Forbes this week published a list of ten African millionaires in their 20s and 30s. Prior to the publication of the Forbes list, How we made it in Africa had already featured interviews with many of the mentioned entrepreneurs. In this article, a selection of Africa’s under-40 millionaires share their secrets to success and give advice to other budding entrepreneurs.Jason Njoku | Age: 31 | Founder/CEO, Iroko Partners
Iroko Partners is the world’s largest online distributor of Nigerian films. In an earlier interview with How we made it in Africa, Njoku described the company’s iROKOtv platform as the “Netflix of Africa”. Iroko recently received an US$8 million investment from Tiger Global Management, a New York-based venture capital and private equity fund.
Njoku says the idea for the business was born from the difficulty his family had in finding Nigerian films in London. “Coming from a Nigerian family, I have always had a sense of the power of Nollywood films. I had difficulties when my mother asked me to get her some. Other family members also struggled to get their hands on their favourite films. I soon realised that there was a gap in the market since the films were only available on DVDs, which were quite difficult to find in the West. I bought the online licences for as much Nollywood content as I could and started to distribute them online,” he says.
Njoku’s first job was selling fruit and vegetables at a market in London. “It was cold and I had to get up really early,” he remembers.
These days Njoku’s biggest worry is to keep his team motivated. “I want them all to be engaged with the company and excited about where we are heading. We’ve seen rapid [staff] expansion in the last 12 months, from 18 to almost 100. I spend a lot of time thinking about getting the right people for the team, that they are happy in their roles and that they have a clear vision set in front of them.”
He says his tenacity is the biggest reason for his achievements.
Njoku’s advice to other African entrepreneurs? “Spot an opportunity, make a plan and run with it. I definitely had the right idea, in the right place, at the right time and I knew I could do it. I learnt from my mistakes, but still kept true to my own vision. You need to have that kind of confidence to make these things work. Don’t hang around waiting for things to happen.”