Women of Substance


Empowering Women in Tech: Aurora Tech Awards 2024 Entries Now Open

Celebrating Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Inclusivity

In a world where gender equality remains an ongoing challenge, the African tech industry is witnessing a transformative revolution, highlighted by the prestigious Aurora Tech Awards. Launched in 2020, the Aurora Tech Awards is a global annual celebration of women founders of IT startups who are breaking boundaries and shattering stereotypes in the tech world. The Aurora Tech Awards is proud to announce that entries for the 2024 Aurora Tech Awards are now open.

The significant shift in Africa’s technological landscape became undeniably evident during the 2023 Aurora Tech Award. A large portion of the nominations highlighted the achievements of African women in tech from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda, all of whom helm IT startups that have rendered immense value to their communities. These visionary women not only harnessed technology to bridge the gap between communities and essential educational, health, and financial services but also fervently supported fellow entrepreneurs in their pursuits. The 2023 award was ultimately won by Elizabeth Mwangi from Kenya and her startup, Gwiji for Women, which connects cleaners living in the slums of Nairobi with their clients.

The award’s mission is threefold: to applaud the strides of women in IT entrepreneurship, to empower them with the resources they deserve through substantial cash prizes, and to shatter the very gender biases that have long confined the industry.

“In a tech world still grappling with gender disparity, awards like the Aurora Tech Award are catalysts for change. Our recognition empowers women, shattering barriers and inspiring young minds. The positive feedback from past winners resonates with the transformative impact. As applications pour in globally, we’re excited to spotlight talents making community-changing impacts and serving as role models. We envision a future where gender ceases to limit potential. This award isn’t just a recognition; it’s a step towards a more inclusive and innovative tomorrow” says Ekaterina Smirnova, executive director of the Aurora Tech Award.

The Aurora Tech Award heralds a future where innovation knows no gender and where women’s potential flourishes uninhibited. It’s not just about breaking glass ceilings; it’s about forging an industry that stands as a testament to the capabilities of all, regardless of gender.

The application must meet the following criteria:

1. Women founder
The startup must be founded or co-founded and led by a woman entrepreneur

2. Funding stage
The startup should not have received investments exceeding $4 million in funding, including the seed round

3. Operation time
The startup must be no more than 5 years old

4. Minimum viable product (MVP)
The startup should have a functional prototype. If you have only an idea, your application will not be considered

Applications can be submitted via the award’s website at

Dates and deadlines
Entries should be submitted between September 5 and December 1, 2023.
Finalist announcement date: Jan. 31, 2024
Final assessments and announcement of winners: Mar. 8, 2024

The panel of judges will include prominent female IT entrepreneurs, the winners of last year’s Aurora Tech Award, and key industry experts.

The prizes will be awarded as follows:
First prize: $30,000
Second prize: $20,000
Third prize: $10,000

There will only be one winner per category, and the prize can be awarded to a contestant from any of the participating countries. In addition to the prizes, the entrepreneurs will gain access to the inDriver mentorship program.


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Nigerian-British Chamber Reappoints Solape Akinpelu as Technology Chair of its EXCO

Solape Akinpelu, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of HerVest, Nigeria’s fintech dedicated to providing financial access for women through a Gender Lens Investment (GLI) approach, has been reappointed as a member on the prestigious Executive Committee of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC).

The reappointment as Technology Chair of the Exco marks a significant milestone for both the Chamber and Solape Akinpelu, who has been instrumental in implementing impactful, tech-driven and capacity focused initiatives for different cohorts to inspire and influence members on how to scale to become tech sector players.

Solape Akinpelu’s reappointment comes at a pivotal point as both Nigeria and the United Kingdom navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by the evolving global tech ecosystem. Her relentless dedication to promoting financial inclusion, business collaborations, tech innovations, trade partnerships, and investment opportunities has positioned the NBCC as a pivotal hub for economic growth and tech-inspired development.

Commenting on the development, Solape Akinpelu said; “I am deeply honoured and humbled to be reappointed as a the Technology Chair of the NBCC Board’s Exco. I am committed to leveraging this opportunity to continue seek newer ways that we can adopt tech to drive growth, enhance business relationships, and ensure that the Chamber remains at the forefront of promoting excellence between Nigeria and the UK.”

She added that she will continue to bring her expertise to bear as the Chambers continues to birth new initiatives to drive investments, trade, and business growth at all levels.

Solape Akinpelu’s continued presence on the NBCC Board is anticipated to further enhance the Chamber’s ability to drive tech focused initiatives, investment opportunities, and knowledge sharing between these two dynamic economies.

The Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is the foremost bilateral chamber promoting trade and investment between Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Since its inception, the Chamber has been instrumental in promoting bilateral trade relations, representing the interests of businesses, and driving sustainable economic growth.

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25 Under 40 Energy Women Rising Stars: Gbemisola Adeyemi Afolabi Shares Success Story

Gbemisola Adeyemi Afolabi is a Junior Geoscientist at AMNI International

The 25 Under 40 Energy Women Rising Stars is a list dedicated to celebrating the women who are redefining the possibilities in Africa’s diverse energy sector. Featured on the list for 2023 is Gbemisola Adeyemi Afolabi, Junior Geoscientist at AMNI International, and an individual who has emerged as a trailblazer in her industry. The African Energy Chamber ( spoke with Afolabi about her work in the energy sector and vision for the future.

Please share a brief overview of your journey in the energy industry that led to your current role? What are some key achievements or milestones that you are particularly proud of?

I am currently a geologist at AMNI Petroleum Resources International. I started my journey in the Geosciences in 2015 when I realized that I want to be able to bring electricity to remote parts of Africa. In order to do that I needed to understand how the Earth works and the processes that lead to creating petroleum resources. After receiving my Bachelor of Science in Geology from Texas Tech University, I started working at AMNI. This year, I will be receiving my Master of Science in Energy Data Management from Rice University.

The energy industry is known for its complexities. What were some significant challenges you faced along the way, and how did you navigate through them to achieve your goals?

I would say that I am still navigating challenges in the energy industry. The job is never done, but I’ve learned that as long as I am always willing to learn innovative solutions the problem can always be solved.

What advice would you give to young females aspiring to excel in the energy sector? Are there any specific strategies or mindsets that helped you overcome obstacles and reach your current position?

I would tell young females to keep their head down and just keep going. Challenges will come, people will doubt that you can do it, but as long as you want to accomplish your goals, you can. I would also say that having a female mentor that you look up to is a big part in understanding the industry and learning how to navigate the everyday life of the energy sector. If you want to pursue a higher degree than your bachelor’s, find a company that is willing to support you through that while working. Most importantly, remember that through God, all things are possible.

A career in energy can be demanding. Could you describe a typical day in your life?

Since I am currently working and attending school for my master’s, my day is fairly busy. I go to work from 8 am to 5 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday, after sitting in traffic for an hour, and then I attend school in between or in the evenings. While I am at work, I attend meetings and work on subsurface projects. I typically get home around 9 PM and proceed to study or finish up my assignments.

Looking ahead, what changes or advancements do you hope to see in the energy sector, and how do you envision your role in shaping that future?

I hope that the energy sector becomes more digital. I believe that projects can be done much faster and more efficiently. Data can be transferred from one program to another. Using AI to determine when equipment will go bad, or to track a well’s performance can help reduce errors and keep platform workers safer. I hope to be able to create a software that streamlines the different areas of the energy sector, bringing engineers and geologists under the same platform without the worry of whether data can be transferred from one program to another.

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Showmax Appoints Dami Elebe As Head Writer for Flawsome Season 2

Award-winning Nigerian screenwriter Dami Elebe is the head writer for the highly anticipated second season of Showmax’s popular series Flawsome.


Known for her exceptional storytelling as seen in the TV series including Skinny Girl In Transit, The Men’s Club, Rumor Has It, and Far From Home, Elebe’s announcement as head writer for the Showmax Original gives fans of the series, even more, to look forward to in the upcoming season.


Elebe’s uncanny ability to breathe life into characters and craft captivating stories has made her a household name in the Nigerian entertainment scene and among lovers of Nollywood. She’s expected to bring this skill to the new season of the show, which has garnered a loyal fan base since it made its debut in 2022.


The first season of Flawsome made waves, drawing in audiences with its relatable characters and their journeys through life’s twists and turns. Centered around four friends portrayed by Bisola Aiyeola, Ini Dima-Okojie, Sharon Ooja, and Enado Odigie, the 13-part series delved into the lives of diverse characters navigating life’s challenges and triumphs, revealing the strong bonds that hold them together despite their flaws.


At the 2023 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs), the drama series received five nominations in four categories: Best Actress in a Drama (Enado Odigie and Ini Dima-Okojie), Best TV Series (Tola Odunsi & Akin Akinkugbe), Best Lighting Designer (Segun Adeleke) and Best Cinematography (Idowu Adedapo aka Mr. Views).


From all indications, Season 2 promises to be an even more riveting rollercoaster ride as Dami Elebe weaves her narrative magic. Will these four ladies succumb to the patriarchal edicts of the society they live in, or keep pushing back? Could it be that Ifeyinwa will no longer try to fit into her dead father’s image? Will Madam Rose finally be exposed for her prostitution ring, and will Ramat ever stop covering for her husband’s excesses? Some of these questions are begging to be answered in the upcoming season. While we can’t say for sure how it’s all going to play out, one thing is certain: with Dami Elebe’s proven track record of capturing the nuances of human relationships and societal intricacies, viewers can expect a season brimming with unexpected twists, compelling arcs, and moments that will have them on the edge of their seats.


As the countdown to the second season commences, viewers can refresh their memories by binge-watching the first season of the show on Showmax.

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Meet Olu Verheijen and Salma Ibrahim Anas, President Tinubu’s Special Advisers

President Bola Tinubu on Thursday appointed eight persons as special advisers and two women made the list.

Olu Verheijen as Special Adviser on Energy and Salma Ibrahim Anas, special adviser on health.

The other six appointed who are men are
Dele Alake, Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy; Yau Darazo as Special Adviser on Political and Intergovernmental Affairs; Nuhu Ribadu, Special Adviser on Security; Wale Edun as Special Adviser on Monetary Policies; Zacchaeus Adedeji as Special Adviser on Revenue; and John Ugochukwu Uwajumogu, special adviser on industry, trade and investment.

These eight persons are part of the 20 special advisers Tinubu had asked the senate to approve to achieve the goals of his administration in the next four years.



Meet Olu Verheijen, President Tinubu’s Energy Adviser 

Olu Verheijen as Special Adviser on Energy to President Tinubu

Verheijen is an energy expert and renewable energy investor with nearly 20 years of experience in the oil, gas, renewables and power sectors across Sub-Saharan Africa. She is the founder and managing director of Latimer Energy, a commercial advisory firm, whose services include advising clients on value optimisation in acquisition, development and management of energy assets.

The energy expert, who has a BA from Long Island University and master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, serves as an advisory council member of the US Millennium Challenge Corporation and also an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Energy for Growth Hub.




Meet Salma Ibrahim Anas

Salma Ibrahim Anas, special adviser on President Tinubu

Anas is a public health specialist with over 25 years of experience in health sector development, policy formulation, and strategic development.

She is currently the director of Family Health Services at the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) where she leads important divisions like reproductive health, child health and gender, adolescent, school health and elderly care (GASHE), nutrition and health promotion divisions.

She was a two-time Borno commissioner of health where she led the state during the region’s humanitarian crisis – her excellent performance attracted awards such as the best performing commissioner in the northeast on polio eradication.

Verheijen was formerly a Deal Lead at Shell where she advised on gas commercialisation, merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions valued at over $5 billion.  She was a member of the governing board of Shell upstream joint venture.




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Meet Adesua Dozie Exxon Mobil’s First Female Vice-Chairman

ExxonMobil affiliates in Nigeria – Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (EEPNL) – recently announced the appointment of Adesua Dozie as the Vice-Chairman of the Boards of the Companies.

Prior to her appointment,  she was an Executive Director and General Counsel for MPN and EEPNL.

 Dozie joined MPN in November 2019, as General Counsel and was elevated to the position of Executive Director on December 30, 2019.

Dozie is a senior Legal Advisor with over 20 years of experience as a trusted leader for multinational companies across Africa in a diverse range of industries.

She holds a Bachelor of Law degree (LL. B.) from the University of Buckingham in the United Kingdom, and a Master of Laws (LL.M) from Cornell Law School, New York.

She was admitted to the New York bar and qualified as a barrister and solicitor in Nigeria.

Dozie has advised on various large-scale transactions across the African continent, drawing on a deep knowledge of the legal and regulatory framework, in turn facilitating regional growth, strengthening corporate governance and compliance cultures across diverse business communities.

She is a passionate advocate for empowering diverse talent and is committed to building and strengthening inclusive working environments.

The ExxonMobil upstream affiliates operating in Nigeria are MPN, EEPNL and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria (Offshore East) Limited. The companies have notable history, proven experience and a strong record of contributions to Nigeria’s development.

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Nigeria’s Simi Nwogugu Named Top 10 Finalist for Africa Education Medal 2023

Nigeria’s Simi Nwogugu, CEO of JA Africa, has been named as a Top 10 finalist for the Africa Education Medal 2023. Founded last year by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Microsoft, the Africa Education Medal is Africa’s most prestigious education accolade. 

The Africa Education Medal was established to recognise the tireless work of those who are transforming education across the continent – to celebrate the stories of those who have lit the spark of change so others will be inspired to take up the torch. It is given to an outstanding individual who has demonstrated impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of education. 


Simi Nwogugu is CEO of JA Africa, part of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated JA Worldwide, one of the world’s largest youth-serving NGOs that prepares young people for the future of work. She was first introduced to JA while working at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Impressed by the organisation, she quit her lucrative job at the age of 24 to bring JA to Nigeria, where it now reaches more than 1 million people, before going on to head up JA’s operations across the continent.  


The vital importance of Nwogugu’s work is highlighted by the fact that 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa and about 37% of its workforce are under the age of 25. By 2025, Africa will be home to 25% of the world’s youth population. Through the delivery of hands-on, blended learning in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship, her organisation empowers young people to grow their entrepreneurial ideas, hone their work skills, manage their earnings and secure better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. 


For 25 years, Nwogugu has been leading JA’s efforts in various capacities as it embarked on a mission to help young people to generate and effectively manage wealth and create jobs for their communities. Her passion for strategy and innovation led to the development of many impactful programmes that are ensuring young Nigerians have the skillsets and mindset to succeed.  


She is a passionate advocate for girls’ education and one of her unique initiatives includes the Leadership, Empowerment Achievement & Development (LEAD) Camp for Girls, which has impacted 1,000 young girls and inspires and empowers them to become high-achieving women leaders in society. Another initiative she has championed is the Venture in Management Programme (ViMP), which is designed to empower young people in the different facets of managing a business, making crucial business decisions and developing skills for general management. She also built digital and out-of-school youth programmes that enabled her organisation to reach underserved populations in the North of Nigeria, even during the Boko Haram crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.  


Prior to becoming JA Africa CEO in 2020, she led JA Nigeria to impact the lives of over 1 million Nigerians in 5,000 schools. Among the many JA alumni who have gone on to become job creators and social entrepreneurs is Iyin Aboyeji, the founder of two unicorns: Andela and Flutterwave. 


Nwogugu also serves as president of the governing board of the Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria (HBSAN). She is a member of the Advisory Council of the African Capital Alliance Foundation, and of the Global Advisory Committee for Teach For All. 


Mayank Dhingra, Senior Education Business Leader, Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa, at HP said: 


“My warmest congratulations to Simi Nwogugu on being named a Top 10 finalist for the Africa Education Medal 2023. Her tireless work to improve education stands as an inspiration to us all and I hope many others will follow in her footsteps to become leaders in the field.

“HP has a bold goal to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people globally by 2030. Only by joining forces and aligning with NGOs, government, educators and businesses can we truly improve the education environment. The Africa Education Medal brings together all those who are changing the face of African education, whose vital work deserves to be celebrated.”


Vikas Pota, Founder and CEO of T4 Education, said: 


Africa’s teachers and school leaders, and its leaders of governments, NGOs and businesses, all play a crucial part in unlocking the continent’s potential through quality education.  African education stands at a crossroads in the wake of the pandemic, but if leaders from across the continent in every field can work together then they can build the lasting change needed. 


“I congratulate Simi Nwogugu on her achievements in skilling up Africa’s young people and I hope her success serves as rallying cry for changemakers to come forward and make a difference.” 


The Top 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal are:  


  • Mary Ashun, Principal of Ghana International School, Ghana 
  • Mohammed Elmeski, Senior Education Adviser, Office of the Head of the Government, Morocco 
  • Laura Kakon, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer of Honoris, South Africa 


  • Grace Malthape, CEO of SmartStart Early Learning, South Africa 


  • Mary Metcalfe, former policymaker and CEO of Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes (PILO), South Africa 
  • Martha Muhrezi, Executive Director of FAWE, Uganda 
  • Sarah Ruto, Former Chief Administrative Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Education and CEO of PAL Networks, Kenya 


  • Jean Claude Nkulikiyimfura, Executive Director of Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda 
  • Simi Nwogugu, CEO of JA Africa, Nigeria 
  • Snehar Shah, CEO of Moringa School, Kenya 


    Nominations for the Africa Education Medal opened in February 2023 for individuals working to improve pre-kindergarten, K-12, vocational and university education who are either educators, school administrators, civil society leaders, public servants, government officials, political leaders, technologists, or innovators. 


    The winner of the Africa Education Medal will be announced in July. Finalists will be assessed by a Jury comprising prominent individuals based on rigorous criteria.  

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Women CEO Tops 5% Of Companies Listed On Africa’s 24 Stock Exchanges

While only 5% of companies listed on Africa’s 24 stock exchanges have a woman as CEO, those that do have a woman CEO outperform financially by a wide measure, a new analysis has said. 

According to the report, to mark the evolution of Definitive List of Women CEOs, sponsored by Standard Bank Group, now in its third year, the online outfit analysed 2,020 listed companies on Africa’s 24 stock exchanges to compare the performance of companies where women hold the top position as CEO.

Women led companies remain a rarity across Africa in spite of a growing body of evidence that more diverse management produces better results.

Teresa Clarke, Chair of Africa. com, the company that conducted the analysis, said: “Despite difficult market conditions in most sectors and most geographies across the continent, in 2022, female run companies in Africa outperformed most benchmarks,” said

Transcorp of Nigeria, a diversified conglomerate with investments in the power, hospitality and energy sectors run by President and CEO Ms. Owen Omogiafo, ranked as one of the top performers on the list gaining 8.27% in share price in 2022.

She joined us on the 19th to talk about how Transnational Corp. was able to outperform its competitors in this environment.

Another top performer was Bidvest Group of South Africa, a diversified industrial services company which has been run by chief executive Ms. Mpumi Madisa since 2020, saw its share price increase by 5.82% in 2022.

To put the figures into perspective, the share prices of the collective group of 93 women led companies analysed by outperformed the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (FTSE/ JSE All Share) by 506 basis points, the Nairobi Securities Exchange Index (NSEASI) by 2,712 basis points, the London Stock Exchange (FTSE All Share Index) by 1,202 basis points, and the S&P 500 by 1,714 basis points.

Vera Songwe, Senior Fellow – Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative joined the virtual event on April 19th for the unveiling of the Definitive List of Women CEOs to share her perspective on why women outperform in the investment arena.

The trend of large, listed, women-led companies in Africa outperforming their male-run counterparts is consistent with trends seen in other parts of the world. Why do women-led firms often outperform? Patricia Lizarraga of Hypatia Capital wrote, “According to McKinsey, women face well-documented additional barriers in today’s workplace.

The few who rise to the highest executive ranks, by definition, must possess additional leadership and performance characteristics versus the average executive, predominantly male, who did not face the same barriers.”

Hypatia Capital of New York designed the Hypatia Women CEO Index, measures the performance of publicly traded securities on U.S. exchanges that have female Chief Executive Officers.

Over the same period, 6678 January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022, that index outperformed its benchmark by 479 basis points. Patricia Lizarraga, CEO of the Hypatia Womens CEO Index Fund in the US talked more about the “Female Factor,” her term for how women impact investment performance.

One of the caveats to the Africa. com analysis is that the various exchanges on which the companies are listed report share prices in their local currencies.

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Onyeali-Ikpe, Olusanya Make Top 10 On 2023 Definitive List of Women CEO

The third annual Definitive List of Women Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) was revealed on April 19.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc and Miriam Chidiebele Olusanya, Managing Director, Guaranty Trust Bank made the top 10 list. Both companies are listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

The list is unique in that it is based on data-driven research. Sponsored by Standard Bank Group, it represents one of the first analyses of the performance of publicly listed companies in Africa conducted through a gender lens.

This year’s list of 93 women represents 17 countries who have qualified based on either large-scale revenue or large-scale market capitalisation.

BusinessDay check shows the list includes 40 women from South Africa, 12 from Nigeria, and 6 from Egypt, Ghana and Kenya respectively. analysed 2,020 companies listed on the 24 African stock exchanges. Of the 2,020 companies, screened for those companies with revenue of $100 million or more, or a market cap of $150 million or more, which yielded a list of 787 companies.

The public websites of all 787 companies were examined to identify female C-suite executives. The team then researched each woman to determine those who have a title of chief executive officer or managing director or president AND conducted a review to confirm that these executives have bottom line, profit and loss responsibility for the companies. This resulted in 40 women CEOs on group 1.

The methodology for group 2 is identical to the methodology for Group 1, except that the entities evaluated were the divisions of the 787 companies, such that the divisions themselves have standalone revenue of $100 million or more.

The women running these divisions must have a title that clearly demonstrates that they are the chief executive with profit and loss responsibility for the division. This analysis yielded 28 women division heads.

Group 3 started with an analysis of global corporations with revenue over $10 billion who have operations in one or more countries on the African continent.

The regional heads of these companies were analysed to identify women executives for an Africa region or an African country, with profit and loss responsibility for the country or region. This analysis yielded 25 women. Women in this group are ranked by prioritizing those who run the Africa region ahead of those who run a single African country.

The three groups make up the final Definitive List of 93 women listed below. The 40 women from Group I are: Natascha Viljoen, CEO, Anglo American Plc, a company listed on Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Nompumelelo Zikalala, CEO, Kumba Iron Ore Ltd, also listed on Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Others are: Mpumi Madisa, CEO, Bidvest Group, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed company;
Bertina Engelbrecht, CEO, Clicks Group Ltd, also listed on Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Also on the top 10 list include Nombasa Tsengwa, CEO, Exxaro Resources, listed on the
Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Albertinah Kekana, CEO, Royal Bafokeng Holdings, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Jane Karuku, Group Managing Director & CEO, East African Breweries, listed on Nairobi Stock Exchange; Ntombi Felicia Msiza, CEO, Raubex Group Ltd, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is a media holding company with an extensive array of platforms that reach a global audience interested in African content and community.

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IWD 2023: Celebrating The Women Making Magic Behind And In Front Of The Cameras

Every year, we celebrate women – their achievements, gifts, and unique talents on International Women’s Day. Despite shifting cultures and more women taking on new roles, jobs, and challenges, it’s still essential to spotlight women making extraordinary strides.

In the global film industry, women are stepping up and taking on roles as directors, producers, writers, and actors. Interestingly, in some cases, some women have tried all of these roles in one project. This article spotlights five Nollywood women who have taken on the roles of directors, producers, writers, and actors, either on single projects or in different films.

Biodun Stephen always loved telling stories, first as a writer when she was younger and then as an actor in her early years, appearing in popular TV projects such as Emerald and Spider. She took a break from the industry and worked as a Radio Presenter at Star FM and a Copywriter for an advertising agency. In 2010, she left her posh job in advertising to become a Nollywood filmmaker and finally put out her first film – The Visit – in 2014. The film received two nominations at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

It’s been 13 years since she made the bold move to return to the industry, and she’s still going strong. With several made-for-TV and cinema films like Picture Perfect, Ovy’s Voice, and Joba, she’s unarguably one of Nollywood’s most prominent female filmmakers. This year alone, she’s premiered one Africa Magic original, Smokescreen and has two more premiering this March. She’ll show her brilliance as an actor and filmmaker on The Last Days of Lola Sampson and A Night Alone on the 11th and 12th of March at 9 pm and 9:30 pm, respectively.

Diane Russet is a fascinating name to make this list as only a few year’s ago, she was coming into the spotlight on Big Brother Naija Pepper Dem. She has since gone from the quiet 24-year-old viewers saw in 2019 to a fiery producer. She dipped her toes into filmmaking with short films – Bayi, The Therapist, There Is Something Wrong With The Bamideles, Mo X Mel, and Storm. She then shot her first web series Ricordi, which has become a fully-expanded TV series on Africa Magic Showcase. She’s appeared in most of these projects as an actor, producer, and director. Her most recent project, Ricordi, airs a new episode every Monday at 9 pm on Africa Magic Showcase.

Funke Akindele is the quintessential woman meant for a list like this. She’s had decades of acting since her feature on I Need To Know and charted a path few could dream. She’s appeared in English-speaking movies and Yoruba films, refusing to be caged into any corner of the industry. She had her first lead role and producer experience in Ojo Ketala.

A few years later, she wrote Jenifa, her first screenplay and took on the role of ‘Jenifa’ in the 2008 movie that changed her life completely. Since Jenifa, Funke has acted in over 50 films like Dwindle, Isoken, Maami, Moms At War and more. She has produced films like Omo Ghetto, Double Trouble, and Battle on Buka Street. In 2015, she converted Jenifa into a series in which she scored producer credit. Twenty-three seasons later, the show is still airing on Africa Magic. She’s also created another series – My Siblings and I – for the channel. The comedic family drama series airs on weekdays at 8:30 PM on Africa Magic Urban (DStv ch. 153). She made her directorial debut in Your Excellency in 2019.

Linda Ejiofor-Suleiman is another unlikely name to appear on this list. To most people, she’s just an actress, who had her big break on Tinsel, and still faithfully appears on the show. However, she’s grown her portfolio and is now a filmmaker. After Linda’s breakout role as ‘Bimpe Adekoya’ in Tinsel, she featured in the highly acclaimed The Meeting, earning a ‘Best supporting actress’ nomination for her performance. She has appeared in films like Chief Daddy, Heaven’s Hell, and Flat 3B. She’s currently starring as ‘Millicent Erhu’ in Africa Magic’s Covenant. She also has producer credits on one of the Africa Magic original films featured in the channel’s ‘March Movie Madness’ campaign – Logline. The film will premiere on Africa Magic Showcase on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at 9 pm.

Lota Chukwu is one of the many young people Funke Akindele has helped to make famous. However, Lota has become a talented actress, brilliant writer, and dedicated filmmaker since she first broke out on Jenifa’s Diary. Since her days as ‘Kiki’ on Jenifa’s Diary, the former MBGN contestant has appeared in films like The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, The Arbitration, and The Perfect Plan. She has also appeared in the Africa Magic series – Enakhe and Ajoche.

She started her filmmaking career in 2020 with the short film Small Bant, which she wrote, directed, and acted in. In 2021, she got directorial credit for David. Then in 2022, she took things up a notch, writing, directing, producing, and acting in her short film, 37 To Go, alongside Daniel Etim-Effiong. The film won her ‘best actress’ and ‘best original music’ and received an honourable mention for her directing at the New York Movie Awards. Her 2022 documentary, I’m Not Fine, has also impacted many young Nigerians with mental health issues. Then earlier this year, she made her feature film writer, director and producer debut on the Africa Magic original film, Now That We Are Married. The film aired on AM Showcase on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at 9:30 pm.

These women, at different levels in their profession, have done and will continue to do excellent work. While Biodun Stephen and Funke Akindele have exceptional careers built on years of hard work, the other ladies have only just begun. They embody what it means to have a strong vision, be hardworking and chase dreams. They are inspirations to younger people and are worthy of celebration!

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