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Faith Nyasuguta

1.Bethlehem Alemu, Ethiopia 🇪🇹 


CEO, soleRebels – Africa’s “fastest growing footwear company”.

She says: “If you have a crazy idea, go for it! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”

Alemu has received numerous awards and honours for her entrepreneurship and for her determination to shift the narrative on Africa away from poverty to the continent’s economic potential.

2.Fatoumata Bâ, Senegal 🇸🇳 

/Rest of World/

Founder, Janngo – Janngo builds, grows and invests in pan-African digital champions with proven business models and inclusive social impact.

She says: “[In the] context of emerging markets, [huge tech companies can be] enablers of very strong value to users. If I take a look at e-commerce platforms … in the US there was one retail outlet for every 400 inhabitants, but in Africa one for every 60,000 inhabitants … so it can level the playing field for quality, for users.” (Via World Economic Forum)

Fatoumata Ba believes in the power of technology to leapfrog development in Africa. She has received a number of  distinctions including The World Economic Forum ‘Young Global Leader’, Choiseul 100 Africa ‘Economic Leaders of Tomorrow’, Forbes Africa ‘30 under 30’ and the Aenne Burda Award for visionary leadership, optimism and courage.

3.Titi Akinsanmi, Nigeria 🇳🇬

/Alliance for Affordable Internet/

Titi Akinsanmi is a Digital Policy expert who currently serves as Policy and Government Relations Lead for West and Francophone Africa at Google.

Akinsanmi has authored and co-authored academic journal articles; presented papers and thought leadership to ensure the technology and information policy being considered on the African continent does not “force a false trade off between welfare goals and innovation, between rights and cultural relevance, between local innovation and rigid opposition to ‘foreign’ values – for the individuals/end users.”

4.Ngozi Okonjo Iweala , Nigeria 🇳🇬 


Director-General, World Trade Organization

She says: “I can take hardship. I can sleep on the cold floor anytime. I can also sleep on a feather bed.”

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Her term, renewable, will expire on 31 August 2025. The Nigerian-American economist is also a fair trade expert, environmental sustainability advocate, human welfare champion, sustainable finance maven and global development expert.

She has been named by both Forbes and Time magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

5.Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej ,Egypt 🇪🇬 

/The African Courier/

She is the CEO, Merck Foundation & Senator.

She says: “Together we stand for #notoinfertility stigma.

Dr Kelej is perhaps best known for her successful programme, “Merck More Than a Mother” and its innovative initiatives which aim to empower childless and infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset and economic empowerment.

Dr Kelej has received many awards for her contribution towards advancing healthcare capacity and women empowerment from African governments as well as from the International Federation of Business and Professional Women.

6. Waris Dirie ,Somalia 🇸🇴 


She is a model and human rights activist

She says: “Women’s loyalty has to be earned with trust and affection, rather than barbaric rituals. The time has come to leave the old ways of suffering behind.”

Waris Dirie is a Somali model, author, actress and human rights activist in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation, a deep injustice that the World Health Organisation estimates is inflicted on girl victims of the practice every single day.

Waris Dirie has her own organization dedicated to the cause, in Vienna, the Desert Flower Foundation. She has received numerous awards and accolades, including the Women’s World Award by President Mikhail Gorbachev (2004) and the “Bischof Oscar Romero Preis” by the Catholic Church (2005).

7. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ,Nigeria 🇳🇬

/Guardian Nigeria/

She is a novelist.

She says: “Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”

Ngozi Adichie’s work been translated into over thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker and the Financial Times. Her awards and accolades are too many to list here but her book Purple Hibiscus won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book; and her novel Americanah won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013.

8.Tsitsi Dangarembga ,Zimbabwe 🇿🇼 

/The Guardian/

She is a novelist, film-maker, playwright and activist.

She says: “I believe that the positive reception of literary works like mine helps to prove that we can unite around that which is positively human.”

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s debut novel, Nervous Conditions (the first in a trilogy), which was the first to be published in English by a Black woman from Zimbabwe, was named by the BBC in 2018 as one of the top 100 books that have shaped the world and described by Doris Lessing as one of the most important novels of the 20th century.

Dangarembga was arrested in Harare in 2021 while peacefully protesting against corruption – the same year in which she was awarded the PEN Pinter prize and praised for her “ability to capture and communicate vital truths even amidst times of upheaval”.

9.Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng ,South Africa 🇿🇦  

/University of Ottawa/

She is the Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town.

Rosina Mamokgethi Phakeng is a professor of mathematics education and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.  A highly regarded scientist, she has written over 80 research papers and has delivered over 30 keynotes/plenary talks at international conferences.

10.Angélique Kidjo ,Benin 🇧🇯 

/The National/

She is a musician.

She says: “Everyone wins when children – and especially girls –have access to education. An educated girl is likely to increase her personal earning potential and prepare herself for a productive and fulfilling life, as well as reduce poverty in the whole community.”

“Investing in girls’ education also helps delay early marriage and parenthood. Our booming economies in Africa need more female engineers, teachers and doctors to prosper and sustain growth.”

Four time – Grammy Award winner Angelique Kidjo has been variously described as “Africa’s premier diva” (Time Magazine), listed as one of Africa’s most iconic figures (BBC), listed as one of the most inspiring women in the world (The Guardian), and ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the most powerful celebrities in Africa.

As UNICEF and OXFAM goodwill Ambassador, Kidjo travels the world advocating on behalf of children. At the G7 Summit in 2019, President Macron of France named Kidjo as the spokesperson for the AFAWA initiative (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) to help close the financing gap for women entrepreneurs in Africa. She has her own charitable foundation, Batonga, dedicated to support the education of young girls in Africa.

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Faith Nyasuguta

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