The CNBC Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards, Presented By Johnnie Walker Blue Label (AABLA) are heralded as Africa’s most prestigious business awards, celebrating the game-changers in the African business landscape.
The awards recognize business leaders across five categories, but one category in particular, the Business Woman of the Year Award, speaks to the most radically innovative and rapidly growing industries in West Africa: Female-driven businesses.
Women-owned businesses comprise one of the fastest growing segments of business in West Africa. In 1980, women owned only about 6% of businesses in Nigeria, but today, women own nearly 30% of all businesses, 50% of all retail businesses and 10% of all service companies. These statistics clearly reflect that the impact of female-driven entrepreneurship and leadership is crucial to the progress of West Africa’s economy.
The nominees in the West African Business Woman of the Year Awards category, similar to their East and Southern African peers, reflect the tenacity, pioneering vision, boldness and rare character that it takes to become a female business leader in a business landscape that has traditionally been dominated by male counterparts.
“The Business Woman of the Year Award category in the 2014 AABLAs is populated by truly visionary women, who have contributed to their region’s economy through a relentless drive to succeed. In their success, they reflect the potential that Africa holds for entrepreneurial and business-minded women,” says Joe Nazzal, Head of Reserve.
With East and Southern Africa’s regional ceremonies now complete, the awards move on to West Africa on the 23rd of October, hosted at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos. After this final regional round, the winners will then go on to compete for the ultimate accolade in the awards’ pan-Continental Finale event on 14th November in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Five remarkable women from West Africa have been nominated in this auspicious category:
• Adenike Ogunlesi – Founder and Chief Responsibility Officer of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble
Ruff ‘n’ Tumble is a premier indigenous lifestyle brand, producing world-class children’s retail fashions. Starting from a tiny shop with Adenike and her mother as the sole staff, she transformed Ruff ‘n’ Tumble into an instantly recognizable brand. In turn, Ruff ’n Tumble has earned a reputation as one of the best manufacturers of children’s clothing in Nigeria.
• Arunma Oteh – Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria
Arunma Oteh strengthened the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) by replacing its management with a more professional team that is leading on-going transformation in the Nigerian stock market. Under Arunma’s tenure, market capitalization tripled, Africa‘s most robust trading engine was rolled-out, listing rules were reviewed to attract more listings and an alternative securities market for SMEs and businesses in strategic sectors was set up.
• Olubunkunola A. George – Founder and CEO of HealthPlus Nigeria
Olubunkunola, or Bukky, has over 22 years of experience in the retail health & beauty industry. She aspires for HealthPlus to be the Boots Pharmacy of Nigeria with 120 branches by 2020. Bukky’s strengths include a strong academic foundation, a passion for excellence and a determination to raise standards in retail.
• Sola David-Borha – CEO of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC
Sola David-Borha is the Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and former Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC. Previously, she was the Deputy CEO of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC and is a member of the Chartered Institute Of Bankers of Nigeria and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
• Swaady M. Martin-Leke – Founder and CEO of Yswara, Ivory Coast
Named in the coveted list of “20 Women Who Make Africa” by Forbes Magazine, Swaady Martin-Leke is the queen of the luxury tea brand, Yswara. In growing her luxury brand, Swaady has opened stores in South Africa, first in Johannesburg then another in Cape Town, positioning her brand as one with a pan-Continental reach. Today, consumers from across the African continent can purchase Yswara via digital and the mail-order sales, made possible by the company’s innovative website, launched in 2013.