Becoming a business leader is an achievement deserving of several accolades. But attaining this achievement in Africa, where there’s a substantial odd to fail at doing business, makes it even more honorable.
In this article, we examine 5 African business leaders; how they amassed their wealth and ways you can emulate their success to become a successful leader yourself.
In no specific order, our Top 5 list is based on their investments in Africa, their influence, and their philanthropic endeavors.
1.) Strive Masiyiwa
(Zimbabwe, Telecommunication, $1.4 billion)
The richest man and the only person from Zimbabwe to ever feature on Forbes' "wealthiest people in the world" list, is Strive Masiyiwa. The outspoken entrepreneur and business mogul attained his status as the founder of Econet Group, a mobile network company launched in 1998. He also has a 50% share in both Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and Liquid Telecom.
While Strive's wealth is a laudable achievement, his influence is mostly felt through his Facebook page, where he discusses growing businesses in Africa. With a fan base of 4.3 million followers, the successful entrepreneur is renowned for his stance against combining politics and business. He believes the two should be separated and has a strong disinterest in affiliating himself with any political leader.
When Strive is not discussing business, he can be found running an orphanage along with his wife, Tsitsi. Their Higherlife Foundation caters to children's needs especially those children who are less fortunate.
2.) Aliko Dangote
(Nigeria, Cement Manufacturing, Household Commodities $10.1 billion)
The Nigeria-born business mogul, Aliko Dangote, has been the richest man in Africa for several years. And just last year, he was listed as the second most influential figure on the continent due to his contributions to Africa's economy.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote is the largest producer of cement in Africa along with his other products that are virtually used in every Nigerian home. This includes sugar, noodles, tomato paste, salt, and flour to name a few.
Presently, Dangote is on the verge of completing the Dangote Refinery, which is an oil refinery located in Lekki, Nigeria. It is said to start operating by 2021 and is billed to become one of the largest refineries across the globe. Just as Strive Masiyiwa, Dangote is one of the most prominent philanthropists in Africa. His foundation focuses on ending malnutrition, hunger, and diseases in Africa through his massive investments in education, health, and economic empowerment.
3.) Nassef Sawiris
(Egypt, Nitrogen Fertilizer, Sports, $7.3 billion)
With an estimated net worth of $7.3B, Nassef Sawiris is a force to reckon with. Sawiris built his business acumen through OCI N.V., a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing company originally founded by his father. Today he runs OCI N.V. and it has made him one of the leading producers of agro-allied products in the world. With a series of investments in cement, Adidas, and most recently in the newly promoted EPL’s Aston Villa Football Club, Nassef Sawiris is considered the richest man in Egpyt.
At age 58, Sawiris is most reputable for his charitable contributions through the Sawiris Foundation. During 2019, Sawiris donated $6M to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to help provide better student learning. He also aims to enhance professional networking experiences between North Africa and the Middle Eastern regions.
4.) Folorunsho Alakija
(Nigeria, Oil and Gas $1.1 billion)
The 69-year-old billionaire, Folorunsho Alakija, is the only female on our list. Before she was a billionaire, she was a self-made millionaire who began her journey into business by studying Fashion in England then returning to Nigeria to start her fashion label, Supreme Stitches. Her fashion label grew to serve some of the most influential women in society and her passion for excellence paid off in 1993 when she obtained a license to run her own oil company.
Alakija also serves as the Vice-Chairman of Famfa Oil – a Nigerian oil exploration company. Through her works, she continues to partner with several oil companies across the globe, including Petrobras and Chevron and serves as a role model for young females around the world.
5.) Johann Rupert
(South Africa, Luxury Goods $6.5 billion)
Johann Rupert is the South African billionaire brain behind Compagnie Financiere Richemont, Swiss luxury goods. He also owns stakes in investment companies such as Remgro and Reinet. Unlike the other African business leaders on our list, Rupert’s generosity is channeled towards the environment.
He currently chairs the Peace Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting areas in South Africa against environmental degradation.
How Can You Become a Business Leader Yourself?
1.) Take risks.
Business, whether in Africa or in any other part of the world, is not for the faint-hearted. There are several instances where you need to take calculated risks but other times it is best to trust your instincts then adjust to the outcome afterward.
2.) Be Innovative.
For you to make it in the business world, you have to continuously evolve. Stay up-to-date with technology, leverage the internet to teach yourself new things, and never stop asking questions. The most successful business leaders isn’t always the straight student, it’s the innovator. You must able to think critically to come up with business ideas that add value and/or solves a problem.
You have to take networking seriously if you want to become like any of the aforementioned business leaders. It has been said so many times--who you know is more important than what you know. Attend seminars, go to conferences, seek mentorship, and be intentional about meeting those people who can help you to fulfill your dreams and business aspirations.
4.) Be Persistent.
Almost all successful business leaders today have been on the verge of quitting at some point. There are always going to be tough times but persistence is key. Grow a thick skin and choose to learn from what you go through.
5.) Give Generously.
The single attribute that connects all of the African business leaders on our list is that they are all givers who serve as role models. From running foundations to donating to charitable causes, these business moguls are genuinely interested in making a global impact. Ask yourself, "why do you wish to attain their level of wealth?" And aim for a greater purpose. The single thought of making millions might not be enough to get you through the tough times but perhaps it will be because you want to be remembered for how you contributed to solving some of Africa's most pressing issues.
While many will jump at the thought of becoming the next African business leader, only a few will actually do what it takes to reach this goal. However, just as these Top 5 leaders, we hope you too will strive to move Africa forward.