As a follow up to our 2015’s Top 50 Women to watch, and in preparation of ushering in the year 2016, the Innov8tiv team; Patricia Edwards, Tiffany Ashitey, Lisa Leid, and Felix O, has once again reviewed the year 2015 and come up with a list of women trailblazers to watch in 2016.
The women selected peeked Innov8tiv’s interest throughout the year 2015, and if precedence is anything to go about, we should expect greater things from them over the next year. They have demonstrated leadership, innovation, ingenuity but most importantly the potential to positively impact the community around them. The list is in no particular order:
1. Brianna Wu – Video game developer best known as the co-founder of Giant Spacekat; An independent videogame development studio based in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also a blogger and a podcaster highlighting the best and worst of video gaming.
3. Funke Opeke – Holding a degree in Electronics & Electrical Engineering and a Master’s degree from Columbia University. She has previously served as the Chief Technical Officer at MTN Nigeria. But what makes her feature in this list is the fact she launched Mainstreet Technologies back in 2007. A company that later raised $240 million to install the pioneer private submarine cable system serving West Africa; the Main One Cable.
4. Juliet Ehimuan – She serves as Google’s Country Manager in Nigeria, a position she has held since 2011. Being at the helm of Google top administration in Africa’s biggest consumers of Google products. Ehimuan has the responsibility of representing Google in all the projects and partnership opportunities within that region.
5. Amy Muoneke – Currently serving as the Managing Director at Carmudi Nigeria, an online marketplace for buying and selling vehicles in Nigeria. Previously, she served as the CEO of Bus.com.ng, one of Nigeria’s biggest e-commerce platform that caters to the needs of travelers looking to book and pay their bus tickets online.
6. Stellah Rotich – Rotich holds a BSc in Computer Science, but what makes her an exceptional woman to feature in this list, is her great passion for tech in solving the socio-economic challenges in her community. She was very instrumental in the setting up of the dLab IT Incubation Center in Kenya.
7. Marlise Montcho – Coming from Benin, Montcho is a telecoms engineer, and one of the inspiration leaders championing the adoption of tech, social change and entrepreneurship in her country. She is also a member of the JCI Benin, regional ambassador of Global Tech Leaders and Deputy Chair of the Committee on Technology of Africa Youth Movement.
8. Janet Shufor Fofang – She started and runs private primary and secondary schools in Cameroon. Through these learning institutions, she has become very active in championing not just young women’s education, she also introduces girls to STEM at an early stage life.
9. Anie Akpe – Founder and CEO of (yours truly) Innov8tiv magazine. But that is not why she is featured on this list. Akpe is also an avid advocator for diversity and inclusion within the tech space. Through Innov8tiv she seeks to highlight the underrepresented players in tech such as Blacks in Tech, Africans in Tech, Women in Tech and Minorities in Tech. She recently launched Networq App, an indie app that will improve how you network by allowing users to exchange electronic business cards.
12. Window Snyder – She is the Security and Privacy Product Manager at Apple Inc. She was first introduced to programing BASIC at the age of 5 by her parents. She is an expert in Cryptography and previously worked at Mozilla.
13. Rhonesha Byng – She is the founder of HerAgenda, a platform that prides itself on bridging the gap between ambition and achievement by connecting people with opportunities, inspiration and information. The organization’s tagline reads: “No one Ever Slows Her Agenda.”
16. Shauna Graham – Graham is the founder of Hair Decoded Calendar Hairdecoded; a mobile app for tracking and sharing hairstyles. Users can upload photos, share, connect and comment on matters hairstyles.
19. Claudia Sarahe – Founder of Radical and co-founder of Sass Conference. Claudia’s work focuses on front-end development, design and social networking among the developers. In addition, she has a lot of experience in Web scale apps and front-end development.
21. Chasity Cooper – Chasity Cooper is a digital media strategist who specializes in online communications and brand strategy for non-profit and advocacy organizations.
24. Nicole Sanchez – Founder of VIXXENN, a company that is partnering with hair stylists to influence the $10 billion hair industry by changing the traditional distribution channel from the non-Black distributors. VIXXENN helps hair stylists in US by selling products directly to their clients via the Internet.
25. Erica Baker – She is one of the leading voices on diversity and inclusion in tech. She endeavors to expand access of tech education to underrepresented groups. She was behind the hashtag #RealDiversityNumbers that calls upon companies to report on things like workplace harassments, cases settled out of court, retention and promotions.
27. Zakiya Harris – She is the co-founder of Hack The Hood. As she puts it, “We introduce low-income youth of color to tech careers by hiring and training them as web consultants who build and promote sites for small local businesses.
28. Maryanna Quiigless – She founded of TiltFit, that touts itself as “Your next workout, discovered”.
29. Star Cunningham – She is the founder and CEO of 4D Healthware; Data-, Decisions-, Discipline-, Desire. The company gives you the knowledge and tools needed to save your life, DNA and genome.
31. Nichelle McCall – Founder of BOLD Guidance, an organization focusing on students’ success and helping them in navigating through college application process via mobile phones. McCall managed to raise $450,000 on a Series A funding.
32. Louisa Kinoshi – Founder Beauty Rev NG, born out of her love to mix and match makeup and their ability to enhance a woman’s look. After realizing that there were no African makeup artists or models in top fashion magazines and international media. Kinoshi leveraged on makeup market pioneers like IMAN Cosmetic Products to avail both local and international brands locally to users via their mobile phones or laptops.
33. Ayanna Howard – She holds a Ph.D and is the founder and CTO of Zyrobotics. As she says, “We provide technology-based accessible play for people with motor limitations. The company’s mission is to enable freedom through technology affiliated with GA Tech.”
34. Avonda Turner – Founder and CEO or Erin/Anderson the destination for must-have jewelry and accessories sure to make a statement.
36. Kellee James – Founder and CEO of Mercaris, a market data services specializing in certified agricultural commodities. The company’s clients include farmers and grain millers among other stakeholders in the agriculture sector. James was appointed to the White House fellow by US President Obama to work for the secretary of agriculture.
37. Lauren Ash – Founder and Creative Director of Black Girl in Om, which is a global community working on creating space for women of color to breathe easy.
41. Juliet Anammah – She was recently appointed the CEO of Jumia Nigeria. An online marketplace where Nigerians can order just about anything they can buy from a brick and mortar convenience store, except they order online and it gets delivered to their doorsteps.
42. Mary Farrow – Founder and CEO of Gramsly; a subscription-based package website for seniors. The site contains information about how to take care of the seniors by their family members.
43. Imoteda Aladekomo – Founded Heels In The Kitchen one of the very few platforms that showcases African foods right on the world stage with other cuisines such as Italian, Indian and Chinese.
44. Brenda Katswesigye – Founded InstaHealth in Uganda that enables access to health care services, ambulances, specialists and consultation services to rural and low income people. The services uses technology such as geo-location and interactive voice response system to bring health services to those in need but would otherwise not afford it.
45. Kasope Ladipo-Ajai – She founded Omo Alata Foods, a company that coined its name from the Yoruba name for a spice seller. Her company is processing food exactly how Nigerians liked them prepared.
46. Ayori Selassie – Founded Pitch Mixer, a platform bringing entrepreneurs together in search of angel investors, learn how to pitch and investors to meet fellow investors. She currently works as a Senior Solution Engineer at Salesforce, where she serves as an adviser to startups. She’s currently working on Life Model Canvas through which she hopes to help users “plan, plot and strategize your way to a life of 10x improvement.”
47. Rachel E. Walker – She fits well into the description of a tech savvy girl. She is also a tutor at Hackbright Academy, an initiative geared at getting more women learn programing. She has also founded Philter; a platform where employees can anonymously review site.
49. Tiffani Bell – Came into the public limelight after CNN’s Black in America show that highlighted the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. She took part in the NewMe Accelerator program, an incubation exercise that was aimed to get minorities secure funding for their startup. Currently, she has co-founded Detroit Water Project; a nonprofit seeking to pay off the thousands of Detroit’s residents water bills and return running water in that city.
50. Candy V. Mitchell – Co-founder of Myavana; an app that allows women of color to send their hair samples to specialists who will analyze their hair chemical makeup and recommend the best hair products for you.
52. Linda Ansong – Pioneer women in tech creating a buzz in Ghana’s local startup industry. She is the co-founder of Vestracker; a site where shipping companies can get real time tracking information on their cargo.
54. Eveline Pierre – A serial entrepreneur is the Founder, Executive Director of the 1st Haitian Heritage Museum, outside of Haiti and a best selling author. Ms. Pierre also founded the Miami Chapter of Women’s Technology Alliance and Co-Founded Miami Caribbean Code.
55. Florence Toffa – Director of Mobile Web Ghana which was created as part of the World Wide Web Foundation’s Mobile Entrepreneurs in Africa program (sponsored by Vodafone) in 2010. The Organization helps passionate people become mobile-technology entrepreneurs, by teaching them to create software applications that is accessible via mobile phones (whether via mobile websites, apps, SMS, or voice).
56. Lynn Cooper – Founder and Chief Social Officer of Socially Ahead. A Social Media Strategy company known for successfully taking brands digital. Lynn specializes in training, coaching and developing effective digital strategies for academic, government, corporate and nonprofit entities.
57 & 58. Hussainatu & Hassanatu Blake – Focal Point Global (FPG) is a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to educate and empower the world’s youth to address social issues and create social change. They connect young boys and girls from different countries using low-cost online tools to discuss and learn about a critical issue facing their communities. They also match the youths with local organizations to complete projects to combat that issue.
61. Maci Peterson – Co-Founder of On Second Thought app. An app that lets you take control over your communication with the first messaging app that lets you recall text messages BEFORE they get to the recipient’s phone.
63. Chika Uwazie – VP TalentBase, an affordable and easy-to-use Human Resources Management solution platform that enables HR managers and growing businesses to simplify and organize their HR processes.
64. Miriam Aguirre – She has been a gamer from as far back as the days of Atari. Currently, Miriam works as Director of Engineering at a mobile gaming company. In addition to that, she is redefining the world of gaming as not just for the men, girls too can have fun developing and playing video games. She is one of the gamers who is making esports watching become mainstream.Tracey Welson Rossman – She is the founder of
65. Tracey Welson-Rossman – She is the founder of TechGirlz a non-profit organization looking to introduce STEM to girls from as early as their middle and high school years. She is also the head of marketing at Chariot Solutions.
66. Reshma Saujani – Founder of Girls Who Code; a non-profit educational organization that already prides itself of having taught more than 10,000 young women software coding skills. The organization goes further to secure paid internship among other opportunities in at least 20 big tech companies.
67. JJ DiGeronimo – Currently serving as the President of Tech Savvy Women; a support group for women interested in venturing into the tech space. She advocates for not just getting more women learning skills like software coding, but also securing related careers; hiring, retaining and growing them with STEM professional careers.
68. Alicia Syrett – Founder and CEO of Pantegrion Capital; an angel investment firm. She says, it is our responsibility to “call out industry panels and conferences which don’t include enough women, hold organizations accountable in addressing biases and discrimination, and demand transparency and change on issues like paid leave, equal pay and representation on boards.”
69. Marcia McNutt – She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Science family of journals from 2013. Currently, she has been nominated to run for election for the next President of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) a position currently held by Ralph J. Cicerone. She is slated to take that position on July 1st 2016, and will effectively become the first woman to head this U.S. government’s premier science advisory organization.
71. Ayah Bdeir – She is the founder and CEO of littleBits; an award-winning platform for easy-to-use electronic building blocks that enables virtually anyone to create inventions. She also co-founded Open Hardware Summit, an alumna of MIT Media Lab and a TED Senior Fellow.
72. Alexa von Tobel – She founded LearnVest; a company she started in order to provide American households with a financial plan. In March, 2015, she sold LearnVest after six-years g to Northwestern Mutual; a 160 year-old insurance and financial planning company. Although the financial terms of the sale may not be known, nonetheless von Tobel made her mark as a female entrepreneur.
73. Kambili Ofili-Okonkwo – She founded KAMOKINI; a company that makes swimsuits that are not just stylish but not too revealing especially for the conservative ladies. She hails from a background of material science, engineering and supply chain management. KAMOKINI unlike other swimsuit makers, has cut out its niche to the tastes and preference of African swimsuits wearers. It’s target market are mainly along Africa’s emerging beat, pool parties and resort going cultures.
74. Naledi Mokoena – This 23-year-old South African girl founded Riovic, an on-demand network for financial advices. As she describes it, “The startup can be referred to as the Uber of Finance as it connects users with financial advisors and accurate financial information in real time.”
75. Sarah Parcak – She is perhaps the most jubilant Space Archeologist for the year 2015 after she was awarded the highly coveted $1 Million 2016 TED Prize. In recognition of her contribution towards historic sites preservation using satellite imagery.
76. Dr. Chioma Agha – She is the CEO of Swish Ideas. But behind that is a story of one resilient female entrepreneur who started her business from home, and commanding enough attention in her niche to earn her a meet up with US President Obama. She began with her own house as her warehouse, filling every available space in the house with her Swish Ideas souvenirs.
77. Dziffa Ametam – She is the founder and CEO of Dziffa.com; an online market place that catalogues products made by artisans from the African continent. If you are looking for art products made by art entrepreneurs from Africa, Dziffa.com in the e-commerce platform that delivers you Africa by Africans.
78. Nigeria’s Charis Team – This is a team of six girls from the Cross River State, Nigeria. They came up with the Discardious app, which they pitched at the Global Technovation Challenge 2015, held in San Francisco, USA. This app they created seeks to tackle health related problems born out of improper waste disposal within the communities the Charis team hailf from in Nigeria.
79. Elizabeth Kperrun-Eremie – She is one of the developers operating under AfroTalez. Under her Lizzie’s Creations she created Choices visual novel; a video game where players get to play as Cecilia, a teenage orphan girl roaming the streets of Lagos in search of her siblings. The game leaves players with subtle messages on the plight young women face when left without support and forced to fend for themselves.
80. Eileen Ambasa – Her tech journey began when she enrolled for IT basics in ACWICT; a college dedicated to tutoring young girls IT skills through partnership with Samsung. Where she learnt CISCO, business process outsourcing, customer care among others. Fast forward, she founded Icons Cyber Solutions; an information security and computer forensics company.
81. Maria Mayanja – She is a co-founder and Creative Director at Angaza based in Rwanda. A company born out of her passion to conserve the environment while create environment awareness among people.
82. Uchechi Kalu Jacobson – She come from a background of User Experience Design, tech entrepreneurship and is also an author and poet. However, she features on this list after co-founding wedOcracy; a virtual wedding planner for couples and guests. She and her husband came up with wedOcracy first to plan their own wedding as saw all the more reasons they should extend the service to others.
83. Tolu Agunbiade – She is a Business Fellow at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST). Where she works with two companies and part of her role entails teaching basic business skills to the entrepreneurs-in-training. In 2014, she was part on the 40 global communities selected to take part in Google #40Forward Initiative.
84. Samia Suluhu Hassan – Although her position is a political position after being announced Tanzania’s first female Vice President following the 2015 General Elections. At the very least, we should expect a female Vice President to champion the cause for women and girl child in as far as their representation in both STEM and the many other male dominated fields.
85. Prof. Thaisa Storchi Bergmann – She was honored by the 2015 L’oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards Laureates. She lead a research team into understanding massive black holes; possibly one of the biggest and most complex phenomena in the universe. She made the astounding discovery that matter can actually escape from black holes.
86. Prof. Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli – She is a Physicist from Morocco who also was honored by the 2015 L’oréal-UNESCO for playing a key role in the making of a key discovery in Physics; proving the existence of the Higgs Boson. The particles said to be responsible for creating mass in the universe. Other than that, she has been very instrumental in improving healthcare standards in Morocco, leading up to the establishment of the first Master’s degree in Medical Physics.
87. Prof. Yi Xie – Also got the 2015 L’oréal-UNESCO in recognition for the role she played in coming up with new nanomaterials that promises great applications in the conversion of heat or sunlight into electricity. This is to say, Xie’s invention will go a long way in promoting sustainable and eco-friendly solar energy thus curb global warming.
88. Prof. Dame Carol Robinson – She is a UK based Chemist, who hit the international science community attention by creating a revolutionary method for studying how proteins functions; the membrane proteins to be precise. With that, she created a whole new scientific field, the gas phase structural biology.
89. Prof Molly Shoichet – She is a Canadian based Chemist that developed new materials for regenerating damaged nerve tissue. Through this, she also came up with a new method for delivering drugs directly to the brain and the spinal cord.
90. Tanya Jones – Serving as the President of Aya Global; a philanthropic advisory practice. Jones experienced first-hand the hardship people living in rural parts of Africa have to live with; dire conditions born out of lack of or limited access to services and infrastructure. Through Aya Global, Jones strive to offer strategic guidance to institutions and individuals trying to set up access to these services and infrastructure missing in rural parts of Africa.
91. Tiffanie Stanard – is a serial entrepreneur. Stanard is the Founder and CEO of Prestige Concepts (PC). PC is a brand enhancement firm, specializing in marketing strategies and community outreach campaigns for clients within the technology, non-profit, lifestyle, entertainment, political, and corporate sectors. Stanard is also the Founder and CEO of We are MENT™, a lifestyle wearable technology company that connects females to learn, grow, and inspire. Our mission is to create a network experience and wearable technology that fit lifestyles; keeping you healthy, safe, and entertained.
92. Earlene Cruz – Founder of KitchenConnect.org, a platform that is merging food and technology.Ngozi Opara – Founder of
93. Ngozi Opara – Founder of Heat Free Hair Movement: – The first manufacturer of virgin hair exclusively created to blend with African textured, kinky, and curly hair.
95. Keziah George – A young Materials Science and Engineering student at the University of Ghana, who partipated in, and won the 2014 Innovate Ghana Challenge, which was under the theme “Designing Low-Cost Isolation Units for Ebola Affected Countries.” She was the only female participant in the competition. Miss George is the founder of 1.618++, an organization which trains young women with STEM skills in rural and urban areas to pursue STEM based fields in higher education in Ghana.
96. Lorna Okeng – Founder of TeleMuseum. The company helps cultural heritage institutions re-imagine and preserve culture and history by digitizing very unique local content so that they can become significant digital tourism contributors to the region.
98. Takeyah A. Young – Founder of Core Connection, a company that helps the busy, creative soul who endeavours to tap into her healthiest, most vibrant self, and the left-brained woman who excels in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and wants to create a sense of equilibrium and attention toward a body that looks and feels genuinely well.
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