Quiet hustle looks like this: 5 change-making female entrepreneurs lighting the way

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Nigeria is an ever-growing nation with a flourishing economy. It is home to many self-made entrepreneurial women determined to achieve their ambitions, regardless of social or economic obstacles. 

In Nigeria, men often dominate the business world, as in many other parts of the world. Despite this, some self-made, entrepreneurial women in Nigeria are breaking through barriers and challenging expectations. These incredible women are forging their paths in the business world, and their successes inspire all. Their stories demonstrate that regardless of gender, anyone can rise in the business world with the right combination of tenacity, innovation, and dedication. These impressive women are rewriting the narrative of business success and beyond through their ambition and strength.

By pushing through boundaries and overreaching goals, these women are true reminders of perseverance and determination, leaving stories of success that offer important lessons and critical knowledge into the Nigerian business climate. 

From carving new niches in the lifestyle industry to building inclusive communities, these women have made a unique mark for themselves while inspiring millions of others across the country. Their accomplishments serve as both a guiding light and a source of inspiration for aspiring female entrepreneurs everywhere, instilling a renewed sense of hope and opportunity across Nigeria and beyond.

As they continue to scale new heights and attain financial milestones one after the other, here are five change-making female entrepreneurs from Nigeria.

Uzoh Umeh, El Padrino

First, weekly pop-ups, and then almost total domination of Lagos’ thriving food industry – Nigeria’s favourite taco lady has been serving joy and good vibes since 2017. One thing you can be sure of at El Padrino, Nigeria’s first Naija-Mex restaurant, is joy. Uzo is not only creating exceptional fast food, but she is also redefining what it means to feel joy when you eat food.

With over 15 years of experience in hospitality, leadership, and branding, most of her experience has been in the fast-casual sector of the restaurant industry, working with brands like In N Out, Starbucks, Cafe Rio, and Pieology. While at these organizations, she learned the importance of locally sourced ingredients and their impact on developing communities. Uzo’s El Padrino offers top-notch service, great food, and a place where you will always feel welcome and even call your “people”.

Zainab Sarumi, Soles N Shades

Zainab broke into the accessories market selling colourful, eclectic shades not commonly found on the market, and eventually started sharing her love for handmade cork slippers and sandals.

Zainab founded Mint Eyewear with the goal of revolutionizing the eyewear industry in Nigeria by providing quality, functional, and affordable eyewear using digital technology.  She is currently working with her team to create a sustainable eyewear collection that uses plastic water bags, known as “pure water,” to make eco-friendly glasses and an augmented reality feature that will allow customers to try glasses online. When available footwear in the market started feeling a little too generic and more like an afterthought, Zainab decided to make her own.  Her brand promises not just unique accessories but comfort and style.

Janada Ajeroh, Mint Organic Care

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to call Jaada one of Nigeria’s organic skincare pioneers. She stumbled into the business when hunting for organic skincare that she thoroughly enjoyed. She found that the products in the market were too raw, poorly manufactured or adulterated, and she decided to start making her own.

Janada subsequently enrolled in courses to learn about chemical-free body products, plant extracts and natural fragrance mixology. In 2015, Mint Organic Care was launched in Abuja and opened its flagship store three years later. In 2021, Mint Care Co. was launched as the hospitality division that caters to luxury hotel amenities with eco-conscious options and packaging.  Over the years, Janada has poured quiet dedication into producing one of Nigeria’s best organic skincare product lines and expanding into other aromatherapy essentials.

Elizabeth Adedeji, 21 Wool Street

21 Wool Street is a slow fashion brand that creates timeless and functional crochet wear that is size inclusive and accessible to fashion-conscious Gen Z and Millennial women.

Fashion often lends itself from generation to generation, so it’s always refreshing to see a trend revitalised freshly. Elizabeth started her business crocheting swimwear and dresses and has dipped her toes in making bags and wedding dresses. She recently showcased her new collection at the Crochet Fashion Week Show in Atlanta and is a recipient of the Seed Ambition Grant Episode 2. In 2022, she created her first unconventional wedding dress for a bride, which went viral across social media. Although crochet clothes and accessories are not a new trend, the quality of Elizabeth’s work cannot be denied; each item is a testament to the intention that goes into each stitch.

Amina Muhamed Soul, Aae’s Passion

In a country where public discussion of sex and all related topics is taboo, Amina has broken barriers and expanded the perspectives of a considerable portion of our generation. Before Aae’s Passion, buying lingerie was done quietly and in the shadows.

From carefully selected lingerie pieces to dynamic sex toys, Aae’s Pasion offers women the chance to experience ecstasy shamelessly, enjoy learning about all the amazing things about their bodies and get the confidence they need to have fulfilling intimate lives. The brand name is quicky becoming synonymous with safety for women of all body shapes, sizes, ages and stages. Thanks to Amina’s work selling lingerie and publicly educating anyone who cares to learn about safe sexual expression, more people are stepping into sexual liberation by the day.



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