The conclusion of this year’s dynamic Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women Summit, presented by Mastercard, saw the celebration of leading women in various categories during the culminating annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, 9 March.
Powerhouses in technology, entertainment, business, sport and more were recognised for their individual achievements following two years of the pandemic.
“I’d like to extend my congratulations to all the winners of this year’s awards ceremony as well as extend my heartfelt thanks for their contribution to women on the African continent,” said Renuka Methil, managing editor of Forbes Africa. “Now, more than ever, we need bold leadership that considers the greater socio-economic impact and identifies opportunities for development within and beyond Africa. These women have overcome so many challenges and, in doing so, embody this year’s theme: Resetting Everything: The New Face of Leadership.”
“Mastercard salutes this year’s worthy winners, all of whom are testament to the resilience, determination and adaptability that successful women leaders in Africa exhibit,” said Ebehijie Momoh, area business head for West Africa at Mastercard. “Not only have they made a tremendous impact in their respective fields, but they are leading the charge in opening up the world’s possibilities to women. And a world that works better for women creates limitless possibilities for us all.”
Roberta Naicker, managing director of the ABN Group, also expressed her sincere congratulations to the worthy award-winners, “We know these committed women don’t do any of this work for accolades, but it is important to acknowledge the extraordinary achievements in their respective fields. By celebrating these strong African women, and highlighting the work they’re doing, we’re ensuring the next generation of female leaders are learning from the examples set by these exemplary role models.”
Here are the winners of the Forbes Africa Woman Awards:
Young Achievers Award: Amanda Nomnqa
Nomnqa is the founder of SheIsBrave and an agent of change and a leader with a passion for youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, education and community development. She plays a significant role in achieving youth policy-making with her youth advocacy, skills development and activism benefitting over 800,000 young people on the continent.
Social Impact Award: Dr Helena Ndume
Ndume is the head of ophthalmology at Windhoek Hospital. She is an internationally renowned ophthalmologist who has performed sight-restoring surgeries for 35,000 Namibians, free of charge. Since 2005, Dr Ndume has served as the Head of Ophthalmology at Windhoek Hospital, a government hospital in Namibia.
Technology and Innovation Award: Odunayo Eweniyi
Eweniyi is the cofounder and COO at PiggyVest. PiggyVest is the largest digital savings and micro-investment platform in Nigeria. She has received numerous accolades and awards including being named one of 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria 2019 by Leading Ladies Africa and one of 50 Most Visible Women in Tech by Tech Cabal in 2019. In 2020, she was one of the Lord’s Achievers Awards Honorees, the 100 Most Influential Young Africans and received the Eloy Award for Technology 2020. She is also the cofounder of the women’s community, Wine and Whine Nigeria.
Academic Excellence Award:
Karekezi is the chair of the African Women in Neurosurgery (AWIN), is a consultant neurosurgeon at the Rwanda Military Hospital in Kigali and the country’s first female neurosurgeon. She’s the recipient of numerous awards including the Aims-Next Einstein Initiative TTP Women in science First Award 2019. She currently serves as the chairperson of African Women in Neurosurgery Africa (AWIN) Committee of the Continental Association of African Neurosurgical societies (CAANS), and is a member of multiple national and international neurosurgical organisations.
Sports Award: Tatjana Schoenmaker
Schoenmaker is a world record holder and Olympic gold medallist. At the age of 20, Schoenmaker – the breaststroke specialist – became the first South African woman in eight years to earn a medal in the pool at the Commonwealth Games. After several more awards, she shattered her African long-course records over all three breaststroke distances at the 2021 SA Championships in Gqeberha.
Three months later, at the Tokyo Olympic Games, she went on to secure two of the South African team’s three medals and the squad’s only two medals in the pool. After breaking her own African record in the heats, she grabbed the silver medal in the 100m final, breaking the world record in the 200m event to win gold.
Entertainer Award: Angélique Kidjo
Kidjo is a singer-songwriter, Unicef International Goodwill Ambassadora and cofounder of the Batonga Foundation. A four-time Grammy Award-winner, Kidjo is one of the greatest international musicians today, a creative force with 16 albums to her name. ‘Africa’s premier diva’ – according to Time Magazine – Angélique was also named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2021.
Forbes Magazine ranked Angelique on its list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. She is also the recent recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum, the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award, and the 2018 German Sustainability Award.
Businesswoman Award: Joana Gyan Cudjoe
Cudjoe is the CEO at Golden Empire Legacy. Nana Adjoa Awo I (known in business circles as Joana Gyan Cudjoe) is a self-accomplished, successful entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of Golden Empire Legacy Ltd with ancestral descendants from three royal families. She started as a small-scale miner, working her way up in a male-dominated business. She strongly believes in linking mining to the shared global commitment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals focusing on gender equality, decent work and economic growth.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Mlambo-Ngcuka is the founder of Umlambo Foundation, former deputy president of South Africa and former executive director of UN Women. She was recently appointed by the General Assembly as chair of the UN World Tourism Organisation Ethics and is on the board of Global Citizen and Women Deliver. She has been on the Gender Commission of the International Olympics Committee and was asked by Pope Francis and Mike Bloomberg to be a jury on initiatives that recognise good work in service of humanity. She is affiliated with the Fund to End Violence Against Children and a founder of Umlambo Foundation, a school improvement organisation.
This was the seventh edition of the Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women Summit, presented by Mastercard, powered by the Multichoice Group, hosted on a virtual platform from 8 to 9 March. The free-to-attend event, which coincided with International Women’s Day, featured a top lineup of female speakers engaging on topics from hybrid working conditions to female-driven technology solutions.
If you missed the live event, catch up on the highlights here.