Woman of the week
Offiong Ekanem Ejindu is the CEO of Building Supports Systems and Principal partner of the Starcrest Group of Companies. She is also the Founder of The African Arts and Fashion initiative and has been severally acclaimed as one of the leading female architects in Nigeria. She is popularly known as ‘Princess Fifi Ekanem EJindu’, deriving from her name Offiong and her royal ancestry. Princess Fifi holds the title of Her Royal Highness Obongawan King James, a title inherited from her mother.
Ejindu graduated with a B.Arch degree in 1983 from Pratt Institute, a private design college in Brooklyn, New York; one of the first African women to be awarded a Bachelor in Architecture from the Institution. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she took some courses before taking a job at Grant Associates in New York City. She later returned to Pratt Institute for her Masters in Urban Planning before relocating to Nigeria.
Hungry for something indigenously innovative, she went on to start the Starcrest Group of Companies made up of Starcrest Investment Limited, Starcrest Associates Limited, and Starcrest Industries Limited. These subsidiaries engage in real estate management, construction, building and designing, oil and gas, project management, youth empowerment, and investment opportunities. Under her leadership, the Starcrest Investment limited sought and secured the support of former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in influencing fifty prominent business owners from the United Arab Emirates to invest in different sectors of the Nigerian economy – a move that created job opportunities for Nigerians and increased the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Her excellent architectural designs have been a point of reference among elite circles and earned her recommendations to handle high-profile building projects. Her career success is a clear illustration of the saying that ‘there is no hiding place for a golden fish’.
“Be diligent in your craft” she says, “You have no idea how far it will travel”.
She launched The African Arts and Fashion Initiative in August 2013, at The Dorchester Hotel, London, as a means of showcasing and promoting the rich African culture and talent, and empowering her youths. The initiative organizes exhibitions and dialogues to advertise and promote the African arts and antiques, African fashion style, African music and all other things made in Africa.
Princess Ejindu served on the 11-man technical committee set up by the government of Akwa Ibom state to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the state, and is also a current member of the Nigerian National Heritage Council. She has several accolades and awards including the “Honorary Patron Membership” of the elite Dubai Icons Club, the “Diaspora Excellence Award” in 2015, as well as the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the African Achievers Awards in 2013. She was pronounced winner of “The Nigerian Golden Book Professional Icon Award” in 2015, winner of the 2014 African Child Nobel Prize, and was enlisted into the Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame – African Chapter. Ejindu’s career achievements gained her recognition as one of the Top Twenty Inspirational Women in 2015 by the African Diaspora Professional Women in Europe (ADIPWE).
She is a strong promoter of empowerment programmes for the poor, poverty eradication and bridging the gap for sustainable development and economic empowerment, in line with her mantra; “A system that cannot rescue its poor cannot save its rich on the day of reckoning.”
According to her, women can be the star whatever path they choose to take. In her words, “the three Ds for the African Woman to thrive are – Desire, Drive and Determination”, all of which she has modeled with her life’s achievements. She is the Herstory Woman of the Week.