African billionaires have come far in their wealth creation goals that started with making their first million. Despite the realisation of these goals, they continue to build their wealth which constantly increases as they generate more revenue from different sectors on the continents.
One such sector is manufacturing. The industry played a major role in the success of the likes of Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa and Nigeria and Abdul Samad, one of the wealthiest in Africa and the second richest in Nigeria.
This has seen the forty-four wealthiest individuals together contribute $104 billion to the $11.8 trillion collective owned by billionaires worldwide. Here is how these individuals who control $104 billion in Africa made their first million.
Mike Adenuga is one of the wealthiest billionaires in Africa and Nigeria. Though now a billionaire, he is one of the African billionaires who made his first million in his twenties. He achieved this by identifying the first two opportunities that changed his story.
When he returned to Nigeria in 1974 after his study in the United States, he noticed that cars were imported without stereos. This led to the importation of car stereos. Though the business was successful, the rate of stereo theft increased. To solve this problem, he started importing removable car stereos. According to him, it became a hot cake.
With this experience, he advised entrepreneurs to take opportunities. He said, “If you don’t grab the opportunity, somebody else will grab it.”
Also, “Prepare for opportunities that don’t exist because you have the capacity for more. You accomplish this by constantly developing yourself to read and learn something daily.”
The success of the car stereo led him to another opportunity. While on his Swiss Air flight, he was opportune to sit beside an entrepreneur who owns one of the biggest lace companies in Austria. This led him to the importation of the lace. Later, he diversified into other commodities, such as tomato and vegetable oil.
This saw him become a millionaire in 1979 at 26, five years after he entered the business world.
Although Aliko Dangote came from a family where his maternal grandfather was wealthy, he chartered his path after his education into the business world instead of relying on family wealth.
After graduation, he started his business with the $500,000 loan he received from his uncle. He used the fund to import essential commodities such as rice and sugar from Thailand and Brazil into Nigeria. The business turned out to be lucrative.
During an interview with Forbes, he said daily, I generate $10,000 net profit. Suffice it to say in a month, he was generating $300,000. With this, he could pay off his loan within three months.
Though he did not depend on his wealth, his business success was cumulative of the lessons and experiences he learnt from his uncle and grandfather. This experience made him develop an interest in the business that showed right from his primary education.
He said, “I remember when I was in primary school, I would buy cartons of sweets [sugar boxes] and start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”
This made him a millionaire in his twenties before his foray into other sectors such as manufacturing.
Strive Masiyiwa, the Zimbabwean and first black billionaire in Britain, made his first millions during the business boom of the construction company in Zimbabwe. With the opportunity in the sector, he created his company Retrofit, an engineering company.
With the industrial opportunities, the company became one of the engineering companies in Zimbabwe, offering electrical engineering services on a contract within five years. Though the business was booming, Masiyiwa later sold it at a low price when he had an altercation with the Zimbabwean government. The proceed was used to fight the government for a telecommunication license. Five years later, he won the case.
Patrice Motsepe made his first millions in the business world when he decided to go into the mining industry. This was because he believed he could use management techniques in the corporate world to change the trajectory of the less-productive shafts into moneymaking operations.
To him, the industry is an oil mine. He said, “I have confidence in mining. I see exciting opportunities in it.”
With the decision, he bought six gold mines shafts from AngloGold for $7,7million. Since he could not pay for it immediately, he bought it in debt with the agreement that he would pay for it from the company’s earnings. Today, the company is known as African Rainbow Minerals. The company’s success marked the beginning of his millions that later made him one of the billions in Africa. Today, his company is worth $3.26 billion.
Abdul Samad Rabiu
Though from a wealthy home, Abdul Samad Rabiu built his business from scratch in 1998 due to his father’s dispute with the then government. With his father’s blessing, he restarted the family importation business and imported commodities such as rice, sugar, edible oils, iron, and steel rods.
Due to the daily needs of his business, he generated millions that he reinvested into an opportunity in a government-owned steel company. He was able to restart the family business with the knowledge and experience he acquired in the space. He said, “My knowledge and experiences in business give me the passion for doing what I do consistently to improve the business.”
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