Olatowun Candide-Johnson : GAIA Mother, Nigeria

Olatowun Candide-Johnson is a lawyer with thirty+ years’ experience in corporate and commercial law and in business development and governance of multinational corporations. During the course of her career, she worked in Law Practice, Shipping, & Oil and Gas.  Whilst working with the Total Group, she worked in different divisions including three years at the New Business Division in the Paris HQ. Before taking early retirement, she held the roles of General Counsel, Executive General Manager,

Management Services Division (incorporating Legal, Audit, Insurance and Anti-Corruption Compliance) and Chief Compliance Officer for the Total Upstream Companies in Nigeria.

 In 2016, she obtained a Global Executive MBA awarded by LSE, NYU Stern and HEC (Paris), known as the TRIUM Global Executive MBA.   

 After many years in corporate life, she decided that it was time for her to fulfil her passion which is to open an exclusive space in Lagos to help bridge the business connections gap currently experienced by Women in Nigeria. This birthed “GAIA” (meaning “Mother Earth”), a Women-Only Members Club (www.gaiawomenclub.com) in Victoria Island.

 Olatowun is a Founder parent of Lagos Preparatory School, Ikoyi, one of Africa’s leading British curriculum preparatory schools in Lagos. Member of the board of directors of the Nigerian-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce, Advisory Board Member –

African Women on Board (AWB) as well as a member of the Committee on Tourism & Hospitality of the Institute of Directors (IOD).  She is also an angel investor and a member of Rising Tide Africa – a network of female business angels investing in entrepreneurs across the African continent.

 She is Wines & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 certified, and Dame Chevalier de l’Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne (2017).  She loves all forms of the Arts, Culture, food & wine, Pilates, spinning, books, and interesting places etc.

  • Your commitment to African women

“I am of the view that given the opportunity (which we are now just taking !!) African Women have the wherewithal to change their environment, country and therefore the continent as a whole to make it more progressive and efficient. I am passionate about doing my own little bit to make sure that this happens, and is one of the reasons that I founded GAIA”.

Why did you become a member of Women in Africa?

“I became a member of WIA because of its Pan African reach and focus. It is also probably the largest gathering of African women”.

What has WIA brought to you so far?

  • “I have only recently joined but so far lots of information about what African women are doing within and outside Africa. This is encouraging, inspiring and challenges me to forge ahead”.

3 adjectives/ words to best define WIA


“Progressive, Enabling, Supportive”.

What do you really expect from WIA Initiative (events, WIA Mag content, WIA Link application, training, coaching, etc.) in the coming years?

  • “All of the above and expect it to have the capacity to link African women with potential synergies. 

    In addition, as funding is one of the biggest obstacles for women in business, and especially for African women  I hope that one day, the WIA Initiative will  start a fund or partner with a fund. This will breathe life into many businesses, assist businesses to scale  and birth many new businesses”.

Would you be interested in becoming a mentor for young entrepreneurs?

“Certainly. It would be a pleasure”.

  • Is there some news, anything you would like to share with the community?

“I founded GAIA in April 2018 and started with the business dining club which is one of the mini clubs (@gaiawomenclub on Instagram).  Having completed our club house design at the end of last year/early 2019, we will commence the renovations on the club house this month (May) with a view to opening the club at the end of 2019. We of course welcome out of town members !”