NewAfrican magazine recently released their December 2012 issue comprising their list of the100 most influential Africans with leaders selected across Business, Politics, Civil Society,Religion, Science, Arts and Culture and Sports. I thought it would be interesting to highlight the women who made their list within Business. As a lot of us young (African) women make our way through corporate ranks or make strides as entrepreneurs (hustle hard!) inside and outside Africa, I think that seeing the women who have gone before us, exemplary women who have worked hard, fought the good fight and come out the other side better and stronger, offers some amount of encouragement. There is a certain grace and dignity to having earned one’s keep; so when work becomes a bit itchy and you start day dreaming of your great escape think of these women and take heart . I have to add that it’s, to some degree, unfortunate that only 3/25 of the most influential Africans in business are women. (I can think of a few additional contenders). Note the text below each photo is from the NewAfrican.
Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch (Morocco)
CEO of the Aksal Group, a franchise retail group comprising high street and luxury brands, and a driving force behind the Morocco Mall, a mega mall opened in Casablanca in 2011 with the aim of establishing Morocco as a luxury shopping destination with attractive tax incentives in the same vein as Dubai.
Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch is the founder and president of one of Morocco’s leading holdings, the Aksal Group. Aksal was created in 2005 and currently operates across a number of sectors including retail, real estate, and luxury brands. Driven by a strong ambition to transform and innovate the Moroccan commercial and consumer goods market, Akhannouch has built her Group’s success on the values of dynamism, modernity, efficiency and humanity. She is an African business leader with innovative ideas and strategic management skills, and this year opened the largest mall on the continent. Her success story continues to represent an inspirational example to Moroccan women to excel in business.
Evelyn Oputu (Nigeria)
Managing Director/CEO of the Bank of Industry, Nigeria’s oldest development bank, which aims to “provid[e] financial assistance for the establishment of large, medium and small projects as well as expansion, diversification and modernization of existing enterprises; and rehabilitation of ailing ones.” Earlier this year the Bank of Industry organized the Nigeria Now conference at the Dorchester Hotel in London, wherein various Nigerian ministers and state governors made the pitch as to why investing in Nigeria (and more specifically their ministerial/gubernatorial mandate) is attractive to Britain/Europe. CLC was at this conference and managed to catch a glimpse of Ms. Oputu and can attest to Ms. Oputu’s total bossladyness (see photo below)
Nigeria’s Bank of Industry is aiming big, because its managing director, Evelyn Oputu, thinks big. Tasked with the responsibility of injecting life into Nigeria’s moribund industrial sector, the bank and Oputu are embarking on an investment drive labelled New World Nigeria, which is aimed as much at rebranding the country’s battered image as it is showcasing investment opportunities. A proactive, natural-born achiever, Oputu’s efforts are being rewarded as Nigeria recently overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest Foreign Direct Investment destination with $8.9bn streaming into the economy in 2011. The particular focus of the bank is on SMEs.
Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin (Ethiopia)
CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). Ms. Gabre-Madhin is an Afropolitan if ever there was one, born in Addis Ababa and raised in New York, Rwanda, Togo, Malawi and Kenya. She also holds a PhD in Economics and has worked at the United Nations & the World Bank. According to Wikipedia, she was the “driving force” behind the creation of the ECX, the result of her research on the impact of supply/demand inefficiencies on Ethiopian farmers whilst working at theInternational Food Policy Research Institute.
The Ethiopian economist has established herself as one of the continent’s leading pioneers and has been fundamental in changing the livelihoods of farmers in one of Africa’s strongest agricultural economies. Having already made a name for herself at the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute, Gabre-Madhin returned to her native Ethiopia in 2008 where she established the country’s highly respected commodities market. Since then, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, which turned over almost $1.2bn in 2011, has attracted much attention from those looking to replicate its impressive financial strength.
The December issue of NewAfrican is on news-stands now and is also available in the NewAfrican iPad app.