For many aspiring business people, they give the excuse of waiting for enough funds before starting that dream business of theirs. But what they fail to realise is that the big break may never come by just sitting with folded arms.
Here’s a profile of 6 successful Nigerian entrepreneurs who started their businesses by taking huge steps even when they had zero capital. Theirs can be termed zero to hero, proving that the first thing needed in the entrepreneurship journey is not money, but action, perseverance, passion and the will to make it.
Jason Njoku is the co-founder and CEO of IrokoTV, a mobile entertainment and internet TV platform that’s particularly popular for its impressive catalogue of African ‘Nollywood’ movies.
The growth of this business has been very remarkable. IrokoTV has attracted up to $40 million in investment funding from foreign investors.
But the struggle in the early days of this business was not as glamourous.
After a few failed attempts at previous businesses in the UK, Jason returned to Nigeria in 2010 to build local relationships and purchase content rights for his new startup, IrokoTV. Cash was tight, and starting this business would have been impossible without the £90,000 contribution of Jason’s friend and business partner, Sebastian Gotter.
That single ‘small’ investment in what was a very ambitious idea, has created a multi-million dollar company that’s now dubbed as the ‘Netflix of Africa’.
Nnamdi Ezeigbo is the founder and CEO of Slot Systems Limited, and also the co-founder of the Tecno and Infinix phone brands, which are currently one of the fastest selling mobile phones in Nigeria.
He studied Computer & Electronics Engineering at the Lagos State University (LASU), between the years 1996 to 2001. After completing his youth service year, Nnamdi Ezeigbo tried to no avail to secure a job with a company in Nigeria. With no promising signs of any potential employment, he went on to work as an apprentice learning how to repair computers.
From there, he independently started fixing computers, his customer base grew, and he began to sell computers. As his business grew, a lot of customers started to both demand for slot stores in areas close to their area, and to ask if they sold mobile phones. With a keen eye to spot opportunity when it presents itself, Nnamdi Ezeigbo immediately expanded his business to also cover the sale of mobile phones.
That was how the Slot brand name began began to grow, becoming the most reputable mobile phone retailer in the whole country.
Linda Ikeji is the one of the most successful bloggers in Nigeria.
Determined to make it in life, assist her family and support herself through school, she had part-time jobs as a waitress, model and writer. Linda Ikeji graduated from the University of Lagos in 2004, where she studeied English Language. In 2006, she started blogging as a hobby.
At that time, the internet was not as pronounced in Nigeria and she had to make her posts at a cybercafe. She became an active blogger 2007 using a blogger sub-domain and began to grow her traffic. The blog has today grown to be one of the top in Nigeria with millions of daily views, and attracting advertisers.
Dr. Cosmas Maduka is the founder, President/CEO of Coscharis Group. He started Coscharis Motors as a one-man business and over the years has transformed the organization into an indigenous conglomerate with diverse interest in Manufacturing, ICT, Petrochemical, Auto care and Auto Components, Automobile Sales and Services, Agric and Agro Allied business sectors of the Nigerian economy.
From withdrawing from primary school at the age of 7 and assisting his mother in hawking Akara (Bean cakes) in Plateau, Jos, to helping his uncle in Lagos as an automobile apprentice and setting up ‘Maduka Brothers’ –his first business of auto spare parts at the age of 14, which ended up folding up, Cosmos Maduka is one inspiring entrepreneur whose story teaches one the value of perseverance.
After several failed business, rising and falling, Cosmos started yet another business called Coscharis in 1982, and his big break came in the same year, when the Nigerian government granted ten (10) motor companies import licences, and his Coscharis motors was selected.
Since then, his company has continued to grow sporadically, with several branches around Nigeria. Today, his personal net worth according to an interview with Forbes Africa 2015, sits at over $500 million US dollars and counting.
Seun is a Programmer,Webmaster and the founder of Nigeria and Africa’s largest online forum, Nairaland
Seun osewa has been interested in the internet business since he has known what internet is and how to use it. He enrolled as a student in the University Of Ile Ife to study electrical engineering in 1998 but he dropped out of the school to pursue his programming dream.
In the year 2003, he started his internet career, when he attempted to start a web hosting business. But after 3 months he could only boast of one customer, so he ran out of capital and the business packed up. After that first failure, he was encouraged to get certifications and a regular job, but he couldn’t go back to that kind of path after tasting creative freedom, so he kept researching business ideas and presenting them to friends and family, but no capital was forthcoming to carry any of them out.
Eventually, he decided to start a web forum, because it was the only idea that required no additional capital. He created 3 forums in November 2003 (one for higher institution students, one for IT discussions, and one to cover the emerging GSM industry; the Mobile Nigeria Forum at MobileNigeria.com).
In a month one of the forums – Mobile Nigeria, had about 300 members, but the growth potential didn’t satisfy him. He decided to start Nairaland, which has grown to be what it is today.
Michael Adenuga is a Nigerian business tycoon, and the second richest person in Nigeria. His company Globacom is Nigeria’s second-largest telecom operator, and also has a presence in Ghana and Benin.
He received his secondary education in Ibadan, Nigeria. Upon proceeding to the university, he worked as a taxi driver to help fund his university education, and eventually graduated from the Northwestern Oklahoma University and the Pace university, New York, with degrees in Business Administration.
When Adenuga returned from America to Nigeria, he took over his mother’s small business, and sold laces, coca-cola products, and other commodities. As he grew the business to sustainable heights, his revenues rose, till the venture became a larger enterprise.
In 1990, he got an oil drilling licence from the Nigerian government, and realised he had struck gold when in 1991, his company discovered oil in the shallow waters of south western Ondo state, in Nigeria.
Today the rest is history, as he has investments in Telecommunications, Banking, Oil & Gas, and several other sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Are you a budding entrepreneur? We’d love to hear your story too!