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Top 10 Nigerian Entrepreneurs Under 40 To Watch In 2018

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So 2018 has taken off in full swing and in case you didn’t read the most recent Forbes and Fortune Magazine article about the spread of global wealth in 2017, let us update you. It in essence stated that the “80/20 rule” still applied in 2017, and is mostly likely to apply this year. 80% of the world’s wealth will still go to the 20% at the top of the global financial food chain; Nigeria is no exception.

If you’re an aspiring Nigerian business influencer and you have been looking up to those at the top of Nigeria’s young movers–and–shakers food chain to see how you can mimic their successes and bold incursions into relatively untapped financial terrain, then these, in no particular order, are the pride of lions – and lionesses of course – under 40 prowling the Nigerian business jungle that you should keep a rather keen eye on in 2018. Let us proceed with a lioness shall we?

LINDA IKEJI

Okay seriously, if you don’t already know the name, then you were probably born within the last 3 years because the name Linda Ikeji is a household name, synonymous with the latest and hottest entertainment, celebrity, political and lifestyle gists and gossips.

Aged 37, Linda is a successful entertainment blogger, writer, entrepreneur and former model who has her finely manicured fingers dug nice and deep into: blogging (she is still the highest paid blogger in Nigeria today); TV Networking: On August 22, 2016, on her blog, she announced the creation her online TV – Linda Ikeji TV – alongside other brands she was establishing. The TV airs a variety of programs, from talk/reality shows, TV series and Movies. The Network produces some of its programs and also buys TV content. She’s ventured into online Radio broadcasting, and the station is operated from the Linda Ikeji Media Office. She also runs an NGO themed “I’d rather be self-made; No thanks” where she assists young girls aged 16–25 who have great business ideas and are willing to venture into entrepreneurship.

This lioness of a business woman who is said to be worth some N3billion, maybe more, could very well be smiling to the bank all 365 days of 2018 as large conglomerates and organizations looking to reach their young, millennial target audience(s) continue to dole out chunks to her blog for ad spaces. Not only that, with approaching elections, political parties will sure be scrambling for top-of-mind shares through her blog as they sign out heavy cheques. This is a young, bold cat to keep all eyes on, people, to learn a little something along the way.

LADI DELANO

At 37, jet setting, young and handsome Ladi is co-founder and CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa, a $1 billion joint venture with the $15 billion Bakrie Group of Indonesia. He started his journey to riches at age 22 when he founded Solidarnosc Asia, a Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka. Forbes Africa listed him as one of Nigeria’s top earners to watch in 2012, and 2018 might not be any different.

Bakrie Delano Africa serves as investment partner to the Bakrie Group in Nigeria. The Indonesian conglomerate provided over $900 million worth of funds to invest in Nigeria and fine boy Delano – with his company of course – is responsible for identifying investment opportunities in mining, agriculture and oil & gas and executing them.

Though little is publicly known about his company’s business dealings, word seeping through the grape vine is that this man who is listed as one of Nigeria’s youngest billionaires, with net worth in the staggering $1billion range (and that is dollars oh! – at 37?! Seriously?!?!?) has been seen of late smiling evocatively and shaking hands with some serious political figures in Abuja. Could some juicy government concessions be in the pipeline for 2018? Well, we have 11 more months to find out, let’s watch and see…

BANKOLE CARDOSO

29 years old Bankole Cardoso is the founder of the Nigerian operations of Easy Taxi, a taxi mobile app that was developed in Brazil in 2012 by a German technology start-up incubator.

Cardoso incorporated Easy Taxi in Nigeria in 2013 because he wanted a simple way to aid commuting in Lagos. Easy Taxi is a free smartphone application that allows users to request taxis in the easiest way possible. The app uses GPS to connect users to the drivers closest to them and then sends the drivers’ information to the users. It also allows the user to track the driver on the map in real time. Under his watch, Easy Taxi has grown to become one of the most used taxi hailing apps in Lagos as well as Abuja.

With an increasing middle class, increase in imported/brand new vehicle costs, and Nigerians’ love for the great outdoors, this is one young Nigerian to keep a good eye on as the company could be thinking serious expansion tingz this 2018.

DON JAZZY

There’s absolutely no way we would have gone even halfway with this article without shouting, “It’s Don Jazzy again!!”

Michael Collins Ajereh, better known as Don Jazzy, is one of Nigeria’s most popular record label owners, producer, singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. I mean, this guy is the ‘fat cat’ of fat cats, and the cat just keeps getting fatter; 2018 is no exception. Ajereh, who has a slew of musical accolades to his name since he hit the music scene with old time friend D’Banj in 2004 when the duo made hit song after hit song, doesn’t seem to be losing any steam. In 2017, a myriad of his party bangers almost turned national anthems, and radio jingles were accredited to him. As CEO of Mavin Records with an arsenal packed with known industry artistes, there is absolutely no doubt that this musical genius, worth some N15billion (modest figures) in 2017, could see his net worth swell even more as we trust that Mavin is sure to torpedo some more hit songs at the party raving industry in 2018. Maybe a few new signings would be added to an already bursting war chest? Plus endorsement deals and maybe a juicy product jingle for us to bump our heads to? With this dude, there’s no telling, so we’ll just keep the volume of our radios high!

TOYOSI AKERELE

Named by Forbes as one of ‘The 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa, 2014’, nominated for the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2014, and once described by Michelle Obama as one of her personal inspirations, 35 years old Akerele is the founder and CEO of Rise Networks, a Nigeria-based private and public sector funded youth interest social enterprise with a primary focus on wholesome youth and education development. The organisation focuses on creating intellectual development and capacity building programs for young Nigerians between 16 and 30.

This budding ‘superwoman’ and Michelle Obama’s ‘inspiration’ has won many (and trust us when we say ‘many’) awards and accolades over the last decade, both home and abroad, for her contribution to youth and leadership development in Nigeria. In a 2017 interview, she said that 2 things have shaped the pillars of her rise to such prominence – purpose and humanity; she continues to give selflessly of herself to see a better world and a better Nigeria in particular.

We’re keeping a solid eye on her in this new year…

ADEBOLA WILLIAMS

Mr. Williams is the co-founder of Red Media and The Future Project. The Future Project is a strategic social enterprise/change communications firm that hosts the annual Future Awards, which is Nigeria’s most important award for outstanding young Nigerians. Red media is a full service media content, communication and development company in Nigeria. Debola is credited with the strategy for the youth market that guaranteed Muhammadu Buhari’s spot as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through his firm StateCraft.

With the looming 2019 presidential elections, mounting troubles and political enemies on all sides against the current PMB administration, could it be possible that this young gun could once again be the knight in shining armor that President Buhari might depend on for a reelection ticket? Times are shaping up for a really interesting 2018 indeed…

UCHE PEDRO

Another lioness in the Nigerian, entertainment, fashion, celebrity, political and lifestyle gists and gossips business, 34 years old Mrs. Pedro, wife of Bode Pedro – son of former Lagos state deputy governor, Femi Pedro – is the founder of Bellanaija.com. Her website attracts more than 10 million page views every month from readers across the world. She is also the CEO of Bainstone Limited, a new media company, and is thought to be the second highest paid blogger in Nigeria after Linda Ikeji; with a net worth of some N2 billion (modest figures), it might not be hard to see why.

In this 2018, it might not be hard to envision both Ikeji and Mrs. Pedro, who have mirroring blogging businesses, sipping – with different straws of course – from the same well of goodness that is sure to flow from ad spots and other similar revenue pipelines. This young and bold lioness has sure got what it takes to achieve, and we’ll be watching and learning…

TITUS & TOBIAS IGWE

Just when you thought the Nigerian business scene couldn’t get any quirkier, in comes a set of 30 years old twin brothers who thrive in making sure that your meal is delivered to your office – hot, fresh and fast. Like seriously, these guys are no joke, and their business resume boasts a clientele listing that could have you wondering how 2 office assistants who once ran errands for their fellow staffers, who usually sent them to buy food, could go from a seed start–up of N50, 000 to begin operations for Speadmeals Mobile Kitchen in 2010 to gross income in excess of N3million in the same year! (hanhan! From just selling amala?! Nawao!!! Dem try).

These Tony Elumelu Foundation borne entrepreneurs are surely kicking up game and feeding people all the way to the bank with their promise to one day be able to make 10, 000 meal deliveries in one day! (Boy! That’s a lot of mouths to feed!) But in a country of a growing middle class and busy business executives, particularly in the bustling Lagos business district, these young men’s dreams might not be farfetched; perhaps with franchising, or a public offer? 2018 sure has a lot to teach us and we are strapped in tight and taking notes!

TIWA SAVAGE

Hanhan! First Don Jazzy, now Tiwa! Who exactly are you guys profiling? You must be wondering, yeah? But let’s face it, according to Forbes magazine, the Nigerian music industry is worth a hefty $1.5billion (dollars oh!) and is predicted to grow at a minimum cumulative average growth rate (CAGR) of 2% annually. This industry prints its own money!

Little wonder that the sexy roboskeske ‘Princess’ (Tiwa), said to be worth some $4.5million as of June, 2017 continues making waves with such juicy endorsements from the likes of Konga, Maggi cooking cubes and Pepsi. This 38 years old musical ICBM who signed on to Mavin Records is a money spinner with looks to match…and 2018 will most likely see her penning more endorsement deals, releasing more dance hall bangers and showing more skin perhaps? (Not that we’re looking at that anyways. Our eyes are focused on the money…)

SIJIBOMI OGUNDELE

36 years old Mr. Ogundele is CEO of Sijimoto, a real estate business empire. Sijimoto is a key player in real estate both in Nigeria and beyond; it currently owns and manages over 70 properties in Ikoyi alone, and is said to be worth some $2billion (that’s dollars!).

Word on the streets is that the die-hard business lion is pushing for more plum real estate space to develop and sell in Nigeria, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, just to mention a few places on mother–earth where his tentacles are spreading to and his earnings could skyrocket even more come 2018. We’ll be watching…

 

Written By Brain Essien

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