The Rise of African Women in the Global Financial Landscape

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In the traditionally male-dominated realm of corporate leadership, women are increasingly breaking barriers and assuming pivotal roles across various industries. The banking sector, a cornerstone of economic development, is witnessing a remarkable shift as more women ascend to top leadership positions. Africa, with its diverse and dynamic economies, is not exempt from this trend.


Despite facing numerous challenges, women are demonstrating exceptional leadership qualities, driving innovation, and fostering inclusive growth within the banking sector across the continent. “In the boardrooms of Africa’s banks, women CEOs and regional managers are not just making history; they’re shaping the future of finance by prioritizing inclusive growth, digital transformation, and ethical leadership.” – Hilda Njenga

Aida Diarra – CEO of Orange Bank Africa

Aida Diarra, hailing from Mali, serves as the CEO of Orange Bank Africa. In her role, she spearheads initiatives to utilize technology and innovation for delivering accessible and affordable banking services throughout Africa. Diarra’s strategic foresight and dedication to digital inclusion are pivotal in Orange Bank Africa’s mission to empower individuals and businesses across the continent.

Previously, Aida Diarra assumed the position of Senior Vice President & Head for Sub Sahara Africa at Visa in November 2018. In this capacity, she oversees Visa’s business operations across fifty countries and seven offices in Sub Saharan Africa. Her focus lies in digitizing cash, expanding digital acceptance, and promoting financial inclusion across diverse markets within the region. Recognized as a leader in the financial services and digital finance sectors, Diarra has also led Western Union’s Africa portfolio.

Aida holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in International Business & Management from the University of Hartford, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the American Business School in France.


Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe – Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank

Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, a distinguished academic with over 30 years of experience in the banking industry, has been appointed as the Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank. She has previously served as Executive Director for Lagos and the South West region, where she played a pivotal role in the bank’s transformation over the past six years. With expertise in Legal, Treasury, Investment Banking, Retail/Commercial Banking, and Corporate Banking, she has successfully structured transactions across various sectors. Onyeali-Ikpe received a commendation from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) during her tenure at Enterprise Bank Plc. She has also participated in executive training programs at prestigious institutions and holds an Honorary Senior Membership from The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).


Wendy Lucas-Bull – Absa Bank Limited

Wendy is the Chairperson of Absa Group Limited, Absa Bank Limited, and Absa Financial Services Limited since April 2013. She is also a founding director of Peotona Group Holdings, a women’s investment and development group. Wendy has held executive roles at Rand Merchant Bank Holdings and FirstRand Retail, overseeing various entities. She has held non-executive directorships at Barclays PLC, Barclays Bank PLC, Nedbank, Anglo American Platinum, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Dimension Data PLC, Alexander Forbes, Aveng, Lafarge Industries SA, Eskom, Momentum Group, Discovery Holdings, Telkom SA, and the South African Financial Markets Advisory Board. With over 35 years of senior executive experience in the Financial Services industry, Wendy’s expertise spans financial services consulting, retail and investment banking, insurance, public sector finance, and trade finance.


Mrs. Miriam Olusanya – Guaranty Trust Bank, Nigeria

Mrs. Miriam Chidiebele Olusanya, holding the position of Managing Director at Guaranty Trust Bank (Nigeria) Limited, a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO), brings over 25 years of extensive banking experience to her leadership role.

Beginning her journey with the bank as an Executive Trainee in 1998, Mrs. Olusanya has traversed various echelons within the organization, demonstrating her expertise across multiple domains including Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Corporate Finance, Investment Banking, Investor Relations, and Transaction Services.

Mrs. Olusanya has a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, complemented by a Master of Business Administration (Finance and Accounting) from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. Her commitment to continuous learning and professional development is evident through her participation in numerous executive management programs and banking-specific developmental initiatives conducted by esteemed educational institutions globally.


Freda Yahan Duplann- Board of Directors for Zenith Bank Ghana

Mrs. Duplan takes over from Dr. (Mrs.) Mary Chinery-Hesse, the current Chancellor of the University of Ghana, a retired diplomat and International Civil Servant with a career spanning decades, was the pioneer Board Chairperson of the Bank from inception in 2005 to 2019.

Mrs. Duplan comes to this new role with a wealth of global corporate experience. Until her retirement, she was the Managing Director of Nestlé Pakistan Limited. She previously was Managing Director for Nestlé Ghana and also briefly held the position of Head of Nestlé Business Services in Manila, Philippines.

Mrs. Duplan is a trained Computer Scientist with almost three decades of working experience with the Nestlé Group having risen through the ranks to become the first African Female Market Head in the Nestlé Group and the First Ghanaian Managing Director of Nestlé Ghana Limited. She has rich skills set in Strategic planning & Management, Change Management, People Development & Management, Sales & Customer Management along with High Level Negotiations. She also successfully led Nestlé Ghana Limited to become the first in the Central and West Africa Region (CWAR), to go live with SAP.


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Director General of the World Trade Organization

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s extensive experience includes serving as Nigeria’s Finance Minister on two occasions and briefly as Foreign Minister, making her the first woman to hold both positions. She spearheaded major reforms in these roles, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of government operations. Additionally, she had a notable tenure at the World Bank, rising to the position of Managing Director of operations, where she played a key role in initiatives to assist low-income countries during crises.

Recognized globally for her leadership and contributions, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has received numerous awards and honors, including being listed among the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes and one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME. She is renowned for her advocacy of trade as a driver of economic growth and her commitment to sustainable development.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is actively engaged in various advisory boards and initiatives focused on global economic issues, education, and public health. She is also a prolific author, having written several books and articles on topics ranging from corruption to financial inclusion.


Betty Murambadoro –  Executive Director of Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe

Betty Murambadoro presently holds the position of Executive Director, Corporate and Investment Banking at Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe. Previously, she served as the Head of Corporate and Investment Banking for Standard Bank Swaziland before joining Standard Bank in 2019. During her tenure at Standard Bank, Betty held roles including Head of Investment Banking, Deputy Head of Corporate & Investment Banking, and Head of Client Coverage.

Educationally, Betty Murambadoro earned a Master of Business Leadership from the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership in 2004 and a Master of Commerce in Development Finance from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town in 2018.


Bolaji Agbede – Acting Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Access Bank, Nigeria

Ms. Agbede is a highly experienced professional with over 27 years of experience in Human Resources management, customer relationship management, and banking operations. She has a proven track record of managing people integration during mergers and acquisitions, executing culture transformation initiatives, and implementing corporate strategies. Agbede started her career at Guaranty Trust Bank and later served as the Chief Executive Officer of JKG Limited. She then joined Access Bank as an Assistant General Manager and has been Head of HR since 2010. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Lagos and a Master of Business Administration from Cranfield University.


Managing Director/CEO, FCMB, Yemisi Edun,

The Board of Directors of FCMB Group Plc announced the appointment of Yemisi Edun as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of its largest subsidiary, First City Monument Bank Limited (the Bank) effective May 1, 2021 following the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). She was the first female chief  executive of the bank.

Prior to her appointment, Edun was the Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer of the bank and previously served as the acting Managing Director. With a work experience spanning nearly 35 years, Yemisi Edun holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife and a Master’s degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Certified Financial Analyst, CFA Charter holder. She is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria; a Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A; and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.


Nezha Hayat – Chair and CEO of Morocco’s Capital Market Authority

Nezha Hayat holds the esteemed position of President at AMMC – Morocco’s Capital Market Authority, a role she assumed after her appointment by His Majesty the King, Mohammed VI, in February 2016. A graduate of ESSEC Business School Paris, she made history in 2007 as the first woman to join the management board of a bank in Morocco while working with the Société Générale Morocco group.

Nezha embarked on her career in Spain in 1985 within the banking sector, specializing in risks and debt portfolio management. Transitioning to private banking activities in 1990, she later joined Société Générale Marocaine de Banques in 1995, where she spearheaded the establishment of brokerage and asset management operations. In 1999, she served two terms as the President of the Association of Stockbrokers in Morocco and was honored as a global leader for tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in 2000.

Additionally, Nezha co-founded AFEM, an association of women business leaders in Morocco, in 2000, and 2012, she established the “Club des femmes administrateurs au Maroc” to advocate for women’s representation in corporate boards.

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