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Profiles

On this day, we celebrate top Nigerian women in business

Today is International Women’s day, a global, annual event specially dedicated to celebrate women and their many accomplishments.

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International Women's Day

Today is International Women’s day, a global, annual event specially dedicated to celebrate women and their many accomplishments in different spheres of life. And as traditional of us here at Nairametrics, we felicitate with women around the world, especially Nigerian women in business.

Nigerian women have come a long way from the early days when their main occupation entailed being wives and mothers, to the present time when they sit on the boards of reputable corporations. And there is still a long way to go, with many more glass ceilings to be broken.

In the meantime, however, Nairametrics will keep celebrating women who are paving the way for others in the Nigerian corporate environment. Here are some of Nigeria’s top female executives to mark this year’s International Women’s Day. Some of them are notable names, while the others are still building their influence. Get to know them.

Mrs Owen Omogiafo, the CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc 

Mrs Omogiafo was recently appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Hotels Plc. She has more than eighteen years’ corporate experience, including her most recent role as the Chief Operating Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. She has also held senior leadership positions in reputable corporations such as Heirs Holdings, United Bank for Africa, and Accenture.

She holds a B.Sc. in Sociology & Anthropology from the University of Benin and an M.Sc. in Human Resource Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Mrs. Omogiafo is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), UK and a Certified Change Manager with the Prosci Institute, USA. 

Adeyinka Adekoya, CEO of Wapic Insurance Plc

For nearly three years now, Mrs Adekoya has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Wapic Insurance Plc. She assumed the position in 2016. Prior to this time, the University of Lagos graduate had served as the General Manager of both Cornerstone Insurance Plc and Law Union & Rock Plc.

Mrs Rose Okwechime, the CEO of Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc

Appointed in 1992, Mrs Okwechime has been the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc for nearly thirty years. Prior to taking up the position, she worked in the banking industry for twenty four years, including stints at the Bank of England. She holds a master’s degree in Banking and Finance.

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Mrs Ibukun Awosika, First Bank’s Chairman

Mrs. Ibukun Awosika is a 56-year old Ibadan-born business leader who graduated with a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the Obafemi Awolowo University.  She is also an alumnus of the IESE Business School, as well as the Lagos Business School.

Asides her position as the Chairman of FirstBank, Mrs. Awosika is also the Chief Executive Officer of The Chair Centre Group. She also sits on the boards of numerous other companies and NGOs.

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Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Plc

Mrs Bola Adesola, the Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank

Mrs. Bola Adesola is a graduate of the University of Buckingham, where she studied Law. She was called to the Nigerian bar in 1985.

She is also an alumna of the Harvard Business School, having undergone an Advanced Management Programme there. Mrs. Adesola also completed the Chief Executive Programme at the Lagos Business School.

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Professionally, Mrs Adesola has garnered over 25 years of experience in the banking sector. Her career cuts across several financial institutions including Citibank Nigeria (a member of the Citigroup) where she worked for nearly ten years with executive roles in Nigeria and Tanzania.

In March 2011, Mrs. Adesola was appointed as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited. As part of her role as the head of the bank, she has been utilising her exposure and experience in the banking industry to drive growth and lead the bank to success. Note that she is currently a Director also at the bank.

Funmi Omo, the CEO of African Alliance Plc

Funmi Omo is one of the few females occupying executive positions in the Nigerian corporate environment today. As the Chief Executive Officer of African Alliance Plc, it is her job to make strategic decisions that will position the company for growth.

She studied Insurance at the University of Lagos, graduating in 1990 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree, even though she never planned to study Insurance. She admitted in an interview, that she had initially set out to study Accountancy, but was unable to meet the admission cut-off mark for that discipline, due to certain reasons. Fortunately, she ended up loving Insurance, despite her initial misgivings.

Mrs Funmilayo Omo has nearly 30 years of professional experience in the insurance industry, all of which happened at African Alliance Plc. Right after her National Service year, she got a job with the company in 1991 as an Assistant Superintendent.

She quickly rose through the ranks, working a number of high profile jobs until she became the company’s Chief Executive Officer in May 2017; a position she has since held on to. Altogether, she has worked at African Alliance Insurance Plc for almost thirty years. And she seemed determined to turn things around for the better, especially now that it is her duty, as the CEO, to drive “overall corporate strategic goals and purpose to meet and exceed expectations of our different stakeholders.”

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Unity Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Tomi Somefun

Mrs. Somefun was a student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, graduating in 1981 with a Bachelor of Education in English language. Although she was never a trained accountant nor economist, she went on to acquire other important professional certifications after her university days. Today, she is a prominent Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Having undergone graduate studies at both the Harvard Business School and University of Columbia Business School, Mrs. Somefun is an alumnus of both prestigious American institutions of study. In the same vein, she has participated in quite a number of local and international training programmes which are specific to her banking profession. An example of such is the INSEAD Fontainebleau, in France.

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Mrs Tomi Somefun, the CEO of Unity Bank Plc

Mrs. Somefun is a modern Nigerian woman who has successfully maintained a professional career spanning at least thirty-three years. Note that while most of these years of experience have been in the financial sector, she also has experiences cutting across other sectors.

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In her early days, she started out working at KPMG as a Senior Audit Assistant between 1982 and 1986. From there, she went on to work at Arthur Andersen in 1986 as a Senior Auditor. She has also been employed at Ventures & Trusts Limited, between 1989 and 1992, as an Associate.

Prior to her current appointment, Mrs Somefun held many high profile positions in other reputable companies such Credit Bank Limited and UBA Plc. She was also the MD/CEO of UBA Capital & Trustee Limited and the Founding Managing Director of UBA Pension Custodian Limited: two of UBA Group’s major subsidiaries.

Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, the Executive Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited

Recent ranking by Forbes Magazine lists Mrs Folorunsho as the richest woman in Nigeria and second richest in the whole of Africa. With an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion, she is second only to Angola’s Isabel Dos Santos who has net worth of $2.3 billion.

Mrs Folorunsho was born on 15 July 1951. Like many other women, she started her career from the bottom, working as a secretary at a Lagos-based company in 1974. She later dabbled into banking, before establishing her first company called Supreme Stitches. She ended up becoming an oil magnate. And today, we know her as one of the richest women in the world.

Nigerians occupy top spots on Forbes Magazine's wealthiest African billionaires' list - Folorunsho Alakija

Folorunsho Alakija

These are definitely not all the Nigerian women making waves in the Nigerian corporate environment. But for the sake of time and space, these are the ones that can be mentioned here. Nairametrics celebrate with all the woman, wishing them more success in all their current and future endeavours.

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Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs.He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor.Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan.If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Profiles

Meet Adebayo Ogunlesi, Nigeria’s investment banker shaking up Wall Street

Though his name does not ring a bell like Aliko Dangote, Otedola and Mike Adenuga, Ogunlesi is equally a “billionaire” in his own right.

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Some refer to him as a “silent billionaire”, and this is not a wrong statement about the man who has stakes in a number of airports around the world, including Gatwick Airport, the second-busiest airport by total passenger traffic in the UK and the ninth-busiest in Europe.

Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian who started out as a lawyer and later an investment banker, has spread his wings around the globe and is now currently the Chairman and Managing Partner at the private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). Though his name does not ring a bell like Aliko Dangote, Otedola and Mike Adenuga, Ogunlesi is equally a billionaire in his own right.

Early years

Adebayo hails from Makun, Sagamu, Ogun State, and was born on the 20th of December 1953 to the family of Dr Theophilus O. Ogunlesi, who later became Nigeria’s first Professor of Medicine in Ibadan.

He had his primary education there in Sagamu and then attended the prestigious King’s College, Lagos before travelling to England where he bagged a B.A. with first-class honours in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University.

He went on to pursue two degrees concurrently at Harvard, and in 1979, received a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

He worked as a law clerk to Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court from 1980 to 1981, and as an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore – a law firm in New York City till 1983.

Armed with his MBA, Adebayo made the switch to investment banking when he joined First Boston Investment Bank as an advisor on a Nigerian gas project in 1983. He also worked with the Project Finance Group, as a financial advisor to several clients on the transactions of North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Other places Adebayo worked include the Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) (earlier known as Global Energy Group) where he advised clients on strategic transactions and financing for some years, before becoming the Global Head of CSFB’s Investment Banking Division. He was appointed member of the Credit Suisse Executive Board and Management Committee in 2002, and became the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer of CSFB between 2004 and 2006.

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While at the CSFB, he was also lecturing at Harvard Law School and Yale School of Management.

He was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs in October 2012 and became Lead Director on the 24th of July, 2014.

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Ogunlesi, the investor

In July 2006, he founded a private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in New York City, with CSFB and General Electric as the first investors; and assumed the role of Chairman and Managing Partner. In the same year, GIP bought London City Airport an international airport located in the Royal Docks in the London Borough of Newham in the City of London. GIP later sold off the airport after a decade.

Three years later in 2009, GIP invested £1.455 billion to acquire the majority share in London Gatwick Airport, a major international airport near Crawley, Sussex, England. Another three years after in 2012, GIP bought Edinburgh Airport, said to be the busiest airport in Scotland in 2019, handling over 14.7 million passengers.

GIP also bought Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori in February 2018.

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Some other GIP Investments In the Transport Sector include Terminal Investment Limited, Port of Melbourne; Pacific National; Italo; Access Midstream Partners; Biffa Group Limited; Port of Brisbane; Great Yarmouth Port Company.

GIP also had stakes in infrastructure assets around the world, with selected equity and debt investments in several sectors. The company manages a portfolio of combined annual revenue greater than $46 billion, and investments of over $51 billion for its investors.

The company is an infrastructure investment fund that makes both equity and selected debt investments. It has investments in high-quality infrastructure assets in the energy, transport, water and waste sectors.

In the energy sector, Gip has investments in Guacolda Energia, Freeport LNG, CPV, Saeta Yield/Bow Power, Hess Infrastructure Partners, Vena Energy, Naturgy Energy Group and several others.

Other interests

Ogunlesi is now a Member, Board of Dean’s Advisors at the Harvard Business School; Member, Leadership Council of New York at Harvard Law School; and Member, Global Advisory Council at Harvard University.

He is also a Member, Board of Directors of the Partnership for New York City Fund; National Board of Directors NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Board of Trustees NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; and the King’s College Old Boys Association.

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He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. He taught a course on transnational investment projects in emerging countries, as a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School of Management, while also working at Credit Suisse First Boston.

In October 2012, Ogunlesi was appointed to the Board of Directors at Goldman Sachs and became Lead Director in 2014. There is no confirmed source of his net worth, but Wallmine estimates that Ogunlesi is worth at least $22.5 million dollars and owns at least 66,677 units of Goldman Sachs stock as of 7 May 2020.

In December 2016, Ogunlesi was named among business leaders that would be part of Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but the forum was disbanded 8 months later.

Ogunlesi was given The Award of Excellence by The International Center in New York, and in 2019 was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine. He is still actively engaged in several volunteer works across Africa.

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Atsu Davoh is building ways for Africans to easily acquire and spend cryptocurrency

Atsu Davoh has gone from failed projects to running one of Ghana’s most innovative startups.

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In recent times, the tech space in Africa has experienced immense growth, with the introduction of several key players and disruptors across various sectors. One sector that is also rising is the cryptocurrency space with Africa experiencing greater crypto ownership and trade volume.

The number of Bitcoins processed on a single day reached its highest value at the beginning of 2021, as more people displayed interest in the cryptocurrency. Due to its fast adoption, more fintech players have created platforms that have made trading with cryptocurrency easier. One of such players is Atsu Davoh who calls himself the “product guy.”

Atsu Davoh dropped out of college (Carleton College) in the United States and moved back to Ghana to help innovate on Africa’s financial infrastructure. Atsu first discovered Bitcoin in 2017 during the first boom when it became mainstream. Before then, he and his co-founder Samuel Baohen had been involved in many failed projects.

He developed a USSD system where people could buy bitcoin through their phone numbers, like tying crypto to phone numbers in a native way. This was one of the first iterations of Bitsika.

Atsu was invited to Join Binance Labs Incubator by Yele Bademosi where he got $150,000 after graduating from the incubator. Bitsika went on to raise around $900,000 from investors. This brought the total seed raised to $1,050,000.

This USSD system worked in Ghana but didn’t work in Nigeria. Atsu and his team then pivoted the platform to a donation crowdfunding platform, which allowed people living in other countries to send donations to African nationals in need of the funds before finally building it into a cross-border crypto remittance platform.

Bitsika users can deposit and remit money across multiple currencies using the app, with all monies deposited in Bitsika stored in USD credits or stable-coin.

Bitsika has over 50,000+ downloads on Playstore and processed nearly $40 million in 2020 with $18,872,474 in deposits, $17,890,807 in payouts (withdrawals), and $3,189,834 in internal peer-to-peer transfers.

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Despite a few unfavourable regulations surrounding cryptocurrency in Africa, the market has shown no signs of slowing down as more people are building products that will make trading seamless.

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