Nigerian business leaders to watch
Nigeria’s dynamic business environment is full of rising stars. Mfonobong Nsehe and Seun Adegoke Oyeniyi highlight six Nigerian entrepreneurs likely to be snatching the headlines in the near future
An Oxford-trained medical doctor, Amy Jadesimi began her career in finance at American banking giant Goldman Sachs. She later attended Stanford Graduate School of Business before becoming CEO of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base, a company founded by her father Oladipo Jadesimi in 2000. Based in a free trade zone, it is West Africa’s largest logistics and engineering facility.
Jadesimi’s work as chief executive of LADOL has seen her garner an impressive list of accolades over the years, with most from prominent bodies such as the World Economic Forum, Forbes and Financial Times. She was recently appointed a member of the new Advisory group on Trade Finance (ATF), a 12-member coalition of leaders in global trade launched in September 2020 by the International Chamber of Commerce.
Bella Disu is a Nigerian business professional and the executive vice chairman of Globacom, the second-largest telecommunications company in Nigeria, which was founded by Africa’s second richest man, her father, Mike Adenuga.
With well over a decade of professional experience spanning several industries, Bella is also the Chief Executive Officer of Cobblestone Properties and Estates Limited, a non-executive director on the board of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and a director at Abumet Plc.
Bella coordinated the construction of the impressive Lagos-based Alliance Française Mike Adenuga Centre in Ikoyi, which was unveiled in May 2019. She was in December awarded the French national honour of “Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres” (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters), in recognition of her support for arts and culture.
Niyi Makanjuola is a Nigerian businessman, investor and chairman of Caverton Helicopters, a company he started in 2002 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Caverton Group, after moving back from the UK.
The 40-year-old serial entrepreneur is also the Group CEO of Raven Resources Group and Visionscape International Holdings, which he led into Africa. The waste management subsidiary Visionscape Sanitation Solutions secured a 10-year contract from the Lagos State Government after environmental reforms introduced by its former Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
Niyi is the son of aviation magnate Chief Remi Makanjuola, the president of Caverton Offshore Support Group, and was in 2018 recognised by Forbes as one of the five young African entrepreneurs under 45 to watch.
Tony O. Elumelu, or TOE as he’s known, is one of Nigeria’s foremost entrepreneurs and philanthropists, and chairman of Heirs Holdings, United Bank for Africa and Transcorp Nigeria.
Considered an outsider in the world of banking, he is widely known for turning around the nearly bankrupt Standard Trust Bank – and transforming United Bank for Africa from its sole presence in Nigeria to a pan-African institution that now has subsidiaries in 20 countries across Africa, as well as offices in London, Paris and New York.
Elumelu’s been on the scene for a while now but he is still one to watch as he keeps diversifying and investing in Africa’s young entrepreneurs through his Foundation.
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is one of Nigeria’s foremost tech entrepreneurs, with links to some of the most successful startups in Africa.
He is a co-founder of Andela, a software developer outsourcing company – which has raised over $180m from investors including Chan Zuckerberg, former US Vice President Al Gore and Google – and is also a former managing director of the San Francisco-headquartered payments company Flutterwave.
Aboyeji is now focused on democratising startup investing in Africa through the Future Africa Fund, an early-stage investment fund launched at the start of 2020.
The fund has a goal of backing 20 founders with up to $50,000 each year and is open to several individuals willing to participate in venture capital.
Nigerian businessman, philanthropist, and former chairman of Forte Oil Plc, Femi Otedola owns a number of businesses and investments across oil & gas, shipping, real estate, and finance.
Last year, Otedola divested his entire 75% stake in the indigenous energy group (now Ardova Plc.) to focus on power generation, one of Nigeria’s economic pain points. He is investing up to $1bn in Geregu Power Plc, a company he purchased in 2013 during the power sector privatisation.
The businessman aims to improve the domestic power supply by at least 400 MW, in support of the Nigerian government’s power sector recovery plan.
Read more from our Nigeria at 60 special report