Meet the people who are making dramatic impact in entrepreneurship, business leadership and personal development in Africa.
Folorunsho Alakija, Nigeria, Group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group
Folorunso Alakija, a Nigerian businesswoman and one of the richest African women. In 2014 she unseated Oprah Winfrey as the richest woman of African descent in the world. She is a business tycoon involved in the fashion, oil and printing industries. She is the group managing director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited and Digital Reality Prints Limited and the executive vice-chairman of Famfa Oil Limited. Alakija is Forbes’s richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion. As of 2015, she is the second most powerful woman in Africa after Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the 87th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
Alakija started her career as a secretary for the now-defunct Merchant Bank of Nigeria. She quit her job in the 80s to study fashion design in England, returning to her native country a few years later to set up Supreme Stitches, a fashion label that catered for élite Nigerian women.
Fast forward to 2016 and the 65-year-old businesswoman was Africa’s second wealthiest woman, estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.1 billion. No, she didn’t make all her money from her fashion venture. Instead, a significant part of Alakija’s fortune comes from her oil exploration company Famfa Oil. She also has investments in real estate.
Fred Swaniker, Ghana, Founder and CEO of the African Leadership Academy
Swaniker, Ghanaian serial entrepreneur and leadership development expert. He has launched five organizations that aim at developing leaders, primarily in Africa. Fred is the founder & CEO of the African Leadership Academy, an institution located outside Johannesburg in South Africa. The African Leadership Academy aims to develop 6,000 transformative leaders for Africa over a 50-year period. He is also the founder of African Leadership Network, Global Leadership Adventures and Africa Advisory Group. Before he hit eighteen, Swaniker had lived in Ghana, Gambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. He is worth an estimated $300 million.
Njeri Rionge, Kenya, Co-founder Wananchi Online
The Kenyan business magnet started her first business at the age of 19, selling yoghurt at schools in the capital, Nairobi. She went on to sell clothes and run a few other small businesses. Today, Njeri Rionge is one of the women pioneer investors in the IT sector in Africa, having co-founded Wananchi Online, East Africa’s first mass market internet service provider which has grown to become the region’s leading internet company.
Over the years, the serial entrepreneur has established a host of other thriving businesses, including Ignite Consulting, a flourishing business consultancy; Ignite Lifestyle, a health care consultancy; Business Lounge, one of Kenya’s largest startup incubators; and Insite, a booming digital marketing agency.
When Njeri is not busy expanding her business empire, she is imparting knowledge and skills to young entrepreneurs in her country, and helping them grow their own businesses.