Africa’s million dollar babies

There’s no money like young money. A survey by Forbes Magazine on the globe’s wealthiest people makes an interesting reading. While African millionaires and billionaires like Onsi Sawiris, Raymond Ackerman, Aliko Dangote, and Deinde Fernandez 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.

There’s no money like young money. A survey by Forbes Magazine on the globe’s wealthiest people makes an interesting reading. While African millionaires and billionaires like Onsi Sawiris, Raymond Ackerman, Aliko Dangote, and Deinde Fernandez 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.

Here are ten you need to know:

Mark Shuttleworth, South African Age: 38

When Shuttleworth was 22, he founded Thawte, a digital certificate and internet security firm which he sold to VeriSign for $575 million in 1999, when he was 26. He 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 firm, which was acquired by Visa 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. He has a net worth north of $500 million.

Mike Macharia, Kenyan, Age: 36

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.

Justin Stanford, South African, Age: 28, founder 4Di Group

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. Today, Stanford’s ESET brand records over $10 million in annual turnover.

Ladi Delano, Nigerian, Age: 30, Founder  Bakrie Delano Africa

The jet-setting Nigerian 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 firm that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka.

The drink went on to achieve over 50% market share 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  focused on mainland China.

Today, Delano is the co-founder and CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa – a $1 billion joint venture with the $15 billion (market cap).

Magatte Wade, Senegalese, Age: 36,

Founder, Adina World Beat Beverages

In 2004 Magatte Wade founded Adina World Beat Beverages, a San Francisco beverage 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.

Ashish Thakkar, Ugandan

Age: 29, Co-Founder and CEO, Mara Group

Thakkar, 29 is a co-founder and CEO of Mara Group – a Ugandan conglomerate with tentacles in financial services, hotels, renewable energy, technology and manufacturing. Annual revenues are approximately $100 million and the group has an active presence in 16 countries on four continents.

Devoted philanthropist: Through his Mara Foundation, Thakkar provides mentorship and seed funding to young East African entrepreneurs. The Mara Group recently signed a $300 million deal with the Tanzanian government to develop a 3.5 million square foot state of the art mini-city.

Vinny Lingham, SA, Age: 33

Lingham, a South African national, is the founder of Yola 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 as Columbus Venture Capital, a subsidiary of South African billionaire Johann Rupert’s Richemont Group.

Prior to Yola, Lingham founded Click2Customers, 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.

Kamal Budhabatti, Kenyan, Age: 36

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, Age: 35

One of just two women to make it to this list. 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.

Jason Njoku, Nigerian, Age: 31

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 give figures, but analysts believe IrokoTV could be worth as much as $30 million. Njoku is the company’s largest individual shareholder.

-Adapted from Forbes

 

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