5 African Entrepreneurs that Went from Broke to Billionaire

by Stan Edom

Many of the world’s billionaires had fortunes already laid down for them to build on. Although this makes life a lot easier for the few opportuned individuals, many others who attained this billionaire status built everything from nothing.

In Africa, there are a few billionaires who built multi-billion dollar empires from absolutely nothing and non-wealthy beginnings. These wealthy African entrepreneurs, through their success stories, have given hope to thousands of smart and determined young Africans willing to put in the effort to someday reach the self-made billionaire dollar status.

While not everyone can someday be labeled a billionaire, some eventually will, and many others will become millionaires and multi-millionaires.

The short stories of these 5 successful African entrepreneurs will drive a sense of purpose to many who read this, and perhaps, set you up better motivated to strive for even greater achievements.

Here Are 5 African Entrepreneurs That Built Billion Dollar Businesses From Scratch:
1. Mike Adenuga

Mike Adenuga African Billionaire

Image Source: dailymail.com.ng

This Nigerian billionaire is stipulated by the Forbes billionaire list 2017, to be worth about $6.1 billion U.S dollars. He’s the second wealthiest Nigerian, after Aliko Dangote, and also owns the second largest telecoms operator in Nigeria, with locations in Ghana, and the Benin Republic.

Born on the 29th of April 1953 to Michael Agbolade Adenuga, a school teacher, he received his secondary education in Ibadan, Nigeria. Upon proceeding to the University, he worked as a taxi driver to help fund his education, and eventually graduated from the Northwestern Oklahoma University and the Pace University, New York, with degrees in Business Administration.

When Adenuga returned from America to Nigeria, he took over his mother’s small business and sold laces, coca-cola products, and other commodities. As he grew the business to sustainable heights, his revenues rose, till the venture became a larger enterprise.

In  1990, he got an oil drilling license from the Nigerian government and realized he had struck gold, when in 1991, his company discovered oil in the shallow waters of south western Ondo state, in Nigeria.

Today, the rest is history, as he has investments in Telecommunications, Banking, Oil & Gas, and several other sectors of the Nigerian economy.

2. Folorunsho Alakija

Folorunsho Alakija - Nigeria's richest Woman

Image Source: howng.com

Mrs. Alakija is the wealthiest Nigerian woman, and also the second wealthiest African woman with a personal net worth of about $1.61 billion U.S dollars, according to the Forbes billionaire list 2017. She has investments in fashion, oil, and the printing industries.

Alakija was born in 1951 to Chief L.A Ogbara in Lagos State, Nigeria. At the age of seven, she relocated to the United Kingdom to engage in a four-year primary school education program. After returning to Nigeria, she traveled yet again to London to study fashion.

When she was finally done with her fashion education, she returned to Nigeria and started working as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises. She later moved on to another company and worked for some years before establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches. Her tailoring business got popular over the years, and subsequently, its in-house brand, Rose of Sharon House of Fashion, became a household name among the Nigerian elites.

In 1993, she applied for an oil prospecting license from the Nigerian government. The license was granted to her company, Famfa Oil, which is situated on a 617,000 acre block, now referred to as OPL 216.

Alakija’s success-story shows one who always takes advantages of opportunities at the right time. From the success of her fashion line, she was able to venture into the oil business, and is today one of the most powerful women in the world.

3. Patrice Motsepe

Patrice Motsepe - South African Billionaire

Image Source: www.destinyman.com

Patrice Motsepe is a South African mining magnate. Born on the 28th of January, 1962, to a school teacher turn businessman, Augustine Motsepe, Patrice grew up learning a lot of his basic entrepreneurial knowledge from his father.

After earning a bachelor of arts from the University of Swaziland and a law degree from the University of Witswatersrand, he became the first black person to rise to the position of partner in the law firm Bowman Gilfillan, in 1994.

At that time, his area of focus was in mining and business law, where he saw an opportunity, and so founded a mining services business to clean gold dust from inside mine shafts.

In 1997, with the price of gold low at the time, he purchased marginal gold mines at a favourable cost, and subsequently started a string of purchases by buying operating mines, which eventually led to his optimal wealth.

As of 2017, according to the Forbes billionaire list, Patrice’s net worth is estimated to be placed at about $1.81 billion U.S dollars.

4. Mohamed Al-Fayed

Mohamed Al-Fayed - Egyptian Billionaire

Image Source: alchetron.com

Mohamed is a business mogul born and raised in Egypt. Also born to a school teacher, he made his first trial at entrepreneurship by selling home-made lemonade at school. Many years later, he founded a shipping company with his brothers in Egypt, and later moved its operating base to Genoa, Italy, with other offices in London.

In the mid 1960’s, Al-Fayed got in acquaintance with the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Al Makhtoum, who later entrusted him with a part responsibility in helping to transform Dubai. Given this task, Al-Fayed brought in construction companies like the Costain GroupTaylor Woodrow, and Sunley & Sons to execute the construction project.

He later went on to become a financial advisor to the Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddien III, in 1966.

Mohamed Al-Fayed, according to the Forbes billionaire list 2017, is estimated to be worth about $1.82 billion U.S Dollars, and resides in Geneva, Switzerland.

5. Koos Bekker

Koos Bekker - Naspers Founder And South African Billionaire

Image Source: businesstech.co.za

Koos Bekker is the founder and chairman of the African media group, Naspers. The company is located in about 130 countries, and is listed both on the London & South African stock exchange.

Koos was born in South Africa on December 14th, 1952. He got his bachelors degrees from Stellenbosch University in Law and Literature, and Wits University in Law. He later got an MBA from the Columbia Business School, and as a result of a project paper, he and some of his friends founded the first pay-tv service (M-Net, Multi-Choice, and more) outside of the United States. He’s also one of the founding directors of the largest telecommunication company in Africa, MTN.

According to the Forbes billionaire list 2017, Koos Bekker is estimated to be worth about $2.1 billion U.S dollars.

To Sum It Up

These successful African entrepreneurs found one way or the other to break the opportunity ice to eventually start and grow successful businesses. While larger challenges stand in-line waiting for new African entrepreneurs, tenacity of purpose will always win.

This content was originally published on Startuptipsdaily.com.

Etham.jpgStan Edom is an entrepreneur with an expertise in supply chain management, energy resources, small business development, e-commerce, internet startups and agriculture. He partners with energy companies, mining companies, government organizations, AD agencies, and other types of businesses to bring their projects to life.

IMF, Central Bank of Egypt and Government of Egypt to Host Inclusive Growth and Job Creation Conference in Egypt

Event only

David Lipton

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and the Government of Egypt will co-host a high-level conference in Cairo on May 5-6, 2018, on promoting higher economic growth and job creation in Egypt.

The aim of this event is to recognize the successes in macroeconomic stabilization that Egypt has achieved, and to help in building consensus among stakeholders around the reforms needed going forward to attain higher and more inclusive growth and create jobs sustainably to meet the needs of Egypt’s young and growing population. The conference will aim to shed light on global best practices and successful relevant experiences that can help enhance Egypt’s homegrown structural reform agenda and address its medium-term challenges.


The conference will bring together international and Egyptian high-level policymakers and other experts to exchange perspectives, and to reflect on successful international reform experience and how these could be relevant in the Egyptian context.

Key topics to be discussed at the conference will include: macroeconomic stabilization as the foundation for inclusive growth and job creation; successful reform strategies and lessons from other countries; and policies to foster inclusive private sector-led growth. The concluding session, in which a broad cross-section of representatives from civil society, academia and the private sector are expected to participate, will aim to draw implications for Egypt’s goal of higher, inclusive and more sustainable growth.

His Excellency Prime Minister of Egypt Sherif Ismail, IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton, CBE Governor Tarek Amer and Egypt’s Minister of Finance Amr El Garhy will be among the speakers.

Egypt: Time to Entrench Growth and Make It More Inclusive

Egypt’s economy is recovering, supported by prudent macroeconomic policies and initial bold reforms aimed at addressing the major challenges that have confronted the economy in recent years. The task now is to deepen reforms to raise economic growth further, make it last, and spread its benefits to Egypt’s rapidly growing population and its youth and women, the IMF says in its latest economic health check.


After more than a year since the launch of the economic reform program, GDP growth is strengthening and inflation is declining. The government trimmed the budget deficit, tourism revenues and remittances are increasing, and the country’s foreign exchange reserves have been rebuilt. The floating of the pound and the initial steps to improve the business climate have helped boost growth.

“This macroeconomic turnaround at home and the supportive global economic environment provide a unique opportunity to carry the reform momentum into areas that have historically been hard to tackle. Deep and lasting structural reforms are needed to create jobs as speedily as needed for Egypt’s growing population,” said Subir Lall, head of the IMF team for Egypt.

Below are the IMF’s key recommendations.

Making stability last

Egypt must entrench the stability attained thus far. This entails preserving the flexibility of the exchange rate and further reducing inflation. The government should also continue to lower the budget deficit to contain public debt. For this purpose, the IMF suggests:

  • Collecting more revenue to pay for much-needed social services and to invest in education, health, and infrastructure. Reducing tax exemptions, making the tax system more progressive (richer people pay progressively more in taxes), and making tax administration more efficient will facilitate this process. Revenue could grow by 4 percent of GDP in the medium term as a result, analysis in the report suggests.
  • Eliminating most fuel subsidies, which benefit mainly the rich, and allowing fuel prices to change in line with costs: This would protect the budget from movements in global oil prices and the exchange rate, and safeguard priority spending on social programs and necessary infrastructure.

Helping low-income families

Although economic stabilization is critical, Egypt also needs to protect its lower-income families. This requires continuously improving the efficiency of social assistance by reducing price subsidies and expanding better-targeted cash transfer programs such as Takaful and Karama to free up resources for those who need them most, while avoiding the buildup of unsustainable public debt.

Letting the private sector flourish

Egypt’s growing population needs about 700,000 new jobs every year, which is possible only if the private sector becomes the main engine of growth. For that to happen, the state—which has a prominent role in the Egyptian economy—needs to step back from certain sectors and make room for the private sector to invest and grow.

To this end, priorities include ensuring fair competition for private companies in the markets for their inputs and products, improving the governance and transparency of state-owned enterprises, reducing the perception of corruption, improving access to financing and land, and integrating more women and youth into the labor market.

Published courtesy of the IMF

Africa50 Reaches Financial Close for Solar Plants in Egypt

Africa50, the infrastructure fund for Africa, Scatec Solar and Norfund have signed the long-term financing documentation for the 400 MWDC utility scale photovoltaic (PV) power plants in Egypt for which they had previously entered into a Joint Development Agreement (JDA).


The project, which was developed under the second round of the Egyptian Feed-in Tariff Program, reached financial close on October 27.

Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to the continent’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalysing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact

With a 25% stake, Africa50 is contributing equity to fund construction alongside Scatec Solar and Norfund, leveraging total funding of around US$450 million. Senior debt will be provided by EBRD, FMO, the Green Climate Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector.

The plants are supported by 25-year power purchase agreements with the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), backstopped by a sovereign guarantee. Access roads and interconnection facilities (substations and a 12-km high voltage line) have already been funded collectively by the Benban project developers under a cost sharing agreement with EETC and the New and Renewable Energy Agency. The plants will benefit from Egypt’s strong and consistent irradiation.

The investment supports Egypt’s ongoing reform of the power sector, which focuses on cost effectiveness, expanded and diversified generation, and increased private sector participation. At present, Egypt’s generation capacity is still more than 90% thermal. The six plants will generate around 900,000 MWh of clean PV electricity annually, avoiding emissions of more than 350,000 tons of CO2. In addition, the partners are committed to training and using local workers for plant construction and operation as much as possible.

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Chairman of Africa50 said, “This is an important milestone for Africa50. The project is the fund’s first early stage investment through its Project Development arm to be converted into a long-term equity investment made by its Project Financing arm. This investment contributes significantly to AfDB’s High 5 priority of increasing access to power in Africa and demonstrates how Africa50 can use its capital to leverage substantial resources from other partners to fund much needed infrastructure.”

Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobisse added: “This project is a good example of how Africa50, working with effective partners such as Scatec and Norfund, as well as the Egyptian authorities, can facilitate infrastructure project development in Africa. We are pleased to help Egypt, an important shareholder, diversify its power generation mix while lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

UN rights office ‘deeply concerned’ over arrests of LGBT people in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia

The United Nations human rights office on Friday expressed deep concern about a wave of arrests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia of more than 180 people perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), many of whom have reportedly been mistreated by law enforcement officials.


“Arresting or detaining people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is by definition arbitrary and violates international law,” including rights to privacy, non-discrimination and equality before the law, said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at a press briefing in Geneva.

In all three countries, authorities have alleged that those arrested were involved in sex work – although in almost all cases the accused have denied such allegations or indicated that they were coerced into confessing involvement, he added.

Mr. Colville said that Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia should take immediate action to release anyone detained on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, drop charges based on vaguely worded and discriminatory laws, and should repeal such laws in line with their legal obligations under international law and long-standing United Nations recommendations.

In Azerbaijan, more than 80 people presumed to be gay or transgender have been arrested in Baku since mid-September. In Egypt, more than 50 people have been arrested in recent weeks based on their assumed sexual orientation or gender identity. In Indonesia, more than 50 people were arrested at a sauna in Jakarta last Friday, based on their perceived sexual orientation.

Egypt: The Economy Is Gathering Strength

​The IMF on September 26 published the staff report for the first review of Egypt’s economic reform program, which aims at restoring the economic stability of Egypt and paving the way for higher long-term growth. The program is off to a good start, with the government carrying out bold but necessary reforms while protecting the poor. The IMF Executive Board approval of the government’s program led to a disbursement of $1.25 billion of the $12 billion support under the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility.

Street corner in Cairo, Egypt. The reform program has helped the economy take a turn for the better (photo: Baloncici/iStock by Getty Images)

“The Egyptian authorities have embarked on an ambitious reform program and have taken decisive measures aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability and sustainable public finances. At the same time, by strengthening social protection measures, they have sought to protect the most vulnerable. We have seen that economic activity has been gathering strength and efforts at reining in the budget deficit have begun to bear fruit. With the liberalization of the foreign exchange market, foreign currency shortages have disappeared. Looking ahead through the end of this year and into next year, the policy mix is also supportive of a decline in inflation from the high levels in the summer,” said Subir Lall, the head of the team dealing with Egypt at the IMF. 

Egypt launched a reform program when its economy faced rising imbalances that led to high public debt, a widening current account deficit, and declining official reserves. To support the home-grown reforms, the government embarked in November 2016 on an IMF-supported program to restore the stability of its finances, promote growth and employment, while shielding the poor from the adverse effects of the changes. 

Here is a stocktaking of what the government has achieved since the start of the work. 

  • Flexible exchange rate regime: With the floating of the Egyptian pound, the foreign exchange market normalized, and the parallel market for foreign currency disappeared. The focus of monetary policy is to bring down inflation, which reached more than 30 percent since April, mainly due to the sharp depreciation of the pound and the impact of energy and tax reforms. 
  • Reducing the budget deficit: The government implemented a value-added tax (VAT) as part of its reform program which aims to increase tax revenues sustainably. The government also took steps to reform expenditures, including notably energy subsidies. Resources from the higher VAT and more efficient spending will slow the accumulation of public debt, which had been rising rapidly. 
  • Energy subsidy reform: The government has taken bold steps to reduce energy subsidies which benefit mostly the rich, and also skew production to energy-intensive industries. The government reallocated part of the resources to social spending, including on health and education, and for targeted cash transfers. 
  • The inclusion of women and youth is critical to share the benefits of growth more broadly: The government has taken measures to increase employment and labor force participation for women and youth. It has allocated budget resources to increase access to and the quality of public nurseries to help women join the labor force. It is also planning to improve the safety of public transportation. The government has also implemented specialized training programs and job search schemes for youth. 
  • Higher growth through wide-ranging structural reforms: The parliament approved several measures to improve the business climate such as less red tape in industrial licensing, and easier access to financing for small and medium-sized enterprises. These measures should create more new jobs and help alleviate unemployment, which is particularly concentrated among women and young people.

 The way forward

Building on the ongoing reform efforts and the restoration of confidence, Egypt has the opportunity to transition to a higher growth trajectory, and increase prosperity for all, by locking in the gains from macroeconomic stabilization and harnessing its full growth potential. 

UN strongly condemns “heinous and cowardly” attacks on Egyptian police

The members of the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the “heinous and cowardly” terrorist attack that took place on Monday in Sinai, in which at least 18 policemen were killed and 3 were injured.

Wide view of the Security Council. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine (file)

“They expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Egypt, and they wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured,” read a statement issued to the press by the 15-member body.

Council members reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these “reprehensible acts of terrorism” to justice.

Also today, UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the world body sent its condolences to the Government and people of Egypt on the attack.