african billionaires shocked world
Visionaries - May 18, 2022

3 Times African Billionaires Shocked the World

Accumulating wealth is no easy task. To climb the ladder of wealth, African billionaires had to make certain moves that shocked the world. 

There seems to be a form of doggedness that we all need if we must scale exponentially. Let’s dive into their stories. 

1. Nathan Kirsh Rejects Investment from Warren Buffet

Nathan Kirsh is a South African billionaire worth $7.90 billion as of this writing. In June 1976, Kirsh established Jetro, cash and carry firm in Brooklyn, New York. He purchased Restaurant Depot in 1994 and opened its first New York retail location in 1995. Jetro and Restaurant Depot were merged into Jetro Holdings. In 2003, Warren Buffett agreed to buy a minority stake in Jetro Holdings, but he and Kirsh couldn’t agree on terms.  Nathan Kirsh holds a majority stake on Jetro Holdings, which operates 115 Jetro Cash & Carry and Restaurant Depot stores in the United States.

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2. Nicky Oppenheimer Sells a 100-year Old Family Business

Oppenheimer’s decision to sell his family’s interest in De Beers came with a deep emotional challenge. It seemed like letting go of nearly 100 years of history, dating back to when his grandpa founded the company.

“Obviously very emotional for all of us in the family when we debated whether this was the right thing to do or not,” he said upon announcing the news. “You know, it’s 100 years of history – 1902 when my grandfather came out here first to join the diamond business in Kimberley,” he said. 

“ So indeed very emotional. But at the end of the day, we in the family decided this was indeed the right thing to do, and it was a unanimous decision. And in a sense, you’ve got to move on and now’s the time to look to the future and think what exciting things we can do in Africa in the future, “he added. 

3. Strive Masiyiwa Battles the Government in Court

African billionaire Masiyiwa’s story shocked the world when he took on the Zimbabwean government in court. Masiyiwa returned to Zimbabwe in 1984 after a 17-year hiatus. He quit his job as a telecommunications engineer for the state-owned telephone company and launched his own business with $75. Masiyiwa built a massive electrical engineering enterprise. When mobile cell phones became popular, he sought to enter the telecoms industry, but he soon ran into trouble when the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe refused to grant him a licence to run his firm, Econet Wireless.

Masiyiwa filed a complaint with Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court, arguing that the rejection infringed on his “freedom of expression.” A Zimbabwean court ruled in his favour after a five-year legal battle that nearly bankrupted him. The ruling, which ended the state monopoly on telecommunications, is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the opening of the African telecommunications market to private capital. The company’s first cellular subscriber joined the new network in 1998. This was the start of Masiyiwa commercial ventures throughout Africa.

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