West Africa is home to a huge pool of female change-makers, many of whom are taking the region’s challenges by the horns against all odds. Some of them are business leaders, others are social entrepreneurs or gender activists. Despite the fact that their journeys haven’t been smooth sailing at times, their efforts continue to impact thousands if not millions of lives across the continent and in the diaspora. Afrinection's West Africa Ambassador Michael Alimo has dug deep to find the top 5 of his region’s most inspiring female changemakers and influencers. These are their stories.
1) Farida Bedwei (Ghana, in picture), who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age, is one of Africa’s most celebrated software engineers. She also co-founded Logiciel Ghana Ltd, a software company that develops banking systems for the micro-finance industry. Her role involves assessing the industry and coming up with practical solutions for users who have no formal banking training. She believes Africa’s informal sector, which employs 60% to 70% of the continent’s workforce, deserves the same banking services as those in the formal sector. By building affordable banking systems for them, the micro-finance industry can help vulnerable people achieve their full potential.
>> We love this story because it shows that a disability is definitely not an inability.
2) Yasmin Belo-Osagie (Nigeria) co-founded She Leads Africa - a digital media company that believes in the power of young African women and their ability in building amazing businesses, serving as influencers, and taking over the world. The former McKinsey consultant believes in women empowerment and places emphasis on equipping young female entrepreneurs in Africa with essential skills to create business ventures.
>> We love this story because it encourages the need for mentorship as an approach to developing and equipping young women with knowledge, skills and expertise.
3) Juliet Asante (Ghana) is an award-winning actress and business woman from Ghana’s capital of Accra. She holds a double Masters degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, one in Public Administration and on in Public Policy. Having worked in the television industry for at least two decades, her passion for fine arts has influenced much of her decisions. One of those decisions was the founding of the Black Star International Film Festival (BSIFF), an event that aims to bridge the gap between African and global filmmaking. She also makes films herself: Her 2014 production Silver Rain was nominated for the Best Film during the AfricaMagic Viewers' Choice Awards and won in the category Best Costume during the Africa Golden Movie Awards.
>> We love this story because it demonstrates the importance of providing local solutions inspired by real-world, local problems.
4) Rainatou Sow (Guinea) is the founder and executive director of Make Every Women Count, a venture that mobilises young women to drive gender equality, women empowerment, and the rights of women and girls. This African woman-led organisation serves as a mobilizing, networking, information, advocacy and training platform for African women by building their leadership capacities to influence policy and decision making. This African woman-led organisation serves as a mobilising, networking, information, advocacy and training platform for African women by building their leadership capacities to influence policy and decision making. Rainatou has a vision of seeing women being at the helm of governance and decision making.
>> We love this story because it advocates the need for women to aspire to greater heights in leadership and governance.
5) Uche Pedro (Nigeria) founded the popular website, BellaNaija.com ― a lifestyle media enterprise which delivers top notch and exciting content from around the continent. The online portal was born out of Uche’s desire to represent the culture of her home country Nigeria and Africa as a whole. What started small grew to become one of Nigeria’s preferred sources for fashion and entertainment news. The website reportedly attracts over a million unique visitors and 9 million pageviews each month.
>> We love this story because it teaches us that to be successful, one has to start small.
About the author: Michael Alimo from Ghana is Afrinection's West Africa Ambassador. He is an experienced writer and passionate about Africa and entrepreneurship.
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