Olori Boye-Ajayi, a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and a pioneer in African trade transformation, is pushing the boundaries to ensure the continent’s trading potential is maximised. With roots in the textile and apparel sector, Boye-Ajayi embarked on her export journey in 2017, establishing a manufacturing and sourcing hub tailored for global export, primarily targeting markets in Australia, the US, and the UK.
With a rich professional tapestry that spans more than a decade in trade, women’s empowerment, and sustainable development, Olori stands as a testament to Africa’s potential for change.
Boye-Ajayi’s career escapades
Holding the title of Afreximbank MANSA Champion, her expertise is not just in theory, it’s proven in her actions. Olori has collaborated with major global organizations focusing on diversity, gender equality, and inclusion.
Her current role in the AfCFTA Trade and Industrial Development Advisory Council Continental Working Group sees her actively shaping strategic plans, policies, and private sector engagements, thereby driving regional value chain growth.
As the Managing Director of OBA Inc., Boye-Ajayi’s leadership has resulted in the empowerment of countless women entrepreneurs. Through her vast network and adept negotiation skills, she has secured funding exceeding $1 million, enabling women in the export community to achieve significant growth.
How she started out
Reflecting on her journey, Olori, who was nurtured by her grandmother on the streets of Ladipo, Mushin, shares that her formative years were instrumental in shaping her resilience and value for life and money. Her time in London further instilled the principles of self-awareness and self-worth.
Her fervor to transform Africa’s trade landscape and uplift women arises from a deep conviction in the potential of the African people, particularly women. Drawing inspiration from visionaries like Nkrumah and Mandela, Olori believes that Africa’s future is intrinsically linked with the empowerment of its women.
Boye-Ajayi’s accidental foray into the textile and apparel sector in Nigeria was marked by risk, but it paid off significantly. While recognizing Nigeria’s steps to bolster the sector, she emphasizes that more needs to be done, especially in areas of skill development, infrastructure, and fostering international partnerships.
Prominent women’s advocate, Olori Boye-Ajayi, is taking significant strides in reinventing Africa’s trade landscape, especially for female entrepreneurs. A profound recognition of the technological barriers often inhibiting women from global market participation prompted the establishment of a user-friendly tech platform by OBA Inc.
This platform, tailored to cater to women entrepreneurs’ distinct needs, grants them simplified access to crucial trade information, enabling them to explore potential buyers and amplify their ventures.
How Boye- Ajahi secured funding in the export sector
A standout achievement for Boye-Ajayi and her team was securing over $1,000,000 in funding and trade finance for women in the export sector. This milestone was realized by forging robust ties with international finance institutions and leveraging the undeniable potential and historical performance of women-led businesses.
Strategic collaboration with a U.S.-based trade finance and logistics firm enabled the provision of finances at single-digit interest rates, a move greatly appreciated by Women Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (WSMEs).
Her role in the Borderless Trade Network serves as an aid for women’s empowerment
The Borderless Trade Network, spanning Nigeria and Liberia, was initiated with a vision to interconnect and uplift women across the two nations. Despite inevitable challenges, through strategic alliances and the unwavering commitment of women leaders in both public and private sectors, the network has been able to make a mark in Liberia. The project has seen the launch of ‘Project WINHER’, focusing on the financial empowerment of women in business, while also emphasizing the necessity for inclusivity and financial literacy.
Outside her role as President of the Borderless Trade Network, Boye-Ajayi spends her days brokering trade and investment deals within and into Africa, with expertise in sectors like agro-commodities, textiles, apparel, mining, and energy. Her skill set has led her to advise international institutions and organizations on trade development initiatives, shedding light on the gaps and suggesting solutions for the continent’s challenges.
How she aims to promote women’s leadership
Discussing the role of women in Africa’s evolution, Olori Boye-Ajayi stresses the urgency to promote women’s leadership in pivotal economic sectors. Women comprise over 70% of Africa’s informal sector, indicating their enormous potential contribution. With this in mind, Boye-Ajayi highlights the need to focus on equity over equality for female entrepreneurs.
To the aspirational youth of Africa, Boye-Ajayi’s message is clear: leverage inherent talents and abilities, focus on passions, collaborate, and harness the power of technology to catalyze positive change. With a promising future ahead, Boye-Ajayi alludes to imminent cross-Atlantic projects targeting the empowerment of 100 million women and youths within the next seven years.
In her concluding words, she emphasizes the emerging global focus on Africa as a hub for investment, trade, and sustainable growth. Boye-Ajayi’s message for fellow Africans, especially women, is to recognize their inherent value, seize opportunities, and collaboratively work towards a prosperous future.
In an era where the world is increasingly focused on sustainable development and climate a…