Starting a business when you have nothing is something some people regard as “Herculean.” Yet, in the face of nothing and when all else indicates that there be a pipe-down, some people put in efforts to take that bold step from grass to grace and from nothing to something. To these people, money is not the fundamental need for an entrepreneurial journey, only action, perseverance and passion are necessary. In the face of adversity and adorned with the cash problem, these 5 out of many Nigerian entrepreneurs have become multi-millionaires.
Founder and CEO of Slot Systems Limited and co-founder of Tecno and Infinix, two of the best-selling mobile phone brands in Nigeria, Nnamdi Ezeigbo can be regarded as one of Nigeria’s most successful.
Having studied Computer and Electronics Engineering at the Lagos State University (LASU), from 1996 to 2001, he went to serve his fatherland in the National Youth Service Corps scheme. After service completion, he made several efforts to secure a job with a Nigerian company, but all was to avail. Having no promises of potential job placements, Nnamdi decided to take up apprenticeship on computer repair.
Garnering tech knowledge from that tutelage, Nnamdi started repairing computers independently, grew his customer base and ventured computer sales to make extra cash. As his new venture began to grow, many clients began demanding slot stores in areas close to them, while asking him if he sold mobile phones. Nnamdi took a keen interest in the opportunity as it presented itself, and immediately expanded the business to as well cover mobile phone retailing.
And that marked the beginning and growth of the Slot brand, to become the most reputable mobile phone retailer in the entire country.
As one of the most successful bloggers in Nigeria, owner of a media house and currently running her own reality television show called Made in Gidi, Linda Ikeji is undoubtedly doing well for herself. But this successful woman wasn’t born with a silver spoon.
With much determination to make ends meet for herself, support her immediate family and be able to scale through school, Linda first worked as a part-time waitress, after which she became a model, and then, a writer/blogger. After she graduated from the Department of English Language in the University of Lagos in 2004, she used some years to hone her writing skills and began hobby-blogging in 2006.
At the time Linda Ikeji was working her way around WordPress, the internet hadn’t gained much popularity in Nigeria and was as such, underused. Linda had to go to a local café to post articles she wrote about her daily life. In 2007, she became an active blogger, using a blogger sub-domain and started growing her traffic. From the until now, Linda Ikeji’s blog has evolved from the café-supported platform it was to become one of the most visited in Nigeria, with a daily view of more than 2 million, continually attracting advertisers.
This entrepreneur is the brains behind Iroko TV, having founded it to be a mobile entertainment and internet TV platform which has gained widespread popularity for its impressive catalog of African Nollywood movies.
Growing remarkably over the years, Iroko TV has attracted no less than USD 40 Mn in investment funding from foreign investors. But this successful man wasn’t born with a silver spoon dangling from his mouth.
Jason ventured into a few businesses while he was in the UK, but none of them produced the right fruits needed to proceed. After the turnouts, he decided to return to Nigeria in 2010, where he looked to build local relationships and make ends meet. Not long after, he baked his startup idea and needed to purchase the content rights, but money was the heavy anchor pulling back on the Iroko TV ship.
Just a few whiles before Jason threw in the towel, a godsend friend and business partner helped him with an EU 90 K contribution for the Iroko TV kickoff. Without Sebastian Gotter, there probably will be no Iroko TV today. That single investment was a very ambitious idea that has become a multi-million dollar company now christened as the Netflix of Africa. Jason is also currently a startup investor.
As the owner of one of the largest online forum in Africa, Nairaland, Seun Osewa, a programmer and a webmaster makes the list too. Seun quickly developed an interest in the internet virtually the minute it became a thing in Nigeria. It is partially safe to say that he is one of the first people in Nigeria to not only know the internet but to get to grips as to its use.
Seun gained admission into the University of Ile Ife to study Electrical Engineering in 1998, but as the tides turned for him, he decided to quit school so he’d have time to pursue his programming dream. His internet career kicked off in 2003, as he attempted to start a business in web hosting. But after 3 solid months of toiling, Seun had just one customer to boast of, ultimately culminating in capital loss and closure for the business.
After the first failure, he took on regular jobs and got some professional certifications. But having had a taste of the freedom that comes with creativity, he couldn’t go down back that kind of unfamiliar path. To keep the entrepreneurial fire burning, he kept on researching business ideas and went on to pitch them to his friend, family and those who cared to hear. But as there wasn’t any capital, forthcoming, his dreams remained “ideas.”
As Seun kept on looking for ideas, he decided to take on the one that did not demand any capital – a web forum. He created 3 of them in November 2003, one for students in the higher institutions, another for IT discussions and the last to covert the emerging GSM industry: the Mobile Nigeria Forum at MobileNigeria.com. After a month, Mobile Nigeria had 300 members. Unsatisfied by the growth potential, Seun Osewa went on to found Nairaland, which has expanded to be what it is today.
Weetracker covered Mike Adenuga in a recent post about Nigeria’s most successfuls. As the second richest man in Nigeria, everyone would have thought he either was born on a bed of roses or struck rare luck to become the seasoned business tycoon he is today- well, somewhat accurate. Owning Globacom, the second largest telecom operator in Nigeria, which also had Ghanaian and Benin Republican presence, did not just come by Mike’s way.
Having undergone secondary education in Ibadan, Nigeria, he proceeded to the university where he worked as a part-time taxi driver to help fund his education in Northwestern Oklahoma University and Pace University in New York. He got his degrees in Business Administration and returned to Nigeria where he took the reins of his mother’s small business. Mike sold laces, Coca-Cola products, and other small items. He grew the business to be self-sustained, his revenues rose, and the venture became a large enterprise.
Mike Adenuga got an oil drilling license from the Nigerian government in 1990. In 1991, he struck big time gold when his company discovered oil in the shallow waters of South Western Ondo State, Nigeria. The rest is history because Mike Adenuga has investments in telecommunications, banking, oil, and gas, as well as several other Nigerian economy sectors.
People are hardly born to be entrepreneurs; they make themselves successful. Keep to tabs with us, as Weetracker will bring you more of such stories.