6 Business Tips You Can Learn From These Forbes-Declared African Billionaires

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“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” — Anais Nin.

When the Novel Corona ambushed into our lives and upended our health, our families, our business, and our social structures to name but a few, it was a bolt in the blue for everyone. Not only were we losing our loved ones, and our sanity, but we were also losing our financial stability. Worldwide economies were sent smashing and scattering on the ground. Economic activities came to a screeching halt in a zealous battle to curb the spread of the virus. Undeniably this plunged countries into recession.

A fall in demand for goods saw businesses crumble and temporarily shut down, resulting in the loss of employment by millions of people worldwide. Arguably, business owners though whirling in the same maniacal tornado of destruction, were far better off than the people who lost their jobs and had no source of income to foot their perpetual bills. If there is one thing the novel corona educed from the minds of people, is the need to break their shells, step out of their comfort zone and think outside the box. In a world of economic uncertainty, it is imperative to shift from the norm of 100 % dependence on employment income. It is essential to contribute to the growth of your country's economy through the production of goods and services that will not only add to the GDP but your financial growth and freedom.

With that said, here are six business tips you can learn from these Forbes declared African Billionaires.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

1. Investing In What You Know.

Aliko Dangote, who has a net worth of $12.1 billion, is Africa’s richest person. He is a self-made billionaire and his source of wealth largely stems from Sugar and Cement. He secured a loan from his uncle which he used to import soft commodities at wholesale prices from international suppliers. He then sold those items in small quantities to consumers in his village at lucrative market prices.

Dangote didn’t stray far from what he’d learned from his grandfather, trading in household goods such as sugar, rice, and cement.

He twigged this business well, and presumably, he knew where to buy his goods from and where to sell them. This is one of the reasons that his ventures were so successful in a short period.

The takeaway here is to invest in what you know. Don’t be tempted to invest in what appears to be cool and trending, unless you understand the specific industry.

2. Acquire an Eagle’s eye for spotting an opportunity.

Naguib Sawiris is the eighth richest person in Africa with a net worth of $3.1 billion. He established a fortune in telecom, selling Orascom Telecom in 2011 to Russian telecom firm VimpelCom (now Veon) in a multibillion-dollar transaction.

However, not so long ago, few saw telecommunications taking off in Africa, hence few dared to venture into it. But now the sector is the continent’s fastest-growing. Orascom Telecom is now the leading mobile phone operator throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Pakistan, with 11 million subscribers.

Naguib had a lidless eye for a potential opportunity and sprang into action. He did not fear delving into an emerging market and as a result, managed to create a fortune for himself.

If you look keenly into your life experiences, and your personal space and pay a keener eye to the community around you, you will realize that business opportunities are everywhere, aimlessly hovering around waiting for you to grasp them.

3. Working with smart people

If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room. To be successful, you should surround yourself with the smartest people you can find. In an interview with a Nigerian newspaper, Dangote said: “I always hire people who are smarter than me.”

And people always boast of their folder-ripping, bunch of certificates that their bosses ostensibly lack…

4. Maintain Relationships

Nicky Oppenheimer is Africa’s third-richest person with a net worth of $8 billion. He is the heir to the DeBeers diamond fortune. He managed to maintain and uphold the family’s business relationship with De Beer until he retired from the company.

He is a perfect example of why relationships are key to succeeding in business. Continuously building mutually beneficial relationships is essential if you want to succeed in business.

Nicki Oppenheimer also recognized and appreciated the power of customer service. He stated that “We all need to become more customer-focused and recognize the power of marketing to sell more diamonds.”

5. Expanding the Empire

Picture every dollar you make as a potential seed that can grow into a tree with plenty of fruits if planted and nurtured. These new fruits formed generate other seeds for you to expand your farm. And thus the cycle of wealth continues and skyrockets from there.

This is exactly what Naseef Sawiris, the chairman of Orascom Construction and Africa’s second richest billionaire, with a net worth of $8.5 billion did. He was born into a millionaire family but went on with his brothers to build their family wealth into a multi-billion dollar conglomerate.

After graduating from college, Naseef Sawiris rejoined his father and two older brothers at OCI (Orascom Construction Industries), which by that time had diversified into communications and real estate.

  • As CEO, he focused on expanding the business abroad and into a new sector; cement and building materials; a division he sold to Lafarge in 2008 for $12.8 billion.
  • That same year, he entered the fertilizer business with the purchase of the Egyptian Fertilizer Company. Through the expansion of its operations and acquisitions, Orascom’s fertilizer operation grew to become the world’s third-largest nitrogen-based fertilizer producer.

Aliko Dangote has also always reinvested the majority of his profits back into his businesses — one reason the company has grown so much since its inception. During an interview with Al Jazeera News, Aliko Dangote explained, ‘‘We [Dangote Group] are not doing like other Africans who keep most of their money in the bank. We do not keep money in the bank. We fully invest whatever we have and we keep on investing (sic).’’

6. Philanthropy

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Audrey Hepburn

The most unique and outstanding characteristics of all these African billionaires are their philanthropic efforts to offer the community a chance of prosperity by sharing portions of their wealth. They realize that their success is not entirely their work but a collaborative effort of their intelligence, efforts, and the community that believed in them and bought their goods and services.

For example, Nicky Oppenheimer’s family is involved in several philanthropic activities. Nicky focuses on preserving the cultural heritage of the Southern African region. He is also interested in improving education, health, arts, and conserving nature.

When your business gives back to the community, it creates opportunities for success for people out there which beautifully manifests into trust in you and your business.

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There will be obstacles, they will be doubts, they will be mistakes. But the only person/thing standing against you and your success is you. Fight for it.

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Naima Mwatsahu

Naima Mwatsahu

There will be obstacles, they will be doubts, they will be mistakes. But the only person/thing standing against you and your success is you. Fight for it.

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