Africa is a continent brimming with creative and ingenious minds contributing to a vast business ecosystem in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. The continent is home to several countries with the fastest growing global economies. Many young, ambitious Africans are setting out to write their own stories and leaving remarkable legacies with the creation of enterprises that will transform Africa and rekindle its economies.
Africa means business, and over the years, it has seen the emergence of a number of mega-corporations, most of which are run by foreigners. For instance, AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s largest gold producer, is led by Mark Futani, an Australian. Safaricom, East Africa’s largest telecom provider, is run by a Guyanese man, Bob Collymore, and CEO Graham Mackay, an American, runs the world’s largest beverage maker, SABMiller. Now, a bold and fearlessly ambitious group of African men and women are taking the reins on Africa’s businesses, building pan-African companies with regional, and sometimes global, presences and shaping the economic future of the African continent through their resolutions and actions.
Here are ten such powerful, influential, and successful Africans who, against all odds, have made it big. It surely was not an easy pursuit, but with determination, hard work, resilience, and a strong upholding of their principles, they prevailed.
Jason Njoku (Nigeria)
Status: Founder and CEO of iROKO Partners and iROKOTv
Net worth: 12 million USD
Secret to success: Tenacity is the biggest reason for his achievements. He spots an idea, makes a plan, and runs with it. Don’t hang around waiting for things to happen. Learn from your mistakes, and keep true to your own vision.
Quote: I make more mistakes than I make good choices. My only saving grace is that the few good choices that I make are better and more significant.
Mark Shuttleworth (South Africa)
Status: Founder of Knife Capital
Net worth: 500 million USD
Secret to success: He likes to surround himself with people better than himself in one aspect and bring all those talents together to create super solutions. He is a visionary who is very patient and both ready and willing to lose money if it helps him change an industry in a few years.
Quote: A big part of willpower is having something to aspire to, something to live for.
Mike Macharia (Kenya)
Status: Founder and CEO of Seven Seas Technology
Net worth: 11.2 million USD
Secret to success: Link African problems with monetary value and be persistent. Never give up because all things are not rosy. Business and entrepreneurship has its ups and downs. Keep this in mind and fight forward.
Quote: Life is not always smooth sailing, not even those considered to have made it, but it is the bumps along the way that moulds one to perform better in the next instance. In the face of all these challenges, passion is what keeps you going.
Aliko Dangote (Nigeria)
Status: Owner of Dangote group
Net worth: 13.8 billion USD
Secret to success: Self-sufficiency and a manufacturing strategy. Rather than entering new market via acquisition, focus on building it from scratch with unquestionable quality and then compete with the existing players. It is an approach that is generating wins for my company.
Quote: Do not kill the competition. Competition is healthy for businesses and it keeps, you the entrepreneur, on your toes.
Nicky Oppenheimer (South Africa)
Status: Businessman and Philanthropist
Net worth: 7.1 billion USD
Secret to success: Believe in Africa, be down to earth, forget emotion, reinvest, and know the art of recovery.
Quote: I’m a great believer that if you know how to operate in Africa, there are unbelievable opportunities.
Mohammed Gulamabbas Dewji (Tanzania)
Status: President and CEO of MeTL Group
Net worth: 1.4 billion USD
Secret to success: It is all about hard work. I put in hundred hours a week. It is never a stopped game. You can never say I have worked hard enough now.
Quote: People in Tanzania look at my wealth and think I must be sunbathing and playing golf all day, but I work really hard.
Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga, Jr. (Nigeria)
Status: Business Tycoon
Net worth: 5.8 billion USD
Secret to success: Vision, hard work, dedication, patience, commitment, risk, and reclusiveness.
Quote: The harder you work the luckier you get.
Issad Rebrab (Algeria)
Status: CEO of Cevital
Net worth: 3.4 billion USD
Secret to success: Hard work and determination with a little risk taking.
Quote: Think big, start small and move fast.
Michael Kojo Essien (Ghana)
Status: Professional footballer
Net worth: 90 million USD
Secret to success: Determination and constant progression in his football career.
Quote: Yes, I am aggressive and there is nothing wrong with that. I am determined about one thing. I won’t change my game.
Mohammed Hussein Ali Al-‘Amoudi (Ethiopia)
Net worth: 10.3 billion USD
Secret to success: I make a personal commitment to the direction and success of all the programmes in which I invest. I make all philanthropic decisions myself after taking account of a range of expert opinions.
Quote: There is a natural link between the effective running of my businesses and the effective direction of philanthropic funds. I apply business principles of my philanthropic work so that maximum value is given to the causes I support.
Success is not for a selected group of people. You, too, can be successful with a clearly spelt out and defined vision. Discipline yourself, prepare for resistance and setbacks, and never give up. Pursue with passion until you attain 100% completion of your vision. Do not let the achievements of today keep and deter you from reaching out and achieving the success of tomorrow.
Cephas Nshimyumuremyi, a successful African entrepreneur from Rwanda in East Africa, says to be successful is to do what you know, and Justina Kavale of Namibia says to believe in your ideas for the passion in what you are doing only comes if you believe in the ideas yourself. Many young African entrepreneurs and successful men and women did not have it all, but they took their beliefs, passion, commitment, determination and hard work, coupled it with the vast resources Africa has to offer and made the best of it.
Jason Njoku, Mohammed Dewji, Michael Essien, and other numerous successful Africans have proved it is not utterly impossible for Africans to make it big in life.