FORBES WOMAN AFRICA announces continent’s most prestigious awards for women in business and society

Following a dynamic two-day virtual interaction focused on this year’s theme, Africa Reloaded: The Power of The Collective, the 6th annual FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit hosted its illustrious awards’ ceremony, honouring some of the continent’s most impactful women. Celebrating International Women’s Day, the #LeadingWomanSummit, presented by Mastercard, welcomed ground-breaking speakers at its first-ever virtual event which ran from 8 to 9 March 2021.

The awards celebrate African women who inspire confidence through rewriting the narrative, leaders who advocate positive change and are committed to economic and social transformation on the continent especially in a Covid recovery phase. These are women who have challenged authority to bring about change and created a new discourse that will enable future generations to live in a better and more equal world.   

Last year’s winners included Dr Aisha Pandor, co-founder of SweepSouth; DJ Zinhle; Olajumoke Adenowo, founder of Ad Consulting; Bafana Khumalo, co-founder of Sonke Gender Justice; and Irene Charnley, founder and Deputy Chairman of Smile Telecoms Holdings; among others.

“I’d like to congratulate all the 2021 award winners for being such incredible leaders in their respective fields, particularly after such a tumultuous year,” said Renuka Methil, Managing Editor of FORBES AFRICA & FORBES WOMAN AFRICA. “This year we adapted to a completely online format, and while we do miss the face-to-face interaction, the digital space gave us the opportunity to expand the #LeadingWomanSummit footprint and reach a much bigger audience. And, with the global pandemic creating so much disruption worldwide, this summit was a welcome opportunity to get insight from these grounded, inspiring women who’ve all given us a renewed sense of hope.”

Commenting on the awards, Suzanne Morel, Mastercard Country Manager for South Africa said: “As a proud partner of the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit, we would like to offer our congratulations to all these inspirational women who have been recognised in this year’s awards. Not only have they made a tremendous impact in their respective fields, but they are leading the charge in opening up the world’s possibilities to women. And a world that works better for women creates limitless possibilities for us all.”

In concluding the evening’s awards’ ceremony, Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing at Vumatel alluded to this year’s theme Africa Reloaded: The Power of The Collective and emphasised the need for collaboration.

“Going online breaks down boundaries and borders. With people working from home, connectivity has become critical…but there are a multitude of other factors we need to take into consideration; what content are people accessing, what skills are being imparted? I do think there’s a fantastic opportunity, especially at this time where we are as a global community, to pool all our efforts and make a more meaningful contribution,” said Williams.

“At Vuma we talk about empowering individuals to empower communities, and we know that when we empower communities, we empower society. This builds stronger and more inclusive economies. Digital is now and it is definitely the future. Now is the time for us to stand up and make a difference regardless of gender, race or creed.”

2021 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Award Winners


– FWA Young Achievers Award 

Winner: Rabia Ghoor, Founder of Swiitch Beauty

– FWA Social Impact Award 

Winner: Isabelle Kamariza, Founder of Solid’Africa

– FWA Technology and Innovation Award 

Winner: Temie Giwa Tubosun, Founder of Lifebank 

– FWA Academic Excellence Award 

Winner: Professor Rudo Mathivha, Academic Head of Intensive Care Services at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital 

– FWA Sports Award 

Winner: Hellen Obiri, Olympic Athlete 

– FWA Entertainer Award 

Winner: Elsa Majimbo, Kenyan Comedian 

– FWA Business Woman of the Year 

Winner: Ada Osakwe, Founder of Agrolay Ventures  

– FWA Lifetime Achievement Award 

Winner: H.E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former president of Liberia 

The awards were the ideal conclusion to the #LeadingWomanSummit which included two days of enlightening panel discussions and ‘In the Spotlight’ talks that provided a platform for the continent’s most dynamic women to confer and collaborate. Some of this year’s speakers included (among many others):

•             Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, newly-elected Director-General of the World Trade Organization

•             Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019

•             Gugu Mbatha-Raw, British actor and UNHCR goodwill ambassador

•             Alek Wek, British-Sudanese supermodel and designer

•             Piwo Nyanda, South African women’s rugby player and Mastercard Ambassador

•             Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General 

•             Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, Emirati businesswoman, author and artist; UAE 

•             Folorunso Alakija, Nigerian entrepreneur and Vice-Chair of Famfa Oil

•             Bisila Bokoko, Spanish-African-American businesswoman; USA

•             Natasha Muhoza, poet/storyteller and lawyer; Rwanda

•             Shudufhadzo Musida, Miss South Africa 2020

•             Ilwad Elman, Somali-Canadian activist and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize nominee

The 2021 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit (LWS), presented by Mastercard, was a free-to-attend virtual event on 8 and 9 March 2021.

For more event updates, follow @LWSummit #LWS2021 #LeadingWomanSummit on our social media platforms.   

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