Love is in the air, but so is work

Africa’s Top Entrepreneur Couples Serve Rare Valentine’s Day Goals

By  |  February 14, 2022

Ever heard that saying about how business and pleasure are not quite good together? News Flash: Somebody didn’t tell the whole truth! 

And that’s because there’s a good number of business partners who are also married couples that have, time and again, proven the old cliche to be just a boatload of half-truth.

It’s another February 14th – Valentine’s Day. And everyone knows what’s in the air: Love! And because it’s hard to not catch the fever on this globally recognised (un)official day of cheesy and corny stuff, let’s celebrate Lovers’ Day by serving up a small list of top African entrepreneur couples who are killing it in business and also winning as spouses. Enjoy!

Joseph and Thabita Karanja (Kenya)

Although still embroiled in a nasty case of tax fraud, the Karanja couple seems to have impressive business chops. The couple started one of Kenya’s most reputable breweries, Keroche Industries, from their home in 1997.

With the locally available raw materials, the duo claimed to have started with a capital of KES 500 K (roughly USD 500.00) to venture into fortified wines, which were favourable to the low-income market due to its low cost of production.

Joseph and Thabita Karanja
Image Source: DailyNation

Keroche built a small, fortified fruit wines brewery. With an initial production of 200 litres in the first month and a new brand, Viena, Keroche was too young and its production too small to get noticed in any of Kenya’s liquor books. But Viena gained immediate acceptance.

The firm brought to Kenyans products like beers (Summit Lager, Summit Malt); vodkas (Viena Ice, Viena Ice Lemon Twist); wines (Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage) and the Crescent range of spirits.

Jason and Mary Njoku (Nigeria)

Jason and Mary got married 11 years ago and together they’ve built an empire, him an entrepreneur CEO and co-founder of iROKO Partners, an online distribution company that focuses on Nigeria Entertainment Industry and her an actress, producer and CEO of Rok Studios, which was famously acquired by French television company Canal+ for an undisclosed amount in 2019.

Jason and Mary Njoku
Image Source: Twitter/@JasonNjoku

The couple is blessed with three children; Nwakaego Annabel Njoku, Nnenna Njoku, and Jason Obinna Njoku.

Narendra and Neeta Raval (Kenya)

Devki Group of Companies – a privately-owned Kenyan conglomerate with interests in cement, aluminium and steel, among other things –  drew a great deal of attention seven years ago when it turned down an offer by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who was plotting a strategic acquisition. 

When Forbes magazine featured the Indian-born Kenyan, Narendra Raval, who built the company alongside his wife, Neeta, in January 2015, Devki Group was amassing nearly KES 65 B (USD 650 M in today’s rates) in annual revenues.

Narendra and Neeta Raval
Image Source: Trendsmap

The Raval couple started the business as a hardware shop called The Steel Centre in Gikomba in 1986.

“My wife and I did everything ourselves. One of us would make the deliveries while the other manned the shop,” Narendra Raval told Forbes Africa in May 2015.

In 1989, the Ravals procured 30 acres of land in Athi River for KES 365 K. It is from that plot that the exponential growth of Devki began. The Ravals’ desire to keep Devki a family business is probably why Dangote’s offer was turned down.

Connie and Shona Ferguson (South Africa)

Connie Ferguson and Shona Ferguson were married for 18 years, both natives of Botswana but based in South Africa where they established stellar careers. Both hold their own acclaim in the South African entertainment industry as celebrity couples who have graced the screens of popular television series, Generations.

Connie and Shona Ferguson
Image Source: News24

But beyond screen action, the couple extended their interests into business and until Shona’s unfortunate demise last year, they co-owned a TV production company known as Ferguson Films.

Honourable Mention;

Tayo Oviosu and Affiong Williams (Nigeria)

Power couples in tech is a topic that most people in the know are quick to digest with pairs like Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan; and Bill and Melinda Gates – though the latter split last year. But why go that far when we can bring it back home with the lovebird-entrepreneur pair of Tayo Oviosu and Affiong Williams?

Tayo Oviosu and Affiong Williams
Image Source: Twitter/@oviosu

Tayo Oviosu is the CEO and Founder of Paga, a foremost mobile payments company established in 2009 to enable universal access to financial services for Nigerians that has since become a household name and expanded beyond Nigeria.

On the other hand, Affiong Williams is the CEO and founder of Reelfruit, a fruit processing company focused on packaging, branding, and processing of locally made and quality fruit products. Reelfruit raised USD 3 M in Series A funding last year after a storied nine years of battling obstacles and building factories from the ground up.

Tayo and Affiong have reportedly been married since 2014 and the ambitious entrepreneurial couple are known to share a dedication for running a business – as well as literally just running.

Featured Image Courtesy: 123RF

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