Globally, gone are the days when the female gender only takes up jobs as secretaries, office assistants or storekeepers -when all they could aspire for are secondary roles in the industries cutting across various sectors.
Today, we are witnessing a different story as women have moved from messengers to managers, and from assistants to directors and top executives – even in fields that were once dominated by the male counterparts. In fact, the world is currently experiencing a hurricane of female business owners sweeping the entire corporate world.
Like in the US where the number of women-owned firms has increased by 114% during the last 20 years, Nigeria has equally recorded a boost in the number of female CEOs and business owners. In this review, while we are asking if more women will vie and emerge as political office holders, we shall archive a number of these amazing female personalities already blazing the trail in business.
Dr Ola Orekunrin || Flying Doctors Nigeria
Dr. Ola Orekunrin is the founder of West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service, Flying Doctors Nigeria. She dared to enter entrepreneurship despite being a medical doctor by profession. As an entrepreneur, she takes trauma care to the most remote parts of Western Africa -running her Lagos-based air ambulance service company.
Her journey into this spaced started off following the loss of her younger sister who died on a trip supposedly as a result of unavailability of medical attention which could have promptly reached her in the availability of a medical air service to transport her to a nearby hospital.
Sola David-Borha || Standard Bank
Standard Bank’s Sola David-Borha currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Africa Regions. Before taking up the post, the financial expert and analyst served as the CEO of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc and at another time as the CEO of Stanbic IBTC Bank as an institutional unit.
Her stride in the financial space has earned her to be described as a consummate professional and an exceptional human being. Sola David-Borha has built her professional life to admiration through her flexibility and leadership qualities. She has always been a key player executive roles.
Ibukun Awosika || First Bank of Nigeria
Ibukun Awosika is widely celebrated as the first woman to become the Chairman of Firstbank of Nigeria. As a leading businesswoman, author, and motivational speaker, she has been an inspiration to millions of girls who call her grandma. Ibukun Awosika is a co-founder of Women in Business, Management, and Public Service (WIMBIZ).
From an audit trainee at Akintola Williams & Co, where she later moved to establish her own furniture manufacturing company called Ouebees Limited, Ibukun has become a leading figure in the business ecosystem with footprints in media as a TV host.
Ope Wemi-Jones || The Customer Focused Company
After working in 3 different banks, Ope Wemi-Jones brings more than 20 years work experience in the Nigerian Financial Services Industry to head her financial personality development firm, The Customer Focused Company where she facilitates sessions to guide C-suite executives in integrating a customer service culture with a gender lens into their corporate strategy.
Before starting off, she served as Group Head, Inclusive Banking in Access Bank Plc.
As a global leader and chartered accountant with an MBA from the I.E Business School in Madrid, Ope’s strides include being an author, speaker and trainer par excellence. She has been celebrated for her deep interest in improving the state of customer service, financial literacy education and mentoring for women in Nigeria and beyond.
Mavi Isibor || Poise Nigeria
Mavi Isibor pioneered soft skills industry in Nigeria, founded Poise Nigeria, and authored the first indigenous etiquette book – The Art Of Refinement. With a vision to equip and groom business executives with the vital skills needed to succeed in today’s globalized and highly multicultural business environment, she founded the premier Finishing School in West Africa leveraging on her capacity as a trainer and influencer.
Less than 20 years running the firm, she has grown the organization into a group of four subsidiaries: Poise Business Image Consultancy, Poise School of Communication, Poise Graduate Finishing Academy and Ekobits (ICT Academy). With over 36 years of experience in the corporate world, she is recognized in international circles as an authority in the field of Etiquettes, Personality Development, Corporate Image and Branding, Success Strategies, Ethics, and Elocution and Public Speaking.
Linda Ifeoma Ikeji || Linda Ikeji Blog and TV
From using a subdomain to purchasing a full domain, Linda Ikeji started out, as a blogger, only 13 years ago after her graduation from the university. From that 2006 venture, the writer and former model has grown to be an entrepreneur and a key player in the media space. With her blog, she recorded such success that in 2014 “Linda Ikeji” was the biggest Google Search trend in Nigeria. The name Linda Ikeji was the most searched item by users of Google in Nigeria
Today, Linda Ikeji has a number of brands she is running. From her blog that has been her number one success story to her TV where she airs a variety of programmes ranging from talk shows, reality shows, TV series to Movies. When in 2018, she was conferred with a Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Trinity International University in Georgia for her outstanding job in Business and Media in Africa, it was a deserving recognition.
Aishah Ahmad || Central Bank of Nigeria
Aisha Ahmad is another financial expert who has worked in various banks in various capacities. By profession, she is an Accountant, financial manager, and analyst. Before her appointment in 2017 as the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, she served as an Executive Director, Retail Banking at Diamond Bank and previously worked at Zenith Bank and Stanbic IBTC.
From her career as a Group Accountant at Manstructs Group Nigeria Limited and at Z.O. Ososanya & Company, she rose through the ranks to assumed the position of an Executive Assistant, Treasury Group. Later, she served as the Head of Retail Banking at Zenith Bank Plc and the Head of Private Banking at NAL Bank Plc (now Sterling Bank). As a business leader and financial player, she has also served as the Head of Business Development at Zenith Capital Limited.
Zainab Ahmed || Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning
Zainab Ahmed became Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning following her new appointment on August 21, 2019. Before her appointment, Zainab is a professional accountant and the immediate past Minister of Finance of Nigeria, replacing Kemi Adeosun in September 2018.
Zainab Ahmed, however, is not a new actor on national assignments as she has been the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning since her appointment in 2015.
Prior to her ministerial appointment, she has served as an executive secretary and national coordinator of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). On finance, she was at a time the Chief Finance Officer of the Nigeria mobile telecommunications company.
Mo Abudu || EbonyLife TV
Mo Abudu is a multiple award winner and a household name. As the CEO of EbonyLife TV, she has been listed for several awards within and outside Nigeria. She was one time ranked 56 on Business Insider’s list of 100 Top business visionaries. On that list, she was double-celebrated as also being the only African on the list.
EbonyLife TV, today, is hailed as one of Africa’s most successful new media ventures as it is committed to its vision to tell real African stories and change the conversation around the continent. After investing so much in building a media empire for herself and Africa through hard work, and a knack for excellence; another name for the EbonyLife TV is Mo Abudu TV.
Funke Opeke || Main One Cable Company
Funke’s story is the summary of daring the devil. She went out of her way to found Main Street Technologies after working at MTN NIGERIA, Transcorp and NITEL as chief technical officer (CTO), adviser and chief operating officer respectively. After obtaining a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, Funke started out in her career as an executive director with the wholesale division of Verizon Communications in New York City.
While working in the telecoms industry, she observed how low internet speed was in Nigeria as of 2008. From a mere observation, she rolled her sleeve execute plans in a bid to change the story. Today, her company, MainOne, is West Africa’s services and network solutions provider. Through this effort, internet speed has appreciated. And, MainOne is West Africa’s first privately owned, open access 7,000-kilometer undersea high capacity cable submarine covering between Portugal and South Africa with service points along the route in Accra and Lagos to cover Nigeria.
While it appears that these women have infused the natural “mother” managerial qualities and stellar emotional intelligence to build teams that set and achieve goals, coordinate processes that drive growth, and pilot ideas that are both solution oriented and customer centred; their under-representation in politics is still a concern in a supposed inclusive democracy.
We can only keep asking: will the female gender soon conquer politics like their feat in business –are the women really coming?
By Ridwan Adelaja…
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