They are geeks with a vengeance, seemingly understated importers and individuals who came up from nothing, driven by the passion to innovate and the hunger to build better lives for themselves. Meet thirteen of Africa's most vibrant and ingenious entrepreneurs. Be inspired.
Njoku founded several Internet companies before launching iROKO Partners
, one of Africa's largest digital media distributors, in October 2010. iROKO Partners now has a turnover of tens of millions of dollars through its two platforms iROKOtv (for movies) and iROKING (for Nigerian music), and the company is YouTube's biggest partner in Africa, with close to 200 million views via its channels, Nollywood Love and Aruba Love. The company could soon fill the distribution gap not only for Nollywood but for the rest of African cinema too.
Regarded as Kenya's Rupert Murdoch, Macharia built the most extensive media network in that country over the past decade.
Using his close ties with Mwai Kibaki's government, he acquired numerous TV and radio frequencies through which he set up a range of popular vernacular radio stations. In addition, he used his not inconsiderable fortune to poach popular newscasters and TV producers from more established TV networks and bought in Nigerian and Mexican soaps, making Citizen TV the most popular television station in Kenya only a year after going live.
Otedola has become rich importing diesel into Nigeria to fuel the hundreds of thousands of electric generators the population uses. If persistent murmurs that diesel importers are behind the endless undermining of Nigeria's power sector are to be believed, is unfortunate then for Nigeria's industrial emancipation that Otedola, a key donor to Goodluck Jonathan's campaign, has the Nigerian president's ear.
Sibongile Sambo founded SRS Aviation
, “South Africa's first, and only, fully empowered, black women-owned and operated airborne services business,” in 2004. SRS offers professional and personalized flight options to global destinations.
Sambo's dream to work with planes became a reality with the passing of the Black Economic Empowerment Act in 2003. The passing of the act enabled people with disadvantaged backgrounds to partake in the economic world as entrepreneurs. Now, SRS is a great success making an annual revenue of several million dollars.
Nigerian geek Oluwaseun Osewa is the founder of Nairaland
, Africa’s largest online forum. He founded the site in March 2005 as a general purpose discussion forum with a bias towards issues that are of interest to Nigerians. Nairaland now has close to 1 million registered users and is the most visited Nigerian website today.
Verone Makou. Via Senéco Plus
Verone Mankou is the founder of VMK
, a tech company focused on mobile technologies, specifically in the design, in Africa, of tablets and smartphones. In 2011, VMK unveiled the Way-C, its first Android tablet. VMK also manufactures the Elika, an African-themed Android smartphone.
Stanford is a software entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Seven years ago, he cornered the exclusive and lucrative distribution rights for ESET, a Slovakian anti-virus software package. Today, Stanford’s ESET Southern Africa operates the ESET brand in the region and sells ESET’s range of internet security products in about 20 sub-Saharan countries, recording over $10 million in annual turnover. He controls about 5% of the anti-virus market in Southern Africa. Stanford is also the founder of 4Di Capital, a Cape Town-based venture capital fund.
- Ayodeji Adewunmi, Olalekan Olude & Opeyemi Awoyemi
The trio founded Jobberman
, Nigeria’s biggest job search engine and aggregator. The Jobberman website went live in August 2009 and currently boasts of over 50,000 unique users each day. Through simple, yet cutting-edge technology, Jobberman helps link qualified personnel to the right job opportunities. Jobberman is one of the few companies in Nigeria’s tech space that enjoy venture capital backing.
Born in Malawi, William was only 14 years old when he built an electricity-producing windmill
from junkyard scraps in order to provide a steady source of water for his family’s farm and village in Masitala Village, Wimbe. With a bicycle dynamo and chain ring, tractor fan, rubber belts and bamboo poles, William succeeded in building a functioning windmill that provided energy for two radios and four light bulbs. Fuelled by the modest success of the initial windmill, William set out to build a larger windmill to help with irrigation for his entire village. Kamkwamba is currently studying for a degree in Environmental studies and Engineering at Dartmouth College in the USA.
- Sandra Appiah & Isaac Boateng
Both Ghanaians, Sandra Appiah, 23 and Isaac Boateng, 28 are the founders of Face2Face Africa
(F2FA), a New York-based new media company with a mandate to restore Africa’s image within the global community. The company has three divisions: an outfit that publishes a magazine which explores African development, culture, entertainment and fashion; an events business and a thriving website.