From Passion to Profit: 5 Nigerian Innovators Turned Their Ideas ...
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African CEOs - June 5, 2023

From Passion to Profit: How 5 Nigerian Innovators Turned Their Ideas into Successful Businesses

Nigeria’s entrepreneurial landscape is filled with stories of individuals who turned their passions into profitable businesses. These Nigerian innovators have achieved financial success and positively impacted their communities through their ventures.

By leveraging technology, social entrepreneurship, and customer-centric approaches, these innovators have addressed pressing challenges, empowered individuals, and contributed to Nigeria’s economic growth. Their story which serves as a source of inspiration offers valuable insights that can help aspiring entrepreneurs convert their ideas into successful businesses. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Sijibomi Ogundele

Sijibomi Ogundele is one of the luxury real estate moguls that is changing the dynamics in the industry. His passion for real estate was ignited in 1998 while living in South France. Sijibomi bought an apartment in Paris and remodelled it. After remodelling it, he sold the apartment for more than double the amount he initially bought it. Sijibomi who believes “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother like mine,” learnt most of his business strategies from the days he spent with his mother as a wheelbarrow pusher in Oke Arin market.

With a deepened interest in real estate, Sijibomi returned to Nigeria with a mission to revolutionise Nigerian luxury real estate. He established the Sujimoto Group and has a lot of astounding projects to his name. Drawing lessons from his trip to Aliko Dangote’s $19 billion oil refinery two years ago, Sijibomi said, “Sometimes, don’t blame people for their inability to assimilate your vision, because it’s only limited to the capacity of their imagination.”

The Nigerian innovator also noted that “sometimes, your location and environment should not be enough to swallow your vision.”  When he was introduced to Dangote, the African billionaire said, “Oooo I know Suji na, he’s the luxury skyscraper man, keep up the good work Suji….” According to Siji, that tour changed his perspective, increased his vision and redefined his mission on Earth.

Known to have a good relationship with Nigerian billionaires, Sijibomi once debunked rumours that he was romantically involved with Femi Otedola’s daughter, DJ Cuppy. He said, “I know DJ Cuppy, I’ve known her for a short time.  She’s a young lady I appreciate because of her entrepreneurial skills. But I’m not dating her.  I consider her a younger sister – and I promote her business.”

Sim Shagaya 

As Founder and CEO of uLesson Education Limited, an app built to make education available to learners across Africa, Sim’s love for computers began at age 11 when his father’s friend gifted him a PC. He started a number of businesses in the past which failed including (dating site),, (job placement website), (classified site), and streaming service).

Despite his failures, Sim didn’t give up until he founded Konga. Nigerian Oil Mogul, Femi Otedola once said, “Failure is a good thing.” Sim’s failure didn’t stop him from exploring various industries. Speaking about his ed-tech startup, Sim said, “Africa is not one place. Different needs, cultures, and curricula mean that uLesson has to carefully and deliberately think about how to design products and distribution channels to serve such a vast market.”

Mark Essien 

Another Nigerian innovator, Mark Essien developed an interest in the Nigerian technology space while studying for his MSc. in Computer Science at the Free University of Berlin, Germany. His interest was picked when his analysis showed that for an emerging market like Nigeria, a travel/tourism startup would do remarkably well. 

Nigeria’s Telecom Mogul, Mike Adenuga once stated that “If you don’t grab the opportunity, somebody else will grab it.” Deciding to grab the opportunity, Essien studied South American and Asian models of already-established hotel booking agencies. He proceeded to purchase a domain and listed some hotels on the website. 

The domain attracted enough traffic numbers that convinced Mark to return to Nigeria from Germany. With a number of investments, his company, Hotels. ng has seen the launch of Hotel. Africa and Fly. Africa.

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji 

Iyinoluwa launched Flutterwave in 2017. The company which got $15.7 million in funding is empowering Pan-African merchants to execute business on a global scale. Under his leadership, the company also attracted significant investment from experienced players in the global payments arena such as Y Combinator, Greycroft, Greenvisor Capital, and Mastercard amongst others.

He also co-founded Andela-Africa’s largest engineering organization with over 1000 software engineers. Andela reportedly received investment from Mark Zuckerberg and Google Ventures amongst others.

Oluyomi Ojo 

With a vision to make high-quality printing accessible to everyone, Oluyomi co-founded Printivo, an online print shop. Oluyomi started designing and printing while in college. He said, “We create the designs and outsource to print firms.” After college, Oluyomi started a sole business, Urbanbaze that did a number of projects with brands like Etisalat, Honda and First Bank.

According to Oluyomi, Printivo was birthed out of a need to cater for a neglected market., i.e. the SMEs. His decision is however not unconnected to a quote postulated by Nigerian serial entrepreneur, Tony Elumelu. He said, “Whatever course you choose to take in the services of others, be guided by the goal of unleashing the inherent potential that resides in each and every one of us.” 

Situated at the Outskirts of Shomolu, Lagos, Oluyomi’s Printivo has empowered individuals and businesses to create personalized printed materials, from business cards to marketing collateral, all at affordable prices.

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