Entrepreneur list of leaders who are unique in that they believed in themselves and worked towards the goal of success.
- Jason Njoku, Nigeria, Entrepreneur and Founder of iROKO Partners
- Gina Din-Kariuki, Kenya, Founder and Executive Chair of the Gina Din Group
- Adaora Mbelu-Dania, Nigeria, Founder of A2 Creative
- Alan Knott-Craig Jr., South Africa
- Nkechi Harry Ngonadi, Nigeria, CEO of NHN Couture
- Jean Bosco Nzeyimana, Rwanda, Founder and CEO of Habona
- Madey Adeboye, Nigeria
- Maavi Norman, Liberia, Entrepreneur, Founder of IRIS International Consulting
- Andrew Carnegie, Entrepreneur, Business Leader, Philanthropist (1835–1919)
Jason Njoku, Nigeria, Entrepreneur and Founder of iROKO Partners
As the founder of iROKO Partners, and iROKOTv, the leading online streaming platform in Africa, Jason Njoku’s principle is simple. “I am trying to make people happy,” he says. Njoku admits that starting on YouTube in 2010 and building a successful global media empire has brought its challenges. “I make more mistakes than I make good choices. My only saving grace is that the choices that I make are better and more significant.” Now a venture capitalist, his current obsession is funding local entrepreneurs. “I want to help young entrepreneurs build the next iROKOTV”, he says.
Gina Din-Kariuki, Kenya, Founder and Executive Chair of the Gina Din Group
In 19 years, Gina Din-Kariuki has morphed from being a public relations guru, to an award-winning social entrepreneur. He is an honorary UNFPA ambassador and Red Cross goodwill ambassador. As the founder and executive chair of the Gina Din Group, she has served as a strategic advisor to Safaricom. Currently she is assisting Kenya’s central bank with its re-branding. At her pinnacle of achievement, what’s next? “Where I am, it is much more about impact and significance,” she says. “I spend a lot of time, building young women entrepreneurs across the continent. I want to be the woman that I didn’t have when I was starting my business,” says Din-Kariuki.
Adaora Mbelu-Dania, Nigeria, Founder of A2 Creative
The founder of A2 Creative, a thriving brand management company, Adaora Mbelu-Dania’s track record includes being behind Guinness’ recent new product launch in its second largest market, Nigeria. “I am inspired by people,” she says. But inspiration is different from personal foundation, which she describes succinctly: “My recipe for success is God, love, discipline, patience, and forgiveness, in this particular order.” “My greatest mistake was thinking that I had to streamline and choose one thing,” she says.
Alan Knott-Craig Jr., South Africa
A trained accountant, Alan Knott-Craig has changed the telecommunications industry in South Africa since 2003. His latest innovation is setting up the largest free public WiFi network in South Africa, Project Isizwe, which he has built one community at a time. What drives him? “Fear of failure,” Knott-Craig responds. He attributes his million-dollar success to “focus, keeping my promises and marrying young. When there is no plan B, you have no other options,” he says.
Nkechi Harry Ngonadi, Nigeria, CEO of NHN Couture
How does a person turn a passion into a lucrative business? By becoming purposeful about it. For Nkechi Ngonadi, CEO of NHN Couture, it comes down to her inspiration: “Proverbs 22:29, The Almighty God and His Word,” she says. In three years, NHN designs are on prominent runways, and worn by celebrities across the African continent, and from the US to the Middle East. “Don’t focus on the immediate need only. Set your eyes on the big picture,” she says. What is her best advice? “Integrity, people follow if they trust.” This trust has led to Ngonadi having almost 100,000 active followers (and counting) on Instagram alone.
Jean Bosco Nzeyimana, Rwanda, Founder and CEO of Habona
How do you describe being seated on a Global Entrepreneurship panel between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama? “Exciting and frightening!” says Jean Nzeyimana. As founder and CEO of Habona, a clean and renewable energy company, this young entrepreneur has already achieved a milestone that many can only dream about. For him, it is bigger than a business. By transforming waste in his community to briquettes, a greener alternative to wood charcoal, Nzeyimana provides jobs and a cleaner environment.
Madey Adeboye, Nigeria
How do you create a booming business? Find a problem and solve it. For Madey Adeboye, a Nigerian lawyer, this was her path to starting Green Grill House, a leading healthy food café in Lagos, Nigeria, that features delivery options. “Changing my eating habits and seeing the amazing results inspired me to want to do that for others.” In just two years, Adeboye has gone from unraveling healthy cuisine in her own kitchen, to opening up her café and becoming a household name in Nigeria. Today, she has partnership requests coming from all over Africa.
Maavi Norman, Liberia, Entrepreneur, Founder of IRIS International Consulting
The founder of IRIS International Consulting, social entrepreneur Dr. Maavi Norman bridges the gap by encouraging foreign investment in Africa, while supporting “deep local impact.” Through his affiliation as a mentor with the White House Young African Leaders Initiative, Norman has helped guide a cohort of like-minded entrepreneurs in Africa. For him, it all comes down to this: “Stay laser-focused on solutions but evaluate a myriad of ideas for achieving them. Be open to readjusting, re-calibrating and re-launching.”
Andrew Carnegie, Entrepreneur, Business Leader, Philanthropist (1835–1919)
Andrew Carnegie was a self-made steel tycoon and one of the wealthiest businessmen of 19th century. He later dedicated his life to philanthropic endeavors.
At the age of 13, in 1848, Carnegie came to the United States with his family. They settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and Carnegie went to work in a factory, earning $1.20 a week. The next year he found a job as a telegraph messenger. Hoping to advance his career, he moved up to a telegraph operator post in 1851. He then took a job at the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1853. He worked as the assistant and telegrapher to Thomas Scott, one of the railroad’s top officials. Through this experience, he learned about the railroad industry and about business in general. Three years later, Carnegie became a superintendent.
By the next decade, Carnegie’s dedicated most of his time to the steel industry. His business, which became known as the Carnegie Steel Company, revolutionized steel production in the United States. Carnegie built plants around the country, using technology and methods that made manufacturing steel easier, faster and more productive. For every step of the process, he owned exactly what he needed: the raw materials, ships and railroads for transporting the goods, and even coal fields to fuel the steel furnaces.
This start-to-finish strategy helped Carnegie become the dominant force in the industry and an exceedingly wealthy man. It also made him known as one of America’s “builders,” as his business helped to fuel the economy and shape the nation into what it is today. By 1889, Carnegie Steel Corporation was the largest of its kind in the world.
Some felt that the company’s success came at the cost of its workers. The most notable case of this came in 1892. When the company tried to lower wages at a Carnegie Steel plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania, the employees objected. They refused to work, starting what the “Homestead Strike of 1892”. The conflict between the workers and local managers turned violent after the managers called in guards to break up the union. While Carnegie was away at the time of strike, many still held him accountable for his managers’ actions.
In 1901, Carnegie made a dramatic change in his life. He sold his business to the United States Steel Corporation, started by financier J.P. Morgan. The sale earned him more than $200 million. At the age of 65, Carnegie decided to spend the rest of his days helping others. While he had begun his philanthropic work years earlier by building libraries and making donations, Carnegie expanded his efforts in the early 20th century.
Carnegie, an avid reader for much of his life, donated about $5 million to the New York Public Library so that the library could open several branches in 1901. Devoted to learning, he established the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, which is now known as Carnegie-Mellon University in 1904. The next year, he created the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1905. With his strong interest to peace, he formed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1910. He made many other donations, and more than 2,800 libraries opened with his support.
Besides his business and charitable interests, Carnegie enjoyed traveling and meeting and entertaining leading figures in many fields. He was friends with Matthew Arnold, Mark Twain, William Gladstone, and Theodore Roosevelt. Carnegie also wrote several books and many articles. His 1889 article “Wealth” outlined his view that those with great wealth must be socially responsible and use their assets to help others. This was later published as the 1900 book The Gospel of Wealth.