Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|November 2, 2022|9 Minutes|In Billionaire Tomorrow

Billionaire Tomorrow

Two years of golden billionaire words

It is exactly two years since the launch of Billionaire Tomorrow on November 1 2020. It was born of the belief that wealth creation lies in the hands of the continent’s enterprising entrepreneurs. The richest people in Africa have also opened their hearts and minds to Billionaire Tomorrow giving precious secrets about life and wealth creation.

How to be an entrepreneur.

“Never believe that there is an easy way to make it. Don’t let anybody convince you that there is a free meal and that it is easy to do it. I often quote Anton Rupert on this, if he had known just how difficult it was going to be, he would never have started. Yet when he got to the end of his career, he looked back he marveled how easy it was. Now that tells you the story,” South African billionaire Christo Wiese on how to be an entrepreneur.

Risk and Loss

“Business is always a risk. Basically, when you are getting into a particular thing you know it can either go North or South… At the beginning of my career I bought a ship full of rice. By the time the rice got onto the ship I couldn’t insure the ship, because it was a phantom ship. I spent a couple hundred thousand dollars. They asked me why didn’t I sue the bank, because I needed the bank and that is why I did not sue them. When I talk to the CEO (of the bank), we have a great relationship, you will always have doubts but you have to keep making sure that you react properly. There will always be risks,” the youngest billionaire in Africa Mo Dewji, of Tanzania, on risk and loss.

Unicorns in Africa? Really?

“ You are looking at real hard-hitting capitalists trying to make money,  venture capitalists saying : ‘wait we are missing out on an opportunity to invest in Africa. We are starting to feel a lot more of that. It is important because Africans don’t want to be treated as a charity they want to be treated as partners. So, the narrative changes, it was charity, charity, charity, how can I help those poor entrepreneurs, poor Africans, get them micro-credit for the women, you know; get them so they can go to the market and spend… If the narrative changes and says : ‘Oh my God, there are unicorns on the continent!’ There is so much potential on the continent, let’s get in now so we can make a lot of money, of course we will make money as well creating wealth and creating jobs,” West Africa’s queen of fintech Rebecca Enonchong.

TIAO – This is Africa optimism baby…

“We’re the first of what is going to be a stampede [of unicorns]…It’s a matter of time, we’re seeing a long-term shift of the world starting to pay more and more attention to Africa, as they should. From what I’ve been seeing for the past five or six years of high growth technology start-ups across Africa,” Jeremy Johnson US-based fintech investor in Africa.

TIA – this is Africa baby…

“The usual problem is here you might have electricity buzz one of your transformers, you have You have the authorities other members of parliament, everybody wants to get involved in everything you do .This is the kind of problems we have here and what is also interesting is in Europe and South Africa you can plan your things many years ahead in terms of development. This part of the world we have management by crisis meaning you wake up in the morning and find what are your immediate problems and you resolve these first .Then you go to your office and do your business,” says Ugandan billionaire Sudhir Ruparelia.

My favourite investment in Africa.

“I bought a company 18 years ago that had an income of R600,000 – an old burial society that had a life insurance operation licenced in it and I expanded this to a more comprehensive life insurance. In the year 2020, it was doing R 1,2 billion worth of premium income. There were three people employed now its 60-odd people,” says Fred Robertson one of the founders of the multi-millionaire dollar investment outfit Brimstone.

The irony of a health billionaire who delivered cigarettes for his father.

“I’m ashamed to admit it, but he was a tobacconist, he was supplying cafes with cigarettes – it was my grandfather’s business. He was a wholesaler of cigarettes, sweets and chocolate, all the things we try to get rid of with Vitality (Discovery’s reward scheme for healthy living) be that as it may. It was a very successful business, the manufacturers squeezed them out eventually, but they had a business supplying hundreds of cafés. I used to spend my holiday packing cigarettes, I remember Lexington and Rothmans – they were big crates of the stuff – and going to deliver them. That was my reality, you know what I mean. I grew up in that kind of environment it was a very liberating and exciting time. The business had great revenue, but very little profit, it was not easy at all,” says Adrian Gore the billionaire founder of Discovery Health.

The problem with being a young entrepreneur in Africa

When I was coming up in the industry… a lot of people were like:  who is this kid? He doesn’t have an MBA; he doesn’t have enough life experience. Can’t do anything,” Flutterwave founder Iyin Aboyeji.

That moment in a boring conference saw the birth of his fortune.

“Basically, all the industry people in one room complaining about payment, One guy on stage said you are too small for us to even bother. Forget about us trying to deal with your issues. Somebody has to do it, but it is not going to be us, because we have bigger fish to fry. I left that conversation thinking ‘wow that’s incredible’, that their fish is that big and perhaps they are missing something. It’s never going to happen if everybody just complains and nobody goes out and does something about it,” Flutterwave founder Iyin Aboyeji.

The problem with dinosaurs.

“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.”

Nelson Mandela -need we say more?

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”