Having risen to glory with their entrepreneurship skills in very less time, these women have proven their mettle and talent to the world. From being featured on Forbes Top List, to receiving global honour for their enterprise and their work, these women entrepreneurs are going places. Here’s a closer look at the five leading women entrepreneurs of Africa.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
When she started in 2004 with the name soleRebels, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu exactly knew where her enterprise of making hand-crafted shoes would take not only her but also her local community in Addis Ababa. According to her, the fine and skilled artisans employed from her local community (in Ethiopia) form the backbone of the company and the essentials of the company’s ethics. With the joy of spreading a bit of their cultural heritage with every shoe crafted, Alemu has emerged as a commendable entrepreneur consolidating her business in less than a decade with her gumption. Owing to Alemu’s grits and dedication towards soleRebels today, the company is the only achiever of WFTO fair Trade Certified Footwear Company title worldwide. Following the success of her business, Alemu was invited by Bill Clinton for addressing as a speaker by The Clinton Global Initiative’s panel. Subsequently in the year 2011, Alemu was again given the distinct honour by the World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, she was the first African woman entrepreneur to get the invitation ever. In the same year, she received global recognition for entrepreneurship by different institutions. soleRebels was among the top 5 finalists of the 2011 Legatum Africa Awards For Entrepreneurship. Alemu gives workshops & mentorship to young rural girls for their economic empowerment and to equip them with self-reliance. Alemu envisages coming 3 years as the period of expansion of her business beyond Ethiopia in more than 10 locations with annual revenues topping $10 mill.
A sheer entrepreneur, Carmen Tal is popularly hailed as ‘The Leading Lady of Moroccan Oil’. From being a salon owner to being the mother of a huge beauty enterprise, Tal’s journey has been quite interesting. After being disappointed by an awful hair colour service when Tal underwent an argan oil treatment, she was spellbound by its unmatched benefits and decided to bring these benefits to the women across the globe. Thus, in partnership with her now ex-husband, she bought the firm importing argan oil to the US and started her business with a single brand. This was the turning point of her life as well as her career. Having grown immensely in span of 6 years i.e. from a core team of merely 10 in 2006 to more than three hundred employees today, Tal will be launching 12 luxury body care products in 2012 to bring innovation and quality to the salon-experience worldwide. Her enterprise is a multi-million business that has made her the queen of argan oil trade. While her business is currently on its high, Tal plans to develop newer products in the subsequent years to enhance the mesmerizing feel of salons for all her customers/clients.
Founder and Managing Director of Zimbabwe’s first ISO certified Security Company SECURICO; Divine Ndhlukula has risen above all odds of life to make her company a success.
The company is presently a leader in provision of bespoke guarding services and cutting-edge electronic security solutions. While setting up her business in the male-dominated industry was no cakewalk for Divine, she has taken her company within 15 years to the highs she dreamt of. The $13 million (revenues) company presently has more than 3,400 employees – 900 out of which are women. Having won several accolades for the entrepreneurship, her company was awarded the prestigious Legatum Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship last year. With numerous educational degrees and profound work experience from her past jobs, Divine has established an empire of security services that now gives a tough competition to Security giants like Midsec and Fawcett. “Our vision as SECURICO is that we become a leading security organisation in the Southern African Development Community region and continue to grow at the targeted rates and make our company a truly international business” says Divine.
She started her business in 1996 by selling merely pajamas in the boot of her car and in bazaars and today, Adenike Ogunlesi is the proud owner and CEO of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, an apparel range for children that is based in Nigeria. Her story dates back to the time when she dropped out of college with uncertainty of future and began working with her mother in the tailor shop. This helped her gain immense work experience. Owing to her work experience and excellent entrepreneurship skills, she has secured her place among the best manufacturers of children’s clothing in Nigeria. In today’s time, Ruff ‘N’ Tumble stands tall with 50 employees. As the demand for her clothing range augmented, Adenike expanded over the years. She recently opened two new outlets in Port Harcourt and Surulere, Lagos. Adenike Was quoted saying,” We don’t export now. Export to the West African coast, yes, all along the West African coast, yes, but to say, America or to England, I’m not interested in it at all. If 40 per cent of the 120 million people in Nigeria are children, I have the potential of a huge market here.” Despite of facing numerous challenges, Adenike has established her enterprise as a towering business line and she was recognised as the FATE Foundation Model Entrepreneur in 2005. Now, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble is a brand opted over the others in the range of children’s clothing in Nigeria.
Once called “the sweetheart of African Media”, Khanyi Dhlomo started her career in Media works at the age of 20. Having begun with South African Broadcast media, SABC 1 she is presently the Managing Director of Ndalo Media which she founded in 2007 in collaboration with Media 24 and through this media house she publishes two magazines, Destiny magazine & Destiny Man. Also, the online media DestinyConnect.com is an integral part of Ndalo Media. In the past she had worked for True Love magazine, a women-magazine of repute and at South Africa’s Tourism Board in Paris, which laid the foundation of inception of her enterprise. While she was appointed as the editor of True Love magazine, Dhlomo succeeded in capturing maximum audience.
This passionate way of working was an asset for Dhlomo. Her current area of work i.e. Destiny magazine is a monthly issue where texts on topics like business, lifestyle, fashion etc find a convenient place. Unique at its heart, every issue of Destiny is created with an outlook to inform and inspire the smart women who are keen on business activities or entrepreneurship. Its counterpart for men is ‘Destiny Man’ that focuses on business-activities, fashion, grooming etc and provides the scope for empowerment of men by connecting them locally. With a foresight in Media and a visionary sense, Dhlomo started destinyconnect.com that was the online media section of her enterprise. She is also the Independent Non-Executive Director at THE FOSCHINI GROUP LTD. Recipient of global honorary recognition and selected by World Economic Forum as a Young Global leader, Dhlomo is a diligent entrepreneur who has made her way from all the curves of life to the top of Media works.
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