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Princess Fifi Ekanem Ejindu (Diaspora Excellence Award, 2014)

Princess Fifi Ekanem Ejindu is a Nigerian Architect, businesswoman and philanthropist. Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, she is the great granddaughter of King James Ekpo Bassey of Cobham Town in Calabar, Nigeria.

She is the first black African woman to graduate from the prestigious Pratt Institute School of Architecture, and is regarded as one of the most sought after architects in Nigeria.

She is the chairperson of Starcrest Group of Companies which is involved in the sectors of building construction, project management, real estate, oil and gas.

She is the founder of African Arts and Fashion Initiative which launched on Sunday, 4 August 2013, at The Dorchester Hotel, London. The aim of the initiative is to promote Africa as on the rise showcasing its rich cultural heritage and talent globally thereby creating opportunities to empower the youth of Africa. It is driving an African Arts and Style Renaissance to mobilise, sensitise and most importantly empower the young talent in Africa. They organise exhibitions and forums to showcase and promote African Arts and Antiques, African Fashion
and all things made in Africa. AAFI print & publish journals and other materials on African Arts and Style.

On her return to Nigeria, after graduating in her Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Pratt Institute, Princess Fifi started her own business, which resulted in the establishment of Starcrest Group of companies. The company started in 1995, and comprises Starcrest Investment Ltd., Starcrest Associates Ltd. and Starcrest Industries Ltd.

Princess Fifi designed and built numerous projects for individuals, government and companies. One of her most notable works includes the Spanish Ambassador’s residence in Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria. Her most prized achievement however was when Professor Charles Soludo, the former Central Bank Governor, whom she had never met before, saw one of her works and thus invited her to design the official residence of the Central Bank Governor of Nigeria.

She describes her style of architecture as Neo-traditional which she defines as “building a new project [with] new materials, but with traditional and old style details and features” and hence most of her projects, as she explains, bring back the Renaissance period.

Princess Fifi is set to build what she has named as Hope Centers (which are part of her ‘Hope Project’) around Nigeria, these will comprise of skill acquisition centres along with diagnostic centres. As a lot of lives are lost in Africa due to both wrong and late diagnosis, the centres will aim to prevent this by having medical personnel on
hand to give accurate and reliable diagnoses, regardless of the individuals’ circumstance. In addition where there are no hospitals nearby, the centres will serve as a place, where a solution can still be found. The Hope Centres will also serve as skill acquisition centres, to develop skills, to monitor and mentor the youth of Africa.