There’s no money like young money. While African millionaires and billionaires like Onsi Sawiris, Raymond Ackerman, and Aliko Dangote may have more money than most of us can ever dream of, there’s one thing they can never buy: Youth. Even money has its limits. But there are a handful of young Africans in their 20s and 30s who have built businesses and amassed enviable million-dollar fortunes. Call them million-dollar babies.
Jason Njoku, Nigerian
Founder & CEO Iroko TV
The maverick Nigerian Internet entrepreneur is founder of Iroko TV, the world’s largest digital distributor of African movies. Iroko TV has been dubbed the ‘Netflix of Africa’. Earlier this year, Iroko TV raised $8 million in venture capital from Tiger Global Management, a New York-based private equity and hedge fund run by billionaire Chase Coleman. IrokoTV enjoys lucrative content distribution deals with Dailymotion, iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo. Njoku is unwilling to divulge figures, but analysts believe IrokoTV could be worth as much as $30 million. Njoku is the company’s largest individual shareholder.
Founder, Knife Capital
When Shuttleworth was 22, he founded Thawte, a digital certificate and internet security company which he sold to VeriSign for $575 million in 1999, when he was 26. Shuttleworth used a fraction of his proceeds to start HBD Capital (now called Knife Capital), a Cape Town-based emerging markets investment fund. HBD has made a series of successful exits including Fundamo, a mobile financial services company which was acquired byVisa for $110 million in 2011; and csense, which was acquired by GE Intelligent Platforms the same year. Shuttleworth also founded and funds Ubuntu, a computer operating system which he distributes as free open source software. Shuttleworth has a net worth north of $500 million.
Founder and CEO, Bakrie Delano Africa
The jet-setting Nigerian serial entrepreneur made his first millions as a liquor entrepreneur while living in China. In 2004, at age 22, he founded Solidarnosc Asia, a Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka. Solid XS went on to achieve over 50% market share in China and was distributed across over 30 cities in China, and pulled in $20 million in annual revenue. Delano subsequently sold the company to a rival liquor company for over $15 million and ploughed his funds into his next venture-The Delano Reid Group, a real estate investment holding company focused on mainland China. Today, Delano is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bakrie Delano Africa (BDA) – a $1 billion joint venture with the $15 billion (market cap) Bakrie Group of Indonesia. Bakrie Delano Africa serves as the investment partner of the Bakrie Group in Nigeria. The Indonesian conglomerate has provided over $900 million worth of funds to invest in Nigeria and Bakrie Delano Africa is responsible for identifying investment opportunities in mining, agriculture and oil & gas and executing them.
Founder & CEO, 4Di Group
South African-born Stanford is a software entrepreneur and venture capitalist. After dropping out off high school, Stanford set out to launch an internet security company which flopped. When he came across ESET, a Slovakian anti-virus software package, he negotiated with its manufacturers and cornered the exclusive, lucrative Southern African distribution for the product. Today, Stanford’s ESET Southern Africa operates the ESET brand in the region and sells ESET’s range of internet security products in about 20 sub-Saharan countries, leveraging on an extremely successful internet business platform and digital distribution model for online software sales and service. Today, Stanford’s ESET brand records over $10 million in annual turnover and controls 5% of the anti-virus market in Southern Africa. Stanford is also the founding partner of 4Di Capital, a Cape Town-based venture capital fund. Stanford is also a co-founder of the Silicon Cape Initiative, a non-profit movement that aims to turn the Cape into Africa’s own Silicon Valley.
Magatte Wade, Senegalese
Founder, Adina World Beat Beverages & Tiossan
In 2004 Magatte Wade founded Adina World Beat Beverages, a San Franciscobeverage company that manufactures coffee, tea and fruit juices using traditional beverage recipes across Africa and organic ingredients sourced from smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia. Within five years of launching, Adina raised over $30 million in venture capital from institutional investors and the products began being sold by Whole Foods and United Natural Foods. Magatte stepped down from her position as CEO to grow her second company,Tiossan, a manufacturer of luxury skin care products based on indigenous Senegalese recipes.
Mike Macharia, Kenyan
Founder & CEO, Seven Seas Technologies
When he was 25, Macharia, a Kenyan national, founded Seven Seas Technology, now easily East Africa’s most reputable IT services firm. The $50 million (annual sales) company is a leading provider of integrated business and technology solutions across Africa in the telecom, financial, Real Estate, service industry and government. Seven Seas is gearing up to get listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange next year.
Vinny Lingham, South African
Founder, Yola Inc
Lingham, a South African national, is the founder ofYola Inc, a San Francisco-based Web 2.0 outfit that provides free website building, publishing and hosting services to over 3 million active users across the globe. Yola has attracted over $30 million in venture capital financing from institutional investors such asColumbus Venture Capital, a subsidiary of South African billionaire Johann Rupert’s Richemont Group. Prior to Yola, Lingham foundedClick2Customers, a hugely successful search engine marketing company with offices in London, Cape Town, and Los Angeles. Click2Customers rakes in about $100 million in annual revenues. Lingham is a co-founder of the Silicon Cape Initiative along with fellow South African entrepreneur Justin Stanford.
Kamal Budhabatti, Kenyan
CEO, Craft Silicon
Kamal is the founder and CEO of Craft Silicon, a $50 million (market value) Kenyan software company which provides software in core banking, microfinance, mobile, switch solutions and electronic payments for over 200 institutional clients in 40 countries spread across four continents.
Yolanda Cuba, South African
Executive Director, South African Breweries
When Yolanda Cuba was 29 she was appointed CEO of Mvelaphanda Holdings, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed investment holding company. She was awarded stock options worth over $10 million which she exercised before stepping down as CEO last year. She subsequently took up a job as an Executive Director at South African Breweries. Cuba still serves on the boards of South African blue chips such as Steinhoff International Holdings and Absa Group.