Should the SA government lend money to Zim?

Have your say
Chat on the Business in Africa forums with other readers about the issues of the day, affecting Africa.
Post your comment...

Calculate the latest currency rates for Africa and world currencies
Find out more...

Women to watch out for
Posted Thu, 03 Mar 2005

Africa’s women have come a long way since the 1995 Beijing conference. Slowly, they’re making in roads into business and politics. The support structures are still not that great, but there are women who continue to make their mark against all these odds. We list some of these women here, while certain that we have not even begun scratching the surface of Africa’s emerging female leadership.

Hafsat Abiola

Inspiring greatness

Hafsat Abiola is a human rights civil liberties activist in Nigeria. At 28, she already has accomplished a lot. She’s the founder and executive director of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), a nonprofit organisation whose mission is to empower democracy and development in Africa. She’s also a founding member of the State of the World Forum’s Emerging Leaders Program and Global Youth Connect. She sits on the boards of the Youth Employment Summit, Women’s Learning Partnership and Hewlett Packard’s World e-Inclusion Project.

Her work has received widespread international recognition with several awards under her belt. These include one from the Association for Women in Development’s “Woman to Watch for” Award in 1999, the World Economic Forum’s Global “Leader of Tomorrow” Award in 2000, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation “Global Award”.

She’s an accomplished writer who’s articles have been published in various international magazines including the New York Times, Time and Newsweek.

She was educated at Harvard University graduating with a degree in political Economy. In 2015 Hafsat Abiola will be 39, and will remain remarkable as a young woman who stood up during Nigeria’s darkest hours of military dictatorship and oppression.

She has outstanding advocacy skills, political clout as well as the good will of many Nigerians and pro-democracy organisations around the world.

Elizabeth Joyce Villars

In the name of computing

Elizabeth Joyce Villars is an accomplished businesswoman in Ghana. In a country where the private sector is male dominated, her ascent to the presidencies of the two most prestigious Business Associations is an outstanding achievement. She is former presidents of the Association of Ghana Industries and the Private Enterprise Foundation respectively. She does seem to have a penchant for soaring above all others. She was the first to set up a computer service bureau in 1974, the first Ghanaian to introduce continuous forms printing in 1980 and also the first to locally manufacture security cheques and payment instruments in 1996.

Villars has also won several awards, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing‘s “Marketing Woman of the Year” in 1998. In 1999 she was honoured with the “Millennium Excellence Award” for her contribution to Ghana’s private sector.

In 2000 she won the “Most Successful Woman Entrepreneur Award”. Her story begins in the ancient city of Cape Coast in the central region of Ghana. She attended Holy Child Secondary School for her Ordinary Level examinations. At a time when most women would have been content with secondary school education, she wasn’t. She proceeded to the IBM Training School in the UK where she obtained a Computer Programming Diploma in 1969. In 1975 she qualified as a Systems Analyst and Designer at the IBM Training Centre in Accra, Ghana.

“My early exposure to computers ensured that I became the first Ghanaian woman to qualify as a Computer Programmer in 1958,” she says with a hearty grin. She has worked with the Volta River Authority (VRA), Dizengoff West Africa and West African Data Services Bureau, variously as a Programmer and as Systems Consultant.

She has been the Managing Director and Chairman of Camelot Ghana Limited until April 2004, when she relinquished the chair of the company. Her company has won several awards for excellent exhibitions at trade fares in Ghana and elsewhere. Villars serves on several boards including the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Social Investment fund, the Ghana Trade Fair Authority and the Ghana Statistical Service.

Wendy Luhabe

A Social Entrepreneur

Wendy Luhabe is one of South Africa’s most powerful women, and one of the world’s leading female entrepreneurs. She spent ten 10 years at BMW South Africa’s marketing division before founding her own human resources management consultancy firm, Bridging the Gap.

In 1994 she launched Women Investment Portfolio Holdings. She considers herself a social entrepreneur. She’s the chair of various boards including the leading cellular operator Vodacom, South Africa’s Industrial Development Corp and the SA International Marketing Council.

In 2003 she launched South Africa’s first private equity fund for women-owned enterprises. Her role as a leading black female entrepreneur has not gone unnoticed, if you start counting the accolades that she’s been collecting from all over the world. These include the World Economic Forum’s “Global Leader of Tomorrow” in 1997. She was counted as one of the 20 most powerful women in South Africa by the Sunday Times. She holds a BCom degree from the University of Lesotho (1981). She has recently launched her book called Defining Moments, which recounts the experiences of black executives in South Africa’s workplace over 30 years.

In January 2000 she was featured in a group of likely candidates to be South Africa’s first female president. Given her political clout and contacts - she is the first lady of South Africa’s richest province, Gauteng, being married to the Premier Mbhazima Shilowa - this does not seem too farfetched. This month she travels to Monaco to receive the 2004 Robin Hood International Award for “Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy” on behalf of South Africa.

Amina Wangari

Against all odds

Amina Wangari is an established businesswoman in Niger. She’s the president of the West African Businesswomen Network, an organisation aimed at lobbying international groups and governments to support West African women in businesses.

The organisation has already done a lot of work in areas of management training, information technology and sourcing project finance. Wangari has made a success of her business in Niger where she founded a women-owned technological and management training centre, Le Complexe Technique Wangari. The centre also serves as one of Niger’s only four cyber cafés.

In July 2002 Amina Hassane Wangari opened her cyber café using a 64kbit satellite connection. In a country with one of the world lowest rates of internet connectivity, Wangari offers students of all ages access to the internet at reduced rates and hosts training for business women.

She started out with just 30 students, but today the training centre accommodates over a thousand students. The centre offers training in ICT, management, business and accountancy. She plans to acquire her own satellite or VSAT (very small aperture terminal) in order to build on the success of her cyber café, and offer more affordable Internet services. Wangari also has business interests in the transport and construction sectors.

Nolitha Fakude

Pushing for Black Economic Empowerment

Nolitha Fakude has emerged as one of the most influential women in South African business. She is the first female president of the Black Management Forum (BMF). She was named by the Financial Mail as one of the 20 most influential businesswomen in South Africa today. She was previously Managing Director of the BMF, where she played a pivotal role in re-shaping the role of the organisation.

She holds a BA Honours in psychology from the University of Fort Hare, and has just completed a senior executive programme at Harvard Business School. She serves on various company boards, including banking group Nedcor, mining firm Harmony Gold and South Africa’s biggest retail outlet Woolworth’s Holdings. She is also a council member of Business Unity South Africa, a body aimed at unifying black and white business and the NEPAD Business Steering Committee.

Economic Statistics
Click here for the latest economic statistics graphs.
Find out more...

Special book offer
A new book by Eskom's Reuel Khoza on how to enhance performance of state-owned enterprises.

Buy this book now!

Market news on your cellphone
Get live JSE listed shares, warrants, major indices, brent crude oil, international markets, agricultural futures & daily market analysis via SMS on your mobile.
Find out more...

Energy in Africa
Energy in Africa is an intelligent and in-depth look at how energy impacts people, places, projects, price and development around the African continent. It is the first pan-African bilingual publication in both English and French in Africa, published quarterly.
Subscribe now...

Eskom leaders forum
African business and public sector leaders define and construct a prosperous future for the continent.
Find out more...

Online travel bookings
Planning to travel? Book accommodation in Africa & South Africa here.
Book now...

Financing Black Empowerment Partnerships 2006
27 February – 3 March 2006.

Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
Click here for more

 Current Edition
  Subscribe to:
 » Print magazine
 » Digital edition
 » Energy in Africa

Employee E-Mail | Contact us | About us | Newsletter | Subscription centre | Advertising

All material copyright Business in Africa. All rights reserved. Material may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission. Read these terms & conditions. Read our privacy statement and security statement. Powered by Mail & Guardian Online &