Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|November 24, 2021|19 Minutes|In Billionaire, Billionaire Today

Billionaire Today

"A hunch that made a billion"

This African entrepreneur invests in other African entrepreneurs. He has a portfolio of entrepreneurs he has invested in worth $1.2 billion .  He once wired $300,000 to a fellow entrepreneur on a hunch that made millions. His grandfather procured a wife for marriage at midnight for President Kwame Nkrumah. All part of the rich tapestry of nearly 35 years of life of Sangu Delle.

I defy you, even if you’ve had a bad day, not to laugh along when you meet Sangu Delle. He may have a CV and track record, as an entrepreneur and investor, as long as your arm, but he wears his eminence lightly. On top of that, he has a puckish sense of fun.

Take the time he wired $300,000 to an entrepreneur, even younger than him, with an idea and little else. The younger man’s name was Iyin Aboyeji and the idea was a fintech company Andela.

Many young African entrepreneurs would have been worried, concerned, scared even, when sending capital to an unknown quantity and beginner. How was Delle when Aboyeji came knocking?

“He called me and said I am starting this new Fintech company.  He hadn’t even incorporated, I kid you not, I am such a big believer in him and wired 300 thousand dollars to his account. He called me and said: ‘hey bro’ and I said ‘if you call me again, I will wire more!” says Delle with a laugh that could light up the night.



“Yes,Sangu is and has always been one special investor,” Aboyeji tells Billioniare Tomorrow. …. Amazing human being. One time at Flutterwave where I worked with him more closely on the fundraising side – he wired me 100k in between rounds and refused to take the money back even though we were oversubscribed. Amazing guy!”

“Iyin Aboyeji”



When Flutterwave came along -a fintech payments company  -Abojeyi was again involved and Delle did the same again.

“Our entry valuation was 2.5 million Flutterwave is a unicorn. It has been a phenomenal one for us,” says Delle.

What would that stake be worth now?

“Do the maths!” says Delle through his infectious laugh.

Billionaire Tomorrow did the maths as to what a $300,000 stake would be worth in a Unicorn – a start up with a market capitalization of a billion dollars. We reckon, a conversative estimate, about $120 million. Delle is quick to point out that his stake in the company is nowhere near as big in 2021.

Now some men see a kebab and ask why? Others look for cheaper kebabs and ask why not?I am not  one to just say Yeah Africa kumbaya ..I think there are some real challenges here will be some great successes and great failures, but I also think there is a real momentum there is an energy out there. For too long the dominant story has been failure and flies and nonsense and it is time that we balance that out and at least also show some of the great inspirational stories coming out of the continent. Which was part of the inspiration  to tell that positive story.

Sangu Delle

“We are still in percentage wise not a significant amount… just a small minority. It is just a massive company,” he says.

“The last round we invested so we continue to invest, we are bullish on it, we still think there is a lot of runway for growth, so it’s been good. What happened when tech blew up we looked at the portfolio so I looked at it and investment in tech and health care.”

It is a mere 15 years since Delle, not yet 35, began living his dream as an African entrepreneur investing in other African entrepreneurs, through his company Golden Palm Investments.

“Tech has been a record number of deals this year. We just acquired a new business in Kenya and are acquiring more deals to see the future and we are building towards that future and we are quite excited. We will look back 15 years from now and say wow we lived through an experience and extraordinary moment in history,” he says.

“The old guard, the dinosaurs, didn’t see tech coming they didn’t pay attention to it. We have been fortunate and able and see that and take advantage … we are digital natives.”

It has been quite a journey, part of it in a rattling cross border truck, over the last 15 years. His first real money maker had horns on it. A gap in the market that the young man spotted over a snack over the border.

“When I was in Burkina Faso I loved kebabs and it was significantly cheaper than kebabs in Ghana and thought about how this is possible?” he recalls.

Now some men see a kebab and ask why? Others look for cheaper kebabs and ask why not? Delle went to investigate the fields of Burkina Faso.

“I chased it all the way to the cows and realized cows  were literally half price, so I rented a truck, bought a bunch of cows in Burkina Faso and brought them to Ghana and called it Cowbitrage. Those were my first two the Corn Farm and Cowbitrage. So ,I literally leased thousands of acres of land and went into mechanized corn farming,” he says.

“We actually did very well, we harvested and returned capital and investors were super happy and made great returns and invested more. I had all these ideas. We started a real estate business, again the thesis was the urbanization rate would increase and demand in both residential and commercial. We moved into aquaculture as well and agroforestry.

We started in the healthcare business, acquired one clinic and the idea was to take technology to transform it.”

It wasn’t all shining success. An investment in Zambia turned out to be not so bright.

The company was Zamsolar a promising looking solar tech business based in Lusaka. Delle had lived in San Francisco – another sunny city – for a while and had seen Uber disrupt the market and felt Africa was the place to do this if you could get the tech right.

The company did the tech right, but foundered thanks to  a volatile currency and the kindness of strangers.

“It was ten years ago, or so. These guys were doing well and growing quickly and had competition from the  NGOs that gave out solar panels for free. Growth margins just tanked, you can’t compete with free.”

Apart from recoiling from disappointment, disrupting and spotting gaps in markets – what does make Delle tick?

“He never stops for a second,” says an investment banker who grew up with Delle in Ghana.

“He is always looking and thinking.”

The man himself was a hard worker at school and studied an JD/MBA at Harvard. He is a World Economic Forum global leader and a regular on the conference circuit . How does he see himself and his continent?

“I always have a thesis, I am a super nerd, I love history and I love global economic history,” he says warming to his theme.

“ I looked at global economic history and crushed the numbers. I had this conversion thesis. I felt that we are going to have a social-economic transformation on the continent and we got to have the convergence over time as populations increased and organizations increases. I mapped that out and I thought there is a real opportunity here. I thought very passionately that we are going to see that socio-economic transformation happen…Fast forward I’m a freshman 15 years ago at Harvard college and my roommate’s family has been in finance for a long time said: you should do something about it . I was like: ‘what do you mean?’ He replied: ‘If this thesis makes sense you can invest behind that thesis, we can both do well and  do good.’

He helped me to think through that put a pitch deck together, all of that stuff and he was my first investor.I raised fifty thousand dollars from other investors  but he gave me my first cheque of 5000 and raised fifty thousand and I started investing in opportunities.”

Yet even Delle acknowledges it is not going to be that easy.

“I am not  one to just say ‘Yeah Africa kumbaya ‘..I think there are some real challenges here will be some great successes and great failures, but I also think there is a real momentum there is an energy out there. For too long the dominant story has been failure and flies and nonsense and it is time that we balance that out and at least also show some of the great inspirational stories coming out of the continent. Which was part of the inspiration  to tell that positive story.”

Delle also believes governments in Africa have to work harder.

“Making sure you have good government, regulations that make sense and that are not like stemming in the growth of the business. Create a conducive environment so businesses will flourish.  A second thing is power, I always say the Nigerians are so entrepreneurial if the only thing the government can do is to fix its power that country is going to take off.

Power is a big thing and infrastructure is where Fintech is huge because before tech-express I used that to pay bills. I used that to pay certain bills, you were stuck in traffic you wasted two hours and now in two seconds, you pay the bills. So that is the opportunity but the challenge is on infrastructure. … We still have basic education to fix, sanitation, clean water, health care structure- just a bunch of basics. It is a weird situation on the one hand we want to leapfrog and we should be talking about AI but simultaneously we need to have tough conversations about basic things like water to drink,” he says.

“I don’t think we can outsource everything to the private market. It is the government’s responsibility to provide these things and it is a failure of moral leadership. No amount of innovation is going to allow us to leapfrog that governance. Fundamentally we need good governance, good regulations for a conducive environment, you need the basics right If you create a situation where you outsource to the private sector it is going to exasperate inequalities.”

Delle’s family has had a foot in government since his grandfather’s day. His ancestors hail from Ghana, Burkina Faso and Egypt. His grandfather, on his mother’s side, went to Egypt to study law and astrology. While there, he fell in love with an Egyptian woman and married her.

Kwame Nkrumah Photograph :

When the grandfather of Delle returned to Ghana, the country was free and President Kwame Nkrumah ruled the roost. He went to work as a head of intelligence and as the right hand man for President Nkrumah.

“Now a funny story is when at one point, the story has it, the president was looking for my grandfather and walked into the private quarters and my grandmother kicked him out.

In Arab culture you can’t just come into the family quarters. My  grandfather walked out and thought: “Oh, my goodness’ and the guy was ‘no! no! no!’”

Delle’s grandfather thought the president would be angered by being thrown out of quarters by an Arab woman, but instead he loved it and asked his right hand man to find him a wife like that.

“ So, he goes to Egypt and found Fathia who became the first lady.

Gamal Abdel Nasser, the president of Egypt at the time, paid the dowry and that is why to this day Ghana and Egypt don’t charge any visa fees to each other,” chuckles Delle.

A lot of these stories I got from my grandmother …So, she told me they were not sure how the nation was going to take it; so, they married them in the middle of the night and told Ghanaians next day you have an Egyptian first lady!”

Women appear to hold a lot of influence in the Delle clan. When he was a child, Delle’s mother used to ask him to look in the mirror every night and ask himself what he had done in the day to make the world better.

“If you’re not satisfied with the answer, don’t sleep,” she used to say.  She was also there at the birth of his career as an entrepreneur.

“I think I was six and they were constructing the road in front of our house. There was nowhere to get food or water; you had to walk miles to get to Shashi, to get anything. So, I would take plastic, fill it with water and put it in the fridge; come back and sell it to the construction workers. The Ghanaian version of the lemonade stand. I was making some coins and my mother found out and she was appalled that I would dare charge the construction workers: ‘why don’t you just give them the water?’

What I took away from that was when you make money, hide it from mom, don’t let her find it in your shorts!”

Delle would need a very big pair of shorts to have any hope of hiding the money he has made in the last 15 years.

Sangu Delle  & lyin Aboyeji

“He hadn’t even incorporated, I kid you not, I am such a big believer in him (Lyin Aboyeji)  and wired 300 thousand dollars to his account. He called me and said: ‘hey bro’ and I said ‘if you call me again, I will wire more!”

“Sangu Delle”

Sangu Delle's Book 

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Music: Robin Bishop