Big African Companies Led by Female CEOs Outperform Benchmarks

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While only 5% of companies listed on Africa’s 24 stock exchanges have a woman as CEO, those that do have woman CEOs outperform financially by a wide measure, according to a new analysis by Africa.com.

To mark the evolution of Africa.com’s Definitive List of Women CEOs, sponsored by Standard Bank Group, now in its third year, Africa.com analyzed 2,020 listed companies on Africa’s 24 stock exchanges to compare the performance of companies where women hold the top position as CEO. Women led companies remain a rarity across Africa in spite of a growing body of evidence that more diverse management produces better results.

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“Despite difficult market conditions in most sectors and most geographies across the continent, in 2022, female run companies in Africa outperformed most benchmarks,” said Teresa Clarke, Chair of Africa.com, the company that conducted the analysis.

Transcorp of Nigeria, a diversified conglomerate with investments in the power, hospitality and energy sectors run by President and CEO Ms. Owen Omogiafo, ranked as one of the top performers on the Africa.com list gaining 8.27% in share price in 2022. She joined us on the 19th to talk about how Transnational Corp. was able to outperform its competitors in this environment.


Another top performer was Bidvest Group of South Africa, a diversified industrial services company which has been run by chief executive Ms. Mpumi Madisa since 2020, saw its share price increase by 5.82% in 2022.

To put the figures into perspective, the share prices of the collective group of 93 women led companies analyzed by Africa.com outperformed the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (FTSE/JSE All Share) by 506 basis points, the Nairobi Securities Exchange Index (NSEASI) by 2,712 basis points, the London Stock Exchange (FTSE All Share Index) by 1,202 basis points, and the S&P 500 by 1,714 basis points.

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Vera Songwe, Senior Fellow – Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative joined the virtual event on April 19th for the unveiling of the Definitive List of Women CEOs to share her perspective on why women outperform in the investment arena.

The trend of large, listed, women-led companies in Africa outperforming their male-run counterparts is consistent with trends seen in other parts of the world. Why do women-led firms often outperform? Patricia Lizarraga of Hypatia Capital wrote, “According to McKinsey, women face well-documented additional barriers in today’s workplace. The few who rise to the highest executive ranks, by definition, must possess additional leadership and performance characteristics versus the average executive, predominantly male, who did not face the same barriers.” 

Hypatia Capital of New York designed the Hypatia Women CEO Index, measures the performance of publicly traded securities on U.S. exchanges that have female Chief Executive Officers. Over the same period, 6678 January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022, that index outperformed its benchmark by 479 basis points. Patricia Lizarraga, CEO of the Hypatia Womens CEO Index Fund in the US talked more about the “Female Factor,” her term for how women impact investment performance.

One of the caveats to the Africa.com analysis is that the various exchanges on which the companies are listed report share prices in their local currencies. Thus, in order to achieve the results indicated, an investor would have to purchase shares in the currencies of each regional exchange.

Teresa Clarke, Chair of Africa.com, said, “This work represents one of the first analyses of the performance of publicly listed companies in Africa conducted through a gender lens. We look forward to advancing this work in the years to come.”

For more information, please visit TheDefinitiveList.africa.com

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Africa.com analyzed 2,020 companies listed on the 24 African stock exchanges. Of the 2,020 companies, Africa.com screened for those companies with revenue of $100 million or more, or a market cap of $150 million or more, which yielded a list of 787 companies. This data was provided by Bloomberg. The public websites of the 787 companies were then reviewed by Africa.com to identify female C-suite executives. The team of Africa.com researchers then examined the list of these women to determine those who have a title of chief executive officer or managing director or president AND conducted a review to confirm that these executives have bottom line, profit and loss responsibility for the companies. Two additional groups of women were selected through this process above, to identify division heads of African corporates and regional heads of global corporations. This resulted in the final Definitive List of 93 women CEOs. The Africa.com researchers then used the data to evaluate the change between the last closing share price at January 1, 2022 compared to December 31, 2022, to determine overall performance.

About Africa.com 

Africa.com is a women-led, modern digital media holding company with an extensive array of platforms that reach a global audience interested in African content and community. Whether it’s curated news in the daily Top10, research initiatives, podcasts, or virtual events, Africa.com is committed to delivering vibrant, premium content. Africa.com operates from South Africa and the United States with a presence in Accra, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos, and Nairobi.

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