fast forward to 2016 and the 65-year-old businesswoman is Africa’s second wealthiest woman, estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.1 billion.

A significant portion of Folorunsho’s fortune comes from her oil exploration company Famfa Oil. She also has investments in real estate.

You may also read about her here: https://foundersafrica.com/8-nigerian-founders-we-absolutely-love/

4) Sibongile Sambo (South Africa)

When Sibongile Sambo applied for a flight attendant job with South African Airways, she was rejected as she did not meet the minimum height requirements. Instead of giving up her dream of flying, she started her own aviation business.

Today, she is the founder and managing director of SRS Aviation, the first black female-owned aviation company in South Africa.

SRS Aviation offers professional and personalised flight options to destinations around the world, with charter services in a variety of categories, including VIP charter, tourist charter, and cargo charter. The company also provides game count and capture, and medical evacuation services.

Sibongile’s inspiring work has seen the 42-year-old entrepreneur accumulate a number of awards over the years, including the Regional Business Woman of the Year award, the Black Women in Business award, and the Top Emerging Gender Empowered Company award.

5) Divine Ndhlukula (Zimbabwe)

Devine Ndhlukula tackled a male-dominated industry head on, inspiring countless women on the continent to pursue their dreams despite the odds.

Divine is the founder and Managing Director of SECURICO, a security company she started in the late 90s in her cottage with four employees and very little capital.

Today, SECURICO is one of the largest security firms in Zimbabwe, with more than 3,500 employees. Divine is ready for regional dominance, with plans to expand into other countries on the continent, starting with Mozambique and Zambia.

She was once selected as one of the most influential female leaders in the world by Empowering a Billion Women by 2020, a global women empowerment movement whose list also included world leaders like Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Mozambican former first Lady Graca Machel.

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