Entrepreneur list of leaders who are unique in that they believed in themselves and worked towards the goal of success.
Atiku Abubakar, Nigerian politician, entrepreneur and philanthropist
Atiku Abubakar, GCON (born 25 November 1946) is a Nigerian politician, business person and philanthropist. Abubakar served as the second elected vice-president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, with President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Abubakar worked in the Nigeria Customs Service for twenty years. He retired in April 1989 and took up full-time business and politics. He ran for the office of governor in the Gongola State in 1991, and for the Presidency in 1993.
In 1998 he was elected Governor of Adamawa State. While still Governor-Elect he was selected by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate Olusegun Obasanjo as his running mate. The duo went on to win elections in February 1999.
Abubakar’s second term as Vice President was marked by a stormy relationship with President Obasanjo. His bid to succeed Obasanjo did not receive the latter’s support. The Supreme Court ordered the electoral commission to restore Abubakar’s name onto the presidential ballot. Atiku Abubakar ran on the platform of the Action Congress. Abubakar lost the election, placing third after Umaru Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Abubakar is a co-founder of Intels, an oil servicing business with extensive operations in Nigeria and abroad. He is also the founder of Adama Beverages Limited, and the American University of Nigeria (AUN), both in Yola, Adamawa.
Like many of his generation, Abubakar’s father was opposed to the idea of Western education. When the government discovered that Abubakar was not attending mandatory schooling, his father spent a few days in jail until Aisha Kande’s mother paid the fine.
At the age of eight Abubakar enrolled in the Jada Primary School. In 1960, he was admitted to Adamawa Provincial Secondary School in Yola. He graduated with a Grade Three WASC/GCE Certificate in 1965.
Following secondary school, Abubakar studied a short while at the Nigeria Police College in Kaduna . He left the College when he was unable to present an O-Level Mathematics result. He worked briefly as a Tax Officer in the regional Ministry of Finance, from where he gained admission to the school of Hygiene in Kano in 1966.
He graduated with a Diploma in 1967, having served as Interim Student Union President at the school. In 1967 he enrolled for a Law Diploma at the Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Administration. After graduation in 1969, during the Nigerian Civil War, he was employed by the Nigeria Customs Service.
Abubakar started out in the real estate business during his early days as a Customs Officer. In 1974 he applied for and received a 31,000 naira loan to build his first house in Yola, which he put up for rent. From proceeds of the rent he purchased another plot, and built a second house. He continued this way, building a sizeable portfolio of property in Yola.
In 1981 he moved into agriculture, acquiring 2,500 hectares of land near Yola to start a maize and cotton farm. The business fell on hard times and closed in 1986. “My first foray into agriculture, in the 1980s, ended in failure,” he wrote in an April 2014 blog.
He then ventured into trading, buying and selling truckloads of rice, flour and sugar.
His most important business move came while he was a Customs Officer at the Apapa Ports. Gabrielle Volpi, an Italian business person in Nigeria, invited him to set up Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES), a logistics company operating within the Ports. NICOTES would go on to provide immense wealth to Abubakar. Conflict of interest accusations have since trailed him on account of his involvement in business while a civil servant, who exercised supervisory authority.
On his part, Abubakar has defended the decision, saying his involvement was limited to the ownership of shares (which government rules permitted), and that he was not involved in day-to-day running of the business. NICOTES would later be rebranded INTELS, and go on to feature prominently in accusations of money laundering levelled against Abubakar by the U.S. government during his Vice Presidency.
Abubakar’s business empire also includes a beverage manufacturing plant in Yola, as well as an animal feed factory.
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.” Click To Tweet 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, Kenyan entrepreneur and founder 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,” she says.
Adaora Mbelu-Dania, Nigeria, Founder of A2 Creative
Adaora Mbelu-Dania’s track record includes being behind Guinness’ A2 Creative recent new product launch. “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.” Click To Tweet“My greatest mistake was thinking that I had to streamline and choose one thing,” she says.
Alan Knott-Craig Jr., South Africa
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 Africa. “Don't focus on the immediate need only. Set your eyes on the big picture,” Click To Tweet 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.
Also published on Medium.