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Leading Ladies Africa: Nigeria’s 20 Most Inspiring Women In 2019

For the 5th consecutive year, the list features 100 Nigerian women drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds and sectors who are deliberately impacting their world and local communities through the power and strength of their ideas and achievements. The list contains women who are making great strides in the world of Business, Politics, Advocacy, Governance and Enterprise.

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Abisoye Ajayi Akinfolarin

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin – is the Founder of Pearls Africa Youth Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization aimed at educating young girls in under-served areas in Nigeria with technology skills. On November 1, 2018, Abisoye was named one of the 10 CNN Heroes of The Year. She was also recently listed as one of BBC’s 100 Women. A Nigerian women’s rights activist, Abisoye was recognized by ONE as Woman of the Year 2018.

Abosede George-Ogan– Founder of Women in Politics- a platform that engages, encourages, equips and empowers women in Nigeria to get involved and participate in Politics. She’s also the author of Building a Conscious Career- a book that equips career enthusiasts with necessary knowledge and resources to build a career that not only excites and rewards, but also positively affects the lives of others. She is a tri-sector leader with over 14 years experience working across the non-profit, private and public sectors as a development professional. She began a career in development over a decade ago with Actionaid International Nigeria. She has led Corporate Citizenship for Samsung Electronics West Africa and now sits as Director of Strategy, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.

Adaku Ufere-Awoonor: Award-winning energy professional with over a decade’s experience leading multicultural and multilingual teams across Africa in the structuring, negotiation and implementation of natural resource projects in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, South Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sao Tome & Principe, Cameroon, and other Sub-Saharan countries. Her primary capacity is in the field of oil & gas, power, mining, energy policy and gender; she is particularly committed to working towards finding solutions that address and lead to the eradication of energy poverty experienced by women in rural and low-income urban areas, in developing countries.

Adaku is currently an Independent Legal Consultant in the field of Energy, Gender and Development and the Founder/CEO of DAX Consult, a firm providing advisory services on major transactions for international and indigenous energy companies and governments. She provides services to companies and governments to mainstream gender into energy regulations, policies and programs, in the form of training, strategy and action plans.

Dr Adanna Steinacker -Popularly known for the Adanna vlogs on YouTube alongside her husband – where they share on family, travel and lifestyle, Adanna is also a digital Influencer and a Motivational Speaker with a passion for female empowerment and humanitarianism. She’s the Founder and CEO of Medics Abroad, a global platform that provides a unique all-inclusive career altering work experience and humanitarian opportunities in Africa.

Adebola Deji-Kurunmi– Fondly called DDK, is President at Deborah Initiative for Women, a ministry in 5 countries, raising other women for God’s Kingdom Agenda. She is also the Curator of Supernatural Marriage Course, a Scriptural Curriculum for activating marriage miracles, which has trained over 1, 500 women so far. Debola is an author of 13 books including her recent work, FIREBRAND. She’s the Founder of IMMERSE Coaching Company, a Personal Transformation Bootcamp which has graduated almost 3,000 women across nine countries from its suite of Programs.

As Founder and Executive Director at Ideation Hub Africa (a social profit accelerator), Debola hosts Nigeria’s leading conference for NGOs leaders, Social Entrepreneurs and Changemakers. Debola is a 2012 Girl Child Ambassador, 2013 Coca-Cola Scholar at Pan Atlantic University, 2014 Crans Montana Global Young Leader, 2014 GAME Champion of Change, 2015 Amani Ambassador, 2016 and 2017 Queen Young Leaders’ Program UK Mentor, and currently sits as a Youth Representative at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
Ade Balogun is the CEO and Founder of Loctitude- a hair studio for people with locs and natural hair. Loctitude provides a wide range of services adapted to the care and maintenance of locs whilst also providing a wider community that addresses natural hair concerns. An Architect by training, Ade is a visionary who has put the fun back in for women who want to rock their natural hair with attitude and panache!

Adenike Akinsemolu– A social entrepreneur and environmental educator reputed for her advocacy for the inclusion of green education and sustainability in the Nigerian academic curriculum. Adenike is also the founder of the Girl Prize, which provides financial and mentorship support for young Nigerian secondary school girls with an interest in the sciences. She is currently an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society and recently appointed as a member of the National Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Practitioners Association of Nigeria under the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

Adenike Macaulay – The General Manager Sales, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea at Lufthansa. Under her watch, the brand has flourished and launched a set of innovative initiatives. A strategic Sales and Operations Manager with a deep understanding of the Sub Sahara African market environment, Adenike also shows a good understanding of European and Middle Eastern business cultures.

Adeola Fayehun became a prominent media figure following an interview she co-anchored with TV Journalist- Omoyele Sowore asking former Zimbabwean president- Robert Mugabe when he was going to step down from office. Adeola is known for delivering trending geopolitical, social and economic issues that affect the daily lives of Africans living on the continent dramatically and candidly. Her satirical show- Keeping it Real with Adeola is hosted on Sahara TV YouTube Channel.

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Adesewa Hannah Ogunleyimu-A Nigerian broadcast journalist who covers both national and international news. She began her career with Nigerian cable news network, Channels TV. The former host of the Emmy nominated UN documentary, 21st Century working as a news correspondent with TRT World News in 2017. Adesewa is a critical thinker, asking why and why not, looking at multiple perspectives, digging beneath the surface, challenging conventional wisdom, discerning patterns, and finding context.
She founded Project Smile Africa in 2013 to address some of the issues she has reported on over the years. She has won the Xceptional Women in Media Awards in 2014 for her reporting on community development issues in Africa. She has also been nominated for the Future Awards Africa 2017.

Adesua Dozie– General Counsel of GE Africa. As General Counsel, Adesua has advised on over $10 billion of transactions across the continent, in turn facilitating regional growth, strengthening corporate governance and compliance cultures across diverse business communities, and serving as a guardian of the complex dynamics between purpose, profit and risk.
Adesua is a passionate advocate for empowering diverse talent, and is proud to act as Co-Chair of the GE Women’s Network in Africa.
Prior to joining GE in 2013, Adesua worked in senior legal roles for the Coca-Cola Company, where she also supported the growth of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation as Legal Adviser and Secretary to the Board. She previously served as Legal Counsel to Elf Petroleum Nigeria, and Associate Counsel for the Nigerian law firm Ajumogobia & Okeke. She holds an LL.M from Cornell Law School and is admitted to the bar in New York and Nigeria.

Aderoju Ope-Ajayi– Founder of Dolphin Aquatic Centre and Dolphin Swim School, which trains families and mostly women and children in swimming skills while also helping young athletes achieve their professional goals. She is a FINA-certified swimming instructor and Lifeguard instructor. The Dolphin Aquatic Center provides an enriched, safe, fun and diverse learning environment where women of all ages, and children can get exceptional swimming and training programs.

Amarachi Nwosu – Founder of Melanin Unscripted-a movement set to dismantle stereotypes and blur the racial lines by exposing complex identities and cultures around the world. She’s also a Nigerian-American self-taught photographer, filmmaker, writer and speaker based in Tokyo, Japan. Her brilliant directorial debut- Black in Tokyo showcases experiences of black people living in Tokyo, Japan. Her work has been featured on CNN Africa, Huffington Post and other choice media networks.

Anita Alaire Afoke Asuoha– A Standup comedian, MC/Actor/influencer, Award winning Dancer- Maltina Dance Hall S4, Glo Rock & Rule winner and Ex Glo Ambassador. Anita is a “Jill of all trades” – Entertainment related. Asides entertaining others with her dance, which interestingly has a unique ring to it, she also inspires through humour. She currently uses social media- Instagram to project her skits and clips under the name ‘realwarripikin’.

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Anita Alaire Afoke Asuoha



Anita Kouassigan– Founder of ‘Investing in Women’ initiative, Anita seeks to empower women with greater economic opportunities so that they can help build economically secure and healthier communities. She aims to achieve this through partnership and collaborations with organizations with economic empowerment for women as priority. Anita has worked for Minerva Recruitment and served as Managing Editor for Time Out Magazine Nigeria in the past.

Ariyike Akinbobola– Founder of the Ariyike Arise Initiative, she is a television presenter, talk show host, model, blogger, author, trained lawyer and occasional actress. Her book, The Cost of Our Lives, has garnered wide readership and endorsement from authors, bloggers and social entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Ariyike has advocated for several social causes in the past years including Female Genital Mutilation Campaign and Stand to End Rape Campaign, an offshoot of the Stand to End Rape Foundation. She uses her social media platforms to actively call out social ills whilst giving visibility to youth cutting their teeth in entertainment industry.

Audrey Joe-Ezigbo– Co-Founder of Falcon Corporation Limited, a wholly indigenous midstream and downstream Gas outfit. A seasoned entrepreneur with 25years experience in the Oil & Gas industry, she is Group Managing Director of other companies within the Falcon conglomerate. Audrey is currently President, Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) – the umbrella association and voice for businesses and professionals in Nigerian’s Gas industry; the first female President in the NGA’s 20-year history.

She is on the Executive Council of Women in Management, Business & Public Service (WIMBIZ). She is the founder of The Barnabas Widows Support Foundation. Audrey is an author of four published books and Promoter of the Double Impact Platform, an organization through which she delivers business and relationship-building training and support to couples who are in business together.

Awuneba Ajumogobia– A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. She has extensive professional experience in audit, taxation. Prior to joining Multistream Energy Limited where she serves as Executive Director, she was at Accenture where she worked for over a decade. As well as serving as ED for Multistream, she serves on the Board of University of Ibadan Research Foundation and Finance Committee of Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON), chairs the Governing Council of Grange School, Lagos and also sits on the Board of Directors and is an associate of WIMBIZ (Women in Management, Business and Public Service).

Ayo Mairo-Ese– Broadcaster at Smooth FM, Lagos. She began her career in Radio in 2014, co-hosting the primetime Breakfast Show on Nigeria Info FM. In the same year, she began her career in TV with Cool TV. Passionate about women, she is an advocate for Nigerian women and hopes to continue to use her media influence to empower women across Africa. While at Nigeria Info FM, she was the host and Producer of The Woman – a weekly show that featured women with inspirational and motivational stories. She is an Ambassador at War against Rape initiative and Founder of Praying Women Circle (PWC). She is also a sought-after Speaker at seminars and conferences. In recognition of her work, she has won a number of awards, most notably The Future Awards Africa Prize for Radio Personality of the Year.

Bekeme Masade Olowola– Chief Executive of CSR-in-Action, a group made of a consulting firm, a think tank and a training institute dedicated to corporate social responsibility, policy development, advocacy, empowerment and sustainable development in the region. Under Masade-Olowola, CSR-in-Action has promoted sustainable measurement and reporting using the GRI framework, specifically, since 2011, and has catalyzed the growth of sustainability adoption and transparency in the region through consulting, training and advocacy interventions.

Bekeme helped establish the Business Coalition for Sustainable Development Nigeria (BCSDN) in May 2014, an initiative affiliated with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), made up of a coalition of leading businesses across all sectors to drive collective development. She has engaged stakeholders throughout the economic value chain – government, business, civil society organisations and communities – and recently spearheaded the design and development of a Community Engagement Standards framework to facilitate the Federal Government agenda for promoting peace through equity in Oil and Gas communities in Nigeria.
She is on the board of the Global Reporting Initiative in Amsterdam as well as other non-profit and for-profit organisations. She is convener of the annual Sustainability in the Extractive Industries Conference, the largest development focused gathering for extractives now in its eighth year, and producer of The Good Citizen Radio Show, which has over 500,000 listeners every month.

Bella Disu– Educated at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, with a degree in Political Science and International Relations, Bella began her climb on the corporate ladder as a sales executive at Globacom in 2004. She currently provides strategic leadership as the Executive Vice-Chairman of the foremost multinational telecommunications company operating in Nigeria and Ghana. In 2011, she took on the additional role of CEO of Cobblestone Properties and Estates Limited, a leading property development company, which has a robust portfolio of residential and commercial properties in Nigeria.
Bella also serves as a non-executive Director on the board of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Nigeria’s apex construction company, and as a director at Abumet Plc, a glass and aluminium manufacturing company. She is a member of the prestigious Institute of Directors, Nigeria and the Nigerian Institute of Management. She is the chairperson of the Bella Disu Foundation, a non-profit organization she established to improve the potential of children from less-privileged backgrounds by providing access to quality education and employment skills.

Betty Abah– Nigerian journalist, author and a women and children’s rights activist. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE HOPE), a girl-child rights and development non-profit organization that engages with and fights for the rights and welfare of the most vulnerable of Nigerian children. Through CEE HOPE, Betty runs the Girl Leadership and Empowerment Club in urban slums and rural areas, The Rise-Against-Rape-and-Abuse (RARA) school outreach and advocacy programme, The Harbingers of Hope Scholarship Scheme for indigent kids in rural areas and urban slums and a host of other child-centered initiatives. Betty has a first degree and a master’s degree in Literature in English from the University of Calabar and the University of Lagos respectively. She has also authored five books, including two collections of poems (Sounds of Broken Chains, Go Tell Our King) and a biography (Mother of Multitudes).

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf – Co-founder and publishing director of one of Africa’s leading publishing houses, Cassava Republic Press. She is also the co-Founder of Tapestry Consulting, a boutique research and training company focused on gender, sexuality and transformational issues in Nigeria. Bibi has worked as a gender and research consultant in the public, private and development sectors for the BBC, UniFem, ActionAid, eShekels, Central Bank of Nigeria, the European Union and others. She has a Ph. D in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Warwick and has published many academic papers.

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Bimbo Balogun – Co-Founder, SoFresh Neighborhood Market- Nigeria’s number one premium healthy food brand, that provides fresh, good, clean nutrition and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Together with her husband, Bimbo has redefined the way healthy and nutritive food is perceived in Nigeria. As well as run Sofreshng, Bimbo recently launched her online course “Building Great Teams” for small businesses.

Bimbo Ipaye– Founder of Traditions by Bimms, known as Bimms 24 on social media. An Aso-oke and beads merchant, Bimbo has carved a niche in producing show-stopping pieces, especially for brides. She’s the one-stop destination for bedazzled Aso-Oke pieces in Nigeria.

Bisola Adeniyi is the founder and CEO of Lady Biba, a made in Nigeria multi-award winning women’s ready-to-wear clothing brand that caters to the Modern Corporate woman. Her love for fashion and a desire to see an off-the-rack indigenous brand mixed with a strong passion for women empowerment gave rise to the birthing of the brand in 2013.
In a short span of time, the brand has fast become a household name amongst “Lady Bosses” a brand niche of inspiring and aspiring women and has received numerous awards such as the Award for Fashion Designer of the Year by Ebony Life TV Sisterhood Awards, Future Awards Africa and ELOY amongst others.
She has worked in the fashion industry as a fashion writer and contributor for publications like Thisday Style, Fab magazine and Arise Magazine Fashion Daily.




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