The Nerve Desk

The Nerve Desk

Celebrating 8 Board room leading African women

A few decades ago the corporate world was a territory dominated by men but that has relatively changed in recent years with the emergence of Women as head of corporate organizations due to their determination and resilience. In the spirit of celebrating the International Women’s Day, we have compiled a list of 8 African women who have made great achievements in the Corporate world.

Here are some of Africa’s corporate women executives changemakers

Winifred Byanyima  – Uganda


Born to the one-time national chairman of the Democratic Party in Uganda and former school teacher, Ugandan-born Byanyima, is the first female aeronautic engineering graduate in her country and during the 1981–1986 Ugandan Bush War, Byanyima worked as a flight engineer for Uganda Airlines.

Towing towards her father’s profession Byanima doubles as a politician and diplomat. She served as Uganda’s ambassador to France from 1989 until 1994 and was a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1995 Ugandan Constitution.  

As a diplomat serving her first tenure as executive director of Oxfam International in 2015, the 59-year-old called for actions to narrow the gap between rich and poor in the World Economic Forum where she was the co-chairman. She still holds the position as the executive director of Oxfam International.

Valentine Rugwabiza – Rwanda

She served as the chief executive of Rwanda Development Board and was previously the Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

The former Ambassador of Rwanda to the United Nations in Geneva and Switzerland. Before joining the public service, she has a long career history in the private sector, both at the national and international level, where she occupied several senior managerial positions, including in a Swiss multinational where she worked for eight years.

The 55-year old Rwandan is currently serving as the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a position she has occupied since 2016.

Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita – South Africa

Nonkululeko Cheryl Nyembezi-Heita, 58 is the Chief Executive Officer of Ichor Coal N.V., an international mining company focusing on thermal coal production in South Africa. Nyembezi also serves as non-executive chairman of Macsteel Service Centres SA (Pty) Limited, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Alexander Forbes Group Holdings Limited. She was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of ArcelorMittal South Africa, the largest steel producer in Africa where she worked for six years. She has held several board member positions in different companies such as Old Mutual. She also served as the Chief Officer of Mergers & Acquisitions for the Vodacom Group.

Cheryl Nyembezi-Heita has a B.Sc. Honors degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology and a Masters Degree in the same discipline from California Institute of Technology. She also has an MBA from the Open University (UK).

Linah Mohohlo – Botswana

Linah, 66 has certificates in Accounting and Business from the University of Botswana, Economics from George Washington University and Finance and Investments at the University of Exeter.

Linah Mohohlo was the Governor of the Bank of Botswana from 1999 to 2016. This came after working for over 23 years with the Bank, during which she worked in support and policy areas which include Board Secretariat, Human Resources, Research and Financial Markets Departments.  She was a member of International Monetary and Financial Committee representing 21 sub-Saharan African countries. She was a former board member of Debswana Mining Company and Diamond Trading Company Botswana. Currently, Linah is the Vice Chair, University of Botswana Foundation; Africa Progress Panel; Emerging Markets Forum; Bretton Woods Committee; UN Joint Staff Pension Fund Investment Committee; Central Banking Publications Advisory Board.  She is also a recipient of a number of national and international awards.

Dambisa Moyo – Zambia

Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo, 49 is a Zambian-born international economist and author who analyzes the macroeconomy and global affairs. She is the founder of Mildstorm LLC and has been its Chief Executive Officer since 2015. She has worked with several international organizations which include the World Bank and Goldman Sach. She has been an Independent Director of various companies which include Seagate Technology, Barrick Gold Corporation and Public Limited Company, Chevron Corporation. She has been an Independent Non-Executive Director at Barclays Bank PLC and Barclays PLC.

She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers: Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa, How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly and the Stark Choices Ahead and Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What it Means for the World.

She holds a PhD in Economics at Oxford University and holds Master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Moyo also holds an MBA in Finance and an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the American University in Washington D.C.

Angela Kyerematen – Jimoh – Ghana

Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh is the first female to become the country director of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in Africa. The Harvard Business School graduate moved up the ranks to assume her current position as IBM Ghana, following a successful career in marketing and client relationship management in Africa and Europe for the past 15 years. Ranked among the WomenRising Top 50 Corporate Women Leaders in Ghana, Angela is passionate about mentoring and supporting other young women to climb the corporate ladder to become major stakeholders in various corporations across Africa.  She believes women should be at the helm of corporate affairs as it signifies a means of giving back to society and shaping the lives of young women.

Aishah Ahmad – Nigeria

Aisha Ahmad is one of the women to break a glass ceiling in Nigeria’s corporate world as she is the youngest person to be appointed the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Prior to her appointment in 2017, Aisha was the Head of Consumer Banking Division at Diamond Bank where she was covered consumer banking, privilege banking, retail assets chains. She has been actively involved in the banking industry as her professional banking experience in the last 20 years traverses the NAL Bank Plc., Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc. and Zenith Bank Plc. Seeking to address issues that affect the interest of women professionals in business, promote leadership development and build capacities to engender growth, Aisha is the chairperson of the executive council of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (a non-governmental organization). She is celebrated for her involvement in the private banking space as she has been responsible for numerous High Net-worth Individuals (HNI’s) through her career.

Eveline Tall Daouda – Senegal

Eveline Tall has a reputation of an outstanding banker and influential leader as she contributed Ecobank’s success of being a pan-African banking leader today. She is nothing short of the quintessential banker, as she has received wide recognition as an eminent African professional. She was one of Jeune Afrique’s 2013 twenty-five most influential women in Africa’s business as well as one of Forbes Magazine 2014 and 2015 nominated Top 100 most influential women in Africa. Prior to her retirement 2017, she was the chief operating officer (COO) in 2016 and had managed the expansion of the Ecobank Group from 2010 to 2016 as the group’s deputy CEO since 2011, a position she held until she retired in 2017.