Top 10 African Entrepreneurial Leaders in the 21st Century

A compelling list of top African leaders who are using their entrepreneurial leadership skills to impact and transform communities across Africa and the world

The continent of Africa has been projected to have the largest workforce in the world by 2035. Research suggests that by 2050, 25% of the world’s population will live in Africa and thus, about one billion people will need jobs on the continent. Could this looming population boom also be one of the greatest sources of global prosperity that will define this century? The key to preparing Africa for this future rests on creating knowledge across the continent and building effective systems and structures that enable our society and our human capital to flourish efficiently in a sustainable fashion. One of the key elements of making this vision a reality is having an entrepreneurial mindset and taking maximum advantages of the available opportunities in an innovative way for the betterment of people.

Today, there are several Africans who are creating impact in their unique fields across Africa and the globe. Highlighted in this article are the top ten African entrepreneurial leaders who are continuously capitalising their entrepreneurship skills in creating value and ultimately impacting communities across Africa and beyond.

10. Teresa Mbagaya

Teresa Mbagaya, listed as the “30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa” by Forbes and a nominee for the Future Awards Africa “Young Person of the Year”, is a Kenyan Entrepreneur who in the past worked at the education teams at Google and Microsoft. A leader who has a proven career in the private and public sector by impacting millions through nation-wide initiatives centered on digital education transformation and skills development, has her beliefs firmly rooted in education, technology and innovation.

9. Ali-shah Jivraj

Jivraj, a 27 year-old third generation Asian-Ugandan entrepreneur, is one of Africa’s most successful young entrepreneurs. He has founded Royal Electronics, a company that assembles electronics products. It was recorded that the company generated $15Million in 2015. On the heels of his success in the electronics business, Jivraj has further expanded his business endeavors to launch another brand – Ugacell batteries. He also owns a real estate firm which is developing high-end residential apartments in two of Kampala’s toniest residential areas, and is also setting up a battery manufacturing plant in the country of Burundi, in Southeast Africa.

8. Adenike Ogunlesi

Adenike Ogunlesi, is the founder, CEO, and manufacturer of the Nigerian children’s clothing line called Ruff ‘n’ Tumble. The brand currently has a minimum of 15 stores spread across Nigeria. She started her business in 1996 by selling pajamas in the boot of her car. Her excellent entrepreneurial leadership skills made her secure her place among the best manufacturers of children’s wear in the country. She strongly believes that limited by funds and with no access to investors, tenacity of purpose will always reign supreme, as long as you’re building a venture on a viable business model.

7. Fred Swaniker

Ghanaian entrepreneur and leadership development expert, Fred Swaniker is deeply passionate about Africa and believes that the missing ingredient on the continent is good leadership. In line with this, he has founded two organizations that aim to catalyse a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial African leaders: African Leadership Academy and the African Leadership Network. In recognition of his work in developing Africa’s future leaders, Fred was selected as one of 115 young leaders to meet US President Obama at the first-ever President’s Forum for Young African Leaders held at the White House in 2010. He has been recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and was listed by Forbes Magazine among the top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa in 2011.

6. Patrick Awuah

He is a Ghanaian Entrepreneur and founder of Ashesi University, one of the leading universities on the continent. In 2012, Ashesi University was ranked as one of the top ten Most Respected Companies in Ghana, and was the first educational institution to win the award. In the same survey, Patrick Awuah was named the 4th Most Respected CEO in Ghana. His knack for education led him to leave his job at Microsoft to found Ashesi in 2002.

5. Mike Adenuga

Adenuga came up with a plan to found Globacomms which would go on to serve the telecommunications needs of Nigerians and compete with telecommunications giants like MTN Group. Currently, Globacom is worth over $1billion. Adenuga is a Nigerian billionaire businessman, and the second richest person in Nigeria.

4. Tony Elumelu

Tony is the chairman of United Bank for Africa and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, famous for its $5000 USD Entrepreneurship grants given to upcoming startups across the continent. Launched in 2015, The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship. In 2017, Two ALC Students were selected to participate in the Program. Tony has attained enormous success with a net worth of ~US$700

3. Strive Masiyiwa

Strive is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur and founder of Econet, a multinational telecommunications company serving countries across Africa, Europe, and Asia. He is featured on the 2018 Forbes List as one of Africa’s billionaries. He has won numerous accolades and gained international recognition for his business expertise and philanthropy, and is considered one of Africa’s most generous humanitarians.

2. Aliko Dangote

Revered by many and famously known as Africa’s richest man, Dangote is a Nigerian business magnate, investor, and owner of the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities in Nigeria and other African countries. He often says “Nigeria is one of the best-kept secrets. A lot of foreigners are not investing because they’re waiting for the right time. There is no right time”. Dangote’s Entrepreneurial leadership and management skills led him to found Dangote Group.

1. Elon Musk

A man who needs no introduction. A lethal combination of genius, hard work and dedication to bring a technological revolution, Elon Musk is working to bring radical innovation in transportation both on Earth and in space. Perhaps the most famous entrepreneur from the African continent,  Elon Musk’s success is owed to his innovation and will to succeed.  This coupled with his leadership and management skills have led him to be incredibly popular among the youth as well. In 2016, Forbes ranked Musk as the 21st in their list of The World’s Most Powerful People.

These African entrepreneurs, among several others, have blazed trails of inspiration amongst the African youth through their entrepreneurial skills and their unrelenting will to succeed even when the odds were against them. At the African Leadership University, entrepreneurial leadership forms an integral part of the core skills that are mastered in the first year. Lessons in this course challenge students to find solutions to real world problems and encourages them to find ways to generate opportunities that will impact local communities and beyond. An institution that strongly stands by ‘just-in-time’ education as opposed to ‘just-in-case’ education, ALU is striving to develop the next generation of African leaders.

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Together with a world-class faculty and staff, our students are igniting a ripple of positive impact across Africa and the world. Join us

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