Education is often considered the cornerstone of success, yet across the vast and diverse landscape of Africa, there exists a group of successful individuals whose journeys challenge this notion.
These individuals saw a different path and heard a unique call to greatness that transcended the traditional corridors of academia.
Guided by their ambitions and driven by a spirit that refused to be confined, they quit college.
Join us as we delve into the captivating stories of seven extraordinary Africans who defied convention, overcame obstacles, and carved their paths to success.
Said Salim Bakhresa
Founder and chair of Bakhresa Group of Companies, Said dropped out of school to become a potato mix salesperson. From being a salesperson, he worked as a restaurant operator before establishing his company.
The college dropout employs over 2000 people through his group. Described as one of Tanzania’s largest conglomerates with a revenue of over $500 million, Bakhresa’s conglomerate specialises in confectioneries, frozen foods, various kinds of drinks, and packaging.
With a net worth of $520 million, Bakhresa has through his excellent managerial skills made his conglomerate one of the best in the country.
Orji Uzor Kalu
Kalu is another successful African who was suspended from the University of Maiduguri for participating in the “Ali must go” riot against the then Education Minister.
Rather than returning to school when he received a pardon, Uzor borrowed money from his mother and began trading palm oil. Kalu bought oil from Nigerian Eastern parts and resold it in the Northern regions.
He watched his business grow rapidly and later established Slok Holdings, a conglomerate that would consist of a number of successful companies, such as the Ojialex furniture co., Slok Nigeria Ltd., Slok United Kingdom and others.
Kalu who later received an honorary degree from his university is a successful politician. He served as a two-time governor of Abia state and is currently a senator representing Abia North Senatorial District.
Justin is a 29-year-old who is deemed one of South Africa’s leading entrepreneurs and investors. He started his first business by selling apple juice to his classmates at age 13.
The 29-year-old dropped out of high school to establish his first company at age 18 because he found the classroom boring.
The technocrat started dealing in anti-virus software ESET and he became the exclusive distributor for the product in South Africa.
His brand which operates in about 20 sub-Saharan countries currently records over $10 million in annual turnover and controls 5 percent of the anti-virus market in Southern Africa.
The brain behind Coscharis Group of Companies, Cosmos had to drop out of college because he could not afford to pay his fees.
Cosmos who lost his father at age 4, was sent to serve as an apprentice in his uncle’s automobile business. His uncle later wrongly dismissed him with the sum of N200.00.
After a series of business failures, Cosmas established Coscharis Group a conglomerate that specialises in Manufacturing, ICT, Petrochemical, Auto care and Auto Components, Automobile Sales and Services, Agric, and Agro Allied business sectors.
Today, Coscharis Motors is a leading distributor of several brands of luxury cars including Range Rover, Ford, and Jaguar.
South African Billionaire, Johann Rupert dropped out of college to look for money. He served as an apprentice in New York, where he worked for two years. Rupert later established Rand Merchant Bank and started the Small Business Development Corporation the same year.
Today, he is described as Africa’s richest person and leads the Swiss-based luxury goods company Richemont. He was later awarded another honorary doctorate in commerce from Nelson Mandela University.
Ashish J. Thakkar
Thakkar also decided to drop out of school and concentrate on his business. The Ugandan serial entrepreneur started by buying and selling computers and floppy disks; from Dubai to Uganda.
His company, Mara Group is a 16-year-old pan-African multi-sector business conglomerate with operations in 26 countries spanning four continents. Thakkar was also appointed as a World Economic Forum Global Young Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Morocco’s third richest person, Sefrioui quit college to work with his father on a project to create a popular clay for washing a person’s body and hair.
By working with his father he learned basic business skills needed to run his business empire in later years. With an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion, Sefrioui gathered the money needed to form a real estate development group in 1988.
The billionaire currently leads Adoha Group, which has become a guide to real estate development in the United Arab Emirates.
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