Glimpse into Entrepreneurship: Successful African Entrepreneurs and how they Raised their Capital


Entrepreneurship is not easy, but many are willing to take this road. But do they know what it takes for one to be called an entrepreneur? Maybe not, and that’s why many complain about not starting a business or executing an idea due to lack of capital. One thing for sure is that, when you want to start a business, you will find ways to make it become a reality. If you haven’t traveled that road, then you will find an excuse. And the lack of capital is always a reasonable excuse for such individuals.

Successful stories are inspirational. Most humans want proof of who did it and then gain the momentum to do it even better. This article discusses some of the super successful African entrepreneurs who started from scratch and how they raised their entrepreneurship capital;

Fomba Trawally from Liberia

Fomba Trawally is one of the richest and most successful entrepreneurs in Liberia. He started from a humble beginning, with only $200 from his life savings.

His Entrepreneurship journey

Trawally was a refugee in Gambia after the civil war in 1989. This his after he fled his home country.

When he returned to Liberia, his sole focus was rubber slippers. A product that was in demand at the time. He quickly gained his capital and grew steadily. By 2005, he had three retail stores in Monrovia. He dealt with mainly imported goods from all over the world, paper products, and cosmetics.

Five years later, he gained huge strides and became manufacture. He owned the first paper and toiletry products manufacturing company in Liberia, National Toiletries Incorporated.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu from Ethiopia

I’ve you ever heard of SoleRebels? The most popular and fastest-growing African footwear brands in the world. The owner of this company is a woman Forbes has described as ‘One of The World’s Most Powerful Women,’ Bethlehem Titahum Alamu. 

She grew in a poor village in the suburbs of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

First step into the waters

Her business deals in eco-friendly footwear, which has been sold in more than 50 countries in the world, including Canada, the USA, Switzerland, and Japan.

Currently, her business collects revenue in excess of $1 million. This couldn’t be possible without the capital she raised from family and relatives, which was nearly $10,000 back in 2004.

She launched the Republic of leather, a business that trades in luxury leather products, after realizing a tremendous success on SoleRebels. 


Jason Njoku from Nigeria

If you are fun of ‘Nollywood’ movies, then you have probably heard of IrokoTV. IrokoTV is an internet TV platform and mobile entertainment platform. Jason Njoku is the CEO and co-founder of this most recognized entertainment platform in Nigeria and beyond.

Foreign investors have realized the stability of the company and have hugely invested in it. IrokoTV has attracted more than $40 million in foreign investment. This is remarkable growth for the company.

This wasn’t Jason’s first attempt into the entrepreneurship world. He failed a few times in the UK before he returned to Nigeria in 2010. His focus was to build local relationships and purchase content rights for his new start-up.

The first big boost

The 90,000 Pound from Sebastian Gotter, Jason’s friend, and business partner made the birth of a new baby, IrokoTV, possible. 

From the contribution, a multi-million company now dubbed as ‘Netflix Africa’ was built. 



Lorna Rutto from Kenya

Ideas are only great when one decides to act upon them. If not, they will remain to be ideas. Lorna Rutto quit her bank position to venture into a waste recycling business in 2010. Talk about risk-taking with calculations! 

EcoPost, a company that collects and recycles waste into aesthetic, make durable and eco-friendly fencing posts.

She has provided value to Kenya and the entire world by contributing immensely towards the conservation of forests and employing hundreds of Kenyans.

Her entrepreneurship journey

The execution of her idea wouldn’t have been possible without the financial support of international and local NGOs.

In 2010 when she was just starting, she applied and won a $6000 SEED Award. This served her business as well as a start-up.

Not enough, the same year, she won a grant award of $12,700 from Enablis Energy Globe Safaricom Foundation.

Taking part in the business plan competition organized by the Cartier Women’s Initiative worked to her advantage, and she walked with nearly $12,000.

Good ideas attract investors and good business to keep investors. Her business also attracted an equity investment from the Blue Haven Initiative and the Opus Foundation totaling to $495,000 back in the days.

Lorna’s business might have just started with a drop of water, but now it’s an Ocean equipped with advanced recycling machinery.

Excellent ideas will automatically attract the required capital to get it running and keep it alive to provide value to society. Next time when you are asked why you haven’t brought to life that big idea you have, don’t hug on lack of capital as an excuse but rather pitch your idea to a million people. Maybe two will embrace it!


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