With growing literacy levels Africa has seen a rise in women’s contribution to its national economies. Women have become leading industry players in their different sectors including manufacturing that was for long a preserve of men.
African women have become incredibly business savvy, determined and resilient, and many have created a name for themselves in the business world. While some have succeeded by moving up the corporate ladder, others have made it through entrepreneurship.
Below are some of the top women in Africa’s manufacturing industry.
Tabitha Karanja – Kenya
Kenyan businessman and industrialist Tabitha Karanja, 52, founded Keroche Breweries, the first fully owned Kenyan beer manufacturer in 1998, in partnership with her husband, Joseph Karanja. She was awarded ‘Moran of Burning Spear’ by former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in recognition of her efforts to liberalize the beer manufacturing industry in the country. Keroche Breweries is the largest competitor to East African Breweries, which has for years monopolized the Kenyan beer manufacturing industry.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu – Ethiopia
In 2004 35-year-old Bethlehem Tilahum Alemu pushed by the desire to create jobs to the impoverished people in her village created SoleRebels Limited, from a capital of $10,000. This company makes foot-wear such as sandals, slip-ons and lace-up shoes from recycled tires and plant materials which helps in environmental conservation. The foot-wear are entirely made by hand and have a great emphasis on the ancient Ethiopian culture, fused with modern Western culture. SoleRebel sells its products in over 55 countries globally. In June 2012, African Business Magazine awarded Bethlehem the ‘Most Outstanding Woman’, at the annual African Business Awards.
Folorunsho Alakija – Nigeria
Alakija, a Nigerian businesswoman, born in 1951 in Lagos State. Alakija is a co-founder of Famfa Oil, one of the leading oil exploration and production companies in Nigeria. She is also involved in the fashion and printing industries and is the group managing director at The Rose of Sharon Group, which owns The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited and Digital Reality Prints Limited. Last year, Forbes Magazine named her as one of the world’s 100 most powerful black women.
Magatte Wade Marchand – Senegal
Dakar-born Magatte founded Adina World Beat Beverages in 2004, alongside Greg Steltenpohl and Dominique Leveuf. The San Francisco-based company deals in the manufacturing of tea, herbal juices and organic coffee. The raw materials are sourced from Africa and Asia. Forbes Magazine named her as one of the ’20 Youngest Powerful Women of Africa’ in 2013.
Adenike Ogunlesi -Nigeria
Nigerian entrepreneur Adenike Ogunlesi founded Ruff ‘n’ Tuff, in 1996, after dropping out of school as a second-year Law Undergraduate at the Ahmadu Bello University. The company deals in designing, manufacturing and distribution of children clothes. It is a major player in the West African children-clothing industry.
Hajia Bola Shagaya – Nigeria
Shagaya, 56, founded her first company Bolmus International Limited in 1983 that deals in storage, marketing and transportation of oil and gas, exportation of cash crops and photography services among others. In 2011, she founded Voyage Oil and Gas Limited that deals in oil exploration. It was awarded its operating license by the Nigerian Government in 2012.
Folake Folarin Coker – Nigeria
Coker founded Tiffany Amber in 1998. It is one of the leading fashion brands in the Nigeria. She has held successful fashion shows across the globe and became the first African-based fashion designer to host a show at the prestigious New Yok Fashion Week, in 2008. Folake is one of the continent’s most successful fashion designers and was named ‘Designer of the Year’ at the 2009 fashion week in Johannesburg. She also won ‘Enterprise Award’ during the fourth edition of the annual Women, Inspiration and Enterprise gala, held in 2013, New York.
Julian Adyeri Omalla – Uganda
Ugandan-based Omalla founded Delight Uganda Limited, which manufactures the country’s most popular fruit drink; Cheers. She also deals in water manufacturing, maize and farming and food processing industries. She owns Global Food Securities Ltd that deals in packaging of maize flour and porridge which are sold in the country and the neighboring Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan. World Bank honored her alongside other five African women in 2008, for their entrepreneurship skills. She won the Commonwealth Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014.
Kate Quartey-Papafio – Ghana
She is a leading Ghanaian entrepreneur. In 1992, she founded Reroy Cables Limited. The company deals in the production and distribution of electricity appliances such as power cables, conductors, transformers, substations and aluminum wire rods. Reroy Cables Limited is a key player in the power production and distribution industry in Ghana and the West Africa neighbors.
Khanyi Dhlomo – South Africa
She was born on December 17, 1974 in Umlazi South Africa. In 1995, she became the first black news presenter at South African Broadcasting Corporation. Dhlomo was appointed as an editor at True Love Magazine at the age of 22. She rose to become a leading media entrepreneur in the South African and African media when she founded Ndalo Media and Ndalo Luxury Ventures. Among the key Ndalo products are DestinyMan.com and DestinyConnect.com, which are online social publications talking about fashion, lifestyle and business among other topics.
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