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Insight & Analysis - April 29, 2022

5 Zero to Millionaires Stories that will Inspire you

Many of today’s well-known entrepreneurs did not wake up wealthy. They started at point zero and worked their way up to become millionaires whose stories inspire others.

What sets these people apart is their will to keep trying until they succeed. Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. If you’re not ready for the heartaches that come with it, it would be better to stay in paid employment.

Unless your father is Aliko Dangote or Elon Musk is your close relative, it requires serious hard work and grit to build anything from scratch.

South African entertainer, Boitumelo Thulo, buttressed this point when she said, “most of us came from families where our great grandparents left nothing behind us. Now is, therefore, the time for this generation to start thinking of creating sustainable wealth that will benefit the future generation.”

If you believe you have what it takes to make it big, here are some entrepreneurs who went from zero to millionaires stories that will get you inspired.

Anna Phosa

zero millionaires stories
Source: Motivation Africa

Anna Phosa is one of Africa’s most successful pig farmers and a major pork supplier in South Africa. She was nicknamed the ‘Celebrity Pig Farmer.’

Her early childhood was not an idyllic one due to her father’s death when she was young, forcing her to drop out of school due to financial difficulties.

This, however, did not deter her from being successful. At the inception of her business, she struggled to raise money to start and grow her business.

She began her first pig farm in 2004 with a $100 investment from her savings and four little piglets. To ensure she ticked all the right boxes, she read books on pig farming and collaborated with other farmers.

With time, she began selling pork to local markets, which allowed her to expand her pig herd.

In 2008, she had her business breakthrough when she was offered a contract by Pick n’ Pay, a South African retail grocery behemoth, to provide ten pigs to its stores every week. 

In 2010, she negotiated a new deal with the same firm for a five-year supply of 100 pigs each week for R25 million.

She secured funding from ABSA Bank and USAID to purchase a 350-hectare farm. Her pig farm grew from 4 piglets to more than 4,000 piglets.

Boitumelo Thulo

zero millionaires stories
Source: Wiki South Africa

Through her acting and singing careers, the screen goddess known as Boity has amassed a net worth of $2 million. She achieved it all through her hard work.

Boity had it rough while growing up. She was raised by her maternal mother. While at Monash University studying psychology and criminology, she dropped out due to the inability to pay tuition fees.

In 2010, she joined a casting agency and appeared in a Wimpy advertisement. This set in motion her engagement in the entertainment industry. Boity shot to fame in 2018 after releasing her debut single, “Wuz Dat”, featuring Nasty C.

Tunde Onakoya

Tunde Onakoya is the Nigerian founder of ‘Chess in Slums Africa,’ an organisation that uses the game of chess to empower young people in underprivileged regions. 

Experience is, without a doubt, the most exemplary teacher. Tunde gave back to his community as a result of his slum experience.

Babatunde grew up in the Ikorodu slum settlement of Isale Odo. His father was a spare parts seller, and his mother a petty trader. While residing in Ikorodu with his family, things took a turn for the worst for his father.

He had to drop out of secondary school due to financial difficulties. His parents could not afford to pay his and his brother’s school tuition. During this period, he found chess and taught himself by observing how the game was played.

He later went back to school through his mother’s sacrifice and, with time, blended in. Fortunately, his school had a chess club where he harnessed his skills and came third in the school competition.


5 <strong>Black Billionaires</strong> who came from <strong>Nothing</strong>

This opened doors of opportunities for him as he started representing the school in different competitions.

His chess skills allowed him to avoid paying school and lodging costs while at Yabatech. He represented his school and won gold medals in each of his games. After graduating from Yabatech, things were still not looking good for him.

One day, he accompanied his friend to Lungu in Majidun, a slum in Ikorodu, and noticed that the children do not attend school.

He then decided to teach the children how to play chess. He approached the community chief for permission and was given a place to teach the kids chess.

He became bankrupt at one point but recovered when his Twitter posts gained traction and people began helping and donating to the cause. He has been featured on BBN, CNN, and Al-Jazeera. 

Ayodeji Megbope

zero millionaires stories
Source: Woman’s Era

Ayo Megbope founded ‘No Leftovers’, a catering company in Nigeria. At an early age, she was sexually abused by a family member. This challenging experience mentally destabilised her.

As a result, she did not attend a university like her other siblings, and she was mocked for it by her parents. She enrolled in a typing and shorthand school and earned a diploma in secretarial studies.

She worked as a secretary at the Corona Schools in Lagos for nine years until she felt inspired to resign and start her own business. 

She had planned to start a Montessori school but lost interest along the way. She then began cooking for her sister-in-law to keep herself occupied. 

On a particular day, Megbope decided to prepare Moi-Moi, a local delicacy, with the N1000 her husband gave her. 

After her sister-in-law tasted the food and raved about it, it was that moment that Megbope knew there might be something special about it. This was the beginning of her success story.

Since her sister-in-law ate the food, she started spreading the word, and Megbope was inundated with orders. 

She also started selling the Moi-Moi at the school’s entrance she resigned from. Gradually, her business began to boom. In three months, she had made a turnover of 30,000 to 40,000 naira. 

Today, the business has grown into a multi-million naira company. It has taken her to important places, including the White House on the invitation of Mitchelle Obama, who also ate Megbope’s golden Moi-Moi.

Djimon Hounsou

Source: Variety

After being born into an impoverished family in Benin, Djimon Hounsou moved to Lyon, France. He had his early adolescence there, surviving on the streets and attempting to find work as a model at the same time.

He later relocated to Paris and settled down there until he moved to New York. He pursued his aspirations and amassed a modelling and acting career worth millions of dollars.

According to him, “Being educated and intelligent are two different things. I thought I was smart enough. And I wanted to be an entertainer. I stopped going to school as a way of saying I was mature, a way of saying I was going to choose who I was going to become”.


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