Source: Media Max Network

Call them warriors, trailblazers or pacesetters; these are some of Africa’s most inspirational women spearheading change. Their names do not remain esteemed by virtue of their accrued wealth but due to their social empowerment initiatives rousing transformation and enriching lives.

1. Juliana Rotich co-founder Ushahidi (Kenya)

She is also the Executive Director of Nairobi-based tech company Ushahidi, that creates free and open source software that assembles and curates crisis data on a real-time basis. It then combines the data into live, interactive maps. She was named one of the Top 100 Women by the Guardian, Top Two Women in Technology and Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 by The World Economic Forum.

2. Saran Kaba Jones, Social Entrepreneur (Liberia)

She fled a civil war-torn Liberia at eight years but did not turn her back on her people. Saran Kaba returned 18 years later to serve and enrich her people by providing educational opportunities to children and young adults in Liberia and other war-torn countries. Not stopping there, Kaba founded FACE Africa, a non-profit organisation that provides marginalised communities with clean and safe drinking water for thousands of Liberians.

3. Folorunsho Alakija, businesswoman (Nigeria)

This first Nigerian female billionaire is a new entrant to the league of the world’s most powerful women. After working as a secretary in a merchant bank in the 1970s, Folorunsho Alakija quit her job to study fashion design in England. She founded Supreme Stitches, a prestigious Nigerian fashion label.

Her company, Famfa Oil, is one of Nigeria’s most acclaimed oil blocks. In 2008, the vice chair of Nigeria’s National Heritage Council and Endowment for the Arts opened her heart to society and founded The Rose of Sharon Foundation, which caters to widows and orphans.

4. Leila Lopes HIV and Aids activist (Angola)

In 2011, she was crowned Miss Universe. She was the first Angolan woman to be crowned, the fourth African to win the title and the second Black African woman to seize it. As the reigning Miss Universe, Lopes used the crown to advocate for HIV and Aids patients worldwide.

5. Vivian Onano (Kenya)

One Campaign’s Congressional District Leader, Half the Sky Movement Campus Ambassador and a UNA-USA campus advocate; she has embarked on a mission to create sustainable healthcare systems in rural parts of Africa, impacting lives of women and girls. She’s served as a panelist at the Clinton Global Initiative.

6 Rainatou Sow, founder and Executive Director, Make Every Woman Count (Guinea)

UK-based Guinean national, Rainatou Sow is a human rights and social justice advocate and women’s rights activist. Rai, as she is fondly known, established a non-profit rights activism organisation called Make Every Woman Count. It monitors women’s rights in every African country and publishes an annual report as an audit of the status and conditions of women Africa. Rai holds the Most Inspirational Woman of the Year 2012 accolade from Women4Africa.

7. Tegla Loroupe, Head of Peace Race and Peace Foundation (Kenya)

Celebrated as Kenya’s legendary sports star, the retired athlete is a marathon world record holder. Her prolific presence did not end on the tracks. She devoted herself to peace promotion, education and women’s rights watch. Intending to end tribal conflict, she founded Peace Race and Peace Foundation, which have been widely applauded.

8. Julian Ingabire, social innovator (Rwanda)

Although she was born and brought up out of Rwanda, Julian returned after the genocide to help into restore her wounded country. Together with Elizabeth Scharpf, the Chief Instigating Officer at Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), Ingabire worked as the COO of the organisation producing affordable maxi sanitary pads using banana fibre to make the core. They’ve heightened education about menstruation and access to pads. Schampf and Ingabire have been awarded the Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize.

9. Alison Botha survivor and motivational Speaker (SA)

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Alison Botha, survivor and motivational Speaker.
Alison Botha defied death. Spelt out in her autobiography, I Have Life, is a ghastly rehash of the events surrounding her petrifying attack in 1994. Botha was abducted, brutally raped, and disembowelled and had her throat slashed 17 times. She is a motivational speaker and helps other sexual abuse victims to overcome trauma and move on.

10. Hussainatu Blake (Cameroon/Atlanta)

Hussainatu Blake is the co-founder of Focal Point Global (FPG), a non-profit organisation propels underserved youths in Namibia and Cameroon using education and technology. Blake was recognised as a White House Champion of Change.

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