African women are out to reframe what leadership in finance looks like and they have continued to demonstrate commendable impact across various industries that make up the highly competitive, male dominated financial services sector. The financial services sector is of great importance as it plays a critical role in the economy; it enables the financial intermediation process which facilitates the flow of funds and thus ensuring that financial resources are allocated efficiently towards promoting economic growth and development in the continent. Despite women trying to penetrate through the sector, there is still need to break the glass walls standing as wage gaps underpinned by unequal access to high-paying professions. The Financial service sector is one of the sectors where wages are highest and generally dominated by men, and few women holding managerial or decision-making positions. As pointed out in the World Bank Report; “Breaking Barriers: Female Entrepreneurs Who Cross Over to Male Dominated Sectors”, Few women are working in lucrative sectors such as finance, IT and tech. consequently, the glass ceilings that hinder the professional advancement are reinforced by glass walls that block their access to the same professions and jobs as men.
Among many organizations fighting to get women equal opportunities and equal access to finance is a Gender Empowerment vehicle, African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme; which facilitates women’s access to finance via an innovation risk-sharing mechanism. It also offers capacity building services for women entrepreneurs and advocates for reforms to support women-owned businesses.
The women mentioned in this list comprises of Professionals in Banking, Capital Markets, Insurance, Fintech, Investment Banking and Fund Management and Microfinance who have turned around Financial institutions and driven digital innovation initiatives while taking time to give back to society in a transformational way. Collectively, they are a beacon to young women who are interested in careers in finance in the Continent.
Thami Moatshe: Nomathamsanga Thami Moatshe is one of the first female executives at Servest, one of the leading Black-owned facilities management companies on the African continent; employing 24, 000 people across multiple African countries, with 11, 110 sites. With over 22 years of professional expertise, she stands as the first woman of the Group’s Corporate Finance and Mergers & Acquisitions Director, smashing the glass ceiling. This highly decorated leader was a participant in the Bain Executive Leadership Programme and is a Longstanding member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals. While research shows that only 10% of women in South Africa are involved in executive decision-making roles within the finance sector, Thami Moatshe is leading the park as a true Trail Blazer in the male dominated industry.
Marjorie Mayida: Marjorie Mayida is the First Woman Managing Director within the Old Mutual Investment Group (OMIG), the largest institutional investor on the Zimbabwe stock exchange. The business units under her leadership, wholesale, retail and property management command a market share of 50 percent, 55 percent and 44 percent respectively, making Old Mutual a major player in the Zimbabwe investment management market; hence driving the direction of the industry. She has been successful in steering the turnaround strategy for Old Mutual Property, resulting in positive outcomes in financial performance, staff cohesion, control environment and stakeholder management. Among several charities, Marjorie supports Junior Achievement Zimbabwe (JAZ), that is dedicated to educating young people about business, economics and free enterprise.
Vera Songwe: Vera Songwe is the 9th serving United Nations under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, awarded the prestigious African Banker Icon Award at the 16th edition of the African Banker Awards Gala 2022. Following her appointment, she became the first woman to lead the institution in the Organization’s 60-year history and the highest ranking United Nations regional official. As a leading figure on macroeconomic and debt issues, Ms. Songwe’s organization reforms focus on “ideas for a prosperous Africa” and have brought to the fore critical issues of microeconomic stability; development finance, growth and private sector and so many more. She launched the Digital Centre of Excellence, an on demand source of technical advice for countries on their Digital ID and digital economy. Talk about an extremely Intelligent woman, Vera Songwe was recently awarded the prestigious African Banker Icon Award at the 16th edition of the African Banker Awards Gala 2022 for her tireless work in providing governments with the fiscal ammunition to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
Vera Esperanca dos Santos Daves de Sousa: She is the first woman to be appointed as Minister of Finance in Angola. Until the date of her appointment, she was Secretary of the State for Finance and Treasury. She was recognized as the Finance Minister of the Year at the 16th edition of the African Banker Awards 2022 Gala Ceremony which gathered key personalities in Africa’s financial services sector. She was awarded one of the most prestigious awards alongside Vera Songwe is the 9th serving United Nations under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa; for her stand out work in restoring stability and market confidence to her country.
Mrs. Vera Esperança dos Santos Daves de Sousa, has worked as finance technician at Sonangol ESSA, Director of the Products and Research Office in Banco Privado Atlântico, Lecturer of Financial Markets at the Executive MBA promoted by the Catholic Business School Alliance, Lecturer of Public Finance and Economic Integration at UCAN – Business School. From 2014 to 2016 she was the Executive Director of the Capital Market Commission and from September 2016 to October 2017 she was Chairman of the Capital Market Commission. Mrs. Vera Daves de Sousa also played the role of economic commentator in various media. She is the co-author of a book on Public Finance.
Mizinga Melu: Mizinga Melu is Absa Bank Zambia PLC Managing Director who was recently recognized as the Most Influential African Woman Banker of the Year (Rest of Africa) at the Africa Bank 4.0 Awards. Mrs. Melu was awarded though a voting system in which members across the African banking fraternity gave the highest votes for Mizinga Melu in her respective category. She stands as the first woman to hold the position of managing director and chief executive officer at Standard Chartered Bank Zambia and during her tenure, was the only female CEO in the thirteen African countries where Standard Chartered maintains subsidiaries. Author of number 1 best seller “Braving All Odds”, she is the founder of When Females Lead and continues to inspire women and girls in braving against all odds.