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Profiles - March 8, 2023

The Role of Mindset in Wealth Creation: Insights from Africa’s Billionaires

The role of a positive and growth-oriented mindset in wealth creation cannot be overemphasised. This is because there is no magic formula for achieving financial success. 

However, learning from African billionaires who have achieved extraordinary levels of wealth and success, and their insights into the role of mindset in wealth creation provide valuable lessons for anyone looking to build wealth.

While the thought of wealth creation can be fascinating, the right mindset plays a critical role in getting you started. This is why we will explore the key mindset factors that have contributed to the success of Africa’s billionaires, and how these can be applied to anyone looking to achieve financial success. 

Embrace a “can-do” attitude

African billionaires like Strive Masiyiwa believe in the power of a positive attitude. Masiyiwa is the founder of one of Africa’s leading telecoms companies, Econet. He faced a lot of challenges from Zimbabwe spanning through Nigeria, but his positive attitude and his courage to stand strong in the face of adversity kept him through.

Masiyiwa joined the anti-colonial movement in Zimbabwe after his graduation in 1978. But he was told by a senior officer that what Zimbabwe needed wasn’t more fighters but builders. He took those words to heart and began the journey of rebuilding his country. 

After working as a senior engineer at a state-owned telephone Zimbabwean company, Posts and Telecommunications Corporations (PTC) for a while, he resigned and started building his company, Retrofit Engineering. That move earned him the Zimbabwe Youngest Businessman of the Year Award in 1990.  

Over the years, Masiyiwa has provided telecommunication solutions to the African continent and beyond. His life has shown that a can-do attitude can help you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals.

Prioritise long-term thinking

African billionaires have a long-term mindset and focus on creating sustainable businesses. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man has through long-term thinking moved Nigeria from one of the world’s largest importers of cement-buying 5.1 million tonnes from outside its borders in 2011 to a country self-sufficient in cement production. Dangote started early by investing strongly in cement plants around the country. He also invested in gas pipelines, which gives its cement subsidiary an advantage with a cheaper source of gas.

With a  strategy to expand very rapidly across Africa, Dangote generates enough foreign currency that sustains the group’s operations. Making long-term decisions to diversify has helped Dangote deal with short-term pressure like an illiquid currency market in Nigeria. In wealth creation, the importance of thinking long-term cannot be overemphasized as it will help you weather economic storms.

Take calculated risks

Successful African billionaires like Johann Rupert understand that taking calculated risks is necessary for wealth creation. South Africa’s richest man, Rupert is a brave man whose fearlessness drives him to launch various businesses. He has an interest in mining, winemaking, energy, the telecoms industry and luxury goods among others.

Rupert has been at the helm of 12 different companies and presently occupies the position of Chairman at Remgro Ltd, Chairman of Reinet Investments Manager SA, and Executive Chairman of Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA, to mention a few.

One of his quotes, “I just want to be master of my own time. It is ironic that someone in the watch business should not be in control of his time” largely explains his reason for taking calculated risks. The South African business mogul also knows that risks should be well-researched and carefully considered. 

Innovate and disrupt

African business moguls such as Tony Elumelu and Ashish Thakkar have disrupted industries and created new markets by being innovative. Elumelu led a group of young entrepreneurs to grow a Nigerian bank on the verge of collapse. The bank now United Bank of Africa, UBA Plc is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services.

While Ashish Thakkar, a school dropout turned a $5,000 loan from his parents into a continent-spanning empire. His conglomerate Mara Group is estimated to have an annual turnover of over $100 million. It has created thousands of jobs across Africa and is involved in real estate, e-commerce, agriculture and many others. The conglomerate has joint ventures with some of the world’s leading multinationals and has a hugely ambitious pan-African infrastructure project in the pipeline. Despite all these, Thakkar says, he is barely scratching the surface of what he wants to do. These billionaires have used their mindsets to think outside the box and embrace new ideas that have created massive wealth for them over the years.

Give back to the community

From Aliko Dangote to Abdul Samad Rabiu, African billionaires have a track record of philanthropic efforts. Some of them like Patrice Motsepe have signed the Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge is a campaign spearheaded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage the wealthiest people in the world to make a commitment to give at least half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. These billionaires understand that to create wealth, they must keep giving back to their communities and investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs.

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