5 powerful African businesswomen with global influence

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Folorunsho Alakija

Over the past decade, there has been an increased level of advocacy for equal opportunities and representation in economic opportunities. This seems to be paying dividends as there has been increased participation of women, especially black women in various sectors such as fashion, media, real estate, oil and gas, technology, telecommunication, governance and policymaking, and so on.

This article features five African women leading business ventures that are actively contributing to the economy of their states and has earned them recognitions and a seat at the global level as they chair Forums or serve on Boards.

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Folorunsho Alakija

Folorunsho Alakija

Folorunsho from Nigeria ranks as the second richest woman in Africa with a net worth of $1.54 billion. Her career started in the 1970s as the secretary of International Merchant Bank, one of the premier investment banks in West Africa. She has a background in fashion design, a degree acquired from the United Kingdom before she founded her fashion house, Supreme Stitches in 1985. Folorunso is also a tycoon in the oil and gas sector where she acquired most of her fotune. Her oil and gas production company FAMFA Oil is valued at over $600 million.

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Hajiya Bola Shagaya

Hajiya Bola Shagaya

Bola Shagaya is no doubt one of the most enterprising women in Africa. She is the Founder and CEO of Bolmus Group International, a conglomerate across multiple sectors. Her company’s area of operation spans from oil and gas to real estate investment, banking and communications. She currently owns properties all over Nigeria and also in Europe and the United States. She is a Board Member of reputable institutions such as Unity Bank and New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD). She currently has a net worth of $630 million.

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Wendy Appelbaum

Wendy Appelbaum

Wendy is a South-African businesswoman. She was heiress to her father’s estate and multi-million company, Liberty Investors Limited. She sold her shares in the company to build her own fortune. She invested in DeMorgenzon, a wine farm and agricultural business in Stellenbosch and currently has an estimated net worth of $259.3million. She co-founded the Women’s Investment Portfolio Limited (WIPHOLD), the first women-led company to be listed in Johannesburg Securities Exchange. WIPHOLD is currently exploring business opportunities in Brazil, Vietnam, China, India and other developing countries.

She is a member of the Harvard University’s Women Leadership Board and the International Women’s Forum.

Irene Charnley
Irene Charnley

Irene Charnley

Irene is a prominent South-African mogul in the telecommunications industry. She was Executive Director at MTN before becoming the CEO of Smile Telecoms Company in 2007. She was responsible for the expansion of MTN across Africa. She was also a director at FirstRand Bank. She is currently worth over $150 million.

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Bridgette Radebe

Bridgette Radebe

She is the founder of Mmakau, a mining company in South Africa. The mining business deals in the exploration and production of gold, platinum, uranium, coal, and so on. She is the current president of South African Mining Development Association. She received the International Businessperson of the Year Award in 2008 from the Global Foundation for Democracy. She is currently worth $100 million.

The achievement of these women is a pointer to the fact that gender gap with respect to economic opportunities can be bridged, but most importantly that African female entrepreneurs are vital to such change.

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