Women help propel Nigeria’s economic growth to number one status in Africa

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as Africa’s largest economy and experts say female entrepreneurs have been one of the key drivers behind the country’s economic success.

Naomi Selvaratnam


1 JUN 2014 – 5:04 PM  UPDATED 1 JUN 2014 – 7:08 PM



Tara Fela-Durotoye is forging her own path in Africa’s largest economy and trying to change perceptions along the way.

She says she wants the world to have a better understanding of Nigeria.
“How much does the world know about Africa?” she asks.
“The world has to understand that Africa is not only about poor people. Yes…there is a lot of war, yes, there is a lot of poverty but also apart from that poverty, we need to have a fuller range [of understanding Africa].”
In 1999, Ms Fela-Durotoye began the House of Tara International, a cosmetics company catering specifically to women with dark skin.
It now has 14 stores across the country.
Ms Fela-Durotoye made the Forbes’ list of 20 Young Power Women in Africa 2013, and was also nominated as a young global leader by the World Economic Forum.
Now, she has opened the country’s first make-up school, training young people who want careers in the industry.
“For us it’s [about] the impact we are making that is the most rewarding,” she says.
“There are many people who are looking for jobs today and the beauty industry has given an opportunity for young people who are very excited about beauty, and you know Nigerians are very fashionable and love beauty.”
One of her students, Oluwatomisi Oluwole agrees.
“I love the way make-up transforms people after it’s been done properly, so it’s being in me to learn how to do that to people and make people feel happy,” she says.
Tara Fela-Durotoye is one of many businesswomen contributing to Nigeria’s growing economy, which was valued at almost $550 billion last year.
Economics lecturer at the University of New South Wales, Tim Harcourt, says Nigerian women have played a strong role in bolstering the country’s economy.
“A very high proportion of [Nigeria’s] entrepreneurs are women,” he says.
“The owners of Rough and Tumble, the Nigerian Flying Doctors are all run by women entrepreneurs. And that’s been a real Nigerian phenomenon in many ways.”
Other industries boosting economic growth include a strong resources sector, telecommunications, and the increasingly popular movie industry, known as Nollywood.

But the economy is facing constant challenges with ongoing conflict between the government and Islamist militant group Boko Haram fuelling widespread uncertainty.
The Nigerian currency, the Naira, has fallen by nearly 2 per cent since the recent kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls by the group.
Tim Harcourt says the country must address its political unrest to be able to continue to develop its economy.
“The thing about Nigeria is it could be one of the best economies in the world, in terms of its oil and gas, in terms of its population,” he says.
“It’s got all the demographics right, but its institutions will let it down. So they’ve got a lot of work to do and the sooner they get their institutions fixed, the better for everyone.”
But for Ms Fela-Durotoye, who is still developing her business, political tensions haven’t affected her dream to eventually expand her business overseas – and inspire a new generation of businesswomen.
“We have given many people the opportunity to start up something as a business, to be business owners, to start up their own businesses and to make money from it but also to be financially independent. And many them have had to employ one or two people as well and I think that gives greater joy, for us.”



Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: