Over the last 20 years, startups have gone from a niche trend to a mainstream contributor to Nigeria’s economy. This shift has been spearheaded by young people from all backgrounds who are passionate about using technology and business knowledge to solve problems in their immediate communities with the long term goal of eventually serving the globe.
As with most other industries in Nigeria, female representation in startup culture is somewhat disappointing. Even when women found companies or significantly contribute to its establishment or growth, their contributions are minimised, or worse, erased altogether. This is why it is important for us at Marie Claire to celebrate women at all stages of their startup journeys in the public and private sectors, who are challenging the stereotypes around women in leadership, and doing it while being their most authentic selves.
We applaud the women of the Marie Claire Nigeria 2023 Start Up Honour Roll.
COO, INVEST BAMBOO
With a master’s in Engineering from the prestigious Imperial College of London and experience in business development for Wecyclers, actuarial services for Tokio Marine Kiln and investment analysis for African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM),Yanmo Omoregbe came more than qualified for her role as the Chief Operating Officer of Invest Bamboo, an investment startup she founded with Richmond Bassey in 2019.
Yanmo is committed to running a business that empowers Bamboo’s customers and creates a healthy working environment for their female staff.
In the four years the startup launched, Yanmo and her team have raised $33 million in seed funding, launched its investment app in two markets (Nigeria and Ghana), and crossed 100,000+ downloads on the playstore and 7,000 active users on its Telegram community. The company scored a major milestone by sponsoring the Big Brother Titans reality show.
Ifeoma Nwobu’s trajectory as an innovator is truly impressive. In 2015, she got her start in modelling as a fresh faced teenager by fronting a major advertising campaign and by the end of the year, she was on the major runways and featuring in advertising campaigns for designers. She soon grew disillusioned with how poorly models were treated by the industry and chose pivot into tech, taking coding courses and building her first technology focused business with Frugirls, a sustainability platform that helped fashion savvy people who wanted an ethical way to revamp their closets find swap partners for used clothing.
In 2021, she founded Sendstack, a mobility-tech startup that sought to digitise delivery services for businesses, who were struggling under the weight of having to manage individual deliveries. With 5000 users and 30,000 successful deliveries, Nwobu is surpassing her own goals and challenging the tech industry’s perceptions about women in tech and the blue collar industry.
Managing Director, KADUNA STATE POWER SUPPLY COMPANY
Is there anything Dolapo Popoola cannot do? She speaks multiple languages, including German, Polish, Yoruba, Japanese, Hausa, Spanish and English, is respected around the world for her contributions to sustainability and renewable energy and still finds time to mentor and impact the lives of young women.
Dolapo holds a M.Sc from the Berlin Institute of Technology and is certified by global energy leader Siemens as a power distribution and renewable energy systems specialist. She brings this knowledge and 15 years of experience to her role as the managing director of the Kaduna State Power Supply Company.
As the youngest female chief executive in Kaduna state history, she is bridging the gap between the private sector and the Kaduna state government and making admirable strides in implementing innovative technologies at scale in the public service sector.
Not many people know that before Ife Fayankin became a tech founder, she was one of Nigeria’s most recognisable models. With a career that spanned several years and a look that graced runways and features, Fayankin gained success in fashion and entertainment before pivoting to found her own startup.
Ife combined a full-time modelling career with study for a degree in Electrical Engineering before retiring from modelling to start Loveage Entertainment, a television production company. Bookstars, her creative career networking startup, is her way of vertically integrating the creative and the business sides of the entertainment industry using technology. It connects creators and entertainers across the continent to career opportunities, with 6,535 creators registered and active on the platform.
Founder, KEZA AFRICA
Smartphone technology is powering business and innovation across various industries in Nigeria. But not everyone has equal access to this technology because of economic inequality. Aisha Odunayo Hussaini is trying to solve this problem with Keza Africa, her startup that allows people buy new and used smartphones through a delayed payment strategy.
This isn’t her first successful attempt at solving problems using technology either. She created Mobile Waiter, which she has termed the ‘Jumia Food for Universities’ in 2015, when she was back in University. The business grew to serve 5000 customers per month, surpassing all of Hussaini’s expectations.
According to Crunchbase, Hussaini has raised $120,000 in pre-seed funding for Keza Africa, in just one year of operations and is currently in the process of raising her second round of funding.
Anyone who has followed fashion in Nigeria, remembers when Honey Ogundeyi became one of the pioneers to combine fashion and technology with Fashpa, the first independent online retailer nearly a decade ago in 2013. Since then, Honey has been a mainstay in the tech industry, finding new ways to leverage technology to solve problems in Africa, with recognition from Forbes and the World Bank.
She is now venturing into Edu-tech with Edukoya, an edu-tech company that seeks to make education easily accessible to the digital first generation of Africans, through virtual one-on-one tutoring sessions with certified educators. Edukoya has raised $3.5 million in a pre-seed round, and has garnered serious interest from investors around the world.
Damilola Olokesusi’s resume is impressive even before you mention her work as the Co-founder and CEO of the Nigerian mobility-tech startup, Shuttlers. She has an Engineering degree from the University of Lagos, was a World Economic Forum Lagos Global Shaper, an UNCTAD etrade for Women Advocate in Anglophone Africa region and a Forbes 30 under 30 2019 awardee.
But her startup, which allows young professionals to schedule shared rides along predetermined routes, came about as a response to a traumatic experience. One of her sisters was kidnapped by thieves using a commercial bus to lure potential victims. Wanting to prevent this from happening to others, Olokesusi created the Shuttlers App, which allowed professionals who wanted a private mass transportation solution with vetted drivers and the vehicles in top condition.
|In the 8 years Shuttlers has been active, it has raised $1.6 million in seed funding and served thousands of young Nigerian professionals across several states, and Dami has no interest in slowing down now.