Nigeria has become a fast-growing target for both local and foreign investors as businesses and countries are seeing the potential for investments, with the younger community taking an impressive lead. This post serves to introduce a few of the young and successful Nigerian entrepreneurs who have worked hard to ensure that their ideas were actualised, and their success stories should serve as an inspiration for many.
MARK ESSIEN (Age: 31)
He is the founder of Nigeria’s ‘Hotels.ng’ which is currently Nigeria’s largest hotel booking website. With this platform, users from all over the world can book hotel rooms for their stay in Nigeria. The website offers a wide selection of choices which has contributed to the company’s popularity and success. Essien did not become a success overnight, and like every other success story, went through some difficulties to get to where he currently is. He had his primary and secondary education in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria and later obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at Beuth University, Germany. His entry into the workforce began as a cinema ticket agent from where he moved to looking after a man with disabilities. It was during this period that he developed a file-sharing software which was bought by a software company. He also created his first version of Hotels.ng which was just a list of hotels during that period.
He was reported to have raised $250,000 dollars Spark fund which was the much needed capital for starting up the business, and another $1.5million in funding from EchoVC and Omidayr network. Essien attributed his success to the big market saying “When you are in the right market you will survive, because the market is always big enough to keep you alive”.
UCHE PEDRO (Age: 32)
She founded BellaNaija and Bainstone Limited in 2006 and 2009 respectively. She graduated from Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, Canada in 2006 and was in 2008, rated by THE PUNCH Newspaper as 22nd of 100 most influential Nigerians. In 2010, she was also nominated for “Best Use of Technology” at the Future Awards. Pedro continued to acquire more awards and was later featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her website, BellaNaija, a news and entertainment platform, rakes in an estimated $30,000 – 40,000 monthly from Google only.
TONYE REX IDAMINABO (Age: 31)
Rex is the founder of Achiever’s Media Company and co-founder of Young CEO Business Forum. He was recognised by Forbes magazine as one of the thirty most promising young African entrepreneurs in 2015. In a recent interview, he attributes his success to “Determination and hard work…If you have a vision, you must keep moving. If there are opportunities across the door, force the door, break it open.”
He was also nominated as an advisory board member of the World Economic forum, a significant achievement given his age. While in its infancy, his company made about £500 per event, after which revenues surged to an estimated £50,000 per event, hosting about thirty events all over the world. Idaminabo supports the idea that the youth community is the future of Nigeria and believes that if young people combine their efforts and talents together, they would be able to take Nigeria to even greater heights.
OLUWASEUN OSEWA (Age: 34)
Seun is the CEO and founder of the popular online forum, Nairaland, which is said to be worth an estimated $8million. Introduced to the media sphere in 2005, Nairaland has since grown to become Africa’s largest online forum and is currently ranked as the most visited website in Nigeria. In 2013, Forbes listed him as one of the most successful African entrepreneurs under thirty. Osewa briefly attended the University of Ife where he left to pursue his programming ambitions.
He began his webhosting business in 2003 but unfortunately failed after only three months due to a lack of customer base. However, he remained relentless and went on to create Mobile Nigeria in the same year which had up to 300 members within a month. Osewa started Nairaland after this when he noticed the opportunity of bringing something different and new to the Nigerian market, which was a platform for Nigerians living at home to speak about issues they faced on a daily basis. The company’s growth surpassed his expectations and quickly gained popularity. Mark Zuckerberg being his inspiration, he decided to switch his main revenue source from Google adverts to enabling the purchasing of advert space on his website. This form of acquiring revenue is common with other social platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn where companies seeking to advertise their companies and brand purchase advertising space.
IYINOLUWA ABOYEJI (Age: 25)
In 2014, he co-founded the company, Andela, and currently serves as its Director of Recruitment. Aboyeji was also listed by Forbes as one of the most promising young African entrepreneurs. Andela trains, develops and matches young entrepreneurs with employers around the world. According to the Andela website, they “select the top 1% of tech talent from the largest pool of untapped talent in the world – The African continent. We sift through tens of thousands of applicants so you don’t have to.” According to Bloomberg, Aboyeji worked as an intern for the World Youth Alliance when he was 18. He headed one of Canada’s largest student-owned publishing forums and also worked at Imprint Publications as the president of the board. He is also the founder of Bookneto Incorporation, a social e-learning platform where university professors can independently teach online courses. He was awarded the John C Holland Award for Youth Leadership by the JC Holland Foundation in 2010.
Ultimately, the young Nigerian workforce currently has a variety of young and successful entrepreneurs and this post only lays the foundation for subsequent lists.
By Idegbua Higo, Media & Communications Intern at Zenera Consulting