Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|April 23, 2021|5 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

Forget about JP what about Jay-Zthe $1.4 billion man?

One of the world stories of the week maybe held a hidden message for Africa’s entrepreneurs.

JP Morgan – founded in the booming days of investment in steel and railroads in the 19th century United States economy – was backing the ill-fated European Super League with guarantees of up to $6 billion.

This was the blue-blooded heart of New York capitalism venturing into unknown territory – European football – in the hope of breaking ground and making a quick buck.

JP Morgan didn’t count on a factor that it could not have foreseen – that the politicians and fans of the so called “big six” clubs in England would turn on the deal sending greedy owners from Manchester to London scuttling back to their lucrative domestic league for fear that they had killed the golden goose.

You can’t really call it a fit of conscience; fear that the European league could have ruined the wider game; merely it was a U-turn driven fear of losing the chance to fleece the fans that has proved good business since the Premier League brought megabucks TV money to English football back in 1992. It is a status quo that widens the gap between rich and poor clubs every year to the detriment of the game.

Anyway, I am sure there have been a few tense meetings among the stiff suits at JP Morgan, in New York, about how the football deal of the century went south. Whomever was to blame, it was a shabby end to a shabby story.

But forget about JP what about Jay-Z?

I think the new generation of young entrepreneurs in Africa should be looking to the musician making business cool with nimble, forward looking business decisions.

Like many entrepreneurs in Africa, few probably gave Jay-Z much of a chance when he was born in Brooklyn – on the other side of New York to JP Morgan – to a single mother. He was drawn to music and wrote the book on rapping with a rich and lucrative recording history.

A career in music is another “no, no” in Africa.

Nigerian millionaire Pascal Dozie sat in class at the London School of Economics with the long-haired future Rolling Stone Mick Jagger. He said, as an African, he didn’t understand him.

“In the village where I grew up you only played music if you had nothing else to do,” Dozie once told me in Lagos.

It seems Jay-Z has plenty to do and he’s doing it. Ok, I only got into Jay-Z with the release of the Story of OJ; but I can see the hard work, drive and attention to detail that would make any professional journalist proud.

Jay-Z has transcended music to forge a sterling career as an entrepreneur coupled with a keen eye for investments. Forbes reckons he is worth at least $1.4 billion with a stellar portfolio of businesses and investments. His latest venture is what can be best described as a 100,000 square foot weed factory in San Jose, California. It plans to produce 11,0000 lbs of cannabis-a-year for people with a lot of money.

The bespoke music streaming service Tidal was created by Jay-Z and sold to Twitter king Jack Dorsey – who has just landed his business in Africa, by the way – for $297 million.

On top of this, he sells $300-a-bottle liquor and has a collection of start-ups including insurance outfit Ethos and salad chain Sweetgreen. His investments in art are legendary; he has $70 million hanging on his wall. Real estate is worth $50 million to Jay-Z; his entertainment company Roc Nation is worth about $140 million.

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man,” rapped Jay-Z in 2005.

People who didn’t take him seriously then, surely do now. African entrepreneurs take note and work hard.