Meet the four sub-Saharan female business leaders recognized in IFC’s ‘Trailblazers’ publication

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has recognized four women from sub-Saharan Africa among 20 global female business leaders in a publication to celebrate their professional success in spite of formidable challenges.

The publication, Trailblazers – Portraits of Female Business Leadership in Emerging and Frontier Markets, highlights the personal and professional journeys of these leaders and the positive impact of their leadership on private sector development in emerging and frontier markets.

Through their leadership, these women have helped create new markets and add business value for their organizations, giving a boost to their communities and national economies. Making the list are African female business leaders from Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa. 

Ghana’s Nora Bannerman turned a lifelong passion – fashion design – into a thriving enterprise. Bannerman now employs 120 workers to produce high-end garments for international retailers. From Kenya, Wambui Mbesa grew up in a children’s home but made education a priority and now is the CEO of Intrasoft International East Africa.

Nora Bannerman at the Ghana Investment Summit 2018. Photo credit: YouTube

Soula Proxenos fought against racial injustice and gender bias from an early age in South Africa. Today, she is a professional board director, guiding companies toward more equitable practices. While Uganda’s Anne Kabagambe credits her family for helping her overcome personal challenges. She presently works as Executive Director of the World Bank Group, representing the interests of 22 African nations.

“These women are relatable role models who, by their example, will motivate other professional women to push for more, and encourage male colleagues to champion greater diversity,” Her Excellency, Rebecca Akufo-Addo (First Lady of Ghana) said while delivering the keynote address at the launch event.

Uganda’s Anne Kabagambe at the 2016 Annual Awards Gala hosted by the Africa-America Institute. Photo credit: Zimbio

In addition to the four women from sub-Saharan Africa, the list includes female business leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Myanmar, Panama, Turkey, Vietnam, and Yemen. They represent several industries, from information technology to shipping, healthcare to development finance. 

“By their examples, these trailblazers show that investing in business leadership for women is good business, that gender diversity at the top yields dividends for companies, communities, and economies,” IFC’s Country Manager for the Ghana sub-region, Ronke-Amoni Ogunsulire, remarked. “That’s why IFC works to narrow gender gaps in business leadership – part of our strategy for inclusive and sustainable private sector growth.”   

The IFC publication is part of its Women on Boards and in Business Leadership Program and supports the organization’s multi-faceted gender strategy, which includes building a pipeline of qualified women leaders in the regions where it operates. The overall goal is to accelerate the pace at which women in emerging and frontier markets join boards and assume C-suite positions.

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