Whether you’re stateside or abroad, social media has made our world a lot smaller. Last week’s Social Media Week (SMW) events and conversations, many of which took place on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to name a few platforms, are proof that geographic borders can’t contain the flow of ideas in the digital age.
With the dust slowly settling on SMW Lagos, which made its debut in Africa last Monday, BlackEnterprise.com is highlighting power women in Africa who have made a sizeable social impact. These women were selected for their influence and position in their respective industry, relevance within their field or due to their promising future.
From socialites and politicians to actresses and technophiles, these 10 power women should be on your Twitter list: –Claudine Moore
As founder of BellaNaija.com, a leading African lifestyle and entertainment media portal, Uche Pedro has played a pivotal role in the development and popularization of social media and blogging in Nigeria. BellaNaija.com is credited with pioneering a business model that incorporates online media in Nigeria. Today, the website receives over 5 million page views per month and has major plans for 2013. Prior to launching BellaNaija, Pedro graduated from Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. She is passionate about education and entrepreneurship, and is heavily involved in non-profit initiatives focused on both areas.
The founder of AppsTech, a leading global provider of enterprise application solutions, currently serves as a mentor/advisor to several Africa-based technology startups and is a director of the Salesforce.com Foundation.
Rebecca Enonchong is also founder and chairman of the Africa Technology Forum, and has served on the United Nations (UN) Women Global Advisory Committee on the Digital Divide, as well as the UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force. A recipient of Enterprise Africa’s African Entrepreneurship Award, Enonchong was named a Global Leader for Tomorrow (GLT) by the World Economic Forum. Her Twitter account is widely used as a resource for African tech news and updates as she tweets about Africans that are innovating and creating new technologies.
Mariéme Jamme, Technologist and Social Entrepreneur, Senegal Twitter Handle: @mjamme Followers: 11,926
Mariéme Jamme is a CEO, blogger, technologist and social entrepreneur and is dedicated to empowering fellow Africans through the promotion of education, solid leadership, social entrepreneurship and economic development. She began her professional life as an asset manager at Citibank, JP Morgan and Lloyds TSB, as well as in various software companies such as Primavera INC (now Oracle), Microsoft, Osiatis and Computer Associates. Jamme is considered a key figure in organizing the annual Apps4Africa contest across West Africa Central and Southern Africa in conjunction with the US State Department, and was recently referred to as being at the forefront of the technology revolution that’s slowly transforming Africa by media giant CNN.
Among a handful of African celebrities with verified Twitter accounts, Genevieve Nnaji is one of Nollywood’s highest paid actresses. She has starred in over 80 Nollywood movies, and was once described as the Julia Roberts of the African movie industry. Nnaji made history by becoming the first Nigerian actress to be profiled on The Oprah Winfrey Show during an episode highlighting the most popular people around the world. Joining the worlds of Hollywood and Nollywood, Nnaji appeared in the 2012 movie Doctor Bello alongside Isaiah Washington and Vivica Fox.
Ory Okollo, Google Executive and Founder of Ushahidi, Kenya Twitter Handle: @kenyanpundit Followers: 44,968
Currently based in South Africa, Kenyan Ory Okolloh is a passionate open-government activist, and highly trained lawyer, who currently holds the position of Policy Manager for Africa with Google. When Kenya was engulfed in violence following a disputed presidential election in 2007, Okolloh created Ushahidi (Swahili for Witness), a website that combines Google mapping with eye-witness reports. This innovative technology has since been adapted to monitor elections in other countries, including Mexico and India; track violence in Congo, and map post-earthquake crisis in Haiti. Prior to launching Ushahidi, Okolloh created Mzalendo, a website that facilitated Kenyans in tracking the activities of their representatives in parliament. Mzalendo closely monitors and analyses every bill, speech and Member of Parliament that passes through Kenya’s parliament, promoting much needed transparency and accountability.
One of Nollywood’s biggest stars has an impressive Twitter verified account. Omotola Jalade Ekeinde is the first Nigerian to hit the one million mark on Facebook, and is considered a veteran in the industry. In addition to acting, Omotola is also a singer and United Nations Ambassador for the World Food Program, where she leverages her high profile status to shine the spotlight on the plight of world hunger. Hailing from Ondo State a region of the Niger Delta, Ekeinde is a long standing Amnesty International activist, and, in 2012, she joined the high profile Amnesty campaign calling for oil giant Shell to take responsibility for the extensive pollution of the region.
Ajak Deng, Model, South Sudan Twitter Handle: @AJAK_DENG Followers: 3,014
Standing at 6 feet tall, this fresh-faced beauty with flawless mahogany skin is currently taking the modeling world by storm, and is seen by many fashion industry insiders as the next big thing. Born in what is now called South Sudan, Deng become a refugee after her family fled their home during the long civil war that gripped Sudan. Deng and her family immigrated to Australia where she grew up with her father and seven siblings. In 2010, Deng worked the Chloe show during Paris Fashion Week in fall 2012, becoming the first black model to walk for the label in more then nine seasons. Deng has scored major campaigns with leading fashion brands, and is the current face of the 2013 Spring/Summer campaign for Louis Vuitton.
Tara Fela-Durotoye, Managing and Creative Directive of House of Tara International, Nigeria Twitter Handle: @taradurotoye Followers: 7,834
One half of Nigerian power couple Fela and Tara Durotoye (husband Fela is featured in our Power Men in Africa list), Tara is Nigeria’s leading beauty industry pioneer having built the company House of Tara (H.O.T) over the last 13 years. A trained lawyer turned internationally trained make-up artist, Fela-Durotoye pursued her dream of creating a global beauty company, and H.O.T has grown into a franchise with three main lines of business: The Make-Up Studio, The Make Up School and the TARA product line, compromising of beauty products and professional make-up kits. A mother of three boys, Fela-Durotoye is an inspiring role model to women across Nigeria, and is a dedicated advocate for the economic empowerment of women. Her next steps include the international launch of the House of Tara brand.
Bonang Matheba, TV and Radio Personality, South Africa Twitter Handle: @Bonang_M Followers:359,956
Known as “The Queen of South African Social Media”, vivacious radio and television personality Bonang Matheba has been a fixture in the South African (SA) entertainment industry since the age of 15. Considered an entertainment icon by many, Matheba boasts a long list of honors that include fashion and style awards, including winning the 2012 Glamour Woman of the Year award by Glamour Magazine. She beat out some of SA’s top A-list celebs. In December 2012, SABC3 (South Africa Broadcasting Corporation), a network targeting South Africa’s affluent English-speaking community, announced that Matheba would join South Africa and Africa’s number one entertainment show Top Billing as a host. With a mixture of national and international content, Top Billing is SABC’s flagship lifestyle program aimed at successful and up-and-coming South Africans.
Lindiwe Mazibuko, Leader of Democratic Alliance Political Party, Swaziland/South Africa Twitter Handle: @LindiMazibuko Followers: 52,310
Born in Swaziland, and known to be a tough and serious politician, Lindiwe Mazibuko is one of the most active Twitter users in South African politics. Traditionally seen as the political party of South Africa’s white elite, Mazibuko is now leader for the opposition, Democratic Alliance (DA), and the main weapon in the DA’s battle to win (and keep) young black voters challenging the domination of the African National Congress (ANC). She is a divisive figure in the South African political arena with her critics considering her out of touch with the majority of young black voters. Nevertheless, her dedicated advocates say she resonates with the untapped population of young black voters from upper middle-class backgrounds like her own, born after apartheid without the same emotional loyalty as their elders to the ANC.