“Women are key to the future economic growth and stability in Africa” – Hillary Clinton
Over the last couple of years, we have seen an increasing number of women taking leadership roles, not only in politics, but also in business spaces. It has become important that gender equality be considered across the organization, by encouraging and seeking female members of the board of directors, advisors and organization administration. Primarily, it’s the balance that women bring to an executive board, by bringing a different perspective based on a different set of life experiences. This perspective can broaden and deepen the executive board’s insight and pre-sight if you will, making it more effective and agile thus, more successful rising to the unique challenges their business faces in their respective market. But having women on the executive board isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s good for the bottom line. Women representatives on these decision-making bodies help the organization consider what is best for its girl participants, keeping their interests in mind and serving as role models themselves.
Focus of Discussion:
Lilian O. Ajayi is the Founder and the Executive Director of the Global Connections for Women Foundation. She is a Harvard graduate and a current MBA Candidate in Finance & Marketing from Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College. Lilian is a current Member of the Harvard Club and sits on the Board of Directors at NAAEP, a Nigerian American Agricultural Empowerment program that trains and empowers farmers through a mechanized farming program.
She is the Executive Producer and Host of the television broadcast series “Path to Passion,” where young women entrepreneurs are profiled and interviewed. The show aims to inspire + empower other women to follow and live out their passions.
Lilian Ajayi has interned for the Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Anthony Williams, and at the American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO), serving their constituents as a political representative in Oakland, CA and in Washington, DC. She has been recognized for her dedication and commitment to community service and is a recipient of several congressional awards.
Lilian spent a portion of career working at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, representing the Mission of Nigeria to the UN, and served on the Social Economic Committee as the economic development policy negotiator. Lilian Ajayi is currently working on her first fictional Novel, and has led Web Marketing campaigns along with SEO & Analytics efforts for numerous Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies.
Toyin Adeniji is a small and medium enterprises (SME) development specialist with Supply Chains and Community Investment (SCCI) practice in the Sustainable Business Advisory Department. SCCI works with SMEs and farmers to enhance their productivity by strengthening local capacity-building skills.
Ms. Adeniji is a Financial Services professional with experience in international development, microfinance, and small and medium enterprise development. Prior to leading the WIN program, Ms. Adeniji conceived and promoted Susu Microfinance Bank Ltd in Nigeria: one of the first five microfinance banks to obtain an operating license from the Central Bank of Nigeria. She established Susu Microfinance Bank Ltd. after having previously worked at IFC as an investment officer for 12 years. While serving as an investment officer for the African Enterprise Fund, she gained extensive experience in providing financial assistance to small and medium scale enterprises in Nigeria.
Ms. Adeniji has an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Celena Green is the Senior Program Manager-Africa. Celena leads Vital Voices’ Africa Region in developing and implementing programs for women’s political participation, economic empowerment and human rights in Sub-Saharan Africa. Celena is currently leading VV|GROW Africa and the Vital Voices Africa Businesswomen’s Network (ABWN), multi-year entrepreneurship development programs providing leadership and entrepreneurship training, technical assistance, and grants to businesswomen’s associations and entrepreneurs at SME level.
Prior to joining Vital Voices, she worked with the International YMCA and with Global Kids, Inc., and spent several years leading capacity-building and training programs serving women and youth throughout Southern Africa, with extensive work in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. Celena has a BA in Africana Studies from Brooklyn College-City University of New York.
Elizabeth Nyamayaro is Senior Advisor to Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Nyamayaro has worked at the forefront of Africa’s development agenda for more than a decade, helping to improve the lives of the under-served populations. She come to UN after serving as Senior Leadership within the Corporate Strategy Office at Merck, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company, working in support of the comapanys on-going efforts to widen access to medicine in the developing world. During her tenure at Merck, Ms. Nyamayaro also served as Director External Affairs and policy, Africa where she supported the launch of key women initiatives including: ‘Merck for Mother,’ a $500 Million global commitment to reduce the maternal mortality; ‘Saving Mother, Giving Life,’ a maternal health initiative launched in partnership with the US Government bt then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and ‘Pink Ribbon Alliance,’ a cervical cancer prevention initiative in partnership with George W. Bush Institute, UNAIDS, Susan G Komen and PEPFAR.
A strong advocate for economic empowerment, Ms. Nyamayaro founded Africa IQ, an innovative social impact organization with a mission to promote Africa’s sustainable economic growth and development.
Born in Zimbabwe and a Political Scientist by training, Ms. Nyamayaro holds MSc in Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Bolanle Austen-Peters has a Masters degree in International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Law degree from the University of Lagos. She is the Founder of Terra Kulture: an educational and recreational organisation set up in 2003 to promote the richness and diversity of Nigerian Languages, Arts and Culture. Terra Kulture was established because there were few places in Nigeria with the appropriate ambience, for Nigerians and foreigners alike to learn about Nigeria’s rich cultural and liguistic heritage. Today, Terra Kulture, a private sector initiative, is a resounding success recognised as a major cultural hub in Nigeria for expatriates, students, Hollywood and Nollywood stars, artists and members of the diplomatic corps. To date, Terra Kulture has organized over a hundred exhibitions, eighty plays, sixty book readings and over four hundred adult and children have attended.
Prior to Terra Kulture, Austen-Peters worked as a Lawyer with United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, New York, Ethiopia and Namibia. She returned to Nigeria in 2001 as Consultant to UNDP, Lagos. She has attended numerous workshops and seminars in different parts of the world. She also gives lectures on Entrepreneurship and has won numerous awards Internationally and Locally. She is married with children.