Constance Elizabeth Swaniker

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Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Accents & Art Ltd. Accra, Ghana. Age: 37

The Ghanaian adage “You must act as if it is impossible to fail” best describes Constance Elizabeth Swaniker’s operating approach as founder and chief executive of a metal furniture and decor business in a notoriously male-dominated industry. “The male artisans on some of the sites we worked on would usually express surprise when my workers told them I was their boss,” says Swaniker. “I had to prove my worthiness and break through to the very top.”

Today, her staff of 40 at Accents & Art Ltd. creates iron balustrades, furniture and lifelike sculptures. She learned valuable lessons from her mother, Edna Swaniker, a widow who founded a school in Botswana with six kids and grew it to a top-performing institution with 300 enrolled, and from her aunt, Ophelia Akiwumi, in whose woodwork factory she worked as a carpentry apprentice alongside 60 males. “From [my mom] I learned the value in transforming my ideas and skills into a successful organization and efficient management with my resources…[My aunt] mentored me to realize that to be the best in a male-dominated organization, I had to put a greater effort into accomplishing tasks.”

Swaniker set out in a small shed, making garden fountains and ornaments, and took a five-year apprenticeship with her aunt while attending the College of Art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. She launched Accents & Art upon receiving her bachelor’s degree in sculpture in 1999, using a blend of wrought iron, cane, wood and glass in her pieces. “We are contributing in our own small way to protect our rain forests, especially at the rate at which they are being depleted,” she says.

Swaniker is a single mother of two boys. “The one most important lesson I [want to] teach them, is respect for women, as they experience firsthand the challenges a single mother faces to balance family life and business.”

Fun Facts
Nickname: Sister
Favorite food: Grilled fish and vegetables
What actor should play you in a movie: Sandra Bullock
Facebook or LinkedIn: Facebook
What artist/group would you go on tour with: Beyoncé
Movie theater or home theater: Movie theater
List the languages you speak: English, GA, Basic TWI