Top 10 influential business leaders in Africa
In no particular order, Business Chief takes a closer look at 10 of the most influential business leaders committed to philanthropic efforts in Africa
10. James Mwangi
James Mwangi is the current CEO and Managing Director of Equity Bank Ltd.. Its philosophy is to exist to transform the lives and livelihoods of its people, socially and economically, by providing them with modern and inclusive financial services that maximise opportunities.
In addition to his roles at the bank, Mawangi is Chairman of the Equity Group Foundation, a non-profit organisation that was established in 2008. The foundation aims to support people in Africa through financial services and technological innovation.
HQ: Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa
CEO: James Mwangi
9. Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji
Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji, is a philanthropist and entrepreneur who has established and managed various technology companies in Africa, such as Flutterwave (for which Aboyeji is both a co-Founder and Managing Director), Andela, Talent City Inc., and Street Capital. His establishments as an entrepreneur have been built on the mindset of building an African future that is connected to the global economy.
In 2019, Aboyeji co-founded Future Africa, a platform that provides capital, coaching and a community for mission driven innovators that aspire to build prosperity and purpose on the continent.
HQ: San Francisco, California, US
CEO: Olugbenga Agboola
8. Nassef Sawiris and the Sawiris family
Nassef Sawiris is the current CEO of Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), one of the world largest nitrogen fertilizer producers under the Orascom Construction PLC founded in 1950 by Onsi Sawiris.
In May 2019, Sawiris made multiple donations totalling US$24mn to help further develop education at the university of Chicago.
In 2001, the Sawiris family established the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, which is dedicated to contributing to Egypt’s growth by creating sustainable job opportunities, and empowering citizens to build productive lives and achieve their full potential.
HQ: Cairo, Egypt
CEO: Osama Bishai (Orascom Construction PLC)
7. Mike Adenuga, OON
Adenuga, is committed to serving the needs of his country and continent by helping to ensure a future of social and economic growth. Adenuga is very private about his philanthropic activities. However, it is known that he has established an organisation - the Mike Adenuga Foundation - to improve the future of the region, and achieve social and economic independence for the continent. In 2012, Adenuga contributed US$3.2mn to help the flood victims of the Bayelsa province.
HQ: Lagos, Nigeria (Globacom and Conoil Producing)
Founded: 2003 (Globacom) and 1984 (Conoil Producing)
CEO: Mike Adenuga (Globacom), Dr Ebi Omatsola (Conoil Producing)
6. Mo Ibrahim
Mo Ibrahim is the Founder of Celtel International, a telecommunication company established in 1998 and later sold in 2005 for US$3.4bn. The company has changed owners several times over the years, but today the company no longer exists as a separate entity and is now a part of Zain.
In 2006, Ibrahim established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which focuses on the critical importance of governance and leadership in Africa. The foundation is a non-grant and non-fundraising organisation with four core initiatives: Ibrahim index of African Governance (IIAG), Ibrahim Prize of Achievement in African Leadership, Ibrahim Governance Weekend (IGW) and Ibrahim Leadership Fellowship.
HQ: Kuwait City, Kuwait
CEO: Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi
5. Strive Masiyiwa
Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and current Executive Chairman of Econet Group, a telecommunications, energy and technology company.
In 1996, Strive Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi Masiyiwa, established the Higherlife Foundation to invest in Africa’s human capital and build thriving individuals, communities, and sustainable livelihoods.
In 2014, the couple joined the Giving Pledge. “In making this pledge, to give no less than 50% [...] we are fulfilling what the Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:35, concerning giving: ‘I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said - It is more blessed to give than to receive’.”
HQ: Johannesburg, South Africa
CEO: Hardy Pemhiwa
4. Aliko Dangote, GCON
As Founder, President and Chief Executive of Dangote Industries Ltd., Aliko Dangote (GCON) is the richest man in Africa. Dangote started his business in 1978, with the ambition “to provide local, value-added products and services that meet the basic needs of the populace.”
Over the last five years through the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Dangote has given more than US$100mn to various educational, artistic and humanitarian causes.
Although he is known for his wealth, Dangote strives to change this perception, wanting to be known for his philanthropic efforts. "I do not only want to be known as Africa's richest man, but the biggest philanthropist. I will continue to use my resources and my voice to help shape a better Nigeria, and Africa,” said Dangote.
HQ: Lagos, Nigeria
CEO: Joseph Oyeyani Makoju
3. Mohammed Dewji
Mohammed Dewji, is the current CEO and President of MeTL Group, which was founded by his father in 1970.
In 2014, Dewji established the Mo Dewji Foundation, which is dedicated to enriching lives and alleviating poverty and hardship. “I have been blessed and I am very proud of the success of my company […] I believe in putting money back into my country first and foremost,” commented Dewji.
Two years later, Dewji joined the Giving Pledge, which was established by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Malinda Gates.
HQ: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
CEO: Mohammed Dewji
2. Patrice Motsepe
Patrice Motsepe is the Founder and current Executive Chairman of African Rainbow Minerals - a mining and minerals company - which he established in 1994.
In 1999, Motsepe and his wife - Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe - founded the Motsepe Foundation which was established on the African philosophy of ‘ubuntu’ - the concept of giving and caring for your neighbours and community.
14 years later, both Motsepe and Moloi-Motsepe joined the Giving Pledge.. “We recognise the huge responsibility and duty that the Motsepe family has to poor, unemployed, disabled, women, youth, workers and marginalised South Africans. We also have an ongoing obligation of nation building, uniting black and white South Africans and contributing towards making Africa and the world a better place.”
HQ: Johannesburg, South Africa
CEO: Mike Schmidt
1. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Over the years, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has held several positions in finance and banking, including Minister of Finance and Economy for Nigeria where she led the implementation of a comprehensive economic reform to stabilise the macroeconomy and triple its growth rate.
In addition to her role as Minister, Okonjo-Iweala held the position of Managing Director at the World Bank where she supervised the bank’s operations in Africa, Europe and Asia. During her time at the bank, she spearheaded several initiatives to assist food and financial crises, as well as replenishing over US$40bn for its International Development Association (IDA).
Alongside her roles in finance, Okonjo-Iweala is a member of and chairs multiple boards and advisories with the ambition to improve lives around the world, including: ONE Campaign, the World Resources Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, the African Institutes of Science and Technology and the Center for Global Development (CGD).
HQ: Washington DC, US
CEO: Philippe Le Houérou (International Finance Corporation)
For more information on business topics in Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.