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12 Female African Entrepreneurs To Watch In 2015
The entrepreneurial spirit is one of the greatest engines of the global economy, and women across the African continent are enormous contributors. The following women are monetizing fascinating ideas and helping solve problems in the process. Whether they are just starting to make a name for themselves, or they have been in the game for a while, these are 12 female African entrepreneurs to watch in 2015.
Sources: SheLeadsAfrica.org, Forbes.com, GlobalIssues.org, Edition.CNN.com, TheEastAfrican.co.ke, ChicRebellion.tv, DW.de, SeedInIt.org, SMESouthAfrica.co.za, DeerDelights.com, AfroMusing.com, HowWeMadeItInAfrica.com, YNaija.com, Innov8tiv.com, MiteFarab.org, IOL.co.za BellaNaija.com
Akaliza Keza Gara, Rwanda
Akaliza Keza Gara recently became the first Rwandan appointed as a youth representative for Microsoft’s East African region, but that’s just the beginning for this technology whiz. She founded Shaking Sun, a local multimedia company that allows businesses and individuals to use and shape innovative technology for their own purposes. Gara is considered one of the leading women in the ICT field. In 2015 she’ll continue to advise Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative on trending technology in her region, train young Rwandans in the ICT field, and work on “African Tales,” the first Rwandan cartoon series tailored to an African audience.
Simone Bartlett, Nigeria
Originally from Barbados, Simone Bartlett set up shop in Lagos, Nigeria, to create what has become known as the country’s fastest-growing fashion line, Eve & Tribe. She has admitted her goal is becoming the Zara of Africa. She specializes in affordable women’s clothing, accessories, and lifestyle products that fuse western designs with traditional African prints and colors for an international clientele.
Claire Reid, South Africa
The founding director of Reel Gardening, Claire Reid got her start after becoming frustrated at age 16 with the high cost and knowledge needed to start a garden from scratch. Her company provides low-cost pre-fertilized seed strips that set up seeds at the correct depth and distance apart to allow novice gardeners to get a start. Reid has focused on making her company affordable, user-friendly, and environmentally conscious, and has big plans to expand across the globe. She plans to begin exporting her product across Eastern and Southern Africa, as well as Australia and the U.K., while expanding employment — particularly through hiring previously unemployed mothers.
Juliana Rotich, Kenya
Though Juliana Rotich is not new to the entrepreneurial game, her star continues to rise. She’s executive director for Ushahidi, a free and open-source software for information collection. Rotich also lends her IT talents to tackling environmental issues, and is a self-described renewable energy cheerleader. In 2015, she will continue to work to make crowdsourcing tools available and useful across the African continent while also expanding her company’s global footprint.
Deena Fadel, Egypt
Deena Fadel began Joud Home Accessories as an outlet for her creativity, but the labor of love has found both a local and global market. Beginning by making functional household objects into works of art, Fadel tapped into design inspiration from around Egypt and the Middle East and recently opened a storefront in a busy area of Cairo, Egypt.
Flora Mutahi, Kenya
Flora Mutahi is the founder and CEO of Melvin Marsh, a food processing company that focuses on unique flavored and herbal tea blends that are marketed to a local market in Kenya. In 2014, she opened her first tea café, Melvin’s Moments, in Nairobi, Kenya, and will continue to expand her business to cater to the niche tea market. Mutahi told HowWeMadeItInAfrica.com, “Younger people are requesting even more flavors so it has become very competitive. This is the 21st century; people don’t want mainstream, they want variety.”
Honey Ogundeyi, Nigeria
Fashpa.com, one of Nigeria’s fastest-growing fashion sites, sells both fashion and lifestyle brands from across the world to a local market. Honey Ogundeyi, its founder and CEO, plans on diversifying the categories that her website covers, as well as expanding the collections offered. “In five years time, I see us a leading fashion brand from Nigeria with a great online shopping experience,” she said. “Along the way we would have changed the way the African consumer accesses fashion.” She said she wants to be a billion dollar business, and earned an honorable mention in the She.Leads.Africa 2014 Entrepreneur Showcase.
Taffi Woolward, Nigeria
Taffi Woolward is the founder of Thandos, a website that operates as a platform for aspiring African designers to create women’s fashion footwear that is both stylish and practical. She crowdsources designers and allows them to sell their designs and share the profits with the company. In an interview with Innov8tiv.com, she said, “We are really focused on building a global brand. We’ve committed to giving back 3 percent of company profits to organizations that support youth entrepreneurship in Africa. We want to show the world that talent, quality, and creativity can come from an African brand.” Woolward was third-place finisher in the She.Leads.Africa 2014 Entrepreneur Showcase.
Nour Drissi, Morocco
Nour Drissi filled a hole in the market with her company, Loue 1 Voiture, the first online platform in Morocco that allows users to reserve a car from various companies. Drissi was responding to a hole in the market in which the supply of rental cars far exceeded the demand, creating price wars at the expense of the service. Loue 1 Voiture offers transparency and reliability to the market, giving customers an improved experience. Drissi also plans to expand her company and model to other Maghreb and Arab countries within the next five years. Drissi was the second-place finisher in the She.Leads.Africa 2014 Entrepreneur Showcase.
Jade Mann, South Africa
Johannesburg native Jade Mann and partners worked to create Night Bus, a new nighttime transport service that travels between popular nightlife destinations. Tickets, priced at just 30 rand ($2.59 USD) for unlimited rides, allow party goers to travel from club to club around Johannesburg and experience the full nightlife and music scene. They’re out of the driver’s seat while drinking. “We’re providing the missing link in existing transport infrastructure…. We’re developing a bar-hopping culture and people might take a taxi home, but in between nightlife districts they’re still drinking and driving,” she said.
Banke Kuku, Nigeria
Banke Kuku began her company of the same name several years back when she decided to use her experience in textile design and production to create stunning fashion and interior pieces full-time. Working with fashion and interior designers, she sells her colorful textiles, often inspired by the culture of the African continent. Textiles are a huge and burgeoning industry in Africa. Kuku summed up her work in five words: “Modern. African. Western. Vibrant. Intense.”
Winifred Selby, Ghana
Winifred Selby is the founder of Afrocentric Bamboo Limited, an eco-focused company that creates and sells bicycles made from natural bamboo material. They remain affordably priced and are marketed almost exclusively to a local audience in Ghana, while creating dozens of jobs for the Kumasi community Selby also exports some bikes each month to generate a greater profit to roll back into the business. She said she wants to branch out across Ghana, and seems poised for success in 2015.
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