Accra, Ghana, July 30, 2019—Four
women from Sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana, are among 20 female
business leaders profiled in a publication by IFC—a member of the World
Bank Group—for their professional success, despite facing formidable challenges.
The publication, Trailblazers--Portraits
of Female Business Leadership in Emerging and Frontier Markets,
highlights the personal and professional journeys of female business
leaders from emerging and frontier markets that include Ghana, Kenya, Uganda,
and South Africa. These women, through their leadership, have helped create
new markets and add business value for their organizations, giving a boost
to their communities and national economies.
- 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.
- Kenya’s Wambui Mbesa grew up in a children’s
home but made education a priority and now is the CEO of INTRASOFT International
- South Africa’s Soula Proxenos fought against
racial injustice and gender bias from an early age—today she is a professional
board director, guiding companies toward more equitable practices.
- Uganda’s Anne Kabagambe credits her family
for helping her overcome personal challenges; now she works as Executive
Director of the World Bank Group, representing the interests of 22 African
recent IFC study of women on company
boards in Ghana found that more gender-diverse boards tend to demonstrate
higher performance—reflected by returns on assets and growth in sales.
Yet, nearly one quarter of Ghanaian companies have no women on their boards.
Sub-Saharan Africa, women hold an average of 14 percent
of board positions, while globally women hold
only 15 percent of board seats and 4 percent
of CEO and board chair positions.
“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,” said Her Excellency, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo,
First Lady of Ghana, who delivered the keynote address at the launch event.
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 a range of industry experience, from information
technology to shipping, from 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,” said Ronke-Amoni
Ogunsulire, IFC Country Manager for the Ghana sub-region. “That’s why
IFC works to narrow gender gaps in business leadership—part of our strategy
for inclusive and sustainable private sector growth.”
The publication, from IFC’s Women on Boards and in Business Leadership
program, is part of IFC’s multi-faceted gender strategy, which includes
building a pipeline of qualified women leaders in the regions where IFC
operates. The goal is to accelerate the pace at which women in emerging
and frontier markets join boards and assume C-suite positions.
The publication was produced in partnership
with Canada, Luxembourg and the SDG Fund.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank
and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution
focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than
2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence
to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world.
In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing
for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to
end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information visit