International Women’s Day! Celebrating 20 outstanding women who are breaking glass ceilings

International Women’s Day! Celebrating 20 outstanding women who are breaking glass ceilings

Today, worldwide, March 8th is being celebrated as the International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate the achievements of women politically,

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Today, worldwide, March 8th is being celebrated as the International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate the achievements of women politically, socially, culturally and economically. The theme for this year which is #EachForEqual, focuses on the difference individuals, women especially, can make. IvoryNG chronicles 20 of Nigeria’s most inspiring young women who are breaking glass ceilings and deliberately impacting their world through the power of their ideas and achievements.

Adora Mbelu: A brand developer at Trellis Group, a brand development and experiential marketing company, she is also an author of ‘This Thing Called Purpose’, a book that helps people understand the true essence of living with and through purpose. Prior to Trellis, Adora Mbelu worked as a content director on the United Nations World Tourism Organization Conference, Nigeria Centenary Awards, and International Conference On Peace & Security. She was also the project manager for Freemantle Licensed TV Shows such as ‘Nigerian Idol’ and ‘Nigeria’s Got Talent,’ where she managed the business, brand, and production of the shows. She has also worked in the sports industry as the Corporate Communications Manager for OSMI during the 2010 World Cup managing all communications on the broadcast rights for Nigeria.
Adora is a recipient of several awards and has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine’s 11 Africans that are changing the business landscape in Africa, Nigeria’s Under 40 CEO’s, and Top 30 Under 30. She has been nominated in the ‘Entrepreneur Of The Year’ and ‘Prize For Media Enterprise’ categories of the Future Awards Africa.


Adora Mbelu

Arese Ugwu: Popularly known as Arese Smart Money, she is one of the forces to reckon with in Nigeria’s financial sector. Arese Ugwu is currently the Head of Wealth Management at Partnership Investment Finance where she is in charge of building the company’s wealth management division through business development and growing existing customer base. She is also a non- executive director at Partnership Securities Ltd, House of Tara International Ltd and The Higher Education Foundation as well as an associate member of WIMBIZ (Women in Management Business & Public Service). An entrepreneur, advocate for financial literacy, she is also the author of the book; The Smart Money Woman – an African girl journey to financial freedom’. She describes the book is the 21st century woman’s guide to financial liberation.
A graduate of Business and Management from Aston Business School, Birmingham and a Master’s degree in Economics Development from University College of London (UCL), Arese is also an alumna of Lagos Business School, INSEAD Abu Dhabi and The London Business School executive education program. In her quest to help young women make smart money decision, Arese Ugwu founded a personal finance platform, Smart Money Africa. Her dream is to change the African description of poverty by educating this generation on financial literacy. Arese uses stories the average African can relate to, workshops and several media platforms to encourage and promote financial liberation.  She is also the founder of Smart Money Travel which is a platform under the Smart Money Africa brand. Smart Money Travel provides travel package for the small millennial and assures luxury for less.
Arese Ugwu in her spare time hosts a program, “Your Life, Your Money” on Guardian TV’s personal finance show and is also a co-host on “Analyse This” on NdaniTv.

Arese Ugwu

Bidemi Zakariyu: She is the founder and CEO of one of the fastest growing Public Relations agencies in Nigeria, LSF|PR, a full service public relations agency with core competencies in corporate communications, consumer and lifestyle brands, a company she started when she was 23. A graduate of Business from Brooke House College, Leicestershire, England, and Law from the University of Sheffield. Under her leaderships, LSF|PR has received certificate of excellence by the SABRE Awards (2018) – the world’s biggest PR awards programme, dedicated to benchmarking the best PR work across the globe and in the same year won Campaign and Idea of the year in Africa at African Excellence Awards) held in Dublin, Ireland.
Bidemi has also been listed by Forbes Africa as one of the innovators and game-changers in business on the prestigious 30 Under 30 list (2018), African Woman Leader (CMO Asia), recognized as a Rising PR Practitioner by the Nigerian Institute of public Relations – Lagos Chapter (2017) and in 2016, won the Future Awards Africa for Media Enterprise. Bidemi publishes an online magazine, The Luxe Digest which she launched in 2017 with the aim of playing a key role in altering the perception of Africa and fostering Pan-Africanism.

Bidemi Zakariyu

Tola Elatuyi: She is a senior management executive with over 18years experience across the financial services and manufacturing sector, within West/East Africa and Middle East markets. A visionary leader, team player, strong influencer with experience in global FMCG companies. With an impressive track record in portfolio and innovation management across very competitive categories with full P&L responsibilities, Tola is one energetic and passionate expert in the crafting and implementation of consumer-centric and resonant sales and marketing strategies working in a highly matrix structure. She is currently the Head of Innovations (Marketing), at Guinness Nigeria Plc (A Diageo Company) responsible for building strategic partnerships through understanding of consumer trends to deliver an innovation pipeline across categories. Prior to this, she was the marketing manager, West Africa at Reckitt Benckiser.
A graduate of Insurance with a Master degree in Marketing and a Ph. D in international Business Management, Tola is a well sought out facilitator on Consumer Behaviour and writes in her free time for magazines published across West Africa with interests in work place happenstances, how to survive and teachings on how to be your own hero. Tola is a recipient of many awards including the Personal Recognition from the Global CEO of Reckitt Benckiser on work done for the Stop diarrhea Initiative, an appreciation from Abia and Ogun State Governments for work done on Malaria Prevention in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

Tola Elatuyi

Toyosi Ogunseye: She is an internationally recognized journalist and experienced manager. The current vice president, World Editors Forum, Toyosi Ogunseye heads the British Broadcasting Corporation, West Africa where she leads the BBC’s operations and five language services in Anglophone West Africa and Francophone Africa with a team of over 200 journalists to deliver objective, trustworthy, creative and valuable journalism on the African continent. Prior to that, she worked at The Punch Newspaper where she rose to become the Sunday editor of the newspaper and the newspaper’s youngest editor. Toyosi who is currently studying for her PhD in Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom is a recipient of over 25 media awards including the health category of the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards in 2011 and 2013, Nigerian Academy of Science Journalist of the Year 2013, The Future Awards Africa 2013, Child-Friendly Reporter of the Year by the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME). She is also a recipient of the presidential precinct Inaugural Young Leader award, she is also a Knight International Journalism Award and president Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative Award.

Toyosi Ogunseye

Ola Orekunrin Brown: She is a medical doctor, helicopter pilot and the managing director of the Flying Doctors Nigeria Ltd, West Africa’s first air ambulance service, a crucial link for critically injured people who, like many across the continent, are far away from hospital care. A graduate of the University of York in Britain, Orekunrin has worked in the National Health Scheme for nearly ten years. She has a specialist interest in trauma and pre-hospital Care and her work with air ambulance services in the UK and Japan. An author, she has published three books, ‘EMQ’s in Paediatrics’, ‘Pre-Hospital Care for Africa’ and ‘Fixing Healthcare in Nigeria: a guide to healthcare policy.’ She has also written articles in the British Medical Journal, the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, the Niger Delta Medical Journal, the New York Times and the Huffington Post.
Along with two other directors, Dr Ola runs leading early stage venture capital firm, Greentree investment company which provides growth capital to some of Africa’s most exciting tech start-up’s. She is an international speaker who has spoken at the TED global conference, the European Union, the Swiss Economic Forum, the UN, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge University and the Aspen Ideas Festival. She has also received multiple awards and nominations. These include the Mouldbreaker’s Award, the THIS Day Award, The Future Award as entrepreneur of the year, New Generation Leader for Africa, Ladybrille Personality of the month, Silverbird entrepreneurship award, Nigerian Aviation personality of the year award and Vanguard WOW Awards.
In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious MEXT Japanese Government Scholarship and produced groundbreaking research in the field of regenerative medicine, focusing on induced pluripotent stem cells. She is also a TED fellow, a Dangote Fellow, an Aspen Fellow and has been honored by the world economic forum as a Young Global Leader. She is a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, international editor of the Journal of Emergency Services American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine and a LinkedIn top ten global Healthcare Writer. Dr Ola Brown (Orekunrin) also sits on the board of the professional women’s network (Lagos Chapter), she also sits on the committee of the British Business Group (Lagos).

Ola Orekunrin Brown

Chika Okwuolisa: She is an experienced engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the construction industry. Chika is the Managing Director, Hogrago Engineering Company Limited. Skilled in Negotiation, Business Planning, Risk Management, Procurement, and Engineering, Chika is a strong business development professional with a B.Eng  (Met/Mat) focused in Metallurgical and Material Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University. In 2017, she founded Brain and Spine Foundation, Africa to create awareness of Neurological Medical Conditions which presently is almost non-existent. She is an advocate for early medical check before complications arises and help the affected less privileged with treatment which can be brain-exploding expensive.

Chika Okwuolisa

Adaku Ufere-Awoonor: She is an award-winning energy professional with over a decade’s experience leading multicultural and multilingual teams across Africa in the structuring, negotiation and implementation of natural resource projects in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, South Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sao Tome & Principe, Cameroon, Uganda, Congo and other Sub-Saharan countries. Adaku is currently an Independent Legal Consultant in the field of Energy, Gender and Development and the Founder/CEO of DAX Consult, a firm providing advisory services on major transactions for international and indigenous energy companies and governments. She provides services to companies and governments to mainstream gender into energy regulations, policies and programs, in the form of training, strategy and action plans.

Adaku Ufere Awoonor

Adesua Dozie: An accomplished technocrat, Adesua is currently an Executive Director and the General Counsel at Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited which is a continuation of her impressive career trajectory which has seen her work with some of the biggest names globally. Prior to this, she was the General Counsel of GE Africa. As General Counsel, Adesua advised on over $10 billion of transactions across the continent, in turn facilitating regional growth, strengthening corporate governance and compliance cultures across diverse business communities, and serving as a guardian of the complex dynamics between purpose, profit and risk. Prior to joining GE in 2013, Adesua worked in senior legal roles for the Coca-Cola Company, where she also supported the growth of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation as Legal Adviser and Secretary to the Board. She previously served as Legal Counsel to Elf Petroleum Nigeria, and was an Associate Counsel for Ajumogobia & Okeke. She is a graduate of Cornell Law School.

Adesua Dozie

Audrey Joe-Ezigbo: She is the Co-Founder of Falcon Corporation Limited, a wholly indigenous midstream and downstream Gas outfit. A seasoned entrepreneur with 25years experience in the Oil & Gas industry, she is the Group Managing Director of other companies within the Falcon conglomerate. Audrey is currently President, Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) – the umbrella association and voice for businesses and professionals in Nigerian’s Gas industry; the first female President in the NGA’s 20-year history. She is also an author of four published books and Promoter of the Double Impact Platform, an organization through which she delivers business and relationship-building training and support to couples who are in business together.

Audrey Joe Ezigbo

Bella Disu: She began her climb on the corporate ladder as a sales executive at Globacom in 2004 and currently provides strategic leadership as the Executive Vice-Chairman of the foremost multinational telecommunications company operating in Nigeria and Ghana. In 2011, Bella took on the additional role of CEO of Cobblestone Properties and Estates Limited, a leading property development company which has a robust portfolio of residential and commercial properties in Nigeria. Bella also serves as a non-executive director on the board of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Nigeria’s apex construction company, and as a director at Abumet Plc, a glass and aluminium manufacturing company. She is a member of the prestigious Institute of Directors, Nigeria and the Nigerian Institute of Management. She is the chairperson of the Bella Disu Foundation, a non-profit organization she established to improve the potential of children from less-privileged backgrounds by providing access to quality education and employment skills. She is a graduate of political science and international relations from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, with an M.Sc in Leadership from Northeastern University, Boston.

Bella Disu

Cherry Eromosele: She is the Group Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Interswitch, an expanded role she assumed in April 2018. Prior to this new role, Cherry led the Interswitch Marketing function as Chief Marketing Officer, were she was responsible for creating and implementing innovative marketing strategies towards building the entire Interswitch brand portfolio, spanning both the corporate and consumer segments of the business; Verve and Quickteller brands, and playing an instrumental role in the seamless roll-out of Interswitch’s consistent brand identity and successful marketing programs as Interswitch expanded from Nigeria into new markets in Africa including Kenya and Uganda over the last 4 years.

Cherry Eromosele

Nere Teriba: A gold refiner, Nere is the Vice Chairman/ MD Kain Smith Trade & Co Ltd that recently acquired the licence to refine gold locally, and is the first and youngest Nigerian to refine gold locally at 37. Passionate about the Mining, Consulting, Mineral Concession Management & Minerals Trading industry, Nere as an Entrepreneur, Mediator & Strategist, had worked for sustainable community solutions in several countries and is maximising her knowledge with hopes to formalise artisanal mining and reduce illegal mining in Nigeria. Using her company, Nere created a mobile solution — Zokia system, a mobile platform to register and bank artisanal miners.

Nere Teriba

Ngozi Nkwoji: A strategic leader with over 15 years progressive experience in directing portfolios of top-selling consumer goods, driving brand identity and revenue growth and niche development, Ngozi Nkwoji is the Portfolio Manager for Non Alcoholic brands at Nigerian Breweries Plc. Ngozi is renowned for continuously growing products and brands via marketing, brand management, decisive business strategy, public engagement, and cultivating industry relations. She also possesses superb interpersonal abilities, and is skilled at communicating, influencing, negotiating, facilitating, presenting & getting others excited about implementing new ideas. Ngozi takes her passion for development and entertainment beyond the 9-5 borders. She hosts her own video blog ‘The Ngee Show’ which covers everyday human-interest topics from hygiene, etiquette, fashion fads & music to even the youth and technology.

Ngozi Nkwoji

Dupe Olusola: She is currently the Managing Director/CEO, Transcorp Hotels. Until her appointment, Dupe was the former Group Head, Marketing at the UBA Group where she provided visionary leadership with the aim of development and delivery of integrated strategy for all UBA Group Bank and non-Bank subsidiaries. Prior to her appointment at UBA Group, Dupe was the CEO of Teragro where she spearheaded a partnership with Coca-Cola to produce Five Alive Pulpy Orange Juice making Teragro the sole local material source for the juice.

Dupe Olusola

Folasade Ambrose Medebem: She is currently the Director of Communications, Public Affairs & Sustainable Development for Lafarge Africa Plc. Beyond her day job, Folashade also serves on the 24 Executive Committee of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG). She is a board member of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) and the UN Global Compact Initiative both in Nigeria and is also on the Board of the European Business Organization (EBO) Nigeria serving as the founding female President. She has more than 23 years international experience delivering world-class strategic business transformation solutions with a variety of global FSTE 100 multinationals including LafargeHolcim Plc., Diageo Plc., PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ford Motor Company – Uk and Germany, Zurich Financial Services, Learning & Skills Council UK, Nigeria Ministry of Finance and the Department for International Development (DFID) UK.

Folasade Ambrose Medebem

Habiba Ali: She is the managing director and CEO of Sosai Renewable Energies Company, one of the largest distributors of renewable energy in Nigeria. Sosai Renewable Energies provides renewable energy products like solar lamps, water purifiers and solar panels, as well as energy consulting services to help bring clean, renewable energy solutions to Nigeria’s budding communities. Habiba is also a co-founder of the Developmental Association for Renewable Energies (DARE) and is a member of the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air and the Nigerian Energy Network.

Habiba Ali

Ibijoke Faborode: She runs Agritech and Healthcare Advisory, West Africa with UK Department for International Trade where she leads on International trade facilitation and investment advisory between the UK and six principal West African markets. Ibijoke is an astute professional, gender advocate and change-maker; with a decade of cross-geographical experience spanning various fields including: Agribusiness consultancy, Policy Advisory, International Trade Facilitation, Investment Promotion, Pan-African Media Management and International Business Development. In 2017, she led the very first bi-lateral agri-focused dialogue between the UK and Nigeria in London, which attracted over 100 delegates from Nigeria including the Agric Minister, 8 State Governor and multilateral bodies such as the Africa Development Bank in a bid to promote opportunities in Nigeria’s growing agric space. She also currently co-chairs the Women’s Network at the High Commission. Prior to this, she worked with The Africa Report, Groupe Jeune Africa: a Paris-based pan-African media group as Regional Business Development Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ibijoke Faborode

Chinwe Bode Akinwande: Chinwe is the Head of Brand Quality Assurance, FBN limited and the founder of Chinwe Bode Akinwande Foundation, a Lagos faith-based NGO that supports widows and their vulnerable children.

Chinwe Bode Akinwande

Fatima Kyari Mohammed: She is a Permanent Observer for the African Union. Prior to assuming her present position, Fatima was Senior Special Advisor to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission. She has more than a decade of professional experience working with ECOWAS and its institutions in different capacities, with a focus on peace and security, regional integration and organizational development. Her corporate niche includes peace and security, conflict prevention and transformation, gender, regional integration, and socio-economic development.

Fatima Kyari Mohammed