Nigerian women are steadily setting the bar for the greatest things every day.
They set boundaries, they move obstacles, they seek to create solutions to the problems in their environment like their male counterparts. A lot of them have inspired us knowingly or unknowingly with the value of great work they’ve put into their different careers.
This list is closely based on the YNaija/Leading Ladies Africa Project list published on the last International Women’s Day 2016;
#1. Affiong Williams
Affiong Williams is the Founder and CEO of ReelFruit an agribusiness company based in Nigeria with a mission to produce world-class snacks and beverages. In 2012, she began her entrepreneurial journey in the Agricultural space. The 28-year-old entrepreneur made the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2015 and has been described as one to create the jobs and the wealth that the continent needs.
#2. Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan
Popularly known as Mama Taraba, Aisha is a woman of many firsts. She became the first female to be appointed as Taraba State’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. She was the first woman to be appointed as the Secretary of the FCT Judicial Council. She has shattered several stereotypes that have to do with northern women and politics in Nigeria.
#3. Angelica Nwandu
Angelica Ndidi Nwandu is 25 and is re-imagining celebrity gossip. BuzzFeed has called her the first media mogul of the distributed content age, rightfully true if we say so too. Angie started working on Instagram after she was out of work in March 2014 and within two weeks, her posts had attracted 10,000 followers. Now, she has built her media company into one with 3 million followers on Instagram, a spin-off website with full details on gossip feeds, a Facebook page with 4 million fans, YouTube channel and a Snapchat account to mention but a few. She was on the TIME’s list of influential people on the internet here
#4. Arese Ugwu
Arese is the Head of Wealth Management at Partnership Investment Plc. She is responsible for building the company’s wealth management division, through business development and growing existing client relationships. She heads Partnership Investment’s internal committee for corporate social responsibility, which has helped raise funds for several education initiatives. She sits on the boards of Partnership Securities Ltd (a subsidiary of the group) and House of Tara International Ltd as a non-executive director and is an associate member of WIMBIZ (Women in Management Business & Public Service).
#5. Arunma Oteh
Arunma Oteh, OON (Officer of the Order of the Niger), is the Treasurer and Vice President of the World Bank. She became the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Nigeria in January 2010. In this position, she was responsible for regulation of Nigeria’s capital markets, including the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In July 2015, after her tenure in the SEC, she was appointed the vice president and treasurer of the World Bank. Oteh worked for various institutions including the Harvard Institute for International Development and Centre Point Investments Limited of Nigeria in corporate finance, consulting, teaching and research.
#6. Betty Irabor
Betty Irabor is a media mogul and founder and editor of Genevieve Nigeria, one of the leading fashion and lifestyle magazines in the country. She is also a philanthropist, mentor for countless women, and a champion for breast cancer awareness through the Pink Ball Foundation.
#7. Bimpe Onakoya
Bimpe Onakoya is an award-winning African based international makeup artist. She is the artistic Director of Maybelline New York Nigeria. She is also a dynamic and creative Makeup Artist with over eleven years industry experience spanning television, print, editorial shoots, advertising campaigns, bridal beauty, fashion shows and events. She has worked alongside some of the industry’s most influential photographers, top models, fashion designers and stylists. Her keen eye for bringing out the best in one’s features has led to a solid reputation in the industry and to her being a celebrity favourite. Bimpe has an innate understanding of colour, great command of technique, flair and artistry that stands her out from the pack, she is a true professional
#8. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year; and the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. Her latest novel Americanah was published around the world in 2013, and has received numerous accolades, including winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction; and being named one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year.
A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
#9. Francisca Nneka Okeke
Francisca Okeke is a Professor of Physics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She recently received the L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award for her significant contributions to the understanding of daily variations of the ion currents in the upper atmosphere which may further our understanding of climate change. She was also the Dean of the faculty of Physical Sciences at her University, from 2008 to 2010.
#10. Funke Bucknor Obruthe
Bubbly and happy CEO of events management firm, Zapphaire Events is one of the most prolific event planners ever. She studied Law at the University of Lagos and has distinguished herself in the art of planning world class Lagos weddings.
#11. Ibukun Awosika
Ibukun Awosika is the Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and most valuable banking brand. She is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Chair Centre Group. Ibukun chairs a number of corporate and not-for-profit boards amongst which are: House of Tara International and Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC), a facility which she promoted to help address youth employability and enterprise issues in Nigeria. She sits on the boards of Digital Jewel Limited, Cadbury Nigeria Plc., Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority. She was Chairman, FBN Life Assurance Limited, FBN Capital Limited and Kakawa Discount House Limited.
#12. Josephine Okeme
#13. Kelechi Anyadiegwu
Founder of Zuvaa, an upscale marketplace for African inspired fashion and accessories, Kelechi combined her passion for African print and web design to build an online destination for African Fashion and Design. She was recently featured on the 2016 Forbes 30 under 30 list, in the retail and E-commerce category.
#14. Linda Ikeji
Linda Ikeji is one of Africa’s finest bloggers blogging it and living it too. Linda takes out time to inspire and motivate girls through her Self-Made Project every year, regardless of the money she doles out to her blog readers regularly.
#15. Mildred Okwo
Mildred Okwo is a Nigerian film director and producer. Mildred studied Theater Arts at the University of Benin. She is also a US-trained lawyer. Mildred alongside eleven other Nollywood practitioners founded the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) and was approved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to screen Nigerian films to be submitted for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards.
#16. Mo Abudu
Mosunmola Abudu is a talk show host, TV producer, media personality, human resources management consultant, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She has been described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman”. In 2013, she launched Ebonylife TV, a multi-platform broadcaster set to reach Africa’s most important target demographic, the custodians of the present and the future.
#17. Ndidi Nwuneli
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, MFR (born on March 22, 1975) is a Nigerian social entrepreneur. She has 19 years of experience in International Development and Business Management working with multinational firms, the public sector, and international organizations. In 2002, she founded LEAP Africa, a nonprofit organization that focuses on encouraging leadership and development initiatives for youth and business owners in Nigeria.
She is currently the co-founder of AACE Food Processing & Distribution Ltd. (AACE Foods), an indigenous agro-processing company in Lagos, Nigeria and one of the directors of Sahel Capital & Advisory Partners, an advisory and private equity firm in Nigeria, which focuses on the agribusiness and manufacturing sectors. Nwuneli holds a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.
#18. Oby Ezekwesili
Obiageli Ezekwesili is a Nigerian chartered accountant. She was a co-founder of Transparency International, serving as one of the pioneer directors of the global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany. She served as Federal Minister of Solid Minerals and then as Federal Minister of Education during the second-term presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo. Since then, she served as the Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division from May 2007 to May 2012. While working for the government as the Pioneer head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (aka Due Process Unit), she earned the sobriquet of “Madam Due Process” for the outstanding work she did when she led a team of professionals in public procurement or contracting at the Federal level in Nigeria. Ezekwesili was instrumental to the start of the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media, which trended internationally.
#19. Tara Fela Durotoye
Tara Fela-Durotoye is a Nigerian makeup artist and lawyer. A pioneer in the bridal makeup profession in Nigeria, she launched the first bridal directory in 1999, set up international standard makeup studios and established the first makeup school in Nigeria.She is the founder and CEO of House of Tara International and creator of the Tara Orekelewa Beauty range, Inspired Perfume and the H.I.P Beauty range. In 2007, She was awarded the Africa SMME Award and the Entrepreneur award in South Africa and in 2013, Forbes listed her as one 20 Young Power Women In Africa
#20. Toyin Saraki
Mrs Toyin Saraki is a prominent Nigerian philanthropist with two decades of advocacy covering maternal, newborn and child health; ending gender-based discrimination and violence; and improving education, socio-economic empowerment and community livelihoods in Africa. She is a huge advocate of the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 in Nigeria, which are aimed at reducing the rate of maternal and infant mortality.
She contributed largely to the establishment of the Lifestream Charity in 1993 and is a global advocate of the UN’s Every Woman Every Child campaign. Toyin is on the board of the Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence and the board of the Africa Justice Foundation. Toyin Saraki is the Newborn Champion for Save the Children Nigeria and was the Inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador to the International Confederation of Midwives in 2014.
#21. TY Bello
Toyin Sokefun-Bello, better known as TY Bello, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, photographer and philanthropist. TY has taken pictures of local and international celebrities all over the world.
#22. Unoma Okoroafor
She is the President and founder of Working to Advance Science and Technology Education for African Women, an international non-profit organization founded in 2007. Her passion for tech related matters cannot be ignored. She acts as a visiting professor at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja Nigeria teaching courses at the Computer Science department.
#23. Yasmin Belo Osagie
Yasmin is 26 and is the co-founder of She Leads Africa [SLA], a Nigeria-based social enterprise that equips female entrepreneurs in Africa with the knowledge, network, and financing needed to build and scale strong businesses. Yasmin Belo-Osagie is a graduate of Princeton University with degrees in History and Finance, and a trained sous chef who worked in the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong.