Women-founder CEOs in Africa are becoming a powerful force in Africa’s business landscape. Despite the numerous challenges that women in Africa face, including limited access to education, capital, and resources, cultural and societal biases, and legal barriers, many women have risen to the challenge and are creating innovative and impactful businesses that are driving economic growth and social change.
However, the growth of women-founder CEOs in Africa is still lagging behind that of men, and significant barriers remain for women to start and grow businesses on the continent. According to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law report, on average, women in Africa face more legal barriers to entrepreneurship and employment than men. In some African countries, women are not allowed to own property or inherit assets, making it difficult for them to secure loans and start businesses. This legal discrimination limits women’s access to capital and resources, which in turn restricts their ability to grow and scale their businesses.
Access to capital is also a significant challenge for women-owned businesses in Africa. According to a report by the African Development Bank, women-owned businesses in Africa have a financing gap of $42 billion, which limits their ability to grow and scale their businesses. Women in Africa often struggle to access formal financial services due to a lack of collateral, high-interest rates, and limited knowledge of financial management.
Cultural and societal biases are also significant barriers to women in business in Africa. Women often face discrimination, harassment, and gender-based violence, which limit their opportunities and hinder their growth. These biases are often rooted in traditional cultural practices and beliefs that view women as inferior to men.
Despite these challenges, women-founder CEOs in Africa are making significant progress in the business. There are numerous success stories of women who have started and scaled businesses in various industries, including technology, agriculture, and finance. For example, Juliana Rotich, founder of Ushahidi, a crisis-mapping platform, has raised over $30 million in funding and has been recognized as one of Africa’s most influential women. Another example is Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder of LifeBank, a medical logistics company that has raised over $10 million in funding and has been recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people.
The growth of women-founder CEOs in Africa is not only empowering women but is also contributing to the overall growth of the continent’s economy. According to a report by McKinsey, if women participated in the African economy at the same level as men, Africa’s GDP could increase by $316 billion by 2025. Women-founder CEOs are creating jobs, driving innovation, and contributing to social and economic development on the continent.
The rise of women-founder CEOs in Africa is impressive, and there are numerous success stories of women who have raised significant funding for their businesses.
Here are 30 women-founder CEOs in Africa who have raised over $3 million in funding:
1. Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Nigeria
Founder of WeCyclers, a waste recycling company that has raised over $2 million in funding. WeCyclers addresses the waste management problem in Nigeria by collecting recyclable materials from low-income households and converting them into valuable products. The company has won numerous awards for its innovation, including the MIT Solve Global Challenge and Cartier Women’s Initiative Award.
2. Yasmin Belo-Osagie, Nigeria
Co-founder of She Leads Africa, a platform that provides resources and support for female entrepreneurs in Africa. Yasmin and her co-founder Afua Osei started She Leads Africa in 2014 and have since grown the company into a community of over 700,000 women across 35 countries. The company has raised over $2 million in funding and has partnerships with brands such as Facebook, Google, and Intel.
3. Hilda Moraa, Kenya
Founder of Pezesha, a peer-to-peer lending platform that has raised over $2 million in funding. Pezesha connects lenders with borrowers in underserved markets in Africa and aims to bridge the gap in access to credit. Hilda’s company has won several awards, including the Africa Tech Challenge and the Seedstars Nairobi competition.
4. Amma Gyampo, Ghana
Co-founder of ScaleUp Africa, a business development and investment platform for African startups. Amma’s company provides mentorship, coaching, and funding opportunities for startups across various industries. She is also the founder of AmDeCo Ventures, an investment firm that focuses on early-stage startups in Africa.
5. Aisha Pandor, South Africa
Co-founder of SweepSouth, an on-demand cleaning services platform that has raised over $7 million in funding. SweepSouth connects customers with reliable and vetted cleaning professionals and has become one of the fastest-growing startups in South Africa. Aisha’s company has won several awards, including the Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa and the African Women in Tech Startup of the Year.
6. Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Nigeria
Founder of LifeBank, a healthcare logistics company that has raised over $11 million in funding. LifeBank connects hospitals with essential medical products such as blood, oxygen, and vaccines, and has helped save thousands of lives in Nigeria. Temie’s company has won numerous awards, including the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Business Heroes prize and the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award.
7. Rebecca Enonchong, Cameroon
Founder of AppsTech, a technology company that provides enterprise solutions for businesses. AppsTech has raised over $20 million and has clients in more than 25 countries. Rebecca is also the founder of the African Business Angels Network and has been recognized as one of the most influential women in technology by Forbes.
8. Baratang Miya, South Africa
Founder of Girlhype, a non-profit organization that aims to empower girls and women through technology. Girlhype has trained over 5,000 girls and over 9,000 in coding and digital skills and has won numerous awards, including the Google Impact Challenge and the Spark Change Award. Baratang is also the founder of the Village Capital Education Africa program, which provides funding and support for education technology startups.
9. Afua Osei, Nigeria
Co-founder of She Leads Africa, a platform that provides resources and support for female entrepreneurs in Africa. Afua and her co-founder Yasmin Belo-Osagie started She Leads Africa in 2014 and have since grown the company into a community of over 700,000 women across 35 countries. The company has raised over $2 million in funding and has partnerships with brands such as Facebook, Google, and Intel.
10. Linda Olagunju, Nigeria
Co-founder of DLO Energy Resources Groups, founded in 2011, the company presently manages one of Africa’s largest wind farms in South Africa’s Northern Cape, which uses carbon-free solar energy to power about 160,000 homes. DLO Energy Resources Group is active in two nations as of 2021, including South Africa and Nigeria.
11. Daphne Ngunjiri, Kenya
Founder of Access Afya which has raised over $4 million. The company provides comprehensive primary care that includes authentic medication, immunization family planning, qualified clinicians, and point of care capabilities, enabling people to get proper healthcare services in slum communities anytime.
12. Chioma Ugo, Nigeria
She is the co-founder of Prospa. Prospa’s pre-seed investment is one of the largest of its sort in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa. For African business owners and entrepreneurs, Prospa is a technology company developing a mobile operating system. Prospa enables companies and company owners to open a business account quickly and learn about a quick and simple method for handling their financial operations.
13. Jihan Abass, Kenya
Founder of Lami with a financial worth of over $3 million. She is a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur who serves as the founder and CEO of Griffin Insurance and Lami Insurance Technologies, two digital insurance companies with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. To improve the inadequate insurance coverage in Africa, Abass developed Lami.
14. Damilola Olokesusi, Nigeria
Founder of Shuttlers, a transportation start-up focused on technology in Nigeria. In the constantly congested metropolises of Lagos and Abuja, Shuttlers is redefining how businesses and professionals commute. Damilola was chosen by the UK government for a technological exchange in 2020 after being named a Forbes30Under30 (2019) Recipient for Technology. She has received recognition for her achievements, including the Digital & Tech Award at the 2017 Women in Africa Contest in Morocco and the Award for the Best Idea at the Aso Villa Demo Day, where she got the chance to interact with Mark Zuckerberg and the Vice President of Nigeria. Also, she has received funding from organizations including Ford Motor Company, GEM-WorldBank, and Sahara by Airtel.
15. Jessica Anuna, Nigeria
Founder of Klasha, a Fintech startup that allows foreign online and offline businesses to expand into Africa while enabling African consumers to smoothly trade online using their local payment methods.
16. Khanyi Dhlomo, South Africa
Founder of Ndalo Media, a media company that produces magazines, events, and digital content for the African market. Ndalo Media has raised over $4 million in funding and has partnerships with companies such as Nespresso and Shell. Khanyi is also the founder of the Ndalo Luxury Ventures, which includes the luxury fashion brand Luminance.
17. Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch, Morocco
Founder of Aksal Group, a retail and real estate company that has raised over $4 million in funding. Aksal Group owns and operates several shopping malls and retail outlets in Morocco, and has partnerships with international brands such as Zara and Mango. Salwa is also the founder of the INJAZ Al-Maghrib Foundation, which provides entrepreneurship education for young people in Morocco.
18. Nneka Mobisson-Etuk, Nigeria
Co-founder of mDoc, a digital health platform that provides access to healthcare services and information. mDoc has raised over $4 million in funding and has partnerships with healthcare providers, insurers, and other stakeholders. Nneka’s company has won several awards, including the Global Startup Awards and the Africa CEO Forum Awards.
19. Anerlisa Muigai, Kenya
Founder of Nero Company, a health and wellness company that produces a range of products, including water, juices, and supplements. Nero Company has raised over $5 million in funding and has a strong focus on promoting healthy lifestyles and sustainable practices. Anerlisa is also a philanthropist and has established the Anerlisa Muigai Foundation to support healthcare and education initiatives in Kenya.
20. Achenyo Idachaba, Nigeria
Founder of MitiMeth, an eco-friendly company that produces handicrafts and home decor items made from water hyacinth, a highly invasive weed. MitiMeth has raised over $3 million in funding and has been recognized for its innovative approach to addressing environmental challenges. Achenyo’s company has won several awards, including the She Leads Africa Pitch Competition and the Green Enterprise Innovation Award.
21. Nelly Chatue Diop, Cameroon
Nelly is the only woman to have raised more than $3 million so far among the 14 sub-Saharan Francophone nations that make up the CEMAC and UEMOA CFA Franc zone. Ejara is a platform she is developing for investing in cryptocurrencies and other assets.
22. Miishe Addy, Ghana
Miishe cross-border logistics platform, Jetstream, is digitizing the supply chain and assisting cargo owners with their import, export, and trade finance requirements.
23. Carmelle Cadet, Ghana
Virtually every area of financial services is being impacted by technology, but central banks particularly those in emerging markets are falling behind.
Carmelle is developing Emtech, an American company that offers open banking, blockchain, and digital infrastructure to central banks in emerging regions like Africa.
24. Dr. Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, Ghana
African students who are offered admission to international colleges but lack the financial resources to pay for their education, according to Lydiah Bosire, a Kenyan-born economist, face an annual funding gap of $25 billion. She is thus developing 8B Education Investments, a fintech platform that focuses on financing to African students enrolling in the top colleges in the US and other countries, beginning with Ghana.
25. Sara Menker, Kenya
Ethiopia-born Gro Intelligence, an AI-powered business that offers analytical solutions to the food, agricultural, and climate industries, is being built by Sara Menker.
Gro integrates over 650 trillion data points from 50,000 different data sets with over 2 million AI models to anticipate a variety of phenomena, such as how meteorological events affect the cost of items and how natural and human-caused calamities affect the food supply.
26. Cynthia Wandia, Kenya
Widespread throughout the continent are informal community savings systems, also known as susu and ajo in certain regions of West Africa, Chama, and SACCOs in some regions of East Africa, etc. However, manual record-keeping predominates, which makes operations ineffective and participants’ experiences subpar.
Kwara, a software company she is developing, is digitizing the savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) market.
Kwara provides digital banking platforms that enable loans and other services, back-end-as-a-service (BaaS) software that automates time-consuming, paper-based back-office administration, and other services.
27. Tarneem Saeed, Sudan
When Tarneem returned to Sudan in 2014 from working as a corporate lawyer in the UK, he made the decision to create the online marketplace Alsoug.
The transformation of Alsoug from a classifieds model, where transactions between buyers and sellers take place off the platform, to a full-stack e-commerce model, which allows transactions to take place on the platform, is currently complete.
As a result, Alsoug developed Cashi, a PayPal-type payment service provider, which not only enables Alsoug payments but also makes it simple for users to pay for services like airtime, utility bills, and government programs.
28. Hasna Kourda, Tunisia
Save Your Wardrobe, a British internet platform for wardrobe and garment repairs created by Hasna Kourda, is supported by Tunisian IT teams. It was created to revolutionize second-hand clothing market system.
29. Kagure Wamunyu, Kenya
Africa’s supply networks are mostly disjointed and troublesome across all industries.
Engineer-by-trade Kagure Wamunyu developed Jumba, which aggregates building material supplies from major vendors and enables neighborhood retailers to place digital purchases, typically on credit. Jumba is digitizing the construction material supply chain.
30. Ugwem Eneyo, Nigeria
Although expensive diesel generators and unstable grid power are being replaced by solar systems, most individuals and companies lack the knowledge or interest to maintain hybrid power systems.
Shyft steps in at this point. The Ugwem Eneyo-founded business creates Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and software solutions to enhance the performance and operational effectiveness of distributed energy resources. This enables businesses and consumers in emerging markets, beginning with Nigeria, to access more affordable, cleaner, and dependable power.
These women-founder CEOs are leading the charge in creating innovative businesses that solve critical challenges in their communities and beyond. They are challenging the status quo, breaking barriers, and inspiring future generations of female entrepreneurs. Their stories demonstrate the potential for women to drive economic growth and social impact in Africa, and their success highlights the importance of supporting and empowering women entrepreneurs.
In conclusion, while women in Africa still face numerous challenges in starting and scaling businesses, their contributions to the economy cannot be overlooked. Women-founder CEOs are creating a new generation of leaders who are driving economic growth, innovation, and social change. Through continued support and investment, women in Africa can continue to make significant contributions to the continent’s economic and social development. Addressing the barriers that limit women’s participation in business is crucial to unlocking the full potential of women in Africa and creating a more prosperous future for the continent.