Before reaching the age of 40, ten African entrepreneurs are among the top millionaires in Africa. While in their 20s and 30s, many of the young entrepreneurs launched multi-million dollar companies after dropping out of school, quitting their jobs, or because Africa was in need of such business. Both male and female, here are ten successful young Africans who are running top businesses in Africa.
Mohammed Dewji, Tanzania, 38
Mohammed Dewji is the CEO and primary shareholder of one of East Africa’s largest industrial conglomerates in East Africa known as Mohammed Enterprise Limited (METL). Dewji’s father, Gualm Dewji, founded METL as a trading company. Gualm passed the torch onto his son who was responsible for transforming the conglomerate from a trading house to an industrial power company. Based on the company website, the METL Group represents a business with a diverse interest in trading, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and petroleum, financial services, and other businesses. The company employs over 20,000 employees and generates an annual turnover of $2 billion dollars.
Igho Sanomi, Nigeria, 38
Since 2004, Igho Sanomi has been founder of the Nigerian trading company, the Taleveras Group. The Taleveras Group offers solutions in energy, power, and construction services. Before founding the Taleveras Group, Sanomi earned his bachelor’s degree in geology and mining and rose to the position of Executive Director with Sarian Oil and Cosmos Oil AG, an international oil trading company. As Executive Director, he developed trading operations and strategic alliances with a major international oil trading group in Switzerland. Now as the CEO of the Taleveras Group, Sanomi turned the company into an internationally recognized energy and power conglomerate that trades more than 100 million casks of oil and several million heaps of gas, LPG, and jet fuel. The company has offices in London, Geneva, Cape Town, Dubai, Ivory Coast, Abuja, and Lagos.
Quinton van der Burgh, South Africa, 36
Quinton van der Burgh Investments is an investment holding company founded by Quinton van der Burgh in 2008. The company is an investment holding company vested in coal mining and mining equipment. Before Quinton van der Burgh Investments, Van de Burgh headed the family owned business, Burgh Group Holdings, and began various other businesses including Voda-Telle International. Quinton van der Burgh and the company have also launched two reality television shows, Sharp Shooter which is a South African reality show featuring the world of photography and Clifton Shores, an unscripted drama featuring Van de Burgh about four American girls who leave the US to live and work in Clifton Beach, South Africa.
Gerald Wamalwa, Kenya, 38
After quitting his job as a civil engineer, Gerald Wamalwa pursued his desire to create his own business and founded Mellech Engineering and Construction Ltd, a construction and infrastructure company focused on building projects, roads, water, sewage projects, civil engineering, and infrastructure projects. Since launching East Africa’s primary infrastructure and construction company, he has increased staff from one employee to over 30 earning a company gross of over $11 million. Along with Mellech, Wamalwa owns a Telecommunications Service Company named ACP Telecoms Ltd.
Sibongile Sambo, South Africa, 39
SRS Aviation, the first black female owned aviation company, was founded and is managed by Sibongile Sambo in 2004. SRS offers professional and personalized flight options to destinations all over the world. It includes VIP Charter, tourist charter, and helicopter services. At a young age, Sambo had a desire to work with planes but the air requirement for an air hostess prevented her from doing so. However, her dream to work with planes became a reality with the passing of the Black Economic Empowerment Act in 2003. The passing of the act enabled people with disadvantaged backgrounds to partake in the economic world as entrepreneurs. After her receiving family loans and work experience, her very own airline company was born. Now, according to Forbes, SRS is a great success and makes an annual revenue of several million dollars.
Khanyi Dhlomo, South Africa, 38
In the year of 2007, Khanyi Dhlomo founded Ndalo Media, a 50-50 joint venture with Media 24. Media 24 is the publishing arm of Africa’s largest media company known as Naspers and produces The Africa Channel’s weekly news series, Africa Journal. At age 20, Dhlomo’s began her career in television while she was still a student at the University of Witwatersrand. She was a news presenter at the television station owned by the South African government, SABC. From there she became an editor for one of the most popular South African women’s magazines, True Love. It was then that she founded Ndalo Media. Ndalo Media produced several publications including Destiny and Destiny Man, popular South African lifestyle magazines, Sawubona, an in-flight magazine for South Africa Airways, as well as online publications, DestinyConnect.com and DestinyMan.com which have become South Africa’s fastest growing social networks for entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Along with her publications, Dhlomo owns Luminance, a high end fashion and lifestyle concept store in South Africa.
Patrick Ngowi, Tanzania, 28
Patrick Ngowi is the founder of Tanzania’s leading solar brand, Helvetic Solar. Helvetic Solar supplies, installs, and maintains all types of solar power and thermal systems in Tanzania and East Africa. Ngowi’s million dollar business started with a small loan from his mother. Ngowi began by selling Chinese mobile phones. While selling phones, he discovered Tanzanians craved any access to stable and reliable electricity. Helvetic Solar was then created and has attracted clients such as the United Nations, World Vision, and the Tanzanian Army. Ngowi also provides basic lighting services to the rural poor in Tanzania through his Light for Life foundation.
Ken Njoroge, Kenya, 37
In 2004, Celluant was founded by Ken Njoroge and his friend, Goke Akinboro. Celluant is a mobile commerce company that manages, delivers, and bills for digital content and commerce services. Njoroge had a vision to create Celluant after quitting his studies in pharmacy opting for a degree in information systems management. His vision was to create a fortune 500 company in Africa, out of Africa and by Africans. Njoroge did just that with revenues of over $120 million in 2012. Celluant can be found in eight African countries with hubs in Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.
Collin Thornton, South Africa, 35
While pursuing a degree in computer science at the University of Witwatersrand, Collin Thornton dropped out of school and began raising funds for what is now the million dollar computer fixing company, Dial-A-Nerd. With the help from family and friends, Thornton raised $1,000 (R5, 000) to promote his company with flyers and other promotional materials. From there, Dial-A-Nerd has grown to be a company of technicians who can repair, build, upgrade or even replace PCs at customers’ premises. Dial-A-Nerd earns an annual revenue of $10 million.
Alan Knott-Craig Jr., South Africa, 36
Based in Stellenbosch, Western Cape South Africa, World of Avatar is a multi-million dollar business founded by Alan Knott-Craig Jr. As the son of the former CEO of Vodacom, an African mobile communications company, Knott-Craig Jr. began first as the CEO of MXit, a social media company and Africa’s largest social network. Before Knott-Craig Jr. stepped in, MXit was struggling and in need of support, so he gathered nearly $50 million (R500 million) in funds and bought the company. Knott-Craig Jr. then founded World of Avatar, a privately held investment company interested in companies that help improve lives and build communities using mobile devices. World Avatar acquired MXit that now has over 20 million users, and also has invested in other leading businesses.
Forbes. Ten Young African Millionaires to Watch in 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2013/07/15/ten-young-african-millionaires-to-watch-in-2013/