African, Female and Superpowered (Series)

Nothing about launching a new venture is for the faint-hearted. Fear, anxiety and self-doubt are raw feelings that usually go with the thought of leaving a system where one is guaranteed a particular sum of money every month to start a business that may or may not make any profit at least for the first few months or beyond.

However, while the uncertainty surrounding the start of a new venture can be demoralizing, it has not deterred Africa’s women from doing it.

In defiance of the antiquated way of thinking about the energy industry as being a ‘man’s world’, these 5 women have distinguished themselves by overcoming every obstacle thrown in their way in order to achieve outstanding success in their fields. In their own unique way, they are changing the face of business and rewriting the rules of Africa’s energy industry. Full of courage, aspiration and resolve, the stories of these women deserve to be told – seeing that a search for one of the transformative agents in the continent’s energy sector ends at having any one of these women in sight.

In no particular order, meet 5 of  Africa’s game-changing female founders catalyzing sustainable development in Africa as we know it.

  1. Hannah Kabir (Founder/CEO, Creeds Energy)

In 2012, Hannah Kabir founded Creeds Energy, a renewable energy company committed to addressing the challenge of power deficit in Nigeria and Africa at large. Having over 10 years of experience spanning across diverse sectors, Ms. Hannah is now actively involved in the energy sector where she is passionately contributing her quota to getting power to millions of  Nigerians without access to electricity.

Prior to starting up Creeds Energy, Hannah worked as a business catalyst in Galaxy Backbone Plc for six years. She obtained a BSC in Business Economics from Queen Mary University of London and an MSc in Renewable Energy Enterprise and Management from the University of Newcastle.

The beginning of her journey to starting up Creeds energy can be traced to her enrollment at the University of Newcastle to study Renewable Energy Enterprise and Management. Motivated by the energy challenges facing her home country (Nigeria), Hannah decided to base her thesis on solar hybrid solutions for households. The data collection, field study and insights got from her work opened her eyes to the need for renewable energy based solutions in Nigeria.

Seven years down the road, Creeds Energy engages in renewable energy product retail and professional renewable energy advisory, research and consultancy to individuals as well as national and international organizations.

Hannah Kabir is a member of African Renewable Energy Alliance (AREA) and also an alumna of Techwomen, who continues to support young girls and women in embracing  STEM career paths.

  1. Vere Shaba (Founder, Shaba and Ramplin)

Vere Shaba, founder of Shaba and Ramplin Green Building Solutions, is also a multi award-winning engineering entrepreneur. Named in Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list for 2018, the 29 year old South African has defied all odds and proved to be a game-changing female entrepreneur – bagging a series of accolades in recognition of her work.

In 2010, Vere proved that she was definitely one to watch out for when she finished on the winning side of the international design competition on Peace and Environmental Studies by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai. In 2013, she was named as one of the top 10 women in Engineering in the annual Standard Bank Topco “Top 100 Women in Business & Government” publication. She received recognition from the kingdom of Netherlands as one of South Africa’s inspiring 50 women in STEM and was also selected as one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 young South Africans for Environment.

In 2016, tired of being boxed in the popular perception of being either a Mechanical Engineering professional or a green building consultant (but not both), Vere Shaba resigned from her job to start Shaba and Ramplin green building solutions – a multidisciplinary organization that specializes in engineering, green buildings and interior services. Her entrepreneurial journey is driven by her passion for integrating a green design approach in Engineering.

Vere Shabah holds a BScEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Cape Town. She is a Green Star Accredited Professional with the Green Building Council of South Africa as well as that of Australia. She is also a distinguished LEED Accredited Professional with the United States Green Building Council.

  1. Jennifer Uchendu (Founder/CEO, Susty Vibes)

Jennifer Uchendu is a Nigerian social entrepreneur with a passion for making sustainability become actionable for the youths in Africa. In 2016, she founded Susty Vibes, an organization that promotes sustainability and provides a platform for young people to engage in the sustainable development agenda.

Prior to starting the social enterprise, Jennifer worked in the fashion department of an e-commerce firm from which she launched into the unknown to pursue her passion for sustainable development in Africa

Susty vibes drive youth engagement via innovative networking events like susty parties – where youths are invited to discuss sustainability issues over food, games and movies. Also, susty vibers are provided with an online platform where sustainability news and trends in Nigeria and Africa at large can be easily accessed.

Today, Susty Vibes is rapidly building a name and reputation for itself in Nigeria and the world at large. In just a few years of its existence, Susty vibes has enjoyed an impressive count of significant achievements – with endorsements and partnership from the World Bank Connect4Climate, CommonWealth Youth Council, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth, Federal Ministry of Environment and so on.

Jennifer Uchendu  holds a bachelor of science in biochemistry from Covenant University.

  1. Nthabiseng Mosia (Founder/CFO, Easy Solar)

Named as one of South Africa’s 100 most influential young people in 2017 (by Avance Media) and also listed as one of Forbes “30 most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa”in 2018, Ghanaian entrepreneur, Nthabiseng Mosia keeps moving the needle in Africa’s energy sector.

Inspired by the problem of poor energy access in Sierra Leone, Mosia and her partners launched Easy Solar – an innovative distributed service company that makes clean energy affordable for low and middle income earners by offering a variety of solar-powered products to off-grid households and small businesses across Sierra Leone on a rent-to-own financing model, enabled by mobile money and pay-as-you-go technology. Launched in 2016, Easy Solar has now brought electricity to well over 8,000 households (50,000 people) in Sierra Leone and has received funding from the likes of Mastercard, Acumen, Gaia Fund and so on.

Currently, Mosia serves as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) as well as the Chief Marketing Officer(CMO) of Easy solar.

She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Cape Town and also has her Master’s Degree in Energy Finance and Policy which she obtained from Columbia University’s School of International relations and Public Affairs on a full ride scholarship supported by Sainsbury Foundation.

  1. Habiba Ali (Founder, SOSAI Renewable Energy company)

The search for a pioneer in Africa’s renewable energy industry ends in having Habiba Ali in sight. She is the founder, Managing Director and CEO of Sosai Renewable Energies – an innovative company that empowers local businesses and communities with a variety of solar-powered technologies including solar dryers, rooftop solar panels, integrated energy centres, 10 KW microgrids (for communities) and so on.

Habiba has been actively involved in the renewable energy industry since 2005. She co-founded the Developmental Association for Renewable Energies and has nurtured several other clean energy initiatives such as the solar lamps assembly and sales training programme, the solar dryers for healthy foods project, Clean Development Mechanism’s ‘Efficient Cookstoves for  Nigeria’ project and so on.

The start of her journey to launching Sosai (in 2010) can be traced to the exposure she got from attending the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA) forum – where she learned that the smoke inhaled from lanterns and open fires was equivalent to that of smoking two packs of cigarettes. After the presentation, moved by her memories of cooking on an open fire with her mother as well as her concern for other community mothers and daughters doing the same, Habiba purchased 10 solar lanterns and loaned them to female vendors – who she later found where willing to pay her to keep to the solar lanterns. From this, the idea for Sosai renewable energies was born.

Today, Sosai not only offers solar technologies but also provides youths and women with economic empowerment opportunities through the selling of their products.

Sosai renewable energies company has bagged in an impressive count of accolades and awards including UNDP/BOI access to renewable energies award (2012), United Nations South-South development award (2013), DFID Solar Nigeria award (2016), the 2017 USADF award for powering Africa and so on.

Habiba is a World Bank WomenX fellow. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA in Finance.