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women leading corporate africa

The Women Leading Corporate Africa undertook a rigorous research project to identify not just high-profile personalities, but the women who actually run the largest, most complex businesses on the African continent.  The result is called The Definitive List of Women CEOs, and we are proud to reveal the list on October 13 at the SUMMIT: Women Leading Corporate Africa.

Harvard Business School Professor Tony Mayo will present his research findings on what it takes for African-American women to reach the top spot in the corporate sector as part of the Summit on October 13.  At this event, the names of the 50 women on the list will be revealed.  In addition, a panel of women from the list will tell the stories of their rise to the top of Corporate Africa and comment on Professor Mayo’s research by addressing what it takes to make it to the top in Africa, specifically.  Another high-profile panel will address what stock exchanges are doing globally to advocate for more women in big business, and will feature the heads of the major African stock exchanges.   Registration for the summit is free and can be accessed at’s Virtual Event Center.  (

Methodology for The Definitive List of Women CEOs

The Definitive List of Women CEOs is the product of a data-driven research project that began by identifying all publicly listed companies on all of the twenty-one stock exchanges in Africa – a list of over 1400 companies.  From there, the researchers screened the companies to focus on the largest companies – those with a market capitalization of $150 million USD or larger, resulting in a list of 355 corporations.  Once the researchers had identified these 355 companies, the largest in Africa, they then searched the public information available on the management teams of these companies.  In order to qualify for the List, women had to have a CEO or managing director title at the head of one of these companies. The titles were then vetted further by examining where the women fit within the company’s overall organizational structure to ensure that the women truly hold authority that is consistent with their title.  

In addition to the women selected through the process above, the analysis went on to identify two additional groups of women running Corporate Africa.  One additional group of women are those who run divisions of very large African corporate entities, such that their division if spun out on its own, would qualify for the list with its own divisional market cap of $150 million USD or more.  The roles of the women running these divisions were vetted within the context of the company’s organizational structure – the title alone was not sufficient to make the list.  The women in this group have profit and loss responsibility for a revenue-generating division that would be valued at $150 million or more, on its own.

Lastly, women who run the entire African region, a region within Africa, or an African country for global corporations listed on international exchanges were then identified.  To qualify for this group, only international companies with a market cap of $50 billion or more are included.  The women running these businesses range from those who run a country, such as Kenya or Nigeria, to those who run all of sub-Saharan Africa for these global behemoths.

On October 13, 2021, in addition to revealing the names on The Definitive List of Women CEOs, will provide observations and trends that emerged from the research project, including which regions and which sectors lead in appointing women to the number one spot in Corporate Africa.

“We think it is important to dig beyond the media hype and reveal those women who have bottom-line authority for Africa’s biggest corporations, many of whom have gone unnoticed.  We look forward to presenting this information on October 13 alongside Harvard Business School Professor, Tony Mayo, to elevate the conversation about women in Corporate Africa.”

Presented in collaboration with our thought-leadership partner, Standard Bank.