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Women in Corporate Leadership in Africa

Women in Corporate Leadership in Africa

Women in the financial services industry make up about 30% of the workforce at the senior management level in Africa. This is bested only by the healthcare and TMT (Telecoms, Media and Technology) industries which have higher representations of 39% and 33% respectively according to a McKinsey study. Southern and East African countries outperform their peers from other regions in senior management gender inclusion. Moving from senior management to the board level, the level of representation drops. The average board representation of females in Africa is 14%. Southern Africa has the highest representation with 20% while West Africa has the second lowest participation rate of 11%. The percentage of women on boards in Nigeria as at August 2020 stood at 20%, well above the world average of 17%, African average of 14% and West African average of 11%. Progress is surely being made but there is clearly still a huge gap to fill.

Effect of Gender Diverse Corporate Leadership 

Numerous studies including one recently carried out by McKinsey show that organizations with more gender diversity are about 30% more likely to experience above-average profitability. Gender diversity is of great benefit to any organization, having a significant positive impact on bottom line. Gender diversity in corporate leadership positions also results in more social sensitivity when solving problems, increased chances of effectiveness due to better understanding of stakeholders’ needs (a large portion of whom are women), and a trickle-down egalitarian effect on the rest of the organization.

Financial Inclusion

Another issue to consider is that of financial inclusion. Financial inclusion is defined as the availability and equality of opportunities to access financial services. Women face unique obstacles in accessing financial services especially in the African markets. According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), close to 80% of women-owned businesses with credit needs are either underserved or unserved. This $1.7 trillion funding gap if met, would provide an additional $330 billion in revenue to the global economy. From an impact perspective, an increase in financial inclusion can lead to higher economic growth as well as lower income inequality.

The theme of 2021’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge and challenge the above-described status quo is exactly what Toyin F. Sanni (TFS) and her team at the Emerging Africa Capital Group (EACG) have chosen to do. In the Nigerian and African predominantly male-led financial services industry, EACG is clearly distinguishing itself.

Emerging Africa Capital Group (EACG)

The Emerging Africa Capital Group (EACG) consists of Emerging Africa Capital Limited (EACL)- the parent company, EAC Trustees Limited (EACT), EAC Advisory Limited (EACA), Emerging Africa Asset Management Limited (EAAML), and Emerging Africa Capacity Building (EACB).

In the year 2019, EACL signed the Gender Diversity Charter of the Women Working for Change (an initiative of the AFRICA CEO FORUM). The charter apart from ensuring fairness and justice, is also a common sense move that aims to bring better corporate performance and profitability leading to greater prosperity for African economies. The signatories of this Charter commit to striving to fulfil the following principles:

  • Gender-diverse recruitment
  • Equal pay
  • Gender-diverse management and executive committees
  • Gender-balanced boards

In keeping with the charter, below is an illustration of the gender composition of EACG:


Emerging Africa Asset Management (EAAML) recently (on the 27th of January, 2021) launched the Emerging Africa Balance Diversity Fund. This first-of-its-kind mutual fund invests in securities of companies with proven commitment to gender diversity through significant representation of women on their boards, management, and staff as well as through the offering of products and services which enhance the economic inclusion of women.

Emerging Africa Capacity Building (EACB) provides training and mentorship in technical and soft skills for senior executives, finance sector professionals, young professionals, mid-level employees and early-stage entrepreneurs. EACB particularly focuses on women seeking to develop their leadership skills as there is currently a clear gender imbalance in this area, but will not do so to the exclusion of men. EACB’s flagship initiative is the Women Who Lead (WWL) Conference designed to guide upcoming female entrepreneurs and working professionals in successfully maneuvering their careers. WWL has had over 6,000 attendees till date and featured some renowned personalities including: Toyin F. Sanni, Chief Dr Mrs. Onikepo Akanda OON, CON, Arunma Oteh OON, Ibukun Awosika, Dionne Searcey, Peace Hyde and Lamia Merzouki. 

Emerging Africa Capital also runs its SME funding desk which is particularly interested in providing finance for female led businesses and consequently contributing to closure of the financial inclusion gender gap within the continent. 


Emerging Africa Capital Group’s Leadership

  • Chief Dr. (Mrs.) Nike Akande OON, CON- Group Chairman 

Chief Dr. (Mrs.) Nike Akande OON, CON, is a prominent Industrialist and Investment Expert, having participated in a number of International Trade and Investment fora both Overseas and in Nigeria.

She is a Two-time Minister of Industry of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and is the immediate past President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). Under her leadership, LCCI led the promotion, of private and public initiatives aimed at improving trade, industry, commerce and agriculture.

She is an author of many outstanding publications and academic papers.


  •  Toyin F. Sanni- Group Chief Executive Officer

Toyin Sanni is Founder and CEO of the Emerging Africa Capital Group, Co-Founder of the Africa Investment Roundtable as well as Board Chairman at Emerging Africa Asset Management Limited.

Toyin sits on several boards and committees including Transnational Corporation Plc, the Off Grid Energy Fund – Financing Energy Inclusion (OGEF-FEI) sponsored by the AfDB and other International Development Finance Institutions, NEPAD Business Group Nigeria and the Pearl Awards Governance Board. 

She is also the Founder and Chairperson for the Women in Finance Nigeria Network and Founder, WIFNG UK.

 Toyin was declared the All-African Business Woman of the year 2017 by CNBC Africa, & Nigeria’s CEO of the Year 2017 by Pearl Awards. In 2020, she won the Africa Influencer (CEO) Award by Tech Times Africa.


 Africa Investment Roundtable (AiR)

The AiR is a research-based thought leadership platform aimed at providing an in-depth examination of the African investment landscape. It was launched in January 2021 and will air on the third Monday of every month. AiR was co-founded by Toyin F. Sanni (Group CEO of the Emerging Africa Capital Group) and Arunma Oteh OON (an academic scholar at University of Oxford who was previously Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank, Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Nigeria, Group Vice President and Group Treasurer of the African Development Bank Group amongst other roles).


Unique Positioning of EAC Group 

Nigerian companies are beginning to position themselves to meet Africa’s financing and investment needs. Emerging Africa Capital however stands out from the crowd not only because of its commitment to solving Africa’s financing and investment challenges but also because of its focus on gender diversity and in its internal operations and external dealings. 



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