Dr. Unoma Ndili Okorafor
There is no denying that Dr. Unoma Ndili Okorafor is a boss, and a busy one at that. The Nigeria-born innovator and social entrepreneur sits at the helm of four separate organizations. She holds founding, principal and CEO positions at Herbal Graviola, Herbal Papaya, Radicube Technologies, and most notably, the WAAW (Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women) Foundation. Both Herbal Graviola and Herbal Papaya are Texas-based businesses, offering customers a host of edible health and wellness products. Radicube Technologies sits on a different end of the spectrum, aiding companies with Big Data, Analytics & IT Transformation solutions to help them grow their businesses. WAAW, Okorafor’s brainchild created to bridge the gap between women and men exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, was actualized toward the end of her extensive schooling.
In addition to earning her undergraduate degree in Computer and Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos and a M.Sc. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rice University, Okorafor also graduated from INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship program and Stanford University Business School’s Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship.
She then went on to get her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University and gained experience as a Software Developer and Engineer at Texas Instruments, IBM and Hewlett-Packard prior to her organization work and launching WAAW.
WAAW now runs 13 STEM mentoring programs across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Malawi, Togo and South Africa, with sights set on expanding even further. Okorafor especially wants to touch African girls living in poverty-affected areas with her program. Since 2002, the foundation has given scholarship awards to more than 20 bright young girls in need.
Along with her work WAAW and her other businesses, Okorafor—a Crans Montana Future World Leader, Anita Borg Social Change Agent Award recipient and GEM Tech Awards winner—has spoken in public forums such as SXSW, WISE Conference, Ashoka Foundation Changemakers and more. One can only imagine what new achievements Okorafor’s 2018 will bring. There is no question that there will be many.