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Mar 06, 2024

Driving Inclusion: Celebrating Women Trailblazers in the Automobile Industry

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Nigeria is ranked 128th out of 153 countries in the 2020 Global Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum.

Within the African context, Nigeria ranks 27th out of 34 countries. While the gender gap appears to be closing with a reported 63.5% improvement, economic disparities persist. Average yearly earnings are US$4,600 for women and US$6,300 for men. Despite women constituting a higher percentage of skilled professionals (64.6%), their representation in senior positions remains notably lower at 30.3%.

In contrast, Arnold Clark's data reveals that only 33% of the automotive industry comprises women. The automotive sector has historically maintained a predominantly male-dominated landscape, particularly in sales and managerial roles. This imbalance is believed to contribute significantly to the existing gender gap within the industry.

Interestingly, African women are progressively establishing their presence in the traditionally male-centric auto industry. They are not merely assuming leadership and technical roles but are also becoming inspirational figures for the next generation of African women.

As we celebrate International Women's Day under the theme "Inspire Inclusion," we want to celebrate five women who show us that no road is too tough for them.

1. Abiola Nkechi Toluwani - Founder of Ladies on Wheel

Before becoming an Uber driver, Abiola Nkechi Toluwani worked as a fashion designer while juggling the responsibilities of being a single mother to six children.

As her kids became more independent, she returned to school and earned her NCE degree. Even though she dreamed of starting a fashion design school, life had different plans. In 2017, she decided to turn her lifelong passion into a job and became an Uber driver.

Being a woman in a male-dominated field is tough, but Nkechi tackled the challenges with determination and skill, just like an experienced driver. She didn't stop there. Driven by a passion for empowering women, Abiola created "Ladies on Wheel," a platform supporting women in the car industry.

"As female drivers see every challenge as an opportunity to reveal your true strength(the strength of a woman) Your strength is your super power on the road, use it to navigate, endure and excel.

As a super woman, stand out, don't bend into the background, your courage to be visible and active in this profession paves the way for other women to follow and display their skills boldly and with determination."

-Abiola Nkechi Toluwani (Founder Ladies on Wheel).

Her goal is more than just about steering wheels; it's breaking free from gender stereotypes and inspiring a new generation of women to take unexplored paths.

2. Damilola Olokesusi - Co-founder & CEO at Shuttlers

Damilola Olokesusi - Co-founder & CEO at Shuttlers

Back in 2015, Damilola started Shuttlers as a tech and transport company. Its aim was to help professionals and companies share rides to and from work using corporate buses.

Fast-forward to 2020, Damilola introduced "She Moves Shuttles," an initiative supported by Ford Motors Company and partnered with Global Water Challenge (GWC). This all-female shuttle service has made commuting easier for over 600 women professionals. It not only eases their travel but also offers a chance to turn their commuting time into a time for learning and development.

Her commitment to making transportation safer, efficient, and accessible resonates with a vision where every passenger, regardless of gender, feels equally represented and valued.

3. Chinazom Arinze - Founder of AutoGIRL

Chinazom Arinze - Founder of AutoGIRL

“Autogirl started as a regular car dealership; selling cars and getting commissions. When I saw that it was ludicrous, I ventured into it fully and did not look back,”

- Chinazom Arinze.

Chinazom, a law graduate, started Autogirl because of her passion for cars and her challenges during university.

Before launching the company three years ago, she worked in marketing for various startups. Her inspiration for Autogirl came from the idea of a regular car dealership, selling cars and earning commissions while she was still in university.

Chinazom officially founded Autogirl in 2019, registering it as a one-stop shop for vehicle sales and rentals, Private Jet, Boat/Yacht rentals, and security escort services.

She emphasizes that Autogirl promotes female inclusion and empowerment. The business has a women empowerment program, training young women interested in the industry on how to start and grow their brands. According to her, Autogirl currently employs eight people and has 12 female affiliate marketers.

4. Ride With Miee - Automotive Reviewer & Content Creator

Meet Ride With Miee, Nigeria's foremost female automotive journalist and a dedicated serial entrepreneur with an unwavering passion for cars. As the proud creator of "Ride With Miee," she has firmly established herself as the go-to source for all things automotive.

Specializing in media production, Miee's brand offers a dynamic blend of vlogging, comprehensive car reviews, engaging written articles, automotive consultation, and strategic promotion for various automobile brands.

"I was encouraged by a very dear friend to begin this journey chasing my passion. It was scary and seemed impossible but I pushed. Through this course, I’ve been discouraged, not supported, bullied and threatened but I also am and was backed up by resilient people who supported and encouraged me.

To say the least, I don’t think I’d been fulfilled or happy if I didn’t take on this feat."

⁠- Ride With Miee (Automotive Reviewer & Content Creator).

With Ride With Miee, the focus is not just on the cars themselves but on delivering firsthand information that empowers the audience to make informed purchasing decisions, simplifying the often complex process.

5. Oluwatosin Ajayi - Founder/CEO Tush Ladymechanic Autoworks

Even though society often labels mechanics as a tough, physically demanding job, Ajayi Oluwatosin, popularly known as The Lady Mechanic, sees it as much more than that.

Oluwatosin Ajayi is a notable figure in the automotive industry. He holds titles such as award-winning automobile expert and auto tech advisor.

Additionally, she serves as an ambassador for CAGAI (Convention Against Gender Abuse Initiative).

In 2020, she launched a no-cost automobile training program, benefiting over 30 young female students and graduates. Many of these participants have since established their own mechanic workshops.

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