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Meet Africa’s Biggest Female Bosses Leading Male-Dominated Industries

For African women, history shows that it took a very long time for them to enjoy basic human rights. Women and children are regarded as the weaker sex who suffer the most in society.

Through the fight for equality and provision of human rights and privileges to women in society, they have proven that they are a force to reckon with and a set back is no reason not to rise as fast they can.

Day in and out, many African women are leading and dominating the spaces they find themselves but only a few are the real bosses of male-dominated industries.

Here are five African female bosses you should know;

Divine Ndhlukula – Zimbabwe

In a male-dominated industry, Zimbabwe’s Divine Ndhlukula has not only shown that a woman can do it better, but she has also demonstrated so by employing more than 3,500 workers under her security company, SECURICO. SECURICO was founded in 1998 by Divine after working 16 long years as a Marketing Executive for Intermarket Life Assurance. In several Interviews, Divine explains that she set up the company to have a more fulfilling life and close the wide gap between men and women in the security sector. SECURICO is now one of Zimbabwe’s and South Africa biggest security companies. Over the years, the company has been internationally recognised. Her company became Zimbabwe’s first security company to be internationally certified and Divine has featured on the Forbes list several times as one of the most successful women in Africa. In August 2018, she was named as one of the top ten CEOs in Africa. Divine Ndhlukula ‘s over 1 million dollar company gives priority to employing women and empowering them to do more with their lives. Divine is also the CEO of  Zvikomborero Farms. The highly successful woman has an MBA from Midlands State University and an Honorary MBA from Zimbabwe’s Women’s University in Africa. From very humble beginnings in a rural community in southern Zimbabwe, Divine Ndhlukula is the definition of Boss woman.

Priscillah  Mabelane – South Africa

In 2017, she made history when she was appointed as the first ever black female CEO of  British Petroleum, South Africa (BP South Africa). This milestone in Black women’s history has made Priscillah Mabelane one of the most powerful women in South Africa and one of the most talked about women in Africa. Priscillah gained appointment exactly 6 years after joining the company and rising high and fast in a male-dominated space. The strength and perseverance of Priscillah started at a very early age growing up in a less privileged society and having to take school lesson under trees. Before joining BP South Africa, Priscillah Mabelane was the first black to be given a job at the Pietermaritzburg office of Ernst & Young. She remains the first woman in the South African oil industry to head a multinational company. Priscillah continues to inspire many women to focus on their goals and invest or work in the oil industry.

Folorunsho Alakija – Nigeria 

The 67-year-old was born into a wealthy, polygamous Nigerian family. After being a secretary at the International Merchant Bank of Nigeria, she subsequently quit her job in the early 80s and proceeded to study fashion design in England. When she returned to Nigeria, she started Supreme Stitches, a Nigerian fashion label which had customers including the wife of former Nigerian president Ibrahim Babangida. Today, Alakija, with a net worth of $1.6 billion is the vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in the Agbami oil field, a prolific offshore asset. Famfa Oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras.

Sibongile Sambo – South Africa

After being rejected as a flight attendant by South African Airlines, Sibongile Sambo turned the disappointment into working hours and set up her own Aviation company. Today, SRS Aviation is one of South Africa’s most trusted and most reliable services in the Aviation industry in southern Africa. Sibongile set up the company with the aim of providing clients professional and personalised flight options to destinations around the world. In 2013, she was named one of the most powerful women in Africa and has won several awards. In just a few years, Sibongile’s  SRS Aviation is affiliated to several aviation bodies both locally and internationally and offers private helicopter flights.

Njeri Rionge – Kenya

Njeri Rionge is the owner of many chains of leading businesses not only in her home country, Kenya, but in East Africa at large. Since 2011, she has featured on Forbes’ most successful women in Africa list and is arguably one of Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs. At a very young age, Njeri worked as a hairdresser and sold yoghurt from a car truck to schools such as the International School of Kenya. Njeri is best known as leading the IT industry in East Africa after establishing Wananchi Online which is now East Africa’s leading internet company. Aside from her leading company, she has also ventured into other industries setting up top companies such as Business Lounge, which is one of Kenya’s biggest startup incubators and Ignite Lifestyle, a healthcare consultancy.


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