Over the past 12 months How we made it in Africa featured numerous directors, CEOs and company founders building their businesses on the continent. Below is a selection of our top Meet the Boss interviews of the year.
1. Gina Din-Kariuki, founder and chairwoman, GDCC (Kenya)
As the boss of Gina Din Corporate Communications, a professional communications consulting firm, Gina Din-Kariuki’s business is about relationships. She says Africa is the best continent for investment and human capital. “What had happened before is that we helped to prepare the meal, other people ate it… and we didn’t even sit at the table. I think what we are doing now is that we are cooking it and we have brought our stool to the table… and we are taking our seat as global entrepreneurs.” Read the full interview.
2. Hakeem Ogunniran, managing director, UPDC (Nigeria)
Hakeem Ogunniran is the managing director of UPDC, a property development company in Nigeria’s residential and commercial real estate markets. He says real estate is a risky business, highlighting that in Nigeria the legal framework doesn’t guarantee title along the transactional chain. To avoid this his company does a lot of due diligence. Ogunniran is a focused businessman and says: “In business you have to take risks. You cannot sit on the fence.” He views Africa as a place of possibilities, but says “we have to solve the leadership problem in Africa” as “a lot of our leaders cannot really deliver”. Read the full interview.
3. João Figueiredo, CEO, Único Bank (Mozambique)
This year’s African Banker of the Year, João Figueiredo is the CEO and founder of Único Bank, a Mozambican universal services bank with a strong focus on retail services. Figueiredo’s goal is to bring Único Bank to the top of the banking ranking in Mozambique. His advice to young Africans is to study and work hard. “You have to study; you have to learn as much as you can. You have to try to get skills,” he says, adding “don’t go study abroad in Europe, America, anywhere, and then stay there. Please come back to Africa and try to contribute to Africa.” Read the full interview.
4. James Mwangi, CEO, Equity Bank Group (Kenya)
James Mwangi is an astute businessman known for his efforts in shepherding the Equity Bank Group from a technically insolvent building society in 2004 to one of the largest and most profitable companies in Kenya. This year he was named EY World Entrepreneur of the Year. “We are seeing an opportunity for Africa’s youth to be involved in innovative ventures that Africa can leverage to transform itself, particularly in agriculture,” he says. “Job creation is essential for the youthful population to be meaningfully engaged and positively contribute to the development of the continent.” Read the full interview.
5. Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia, founder, Oxford & Beaumont (Ghana)
Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia is an entrepreneur, lawyer, author and adjunct lecturer in entrepreneurship at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. In 2006 he founded corporate and commercial law firm Oxford & Beaumont and has advised clients such as Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Shell International, Vodafone and Citibank. “Passion is the most important criterion for deciding on a job or on what entrepreneurship venture to pursue. It really is true that if you find a job you love you will never work a day in your life,” he says. Read the full interview.