In the past few years, African business leaders have progressively taken their march to the hall of fame of some of the World’s greatest business leaders. Their stories are inspiring, and that’s exactly what I hope to share here. I have personally done extensive research on this topic and in this post, you will learn about these inspiring African business leaders, their backgrounds, establishments, net-worths, and some of their business ideologies, with the hopes that these inspire you to succeed more in your business(es) too.
Business activities have continually dominated most human activities, and they are increasingly so. This is because at the heart of making money is the art of business. And money is not just any commodity, it is a commodity of power. Money gives you the power to buy and own goods, services and assets.
Businesses have become diverse in types, scopes, scale/coverage, and many other parameters. There is a form of business for everyone, and no matter how many people full enter into business, it might never get full. Businesses and their types have become so many today but despite the numerosity, there are some basic things you expect to find in them all.
One is the fact that almost every business person wants to invest in a business opportunity that has a high chance of bringing him wealth despite the number of people that might already be doing it. By implication, every lucrative business opportunity you probably think of investing in already have many people in it, even though sometimes, they may be farther away from you.
Another thing all businesses have in common is that point called “startup”. The typical characteristics of a startup include the oddly challenging nature, the difficulty in getting sufficient capital, the inability to stay off-the-ground and become sustainable, and the worst thing every startup hate to hear, it can die a natural death. Surviving a startup is therefore not an easy task, and to be honest, you will need a lot of inputs from different angles, including motivations from some business leaders whose businesses have survived those stages.
Why Follow These African Business Leaders
It’s no doubt there are countless business people you can choose to follow in your business career. But in Africa, succeeding is particularly more difficult than in many other parts of the world. Pardon me if you think I may be wrong in this, but if you succeed in breaking in, Africa offers you a mine of infinite treasures that will keep you ever wealthy.
These African business leaders are interesting people to follow, not just because they are probably some of the richest Africans on the continent but also because their stories will inspire you to keep making great strides towards success, no matter how small your startup currently seem, or no matter how big your challenges are.
I have made a list (in no particular order) of African business leaders you should follow as an entrepreneur. The list will comprise both men and women who have made remarkable impacts in the world of business. So, sit back and enjoy your read, which I expect might take more than one sitting.
Inspiring African Business Leaders You Should Follow
You may not have found any compilation like the one you are currently reading. Even if you have, it may not be in the form that I present in this post. For sake of inclusiveness, I have decided to write on the African leaders in two categories – male and female African leaders. This is not an exhaustive list of inspiring African business leaders but it is indeed going to be a very comprehensive one.
Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi
Divine Simbi Ndhlukula
Bola Muinat Shagaya
1. Aliko Dangote
Aliko Dangote, born to Mohammed Dangote and Mariya Sanusi Dantata had his primary and secondary education in Kano and Jigawa states, Nigeria, respectively; had normal growing-up childhood days in a family we can describe as very wealthy by today’s standards. He later had his Bachelor’s degree in Business Studies and Administration at the Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, after which he returned to Nigeria to fully practise business till the present day.
He had always loved business and he had once narrated how he bought and sold candies to his classmates back then in primary school. After school, he worked with his maternal uncle Alhaji Sanusi Dantata, for a while. Subsequently, Dangote obtained a loan from him and went to start what has now become the largest industrial conglomerate in Africa, the Dangote Group of Companies.
Dangote Group of Companies, a conglomerate, includes the Dangote Cement, sugar and salt refinery and packaging industries, pasta and many other commodities. Recently, in July 2017, he kicked off the physical construction of his Petroleum refinery project at Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria. This project also goes side-by-side with the urea Fertilizer factory (which has been completed and has started production of fertilizer as of now).
Dangote group currently operates in over 20 African countries with over 30,000 employees. Though known for many things like salt, sugar, pasta, transportation, food and food seasonings, and other things, the Dangote Group is most popularly known in their cement subdivision which remains the largest until the completion of the refinery project.
Dangote established the largest cement manufacturing plant in Africa, a facility in Obajana, Kogi State, Nigeria. This plant produces over 5 million metric tonnes per year. Dangote Cement also owns cement plants in Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia and Tanzania and other African countries. To show how much stakes he has secured even outside Nigeria, his home country, Dangote built the headquarter of his cement industry in Cameroun, another West-African country.
Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian business magnate and entrepreneur, holds the position of the richest person in Africa with an estimated net worth of US$16.1 billion as of September 2021.
Some Dangote’s Business Ideologies
You have to listen to people, as a good leader
You must possess the right information
Being focused is key
In business, it is important to think ahead
Having a vision is important to the success
You must think big
You must see only the possibility
You must be a strategic planner
And finally, your name is your most valuable asset. Protect it.
Lessons From Dangote
Even though claims have been made that Dangote’s business success is partly favoured by some undue favour from the government of the time, these claims have not been verified. They explained that the cement business environment was politically modified to knock off his competitors while he receives protection from the government. Many of these stories linger on but what is more important are the lessons you can learn from Dangote and his business adventures.
He was a loyal servant to his uncle before starting up
He is a risk-taker – he describes as calculated risks
He believes in diversification and innovation, thus keeping him at the top of the game
He believes that there are countless opportunities in Nigeria when he says “Nigeria is one of the best-kept secrets”.
2. Strive Masiyiwa
Strive Masiyiwa is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur and philanthropist. He currently resides in London, United Kingdom but his peculiar impact on the African soil made him appear prominently on this list. He was born in Zimbabwe in 1961. He completed his primary education in Zambia, before having his secondary education in Scotland.
Not so much is known about his growing up stages, his motivations and his early interests in business and business activities, but we know that Strive is continually making great strides daily. He is well-known for his magnanimous acts of philanthropy on African soil. But even more impactfully is his unusual interest in startup entrepreneurs.
He constantly publishes posts about business excellence, entrepreneurship and innovation on his official Facebook handle which currently have over 5 million followers. He has demonstrated his support and mentorship for entrepreneurs and young startups through engagement with them on his Facebook platform and through other forms of engagement.
Strive is popularly known for the establishment of the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, after legally challenging the Zimbabwean government’s monopoly on telecommunications services. The removal of the state’s monopoly in telecommunications is regarded as one of the key milestones in the privatization of the African telecommunications sector. Soon after, Econet Wireless had involved many other African countries like South Africa, Lesotho, Burundi, Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, and Nigeria (which was acquired as the present-day Airtel NG).
He also founded Cassava Fintech, a financial-based platform that handles payments, subscription plans for different services, etc. Cassava Fintech then launched its Sasai app via which all its financial services can be rendered.
The London-based company, Liquid Telecom Group (now Liquid Intelligent Technologies), is also one of Masiyiwa’s most successful ventures. Liquid Telecom Group has become Africa’s largest satellite and fibre optic business spanning over 14 countries.
Stemming from his interests in renewable energy, Strive Masiyiwa and the Econet company announced the launch of Vaya Electric on Thursday 28th May 2020, and Strive is always on the move as an innovator. We don’t know what he is up to at the moment until he releases something new and amazing.
His net worth is currently estimated at US$2.4 billion (2021)
Strive Masiyiwa is an ardent follower of the teachings of Peter Drucker, the father of management. His business ideologies centres around innovation, risk-taking and determination. This he has demonstrated countless times, beginning with his venture into telecommunications in Africa, a business area that was still very new and unexplored with very many uncertainties.
According to Strive, very few people are bold enough to venture into such dangerous projects and those are the very few that makes it to the top. He has given innovation another boost through his investments in the financial, automobile and even health sectors.
Lessons from Masiyiwa
His lessons are numerous but I will just drop only a few here;
Start from wherever you are, with whatever you’ve got – Jim Rohn
When you see a problem, think about a solution
I do not give because I have; I have because I give – Strive
Know how to evaluate your business progress
Think about innovation. Any type of business can innovate
It is only when you think to act that you achieve the greatest, don’t stop at dreaming
Whenever you see a successful business, someone made a courageous decision – Peter Drucker.
3. Tony Elumelu
Tony Elumelu, christened as Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu, was born in Jos Plateau, Nigeria. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, he furthered his academic pursuit by bagging a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos in 1987 and 1990 respectively. In 1993, he married the love of his life, Awele Vivian Elumelu, a medical doctor with whom he has seven children.
In 1985, he began his journey to fame and wealth as bank staff at Union Bank, Nigeria Plc. At this time, he was a Youth Corp member. In 2005, he acquired the Standard Trust Bank and thereafter, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) for which he is most popularly known.
After acquiring United Bank for Africa, his administration catapulted the bank to the enviable position it currently occupies in Africa. In 2010, however, Tony Elumelu stepped down as the CEO of the Pan-African bank. However, he still remains the chairman of the financial institution. Currently, UBA has branches in over 20 African countries. The bank also has branches in New York, London and Paris with assets in excess of $19billion.
After stepping down as CEO of UBA in 2010, he established the Heirs Holdings, an investment company that is committed to improving lives and transforming Africa through long term investment holdings in areas spanning financial services, power, oil & gas, real estate and hospitality & healthcare. As of 2021, Elumelu is also the chairman of Seadrill Nigeria Ltd and Transcorp Nigeria Plc.
Tony Elumelu has also remained dedicated to philanthropy. He founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation, famous for its $5000 USD Entrepreneurship grants to upcoming startups across the continent. Launched in 2015, The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship. The foundation has also championed many editions of undergraduate and post-graduate scholarships, especially in his home country, Nigeria.
As of 2021, his net worth is estimated at US$700 million, making him one of the richest men in Nigeria and Africa.
In many of his talks, he emphasized the richness of the African business environment. He believes that there are opportunities in Africa and it is only when we recognise this value that other people can truly see the value in the continent. This was one of the driving forces for the introduction of his Africapitalism concept, which talks about Africans investing in Africa.
It is never too late to start something; deciding against doing anything to change your financial situation is even worse.
Hard work and consistency can bring back a dying business to life.
Always do what you love. That way, you won’t run out of passion and zeal for what you do.
4. Mo Ibrahim
Mo Ibrahim, born Mohammed Ibrahim in 1946, is a Sudanese of Nubian descent. Born and bred in Sudan in a family of five, Mo was the second child. At his tender age, his family migrated to Alexandria, Egypt where his father, Fathi Ibrahim, was employed by a cotton company. However, his mother, Aida Ibrahim, was particularly determined that all her children get a good education
After his primary and secondary education, Mo Ibrahim went on to bag a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt, after which he later returned to Sudan where he worked for the telephone company, Sudan Telecom, for a few years. He then moved to England, earned his master’s degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering from the University of Bradford, and a PhD in Mobile Communications from the University of Birmingham. Thereafter, he worked as a communication engineer at British Telecom where he helped invent the United Kingdom’s first mobile phone network while working as the Technical Director in that facility. Subsequently, in 1989, Ibrahim founded Mobile Systems International (MSI), a consultancy and software company.
In 2007 and 2011, Ibrahim was awarded two honorary doctorates, respectively, by the University of London’s School of Oriental and the African Studies, and by the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1998, MSI-Cellular Investments sprang up as an offshoot of MSI and this new company was later renamed Celtel, a mobile phone operator that served over 23 African and Middle Eastern countries. In 2004, Ibrahim and his team sold off Celtel to MTC, a Kuwait-based mobile telecommunication company, for $3.4 billion, and the name changed to Zain as it is known in many African countries today.
Presently, Ibrahim is devoted to promoting African scholarship among students and good governance in African countries through his foundation, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. His foundation offers scholarships to African students to study at the University of Birmingham, SOAS, and London Business School. In promoting good governance, Mo Ibrahim’s foundation has published the “Ibrahim Index of African Governance” which takes account of certain criteria and rates all 54 African countries annually according to performance in the Good Governance Index. African leaders who are deemed worthy are then rewarded with $5 million for their good governance.
His net worth is currently estimated at USD$1.1 billion as of 2021.
His business ideology centres on providing the right leadership free from corruption. He believes that a business can only truly succeed if the entrepreneur is able to lead the people and resources in a free and fair manner.
He also extended this ideology in the establishment of the Mo Ibrahim Good Governance Index to promote good leadership in government. Two of his quotes support this; “I came to the conclusion that unless you are ruled properly, you cannot move forward. Everything else is second. Everything.”, “I made money. I wanted to give it back to Africa but I wanted to give it back in a meaningful way. So I really want to do something which deals with the root of the problem of hunger, of disease, of ills we have in our society.”
Follow your interest even if you are not sure how it will make money
Be adaptable to change
Problems are opportunities
You can do business in Africa without corruption
Bring others along, and succeed together
People who do serious things take themselves seriously
Stand for what you believe in
5. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi
Al-Amoudi shares both Saudi and Ethiopian origins from both parents, his father was Saudi and his mother, Ethiopian. He was born in Ethiopia where he spent a large part of his childhood before emigrating to Saudi Arabia with his brother, Mauricet, and thereafter becoming a Saudi citizen. In Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Al-Amoudi initially ventured into construction where he handles construction contracts for the Saudi Royal family, but he later diversified into other areas like petroleum refining, agriculture, cement production, steel and transportation, amongst others.
In 1994, he founded Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies (MIDROC), which as a Midroc-Derba conglomerate invest largely in Gold mining, construction, agriculture, cement production, steel production, transportation, petroleum refining and hotel management (owns the Sheraton Addis Hotel).
Preem, his Swedish-based petroleum and biofuels company, one of Mo’s most valuable establishments, boasts itself as the largest fuel company in Sweden with a refining capacity of more than 18 million m³ of crude oil every year. Preem refines and distributes crude oil with two refineries and over 570 petrol stations all spread across Sweden, Gothenberg and Lysekil.
Also, Mo’s firm, Saudi Star Agricultural Development has also been involved in the cultivation of thousands of acres of land for fruits, vegetables, cereals, coffee, tea, flowers and rice for consumers in Ethiopia and abroad.
Al-Amoudi has committed funds to support healthcare and sport in Saudi Arabia, the US, Europe and Africa. He funds and supports the Ethiopian football team. He has also funded a breast cancer research centre at King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia.
His net worth is estimated at US$8.4 billion (2021).
His business ideology centres on change, innovation, and being open enough to recognize new opportunities. He once said, “For me, businesses are like buses. You stand in a corner and you don’t like where the first bus is going? Wait ten minutes and take another. Don’t like that one? They’ll just keep coming. There’s no end to buses or businesses.” You just have to keep looking and trying.
Perseverance and diligence in what you do is what guarantees you success
There is always room for change, especially when old methods do not produce desired results
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition – Al-Amoudi
There is great power in your mind. If you think you can do something, or if you think you can’t, you are right.
6. Raymond Ackerman
After graduating from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Commerce at the age of 20, Raymond Ackerman joined the Greatermans group in the Ackermans division in 1951 as a trainee manager. The Ackermans had been founded by his father Gus Ackerman just after World War I, but was later sold to the Greatermans group in 1940. Ackerman was eventually offered a position at Greatermans head office in Johannesburg.
In the early 1950s, when food retailing supermarkets first began to gain prominence in South Africa, Norman Herber, the then chairman of Greatermans decided to start a food retailer called Checkers. After Norman established Checkers, Ackerman was placed in charge of the food retailer.
Ackerman had always showcased an outstanding performance at Greatermans. In 1965, he won the Outstanding Young South African Award along with Gary Player, and by 1966, at the age of 35, he was the managing director of 85 Checkers stores. However, that same year, he was fired from his top managerial position. Many argued that this was an unfair treatment to someone who had worked for many years diligently and who had distinguished himself, but what he did next would change the entire course of his life.
Ackerman (90 years old, as at the time this post was published), was most popularly associated with Pick ‘n Pay, one of Africa’s largest supermarket chain stores. After he was fired from Checkers, Ackerman used his severance package and a bank loan he secured at that time to acquire four stores in Cape Town under the name Pick ‘n Pay from Jack Goldin. Starting out with 175 employees, Pick ‘n Pay grew into becoming one of Africa’s largest supermarket chain stores under the leadership of Ackerman, with more than 124 supermarkets in 2006, 14 hypermarkets, 179 franchised outlets and more than 30,000 employees in several African countries, including South Africa, Zambia, Mauritius and Mozambique.
He remained chairman of Pick ‘n Pay until 2010 when Gareth Ackerman took over from him. Gareth Ackerman is Raymond’s first son and also the founder of Pleiad Capital Management, a US-based financial management company for small and medium-scale businesses.
Raymond Ackerman’s net worth was estimated at US$500 million (2015).
Ackerman dominated South Africa’s retail markets through his now famous ‘customer sovereignty’ philosophy. As opposed to what his own father taught him, Raymond took to the teachings of WH Hutt, his teacher when he was studying Commerce at the University of Cape Town. He once quoted Hutt when he said, “If you fight for the consumer, she will look after you. Fight monopolies, fight collusion, fight apartheid, fight anything that’s wrong for the man in the street, be he black or white.”. He admitted that Hutt had a huge influence on his business ideology of “consumer sovereignty”.
When you make the consumer the king, she will do everything possible for you
You’ll never make money unless you have a mission. Like a doctor serves his patient, you’ve got to serve your consumer. – Hutt
Using the analogy of the table; The consumer must sit on top. She is your mission. However, you must have sound administration as one leg of the table, the right merchandise for the consumer at the right price as the second leg – meaning you have to fight collusion and cartels, social involvement as the third leg and finally, people, just like the third leg, are the fourth leg. – Bernado Trijiullio
The more you give in life, the more you get back.
7. Wale Tinubu
Jubril Adewale Tinubu, popularly known simply as “Wale Tinubu” was born to Alhaji Kafari Tinubu. Little mention was made about his mother. Wale Tinubu is a Nigerian businessman, consultant and lawyer. After his primary education in Lagos State, Nigeria, Wale furthered his secondary education at the Federal Government College, Lagos, from where he obtained his secondary school leaving certificate, the West African School Certificate (WASSCE) in 1983. Soon after, he studied Law at the University of Liverpool and obtained a Masters of Law degree from the London School of Economics. At the age of 22, Wale Tinubu was back in Nigeria to attend the Nigerian Law School, the final induction into the legal profession.
His father was also a lawyer who established the K.O. Tinubu and Co Law Firm, and Wale started off his career with his family firm as an attorney. All hopes were propped up for the promising young lawyer to take over the family law firm but to the contrary, his career took a different direction. However, he remains one of the successful businessmen in Nigeria and Africa today.
Wale Tinubu is popularly known and associated with Oando Plc, a Nigerian-based oil and gas trading and distribution company. He started making a career turn towards his passion for petroleum, oil and gas in 1992 when he became an attorney specialising in corporate and petroleum law assignments. In 1994, he co-founded (together with Omamofe Boyo) Ocean & Oil Group, a private investment company that focused on oil trading and shipping. His company then acquired Unipetrol, a government-controlled subsidiary of the US-based Exxon Corporation which was formerly called ESSO Africa until the Nigerian government purchased a controlling stake and rebranded it as Unipetrol. In 1999, Unipetrol acquired a 40% stake in Gaslink Nigeria Limited, a Nigerian-based gas utility company. In 2000, Ocean and Oil acquired a 30% controlling interest in Unipetrol Plc, further raising the stakes in Unipetrol Plc to 42% in 2001.
In 2002, Unipetrol under the stakeholdership of Ocean and Oil placed a bid for a 60% stake in Agip Nigeria Plc, a rival petroleum marketing firm which was owned by Agip Petroli BV, an Italian-based oil company. Having purchased the 60% stake in Agip, the Ocean and Oil Group merged both Unipetrol Plc and Agip Plc in 2003 into what is known today as Oando Plc, which is now a leading integrated energy services provider in West Africa.
His net worth is currently estimated at US$700 million as of 2021. He is currently placed as one of the richest Nigerian lawyers.
His core business ideology and that of his company Oando centres on being able to merge intelligence with understanding and curiosity in other aspects of the market. He once talked about the “first world” mentality, relating this to a refined attitude of diligence, punctuality in delivering services and strategic planning adapted from the Western world.
He believes that the African environment has produced a justification for some mal-business behaviours, but having a change to the “first world” mentality helps the business leader in the process of making, implementing and evaluating business plans in a manner that gives you a valuable return.
He believes in the thriving spirit of Africans; a hostile and competitive environment demands equally strong-willed entrepreneurs
Pursue what your passion craves for irrespective of your academic qualifications.
8. Manu Chandaria
Manu Chandaria was born in Nairobi, Kenya, on 1st March 1929. His full birth name is Manilal Premchand Chandaria. He was born to his parents, known as Premchandbhai Chandaria, who is his father, and his mother, known as Poonjiben Chandaria.
Manu Chandaria was born in Nairobi to Premchandbhai (his father) and Poonjiben Chandaria (his mother). In 1915, his father who was a merchant, together with the entire family, migrated from Saurashtra, Gujarat, India to Kenya. On arrival in Kenya, Manu’s father started a provisions shop along Biashara Street, Nairobi, Kenya. Chandaria, who grew up in the Ngara area of Nairobi with his family in a house that was home to three other families, assisted his father in his provision shop.
His father was only semi-literate but he was committed to the education of Chandaria. He attended various elementary and secondary schools in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya. Due to World War II, his family temporarily moved back to India where he completed his secondary education and eventually graduated with a Bachelor degree of Science in Physics and Chemistry from the University of Bombay, Jamnagar, India in 1949. He then proceeded to bag a Bachelor and Master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, the United States in 1950 and 1951 respectively.
On return to Kenya after his University education, Manu’s father had acquired a small aluminium plant from the proceeds of his provision shop and using his strong business and entrepreneurial acumen, Manu grew the family’s aluminium producing business into the Comcraft Group, a multinational industry that manufactures steel, aluminium and plastic products in over 45 countries including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Congo, India, Zambia, Uganda, etc., with over 40,000 employees.
His current net worth is estimated at US$1.7 billion as of 2021.
Manu’s business ideology centres on the business leader’s ability to identify the special potentials of every population and exploit them. When asked in an interview with [email protected] about specific other sectors his company would like to invest in, he replied “Other sectors which we are now doing is the housing and shelter and I think that is ever-growing and I don’t think that will ever change. I don’t think we will change that now. We are not really sure we will be going into electronics or software or telephony. Our speciality in the last 70 years or 80 has been built on aluminium and steel and I think that there is a great need for both of them.”
He believes that for one to be able to succeed in the African business environment specifically, one first need to understand the business climate of Africa, and also to understand the speciality of each country and harness it. This he emphasized in his statement in the same interview as above, “There are specialities in each country, … in Africa, … But each one has got a speciality, and those specialities, if you can really capitalize on those specialities, I think that you are making a great…”
He recognized the importance of using what you have to get what you want when he conceded “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, there were at least spoons in the house”.
It is important to understand the peculiarity of every business environment and exploit it accordingly.
9. Mike Adenuga
Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr, popularly known as Mike Adenuga, was born to Oloye Michael Agbolade Adenuga Snr, a school teacher, and Omoba Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga, a businesswoman of royal Ijebu descent. After his primary education in Ijebu, Lagos State, Nigeria, Mike received his secondary education at Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria and obtained his higher school certificate (the then equivalent of the West African School Certificate obtained at the end of secondary school) from Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro, Ogun State Nigeria. He eventually studied Business Administration at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and obtained his Masters of Business Administration at Pace University, New York.
His most popular establishment today is the Globacom telecommunication company launched in 2003. Adenuga was issued a conditional GSM license in 1995. After this license was revoked, Adenuga received the second one in 2003 following another auction held by the then federal government. This gave way to the birth of Globacom, one of Nigeria’s largest telecommunication companies. In 2015, Adenuga made a takeover bid to purchase Ivorian mobile telecom’s operator Comium Cote d’Ivoire for $600 million and so far, Globacom has become fully operational in other African countries like Benin, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Upon return to Nigeria after his education, he took over the family lumber business and further included other businesses like trading of machinery, fabric, beer and soft drinks. Encouraged by the government to participate in the oil industry, he formed Consolidated Oil Limited in 1984 and joined in the bidding for some oil blocks. In 1990, his Consolidated Oil Ltd received a drilling license to explore oil in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. A year later, the company struck oil in the shallow waters of the Southwestern Nigerian state, Ondo, thus becoming the first local oil company to discover oil in commercial quantities. The independent oil exploration, production and distribution company, Consolidated Oil Limited, was subsequently renamed Conoil Producing Limited, a name that is inseparably associated with the distribution of petroleum in Nigeria today.
Also, in 1990, he established Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) which grew as one of the largest commercial banks in Nigeria. Equitorial Trust Bank successfully merged with the former Devcom bank. Due to reasons peculiar to the banking sector, the Equitorial Trust Bank was found to be under-capitalized and unsatisfactorily managed in an audit by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2009. Following interventions by the Asset Management Company (AMCON), a federal government agency, Equitorial Trust Bank was taken over by Sterling Bank in 2011.
Currently, his net worth is estimated at $10.9 billion as of September 2021.
He believes in hard work, diligence and focus, in business. He believes you can achieve anything you want if you develop these attributes, irrespective of your family background. His successes demonstrated this, from being the son of a teacher and small businesswoman to becoming one of Africa’s wealthiest businessmen. Many of his quotes also lend credibility to this – “The harder you work, the luckier you get”, “If you are hardworking and determined, you will make it and that’s the bottom line”.
He also believes in taking business opportunities and innovation. In his words, “In today’s world, paradoxically, it is the boldest action that is often the safest. Remaining where you are in a world that is changing so rapidly is, in fact, the most dangerous of all places to be in”. “Whether you are a farmer, builder or engineer, the opportunities are equal. Just add a little innovation”.
Lessons from Mike Adenuga
You have all it takes to succeed
Plan for opportunities and seize them when they come
Diversification of investments is key to great wealth
In all, add innovation to the list. That’s what makes the difference.
10. Patrice Motsepe
Patrice was born to Kgosi Augustine Motsepe, a Chief of the Mmakau branch of the Tswana people. Tswana made up about 85% of the population of Botswana in 2011, but this ethnic group is also native to South Africa. Kgosi, Patrice’s father was a schoolteacher and thereafter, a small businessman who owned a Spaza shop (a home shop) which was popular among black mineworkers. It was from this shop that Motsepe learned basic business principles from his father, as well as first-hand exposure to mining, an area where he would later make his fortune from.
After his primary and secondary education in South Africa, Patrice earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Swaziland and a law degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and thereafter specialised in mining and business law.
In 1994, the year Nelson Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa, Patrice became the first black legal partner in the law firm, Bowman Gilfillan. With the new black government, there was the promotion of black empowerment and entrepreneurship through the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) laws, an opportunity Motsepe seized to establish his mining company, Future Mining, which provided contract gold mining services.
He is most popularly known for the establishment of African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), a mining company that specializes in the mining of gold, platinum and platinum group metals (PGMs), iron, coal, and copper. ARM became the first South Africa’s black-owned mining company. In 2003, ARMGold, the gold-mining subsidiary of ARM formed a merger with Harmony Gold, the 12th largest gold mining company in the world, forming the world’s 5th largest gold producer. ARMGold also merged with Anglovaal Gold in 2003, forming a trio that was regarded as the largest group controlled by black entrepreneurs in South Africa at that time.
His current net worth is estimated at US$2.3 billion as of 2021.
His business ideology centres on becoming the best he and his company can ever be, by constantly reviewing inputs and outcomes, and also getting the best minds to do the job. He once said, “All our businesses comprise of the BEST people money can buy. My policy is to hire the best and pay them well”. He also said, “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance.”
He also believes in good business partnerships. He had once boasted about how the unity between ARM and Harmony Gold continues to grow.
Be prepared for opportunities and when they come, never miss them
Never settle for less, never remain in one position, always keep improving
His success irrespective of his family background has demonstrated that you can achieve any success if you put your mind to it
11. Adenike Ogunlesi
Adenike Ogunlesi (shortened “Nike”, pronounced “Neekay”) was born by a Scottish mother, Elizabeth Okuboyejo, in 1959 to a medical doctor of the Yoruba ethnic group of Nigeria. Much is not known about why Adenike’s mother’s names did not entirely reflect her Scottish origin, but Elizabeth Okuboyejo was a fashion entrepreneur who discovered and pioneered the popular Nigerian Adire fabric. Adenike grew up in a polygamous home in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.
After her primary education in Ogun State, Nigeria, Nike went on to Ibadan, in Oyo State, Nigeria for her secondary education. She eventually proceeded to study Law at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, but things were not going as she wanted. In her second university year, she dropped out of school when she realised that Law would not give her the satisfaction she desires. She then joined her mother in her small fashion/tailoring business, later started her own business and subsequently later underwent some executive business training courses at Lagos Business School to further enhance her business knowledge.
Adenike Ogunlesi is most popularly known for Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, the children’s clothing company she established. She started her business career in 1996 by selling pyjamas from the boot of her car. Her excellent business leadership skills made her become one of the best manufacturers of children wear in the country, and her brand soon grew to have over 15 major stores across Nigeria.
Her net worth is currently not known but Ruff ‘n’ Tumble is estimated to be worth over US$5 million.
Her ideology in business centres around doing what you are passionate about. She believes that if you are doing what you are passionate about, you would be more motivated to go after everything you’ve got. This passion and full energy are what will make you and your business to enviable heights.
She emphasized tenacity of purpose when she once said, “Being limited by funds and with no access to investors, tenacity of purpose will always reign supreme, as long as you’re building a venture on a viable business model”.
Have a viable business plan, critically think about growth, development, and innovation.
12. Fred Swaniker
Frederick Kenneth Swaniker is a Ghanian entrepreneur and leadership development expert. He was born in Ghana to a lawyer father and his mother is an educator. He completed his primary education in Ghana but his family eventually fled Ghana following a military coup, and by the age of 18, he had already lived in four African countries.
Subsequently, he had his university education at the Macalester College in Minnesota, United States, after which he worked for a while at Mckinsey & Company in Johannesburg, South Africa. Eventually, he received his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the Standford Graduate School of Business and was named an Arjay Miller Scholar, a distinction awarded to the top 10% of each graduating class at Standford University.
His major establishment is the African Leadership University (ALU), a network of tertiary institutions with operations in Mauritius and Rwanda. ALU awards a bachelor’s degree in leadership/administration and related courses after a 2-year full-time residential program. ALU was birthed from the African Leadership Academy, a secondary institution which he co-founded in 2015, following Swaniker’s expanded efforts at establishing an institution of higher learning. The mission of ALU is to build 25 campuses across the continent and produce 3 million young African ethical and entrepreneurial leaders over the next 50 years. In 2019, ALU made the Fast Company’s list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies.
He also established Global Leadership Adventures based in San Diego, California which is also committed to take develop young people in developing countries in leadership. He has also founded many other organizations and companies including African Leadership Network, Synexa Life Sciences, and others.
In recognition of the work of Fred Swaniker in developing Africa’s future leaders, he was selected as of 115 young leaders to meet President Obama at the white house in 2010, was recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and was listed by Forbes Magazine among the Top 10 Young Power Men in Africa in 2011.
His net worth is estimated at USD$19 million (2021)
He believes that all businesses in Africa need three things; a viable product, some capital, and talented teams, of which finding well-trained talent with the skills to execute is the real shortage, not capital. He believes that the success of business in Africa is based on a sound understanding of leadership and entrepreneurship.
When you start up something, surround yourself with the right people. “The real secret to your business success is the people you bring around you”
Don’t base people’s abilities on interviews. Finding the great or right people involves giving them special tasks related to your business
Experiences you gain from small projects can go a long way to give you the confidence for bigger successes. Start young and early, and gain a lot of experience.
If you want something to grow really big, you have to give it away, and this entails delegating roles and empowering other people to do things by themselves.
13. Patrick Awuah
Patrick Awuah Jr., a Ghanian entrepreneur, was born in Accra, Ghana where he grew up and attended the tended the Achimota School, a secondary co-educational boarding institution where he became a house perfect during his time. In 1985, he moved to the United States to attend Swarthmore College with a full scholarship where he earned bachelor’s degrees in Engineering and Economics four years later. Immediately after graduation, Awuah worked as a software engineer and program manager at Microsoft from 1989 to 1997, from where he also met his future wife, Rebecca Awuah, who was a software testing engineer.
Deeply committed to his goal of returning to Ghana to educate the next generation of African leaders, he left Microsoft in 1997 and enrolled at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley focusing his work on preparing a business plan for the African university he later established in Ghana. In 1999, Awuah graduated with his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and immediately moved back to Ghana with his family.
On moving back to Ghana in 1999, Awuah went on to establish Ashesi University for which he is most popularly known. Awuah founded Ashesi University in 2002 after leaving his job at Microsoft. Ashesi University soon became one of the most respected universities in Ghana, ranking among the Top Ten Most Respected Companies in Ghana in 2021. He had also been once named the 4th Most Respected CEO in Ghana.
His estimated net worth is not published as of today.
If you will succeed in business, you must be able to face your fear, the fear of failure. You also need to prepare yourself for the journey and get someone or people who will go on the journey with you. You may come face to face to failure sometimes, but the network of people around you, if good enough, will help you navigate the path to success. He makes it a point to nurture good relationships because he believes all relationships matter in business.
He believes that by having educated leaders, we can have a better society. – “Every society must be intentional about educating its leaders”.
Innovation is based majorly on the people involved and the team of the organization, and not necessarily the facility, money, etc.
“When we think about innovation, the first answer is not always the right answer; and to get to the right answer, we have to do a deep analysis of what are the root causes of the problem we are trying to solve”.
“The ability to confront complex problems and to design solutions to those problems, the ability to create is the most empowering thing that can happen to a man.”
Authenticity, honesty and building relationships are major elements of entrepreneurship
14. Elon Musk
Elon Musk, a man who needs no formal introduction, was born to Errol Musk, a South African mechanical engineer, while his mother, Maye Musk (née Haldeman) is a model, author, and nutritionist. He lived in a family of five with two siblings, a younger brother, Kimbal, and a younger sister, Tosca. In 1980, his parents had a divorce and Musk lived mostly with his father in South Africa.
Musk had his primary school education in South Africa, and then his secondary education at Bryanston High School and Pretoria Boys High School. In his childhood, Musk was an avid reader and is probably still is, and he had great interests in computers and programming.
Shortly before his 16th birthday, Musk and his younger brother secured passports at the Canadian embassy and emigrated to North America a year later to avoid being forced into military service in South Africa during the apartheid. They first arrived in Canada where he enrolled at Queen’s University in Kingston. Shortly after, he moved to the United States of America where he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Physics. In 1995, he moved to Palo Alto, California where he was admitted to do a PhD program in Applied Physics and Material Science at Stanford University, a program he decided to quit for business after only two days on campus. Today, he is known for many things and currently occupies the position of the 3rd World richest people (2021).
When it comes to establishments, Musk is a lethal genius, his intelligence, creativity and innovative abilities make him one of the most revolutionary entrepreneurs globally. From beginning by developing a video game Blastar at the age of twelve, Musk has become associated with an endless list of companies including Zip2, X.com/PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, OpenAI, Neuralink, etc.
He is probably most popular for Tesla and his SpaceX project. In the spring of 2004, Must invested in the vehicle manufacturing company, Tesla, and soon became the CEO and Product Architect. Under his aegis, the company released the patent in order to boost the development of electric cars. This idea he coined into a sentence from the internet meme, “All your base are belong to us” to read as “All our patents are belong to you”. Tesla is also involved in the production of “Power-all-energy” storage systems for households and companies.
His SpaceX project aims at bringing radical transportation in space, alongside his revolutionary feats by Tesla still in the areas of autos, and transportation.
His determination, leadership and management skills, his social media activity especially on Twitter, have made him popular amongst all categories of people including the youths. In 2016, Forbes ranked Musk the 21st of The World’s Most Powerful People.
His net worth is currently estimated at US$163.9 billion as of September 2021.
Elon Musk’s success in business is owed to his innovative abilities and his strong determination to succeed. He believes that business success comes from a determination to keep going on. It is easier to stay on your own, without executing your ideas, it is easier to get employed and not start your own business, but if you ever begin to work on your ideas, you must learn to never give up.
Don’t be afraid of failure. Just do it
When starting a company, you also need to get a few like-minded people with you
If you are convinced that what you are doing is correct, then you should not give up. Otherwise, look at your methods, you may be proceeding in error.
People should be less risk-averse, and face risks for the greater success ahead
15. Njeri Rionge
Njeri Rionge was born and brought up in Nairobi, Kenya. Her father was the head architect for the city council of Nairobi and her mother was a farmer. She had her primary education in Kenya, and being the first child in a family of five, she knew she had to begin her entrepreneurial career soon enough. At the age of 20, soon after her secondary education, she started selling yoghurts to students of the International School of Kenya and Loretto Convent Musongari High School during the breaks. She would pick up the yoghurts very early in the morning with her friend from a dairy farm in Limuru, Kenya and later sell them from the boot of her friend’s car. At that time, she also worked as a hairdresser and soon took the opportunity to buy branded luxury clothes and fashion wares from London to Kenya, where she sold them to her wealthy clients at the hairdressing shop for handsome profits.
With the rise of computers and the internet, Rionje saw the opportunity to provide internet access for the masses in Kenya, a venture that would later change the entire course of her entrepreneurial life.
Njeri is most popularly known for starting the Internet Service Provider, Wananchi Online in the year 2000. She was able to raise the huge sum in the equivalent of $500,000 from investors. Through her dedication and her track record of excellence, investors were willing to take the risk on her. She received additional funding of $3,000,000 till she had raised up to $238,000,000 from various investors. Wanachi Online has continued till today as one of the largest internet service providers in Kenya and East Africa.
Described by Forbes as a “serial entrepreneur”, Njeri also established Ignite Consulting, a company that specialises in business consultations; Ignite Lifestyle, a health care consultancy; Business Lounge, one of Kenya’s largest startup incubators; and Insite, a booming digital marketing agency.
Njeri finds pleasure in imparting knowledge and skills to young entrepreneurs in her country and helping them grow their own businesses.
Her net worth is currently estimated at US$100 million as of 2019.
She believes in recognizing opportunities and exploiting them early. Opportunities are loopholes of satisfaction that the entrepreneur can fill to provide value to people. She business success is linked to how much value you can provide to people – “Success for me is defined by increased value – not simply financial rewards.”
Identity and take advantage of opportunities
“Taking an idea that’s on paper or in your head and moving it forward into real, tangible action is the true spirit of entrepreneurship.”
Always take responsibilities for your business actions, that way you will be more deliberate on your decisions each time
Seek to provide value to people. This is what business success is all about
“Every single entrepreneur must have a backbone, if you don’t have the backbone and capacity to sustain and to be agile enough to organize your ideas and your business growth, then you’re probably not made up for business and entrepreneurship”
It is important you also build a strong network of people who are willing to support you. This you do through integrity and competence
16. Folorunsho Alakija
Folorunsho Alakija was born in 1951 to an upper-middle-class polygamous family. Her father was Chief L.A Ogbara of Ikorodu, Lagos State. Alakija had her nursery education at Our Ladies of Apostles, Lagos from 1955 to 1958. At the age of 7, Folorunsho Alakija travelled to the United Kingdom to continue her primary education at Dinorben School for Girls, Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, Wales from 1959 to 1963, after which she returned to Nigeria where she had her secondary education at Muslim High School, Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria, and then back to England for her secretarial studies at Pitman’s Central College, London.
After her Secretarial Course at Pitman’s Central, Folorunsho started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises in Lagos, Nigeria. She then moved to the former First National Bank of Chicago (International Merchant Bank of Nigeria), which later became FinBank, and now acquired by First City Monument Bank (FCMB) as the Executive Secretary to the Managing Director. Shortly after, she rose to become the new Head of the Corporate Affairs Department of the bank and then, the Office Assistant to the Treasury Department.
In the ’80s, Folorunsho decided to quit her job to study fashion design in England, returning to Nigeria after a few years to set up Supreme Stitches, a fashion label that catered for elite Nigerian women. But all these were not what gave her the recognition as the one of the richest women in Africa.
In 1993, Folorunsho Alakija applied for an oil prospecting license (OPL) to explore on a 617,000-acre block (now referred to as OPL 216 in the Agbami field of the Central Niger Delta) in the name of Famfa Limited, the oil exploring company she established and eventually struck oil. Once the company struck oil, the government sought to claim high stakes in the company but she fought and won the case in court. The license was granted to her company and in September 1996, Folorunsho Alakija entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a subsidiary of Texaco).
She also has investments in real estate and printing. Alakija established the Rose of Sharon Foundation that helps widows and orphans through scholarships and business grants and has also been involved in other philanthropic activities.
Her net worth is currently estimated to be US$1.1 billion as of 2019.
She believes that it is important to discover God’s purpose for your life and stay determined to fulfil it through diligence and perseverance. She once said, “Always remember, that anything worth doing at all is worth doing well, or not at all”
You do not have an excuse not to be successful. She never went to the university but she rose to become the richest woman in Africa
She described success with SUCCESS as follows;
S – Sacrifice. Dream big and dream to deliver. Pay the sacrifice to make this happen
U – Utilize your time and talent. When you waste time and talent, it is difficult to regain what you’ve lost
C – Consistently focus on your goals. The tough get going even when the weak are stuck with challenges.
C – Credibility and reliability should be your watchword
E – Educate yourself, renew your knowledge and continue to retrain yourself
S – Say “no” to those who are trying to discourage you.
S – Seek ye the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Never leave God out of it.
17. Sibongile Sambo
Sibongile Sambo was born in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, South Africa, in 1974. She showed an interest in aircraft from an early age, watching planes flying overhead and wondering if she would one day fly in those planes herself. She was so passionate about aircraft that all she wanted was to be able to fly one. Then, Sibongile applied for a flight attendant job with South African Airways, she was rejected as she did not meet the minimum height requirements. Instead of giving up her dream of flying, she started her own aviation business.
With no experience in aviation, and not enough capital to purchase an aircraft, it looks as if her dream was unachievable, but that was not how the full story went.
In 2003, when the South African government passed the Black Economic Empowerment Act that empowers black South Africans to participate actively as entrepreneurs, Sibongile saw an opportunity to fulfil her aviation dreams. She swung into action, raised funds by selling her car and receiving some from her mother’s pension money, and today, she is the founder and managing director of SRS Aviation, the first black female-owned aviation company in South Africa.
SRS Aviation offers professional and personalised flight options to destinations around the world, with charter services in a variety of categories, including VIP charter, tourist charter, and cargo charter. The company also provides game count and capture, and medical evacuation services.
For her works, she has gained substantial recognition over the years. Has been recognised as the Regional Business Woman of the Year Award (2006), the Black Women in Business Award (2006), and the Top Emerging Gender Empowered Company Award (2006) amongst others. She was recognized by Forbes as one of “Ten Young African Millionaires To Watch In 2013”.
Her net worth has not been published at this time.
She believes that by following your passions, and not relenting despite the challenges, you can succeed in business and entrepreneurship.
If you can dream it, you can achieve it
Nobody will notice you if you remain in one position. You have to go out and do something
You get support and assistance only when you have been seen doing something – “Nobody will see you if you are sitting in your own corner. You have to go out there, you have to be visible, to do something to be able to get even more support and assistance”.
18. Divine Simbi Ndhlukula
Divine Ndhlukula was born in 1960 in rural Gutu to Mary and Piniel Simbi. She grew up in Gutu, Zimbabwe where she attended several primary and secondary schools including Zvinavashe School, Machingambi School, Bondolfi Mission, St. Domincs Secondary School, and Makumbe Mission. After her secondary and undergraduate education, she went on to study for an Executive Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Midlands State University, Zimbabwe. That was not all. She also holds another MBA and a PhD in Business Leadership from the Women’s University in Africa, the latter of which was conferred in recognition of her business leadership and gender equality initiatives. In a male-dominated industry, Divine Ndhlukula was able to overcome the obstacles, rising to become one of Africa’s top business leaders.
She is most popularly known for SECURICO, a security company she started in the late ’90s. SECURICO started as a small company with very little capital and four employees in her cottage, and she was able to build this company to become one of the largest security firms in Zimbabwe with over 3,500 employees through her great business acumen and abilities.
Ndhlukula is prepared to dominate the entire southern region of Africa with plans to expand to other countries on the continent, starting with Mozambique and Zambia. She has gained countless national and international recognition over the years; she was selected as one of the most influential female leaders in the world by Empowering a Billion Women (2020), a global women empowerment movement that features prominent world women leaders like Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Mozambican former first Lady Graca Machel.
Her net worth was estimated at US$809 million as of 2021.
She believes that there is no easy road to anywhere worth going. Determination and persistence are what would keep any business person to keep going. Some of the difficulties may be from the fact that as a business person, you also need to acquire different skills to keep your business running and survive the challenges that may arise. What is worth doing, is worth doing well.
Be determined and stay determined
Don’t allow the challenges and obstacles in business to make you give up on succeeding.
Tabitha Mukami Muigai Karanja is a Kenyan businesswoman, entrepreneur and industrialist. She was born in 1964 near Kijabe, in central Kenya, as the first child in a family of 10. Her mother was a farmer and her father a government driver, and Tabitha’s parents earned just enough to secure an education for all the 10 children but she was determined to achieve success and create a path for her siblings to follow.
She worked extremely hard in her primary school education and secured admission into the highly revered Bahati Girls Secondary School. After her primary and secondary education which she had in several Kenyan schools, she went on to bag a degree in Business Administration from the University of Nairobi and after about 6 months of graduation, she was thereafter employed as an Accounting Clerk in the Ministry of Tourism where she also met her husband, Joseph Karanja.
Two years later, she then quit her job to establish a hardware business in Naivasha town in her quest for entrepreneurship. In 1997, the couple decided to close down the hardware store and ventured into the wine-making business and this formed the foundation for Tabitha’s success in business and entrepreneurship till the present day.
In 1997, she established Keroche Breweries, which stands as the only large-scale brewery in Kenya. The company first started by making fortified wine and later moved into making spirits and beer. Her company quickly overpowered East African Breweries (EAB), an international company that had dominated the brewery industry in Kenya for over 90 years and successfully established a monopoly in the industry. During the formative years of Keroche, Tabitha struggled to find distributors who were willing to sell her beer. This is because of the dominance of EAB, but she kept pushing until the market respond to her main beer brand, Summit beer.
Summit is now so appreciated in the country that last year Tabitha opened a $29 million expansion of its brewery. As Keroche enjoys continued growth, Tabitha plans to expand into neighbouring countries, including Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda.
Her net worth is currently estimated at about US$49 million
She believes that challenges can come in the course of any business, but giving up is not in her vocabulary. In everything she does, she dreamt big and never settled for less. Family plays a big role in business success, they can encourage you and push you to achieve great success.
Resilience and fortitude are must-have in business
Courage to venture into your ideas even when everyone is afraid to do so
Know your passion and venture into it courageously
19. Bola Shagaya
Haija Bola Shagaya
Hajia Bola Muinat Shagaya was born in 1959 to Adut Makur, a Sudanese seamstress and Emenike Mobo, a Nigerian public servant. She had her secondary school education at Queens School, Ilorin and her tertiary education at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Armstrong College in California, where had a degree in Economics and Accountancy. Since then, she has been into many different things, however, she is well-known for being the founder of Bolmus Group, a conglomerate with holdings in real estate, oil and gas, banking and photography, etc.
Bola started her career in the banking sector as an auditor at the Central Bank of Nigeria before venturing into business in 1983. Bolmus Group International, which derives from her names Bola Muinat Shagaya, is a conglomerate is one of her most successful establishments, but that is not the only company she is associated with. The business mogul became the managing director of Practoil Limited, one of Nigeria’s largest importers and distributors of base oil, and in 2011, she founded another exploration company, Voyage Oil and Gas Limited which has continued to grow in capacity and returns so far. She is also one of the board members of Unity Bank, Nigeria Plc and has a significant stake in the bank. Bola Muinat is a fashion enthusiast, who also founded Fotofair, a photography firm in Nigeria with over 30 photo laboratories across the country.
Her net worth is estimated to be US$950 million as of 2020.
She believes you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Many of the industry she has invested in are those that the society of today have labelled as “men only” industry, but she remains determined to succeed in any area she finds passion in.
Build your circle of influence, create vital connections
Diversify your business ventures
20. Bridgette Radebe
Bridgette Radebe was born to Kgosi Augustine Motsepe, a Chief of the Mmakau branch of the Tswana people, and Key Motsepe, her mother. Just like you may have already pointed out, she is the older sister of Patrice Motsepe, the South African businessman who learned business from his fathers Spaza shop and they are both siblings of the first Lady of South Africa, Tshepo Motsepe (Dr.), the wife of President Cyril Ramaphosa. Patrice Motsepe was not the only child interested in mining and making a huge fortune from it, his older sister also ventured into that line, although it’s quite difficult to tell who first started it.
Beginning as a contract miner managing shafts in the ’80s, Bridgette Radebe had greater plans than just being a contract miner. Sooner than later, she went on to launch Mmakau Mining, which grew to be a successful mining company with interests in gold, platinum, coal, ferrochrome, and uranium. She thus became the first black female entrepreneur in South Africa, and subsequently the president of the country’s largest mining chamber, the South African Mining Development Association.
Mmakau Mining, the establishment Bridgette is most popularly known for, was launched in the 1980′ and has grown into one of South Africa’s most significant mining companies, with expertise in quality assets of gold, platinum, coal, chrome, and uranium. A company which started with Bridgette and a few hired staff is today governed by a board of directors and executive management team.
The company started off as a contract mining company that managed and procured mining shafts for large mining houses. Not too long, Bridgetted broadened the company’s activities into full mining services through the acquisition of a 36% shareholding in Shaft Sinkers Ltd, a world leader in shaft-sinking and underground construction. Mmakau Mining disposed of its shares in Shaft Sinkers in December 2010 and became an independent mining company in the ’90s. Her numerous exploits has made her a true definition of beauty and brains, and she is nowhere near being tired.
Bridgette Radebe has retained the position as the richest black woman in South Africa with an estimated net worth of US$90 million as of 2021.
She believes that every business person should develop their ability to face the fear of taking calculated risks. She has also noted that it is important to have a mentor when starting a business – “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is how important it is to have a mentor when you start your business. There is knowledge I would not have had access to if it weren’t for my mentors.”
Be unstoppable and unyielding, despite the obvious obstacles
This post has been a long one. I know that and I trust that you were inspired by the stories of these great African business leaders. Compiling this list and the stories, the lessons, ideologies and net worth of these great African business leaders took me more than two weeks but I wanted to make it as insightful and impactful as it is now, so the time was totally worth it.
While writing this post, I too was inspired. As an entrepreneur, I learnt many lessons that I hope to apply to my business career and I hope you did too. If you did, please I would like you to comment what you learnt in the comments below. Pleaser, just say something in the comments. That will mean a lot to me. Thank you.
I am a seasoned writer, not because I am some genius but thanks to many years of trials, failure, and near successes. I curate the most content on this website; all geared towards making you a better and happier audience.