Women represent half the population of Africa and they are considered internationally as one of the main pillars of economic development on the continent. Women make up 58% of Africa’s self-employed population and contribute around 13% to the continent’s GDP.
An African drive for women’s empowerment has consequently given rise to women entrepreneurs and female-led startups on the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, has the world’s highest rate of women involved in entrepreneurial activity at 26%.
Not only does Africa have a high index of women involved in entrepreneurial activities, these women also create employment opportunities for themselves and others and drive community development and improved living conditions on the continent. By introducing new products to the African economy, female founders boost productivity and drive economic growth on the continent.
African Leadership Magazine takes a look at these five female entrepreneurs changing the economy of Africa.
Jihan Abass is a 30-year-old Kenyan entrepreneur and businesswoman, and the founder and CEO of Lami Insurance Technology, an insurance technology company based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Lami was founded in 2019 with the aim of increasing insurance penetration in the developing world but the company went live with its offerings in 2020, starting with Kenya. With over 80% of Kenyans having no insurance scheme whatsoever, and the average insurance penetration in Africa fewer than 3%, there was a clear market gap in the insurance market. It became Lami’s mission to close the gap and democratise insurance. Lami employs at least 48 people to help realize this mission.
The goal is to be a leader in digital insurance distribution, whether in Africa or in other developing countries. By building the digital infrastructure to power insurance, Lami is solving the problems inherent in traditional insurance companies’ offerings, which have contributed to low insurance adoption rates on the continent.
Ghanaian by heritage and American by birth, she grew up in Texas. After moving to Ghana in 2017, an opportunity to innovate presented itself and Addy launched Jetstream.
Jetstream was founded to enable African businesses to see and control their cross-border supply chains. It combines private-sector logistics providers at African ports and borders and brings them online.
Now, four years in and with her company growing, Jetstream has operations in Nigeria with agents present in South Africa, China, the U.S., the U.K., and Europe. This talent placement is one of Jetstream’s moves geared towards 2028 when the CEO says the company hopes to have a presence at ports and borders in Africa comprising 80% of the continent’s total global trade.
Mosunmola Abudu, popularly known as Mo Abudu, is a 58-year-old Nigerian media mogul. She has been described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman”, and rated as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television” by The Hollywood Reporter.
Abudu is a woman with multiple careers, especially in the entertainment industry. She started Ebonylife TV in 2006, a network airing in more than 49 countries across Africa, as well as in the UK and the Caribbean. One of the biggest feats she has made so far is putting 3 of her films in the top three highest-grossing films in Nigeria’s history. Since the birth of her television show Ebonylife tv, Mo has remained relevant in the entire media and entertainment scene, producing tons of entertainment content.
She is currently estimated to have a net worth of $650 million which she made basically from media, then human resource companies, and hotels. These ventures create employment for thousands of people.
Julian Adyeri Omalla
Julian Adyeri Omalla is one of Uganda’s top female entrepreneurs. She is the founder, chairperson and managing director of Delight Uganda Limited, producing the country’s most popular fruit drink sold under the brand name ‘Cheers’.
Julian started Delight Limited Uganda with $100, a kettle and a wheelbarrow. Today, her company is valued at over $ 4 billion and employs over 1,000 Ugandans. She owns the first fruit manufacturing plant in the country, a fruit farm in Nwoya District sitting on 1,700 acres of land and a Farm Institute with a housing capacity of 400 occupants per day.
Julian has diversified into a range of other business activities, including egg and poultry farming, maize-feed production, a flour mill and bakery, as well as coordinating women’s farmer cooperatives that provide food aid in Sudan. Today, Julian exports to countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and Zaire.
Dr Divine Ndhlukula is one of Zimbabwe’s most successful entrepreneurs. She uses her status to empower women and highlight the potential for women business owners to impact even the most male-dominated sectors in Africa.
In 1998, she launched Securico, a private security firm that was conceived out of the need to earn a livelihood but critically to revolutionize the male-dominated security industry. To succeed she had to change the narrative, both in terms of what women could do and also in terms of how the security sector was talked about and how it viewed itself.
Divine identified a need in the market for a quality-oriented security company and she has driven SECURICO to become the market leader in Zimbabwe. Her business success story is nothing short of remarkable – making her one of Africa’s most tenacious and inspiring women entrepreneurs.
Today, SECURICO provides its clients with a complete security solution – uniformed armed officers, armoured vehicles for transportation of valuables, onsite banking, trained guard dogs, and electronic security systems. The company also does private investigations, employee vetting, and security consulting.
She also founded Zvikomborero Farms, an agricultural company involved in a variety of farming activities.