Empowering the Female Economy: The Impact of Nigerian female Entrepreneurs on the Economy. 

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In Nigeria, entrepreneurship has emerged as a powerful force driving the growth and empowerment of the female economy. Study shows that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) contribute to 48% of Nigeria’s GDP; women account for 41% of ownership of these businesses. Women entrepreneurs are not merely contributing to the growth of the economy, they are catalysts for change, reshaping industries, fostering innovation, and inspiring other women to follow suit. 

Women-led startups and businesses are playing a pivotal role in enhancing economic independence for women in Nigeria. By venturing into diverse industries such as oil and gas, technology, agriculture, fashion, etc., female entrepreneurs are creating platforms that empower women to take charge and influence key economic pillars in our nation, Nigeria.  

These women venturing into businesses contribute significantly to job creation and value addition for the economy. With this, more women are directly empowered. Here are some leading women who are inspiring change and contributing to the growth and development of the economy through innovation and entrepreneurship, creating game-changing, industry-defining enterprises. 

Folorunsho Alakija 
Vice-Chairman, FAMFA Oil Limited 

Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija is a dynamic Nigerian businesswoman and philanthropist, playing a pivotal role in overseeing diverse business ventures. As the Vice Chairman of FAMFA Oil Limited, her family’s oil exploration and production business, she guides strategic planning and day-to-day administration. Additionally, she holds the position of Vice Chairman in Dayspring Property Development Company Limited, a global real estate company, and DigitalReality Print Ltd, a leading printing company. Beyond her business success, Mrs. Alakija has contributed to Nigeria through various committees and made history as the first female Chancellor of a public university in Africa. A renowned public speaker, prolific writer, and board member of the Commonwealth Business Forum, she has received numerous awards both locally and internationally. 

Funke Opeke 

Founder/CEO of MainOne  

Ms. Funke Opeke is the founder and CEO of MainOne, a leading communications services and network solutions provider in West Africa. Known for spearheading the $240-million-dollar project to build West Africa’s first privately owned, open-access 7,000-kilometer undersea high-capacity cable submarine, she completed the groundbreaking initiative in 2010 on time and within budget. Under her leadership, MainOne also established the $40 million MDX-i’s Lekki Data Center, the largest Tier III Data Center in West Africa with a capacity for 600 racks. Ms. Opeke, an experienced telecommunications executive, returned to Nigeria in 2005 as the Chief Technical Officer of MTN after a successful twenty-year career in the United States. With a first degree in Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University and a Master’s degree from Columbia University, she continues to shape the telecommunications landscape in West Africa. 

Odunayo Eweniyi 

Co-founder and COO of PiggyVest 

Odunayo Eweniyi is the co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of PiggyVest, Nigeria’s largest digital and investment platform. With 7 years of experience in Business Analysis and Operations, she previously co-founded pushcv.com, one of Africa’s largest job sites. As the COO of PiggyVest, Odunayo oversees the company’s entire operations, spanning Finance, Investment Management, People Operations, Investor Relations, Fundraising, and related areas. In 2021, she co-founded First Check Africa, a female-led angel fund supporting early-stage women in African tech. Odunayo is a board member at Village Capital and has been recognized on Bloomberg Business Weekly’s 2020 Bloomberg50 list and the 2021 TIME100 Next list. She was also named Forbes Africa 30 under 30 in Technology in 2019 and one of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators in 2019. In 2020, she co-founded The Feminist Coalition, advocating for women’s equality in Nigerian society. 

Damilola Olokesusi 

Cofounder & CEO at Shuttlers 

Damilola Emmanuel is the co-founder and CEO of Shuttlers, a Nigerian transportation startup reshaping commuting in Lagos and Abuja. Launched in 2015, Shuttlers offers professionals and organizations affordable, shared rides in corporate buses, reducing commuting stress and lowering rates by 60-80%. Under her leadership, Shuttlers secured a $1.6 million seed funding in 2021 and plans to expand across African cities. Damilola’s initiative not only eases daily commutes but also contributes to reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions. Recognized as one of the Most Influential Women in Mobility 2022 by Vulog and a Forbes30Under30 recipient for Technology, Damilola is a leader driving innovation in technology and transportation, with a commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. 

Adenike Ogunlesi 

Founder and Creative Director, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble 

Adenike Ogunlesi, a trailblazing entrepreneur with over 35 years of experience in the Fashion and Retail Business, is the founder and Creative Director of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, Africa’s leading premium children’s clothing brand. Starting from the boot of her car in 1998, she has transformed the brand into a Pan-African sensation, boasting 17 retail outlets, an online presence, and expansion plans internationally. Adenike is also the visionary behind Gatimo Apparel manufacturing, a high-quality garment manufacturing facility. Beyond business, she passionately advocates for women’s empowerment and social equity. Adenike’s commitment to community development led to the establishment of the Betti-Okuboyejo Foundation, providing garment-making training for over 200 youths, and the ‘I Share Cuz I Care’ Foundation, impacting thousands of children through initiatives like the feed a child campaign. As a Non-Executive Director at Lafarge Holcim Plc and a mentor at WISCAR, Adenike Ogunlesi is dedicated to both business excellence and empowering others. 

Audrey Joe-Ezigbo 

Deputy Managing Director and Co-founder of Falcon Corporation 

Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, Deputy Managing Director and Co-founder of Falcon Corporation, is a seasoned leader with over 27 years of experience in the Energy, Gas Distribution, and Trading sectors. With a focus on entrepreneurship in Africa, she is dedicated to nurturing SMEs into large corporates, emphasizing sustainability and global leadership. Audrey played a pivotal role in Falcon’s growth from a minor oil services contractor to a major player in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry. Holding several master’s degrees and executive certifications, she is a respected figure in the energy sector, serving as the immediate past President of the Nigerian Gas Association and holding key roles in industry organizations. Audrey has received numerous accolades, including recognition on the Leading Ladies Africa 100 Most Inspiring Women list and the PowerWoman 100 list in the Oil and Gas category. She is married to Joe and is a proud mother of four. 

Dr. Ola Brown 

Founder, Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Company 

Dr. Ola Brown is the visionary founder of the Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Company (FDHIC), dedicated to making significant impacts across the African healthcare and wellness value chain. Simultaneously, she co-founded Greentree Investment Company, a leading venture capital firm supporting innovative tech startups in various sectors, including fintech, media, SaaS, Agri-tech, manufacturing, ecommerce, health tech, and Edutech. Dr. Ola, with a background in medicine and surgery, holds a Masters degree in Finance and Economic Policy. She is an accomplished speaker, international influencer, and board member, recognized for her contributions to the healthcare and business sectors globally. 

Mo Abudu 

Creative entrepreneur, Founder EbonyLive 

Mo Abudu, a trailblazing entrepreneur and media mogul, reshaped the African narrative with the launch of EbonyLife TV, Africa’s premier black entertainment network, in 2013. Pioneering inspirational series like “The Governor” and “Desperate Housewives Africa,” she expanded into filmmaking with EbonyLife Films in 2014. Her debut production, “Fifty,” became Nigeria’s highest-grossing drama in 2015. Abudu continued her success with blockbuster films like “The Wedding Party” and “Chief Daddy,” achieving acclaim both domestically and internationally. As CEO of EbonyLife Media, she oversees a multifaceted empire, including EbonyLife TV, Films, Studios, ON, and Productions. A respected speaker and globally recognized figure, Abudu received numerous accolades, including being listed among Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful Women in Global Television and The Powerlist 2018. Her influence extends beyond media, with an honorary doctorate and directorship at the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. A prominent advocate for changing perceptions about Africa, Abudu continues to make an indelible mark on the global creative industry. 

Bolanle Austen-Peters 

Creative entrepreneur and Founder, Terra Kulture 

Bolanle Austen-Peters, widely known as BAP, stands as one of Nigeria’s foremost theater and film directors and producers, spearheading the resurgence of the Nigerian theater industry on both national and international fronts. Driven by a fervent love for the arts, BAP established Terra Kulture in 2003, filling a void in Nigeria by providing a space with the right atmosphere for people to explore the country’s rich cultural and linguistic heritage. Over the years, Terra Kulture has evolved into a thriving cultural hub, attracting a diverse audience, including expatriates, students, Hollywood and Nollywood stars, artists, and members of the diplomatic community. 

Tosin Oshinowo 

Founder and CEO of Ile Ila 

Tosin Oshinowo, a Nigerian architect, entrepreneur, author, and public speaker, seamlessly intertwines her Yoruba culture with a passion for functionality in her Nigerian furniture business. Founder and CEO of Ile ila (House of Lines), established in 2017, Oshinowo creates contemporary African furniture pieces with a vibrant aesthetic, drawing inspiration from Lagos’s arts and cultural scene. Despite her architectural minimalism, her furniture designs are bold and colorful statements, handcrafted in Lagos using Nigerian teak wood and traditional West African fabrics. With a philosophy of expressing individuality through art, each piece carries a Yoruba name, such as “old tree” or “the beautiful peacock.” Oshinowo, a registered architect, holds degrees from Kingston College London and University College London’s Bartlett School of Architecture. She established her architectural design consultancy, CmDesign Atelier, in 2012, contributing to projects across Europe and Africa. Additionally, she serves as curator for the Sharjah Architecture Triennale in 2023 and actively engages in architectural education through the Sho-o-tell platform at the University of Lagos. 

Entrepreneurship in Nigeria is not just about business; it is a vehicle for women to drive social change, challenge stereotypes, and create opportunities for themselves and others. These examples showcase the transformative power of women-led entrepreneurship in building a more inclusive and dynamic economy, paving the way for future generations of female leaders. 

Join us on Thursday 30th of November 2023, as we spotlight even more women who are contributing to developing the female economy as they share their enriching and enlightening experience at WIBI Summit 3.0. 

Click here to register.

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