For the fifth year running, Forbes Africa, the renowned business and lifestyle magazine, has put out its list of the continent’s top entrepreneurs under the age of thirty. The much-anticipated ensemble of promising businesspeople celebrates the successes of outstanding young people who are making a mark in their space.
This year, ten Nigerians made it to the list- about a third of the persons mentioned there. They’re drawn from a wide variety of sectors, including beauty, PR, fashion, catering, and real estate. They constitute an eclectic mix of men and women with wildly differing interests, but with a couple of common threads running through all their stories: a daring spirit and a knack for exploiting opportunities to the maximum.
These are the Nigerians on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, presented in no particular order.
1. Ogechukwu Anugo-Obah
Anugo-Obah, 28, is CEO of BodyLikeMilk, a cosmetics company which has its customer base spread across Africa and Europe. She says her business is currently pushing to become one of the world’s top 10 skincare manufacturers. Given her meteoric rise over the past few years, there’s always a chance that she could achieve this dream.
It’s hard to imagine that she started off with just ₦1,000. Anugo-Obah grew up in less than affluent conditions. She had to fend off the discouragement of dropping out of nursing school earlier in her life because she didn’t have the funds to take her through her program there.
But thanks to sheer drive, she staked the little money she had on making and selling her own skin care product. She’s since built a sizeable enterprise, one that’s big enough to have caught the attention of Forbes.
2. Ijeoma Balogun
For a 29-year-old, Balogun’s working experience is simply impressive. A decade ago, she was already style editor for the famous Bella Naija blog. She’s honed her communication skills and is putting it to good use at Redrick PR, the public relations agency she founded.
Balogun says she launched her business from her father’s study, with just a laptop and no money. Today, Redrick PR boasts a stellar portfolio, having worked with such clients as the Federal Ministry of Communication, Jumia, and Coca Cola.
Besides her engagement with Redrick PR, she has also organized workshops aimed at improving attendees’ employability, under the banner of her initiative, the Redrick Accelerate Workshops.
3. Bright Jaja
Bright Jaja, 29, is CEO of iCreate Africa, a skills development organization which equips young people with a variety of technical and vocational skills that they can leverage to make a living for themselves.
He started with it in 2016, when he organized skills training sessions for students in things as wide -ranging as bead making, digital designs, 3D animation, and music. After attending the WorldSkills program in Abu Dhabi in 2017, he decided to shake things up with his enterprise.
iCreate Africa has since organized iCreate Fest, one of the continent’s biggest competitions for young African creatives and craftspeople.
The organization is now working with corporate organizations to help young Africans with business skills that should see them set up their own ventures and shrink the number of unemployed people in the region.
4. Henrich Akomolafe
This 26-year-old business savvy entrepreneur picked up a family business, rode it out of dire straits, and set it on the plains of success.
The business, Akotex, began as an elevator supplier for high rise buildings. It had fallen on bad times at some point and was in need of an injection of fresh ideas and investment. Akomolafe.took over the business after completing his master’s degree program in Spain.
Leveraging the connections he established in his time abroad, he was able to strike deals with elevator manufactures, and bring in new investors. The company revived, expanded, took on projects with public and private sector organizations, and thrived.
5. Oginni Tolulope
Oginni Tolulope is founder and CEO of Transfurd Limited, an Agricultural development and management company.
Tolulope started Transfurd Farms after failing to land a job for several months. It has grown quite speedily, and now supplies a range of packaged agricultural products to clients across Nigeria.
Besides the farms (which includes several farmlands in a number of states), the business also comprises a business school, technology arm, and property management establishment.
In 2018, Transfurd Farms was named one of ConnectNigeria’s Top 100 SMEs. More recently, Tolulope was named Vice President of the Model United Nations World food Program Committee in Ghana.
6. Barbara Okereke
Okereke, 28, was once enamored with the idea of working at an oil and gas firm and getting large paychecks for her monthly efforts. That dream fizzled out as she struggled to land a job in the industry, despite having an MBA in oil and gas management.
Then she turned her sights to baking cakes. She enrolled in a catering school, learned to create cake designs resembling real-life objects, and started her business, Oven Secret, in Port Harcourt.
Three years later, her venture has almost doubled in value, and she’s gaining traction from beyond the country’s borders. Apart from the recognition she’s getting from Forbes, she’s also been interviewed by the BBC, and has had her story shared numerous times by local media.
7. Jessica Anuna
Anuna is 27, speaks French and Mandarin, and wants to contribute to Africa becoming “a global force.”
It’s an attractive set of characteristics for anyone. Add the fact that she’s boss at a fast-growing online fashion store backed by a global startup accelerator, and you’ll see why she’s found a spot on Forbes’ list.
Anuna says she was drawn to entrepreneurship while she lived in China. This admiration for ‘Chinese business sense’ eventually led her to establish a business of her won back in Nigeria. The company, Klasha, presents itself as the go-to online women’s shopping centre for Africa’s Millenials.
Klasha was started up in 2017 with a $120,000 fund from Techstars Dubai. It currently employs four staff and sells trendy clothing to Nigerian, Kenyan, Ghanaian, and South African women.
8. Adeniyi Omotayo
Adeniyi Omotayo spotted a ballooning interest in the sports prediction game in Nigeria and decided to stake his savings on building a business in that space. With just a quarter of a thousand dollars, he set up Betensured five years ago.
Betensured is said to have over a million users in 70 countries, a customer base which the company serves with its staff of 23.
9. Charles Edosomwan
Charles Edosomwan, 29, has come a long way with his tech PR form, TekSight Edge. The computer scientist and digital marketer is helping private and public sector organizations shape their brand narratives and communicate their identities via new media.
Starting off in Nigeria, TekSight now has a presence in Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda. In 2017, the company won the USAID Kenya Electoral Assistant Program; this brought it brand credibility of the sort boasted by giants in its industry.
10. Adetola Nola
Nola, 28, went from selling shoes to being boss at a fast-rising real estate company.
But it was his display of exceptional salesmanship with his footwear that opened up a path for him in the property business arena. His skill caught the eye of someone at one of Nigeria’s bigger real estate brands. He was snapped up by the firm, where he gained invaluable experience selling houses and land.
But Nola found a gap in the market: the real estate companies he worked for seemed too preoccupied with hauling in money and paid little attention to providing real value for clients. Nola jumped at this and set up his own real estate venture, Veritasi Properties.
Nola says Veritasi has shown that it’s possible to be straight up honest with clients and make mega-bucks at the same time. He points to the company’s earnings in its two years of existence, which he puts at over ₦2 billion.
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