In a country like Nigeria, there are many setbacks encountered by all genders in order to breakthrough in their career. Not to talk of a Nigerian woman in a male-dominated world. Before now, Nigerian women have been known to be the toast of her peers in Africa and the world at large because of the struggles that come with rising in the country.
However, we can now boast of many females in Nigeria who have risen to the zenith of their careers through hard work, resilience, and determination and especially in areas mostly dominated by male folks.
These fields include politics, entrepreneurship, business, media, activism, and the corporate world. This article covers 20 most successful and influential females in Nigeria who have grown to become a force to reckon with in their various fields and have put Nigeria on a world stage.
Folorunsho Alakija unarguably leads the pack; she is described as the richest woman in Nigeria.
In 2014, Folorunsho Alakija made the world stage when she unseated Oprah Winfrey in the Forbes Billionaires list to become the living richest woman of black descent.
Folorunsho did not always have it rosy. She has once recently narrated how she delved into the Nigerian oil sector and got an oil bloc that was rejected by big names in the sector because she was practically new in the industry.
Her oil bloc that was once unpopular has now become one of the most successful in West Africa.
Folorunsho Alakija’s net worth is estimated to be $1.9 billion. She owns 60% of Famfa Oil Limited.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is a highly respected international development expert and influential global leader, economist, and policymaker.
She was the Minister of Finance twice. She is one of the board members, Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, and other companies
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has received numerous recognitions and awards, which include: 50 Greatest World Leaders by Fortune magazine in 2015 and the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine in 2014
Ibukun Awosika is one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Her passion for entrepreneurship has always been since her prime years. In 1989, she founded a furniture manufacturing company named Quebees which eventually evolved into The Chair Center Limited. This is one of the biggest furniture companies in Nigeria. Ibukun Awosika sits on the board of many companies such as Cadbury Nigeria plc, Digital Jewels Limited, etc. She is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Women in Management and Business. With a net worth of $18.6 million, she is the first Nigerian to be nominated for the International Entrepreneurial Challenge Award of the United States in 2008.
She is also the first woman to be appointed chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria
Catherine Uju Ifejika
Catherine Ifejika has proven to be one of the most outstanding women of all time, paving her way from a humble beginning and against the setbacks the society may pose. Catherine began her career as a junior counsel. She became Secretary for Public and Government Affairs in 2003. Mrs. Ifekija has also worked in the Oil and Gas sector in Texaco, which later merged with Chevron. She later retired early so as to focus on building her business enterprises.
She is the founder of companies such as Data Appraisal Co. Ltd, Nexttee Oil & Gas, Brittania- U Ghana Limited and others. She is the CEO of the Brittania-U group which deals with oil exploration, production, supply, and distribution. With a net worth of $18.6 million, Catherine Ifejika is one of the most successful women in Nigeria
Popularly known as Mo Abudu, she is a media mogul who has been described as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman” by Forbes. Mosunmola Abudu is a graduate of the University of Westminster. She emerged Africa’s most influential female media mogul with the establishment of her Media and Entertainment business in the early 2000s. She has gone on to unveil EbonyLife TV in 2006, a network airing in more than 49 countries across Africa, as well as in the UK and the Caribbean. Ebony life ventured into movie-making in 2015.
In 2013, Mo Abudu was listed as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Global TV by The Hollywood Reporter and in 2015, her media company ventured into movie making.
She is, therefore, the first woman to own a pan-African TV channel in Nigeria and the rest of the continent.
Stella Chinyere Okoli
Dr. Stella Chinyere Okoli graduated from The University of Bradford and trained as a pharmacist. She is an entrepreneur who has built a multimillion-dollar pharmaceutical company, Emzor pharmaceuticals.
She started out as a small pharmacy retail shop in Somolu, Lagos state in 1977 under the name “Emzor Chemists Limited” and grew it to a pharmaceutical empire now known as Emzor Pharmaceutical.
Emzor Pharmaceutical remains one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria with over 50 products since its incorporation in 1984.
Obiageli Ezekwesili is widely referred to as Oby Ezekwesili is without doubt one of the most influential females in Nigeria at the moment.
Oby Ezekwesili is an Accountant, Policymaker and social activist who once served as Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Solid Minerals and also as Federal Minister of Education.
She also served as the Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division. Oby has a passion for the female child and is famous for her search for the kidnapped girls in the terrorist attack in Borno, Nigeria. She is one of the leading voices of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign body based in Germany where she serves as one of the pioneer directors. She is also a board member of Bharti Airtel
Her influence as a social activist has amassed youths in the country to drive for social justice. Due to her activities in Nigeria, she has been awarded the Commander of the order of the Federal Republic (CFR). She is also a former presidential aspirant of the country.
Linda Ikeji is one of the youngest on the list of the most successful women in Nigeria. She is a Nigerian model turned media entrepreneur.
She is referred to as the richest Nigerian blogger and she has reshaped the blogging-sphere in Nigeria. In August 2012, Linda was featured by Forbes Africa as one of Africa’s 20 Most Prominent Women. In the same year, she appeared on BBC’s Focus on Africa narrating her journey and story as a media entrepreneur.
In 2014, Linda was the biggest Google search trend in Nigeria. In 2016, Linda announced the creation of her media outfit which includes Linda Ikeji TV, Linda Radio and LindaIkejisocial. She is indeed a force to reckon with.
Betty Irabor is one of the most powerful female publishers and public speakers in Nigeria. She founder of the Genevieve Magazine. Currently, Betty is the Editor-In-Chief and Chief Executive Officer of Genevieve magazine.
Betty Irabor is a philanthropist and public speaker whose influence and the strong point remains her campaign against breast cancer wherein she hosts an awareness program yearly.
She is also the founder of her non-profit organization called Genevieve PinkBall Foundation, known to have championed breast cancer awareness. Betty’s magazine, Genevieve remains one of the most popularly known, featuring women who are making waves in their own spheres and serving as motivation and empowerment for female and young folks alike.
Abiola Alabi is on the list of top successful and influential Nigerian women. She held the position of Managing Director for M-Net Africa (part of the Naspers Group)
Before functioning in this role, Biola Alabi had worked as part of the executive team at the influential children’s television brand called Sesame Street. She was also a member of the marketing team that launched the Daewoo, a famous Korean motor vehicle corporation in the United States of America.
She is known to have achieved several feats when working with M-Net Africa, this includes the AMVCAs, a movie award show that is arguably the biggest in Africa.
Biola also founded the Biola Alabi Media company in 2016 after quitting M-Net Africa. She is the founder of “Grooming for Greatness” a leadership development and mentorship program.
In 2012, she was named one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader by Forbes Magazine.
Biola’s media outfit is popularly in both the Nigerian, African and global markets with a food travel docu-series called ‘Bukas and Joints’ and a movie, ‘Banana Island Ghost’.
Hajia Bola Shagaya
She is a business leader who started her career after her tertiary education at Ahmadu Bello University and Armstrong College in California. She has also worked with the auditing department of the Central bank of Nigeria.
She also became the managing director of Practoil Limited, one of the largest importers, exporters, and distributors of oil in Nigeria.
Hajia Shagaya is one of the most successful in her business which includes investments in real estate, oil, and gas, fashion, etc. Bu building her business empire, Bola Shagaya has become a force to reckon with.
Tara Fela Durotoye
She is described as the pioneer of the bridal makeup profession in Nigeria. She began her career in the business world as a Law undergraduate at the University of Lagos. She started her business with just N15000. She realized her passion for the beauty industry and went to train as a makeup artist at Charles Fox. Tara Fela Durotoye has been able to face challenges and surmount hurdles to become a successful career woman in Nigeria. In 1998, she established the house of Tara which has many outlets spread across the country. She is the first to set up a beauty school in Nigeria. In 1999, she launched the first bridal directory and an international standard make up studio. She is currently the CEO of House of Tara International. In 2013, Tara Durotoye was nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of the Young Powerful African women by Forbes
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli was raised in Enugu state and has successfully built a career over the years. She studied multinational and strategic management at the Whartson School of the University of Pennsylvania, and thereafter started her career as a management consultant with the famous McKinsey & Co.
She is a Co-Founder and managing partner of Sahel Consulting. She has a truckload of experience in international development. Through her work with the Sahel, Ndidi has helped shape agriculture strategy and policy in West Africa in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
She is also the co-founder of AACE Foods, a social enterprise that processes food derived from cereals, herbs, pulses, and spices in West Africa. She is the founder of LEAP Africa, a non-profit organization that focuses on inspiring, empowering and equipping youths across Africa.
Ndidi has received national and international recognition and awards. In 2003, she was named Global Leader of Tomorrow and Young leader by the World Economic Forum. She has also received a national honour as a member of the Federal Republic (MFR), Young Manager of the Year by Thisday Newspapers and an excellence award from the African Business Club at Havard Business School in2007. She has also been selected as Forbes 20 youngest Powerful women in Africa.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer whose works range from novels to short stories and nonfiction. She has been invited all around the world to speak. In 2009 TED talk, ‘The danger of a single story, is now one of the most viewed of all time. In 2015, she was listed among Time Magazine‘s “The 100 Most Influential People. In 2008, she was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant, a prize awarded annually to those who have extraordinary originality in their creative pursuit.
She is a self-taught UI/UX Designer and Front-End Developer. She is also the first Nigerian woman to become a Google development expert.
She is the first African woman to win the Miss World crown.
She is the founder of AD Consulting. She is a Nigerian Architect, Speaker, Radio Host, Philanthropist, and Author. CNN has described her as “Africa’s Starchitect”. She has been featured in the World’s foremost Architectural Journal and has spoken on several international platforms such as the Harvard Business School (African Business Club) and the Global Women’s Forum
Adenike ‘Nike’ Ogunlesi
is the founder of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble. Today, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble is a recognized brand in the designing, manufacturing and retailing of children’s clothing in Nigeria and West Africa.
Bimbo Alase is the owner of the prestigious Leatherworld Furniture Company. She is regarded as one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
Fifi Ejindu is an architect, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She is the founder of the Starcrest group of companies.
Uche Eze- Pedro is a well-known blogger and entrepreneur. If you have not heard of her name before, you sure have heard of Bellanaija. She is the founder of the famous and prestigious BellaNaija. BellaNaija is an online magazine and blog that focuses on reporting news, entertainment, fashion, and lifestyle.