Meet Bizwatch’s Top 40 Under-40 Nigerian Entrepreneurs (Part 1)

They are young, upwardly mobile and on top of their games. These young men and women, who are under 40 years of age, have taken their destinies in their hands, defying all odds, to become their own bosses, despite the harsh economic terrain they face in Nigeria.

Meet BizwatchNigeria’s Top 40 Under-40 Nigerian Entrepreneurs, carefully selected from across various business sectors, ranging from Real Estate to Technology, Oil & Gas, Media, Fashion, Food, Financial Services and Consultancy, amongst others. The listing presented is in no particular order.



1. Oluwaseun Osewa (Nairaland)

Named by Forbes Magazine as the best African entrepreneur under 30 in 2013, Osewa, like many other entrepreneurs, has a compelling start-up story. Prior to the launch of his popular on the 25th of March, 2005, he had attempted to start a web hosting business which failed for lack of viable income model.

The 30-year old Nigerian geek, thereafter, took time off to research a viable online business idea and, as fate will have it, the idea of Nairaland was birthed as a general purpose discussion forum, with a bias towards issues of interest to Nigerians.

Today, Nairaland is adjudged to be the most popular Nigerian website.


2.  Audu Maikori (Chocolate City)

Born on 13th of August 1975, Audu Maikoro, a Nigerian lawyer, is the founder/CEO of Chocolate City Entertainment, and is well known in Nigeria as a former Idol series judge.

He founded the record label in 2005, alongside Paul Okeugo and Yahaya Maikori.

Generally regarded as one of the biggest and most successful urban record labels in Africa, Chocolate City Music operates as a subsidiary of Chocolate City Group, one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in Africa.

The label is home to recording artistes such as M.I, Ice Prince, DJ Caise, Pryse, Nosa, Victoria Kimani, and Enzo, among others. Other artistes formerly signed to the label include Brymo and Jesse Jagz.


3. Titus & Tobias Igwe (Speedmeals)

Popularly known as the Igwe twins, Titus and Tobias, who are 27 years old, are joint owners of Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen, a food delivery services company in Nigeria.

Their humble beginning further proves that, indeed, perseverance, consistency and faith can move mountains anytime.  Having lost their father to the cold hands of death in 2009, the duo became saddled with the responsibility of taking care of their mother and seven siblings. So, they took up the role of office assistants in a certain establishment.

While working as office assistants, they ran errands for their fellow staff who usually sent them to buy food for them.

It was in the course of this they noticed that most office staffers found it difficult to get good meal around the offices, and even when the food was available, it was either too expensive or delivered late and most often produced in very unhygienic environments.

This was what prompted them to establish Speadmeals Mobile Kitchen in 2010. In just one year of starting the business with a sum of N50, 000, it is on record that the twins made a turnover of about N3 million.

Today, the Igwe Twins have taken to training several unemployed youths across the country on basic catering and baking techniques, to enable them establish their own businesses.


4. Ola Orekunrin (Flying Doctors)

25-year-old Ola Orekunrin is a medical doctor and the founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria Limited, the  first ever air ambulance service provider in West Africa’s health care history.

Following the death of her 12-year old younger sister, who she believed could have survived if she was moved fast enough to a hospital South Africa that had the capacity to attend to her condition, Ola, in 2010, came up with the air ambulance service to intervene in the event of such critical situations, setting up the first of its kind, not only in Nigeria, but also in West Africa.


5. Jason Njoku (iROKOtv)

Jason Njoku is the CEO/Founder of iROKO Partners, parent company of popular Nollywood movie streaming site, iROKO TV. Jason also heads SPARK, a company focused on providing funding to Nigerian Internet start-ups.

In 2012, Njoku, raised $8 million in venture capital from Tiger Global Management. Barely three months after, his company closed in on another round of $2 million funding from Swedish-based Kinnevik, with the aim of using the money to grow iROKO Partners’ operations in New York, London and Lagos, as well as to purchase more content for iROKOtv.


6. Uche Pedro (Bella Naija)

In 2006, Uche Eze, now Uche Pedro, started, not necessarily as a veritable business, but as a pastime.

Today the bellanaija blog has grown to become one of the hottest destinations for celebrity news and fashion trends on the Internet, raking in millions of naira for Uche and her team.

Uche is also the CEO/MD of Bainstone Limited, a new media company. She won the 2010 Best Use of Technology award at The Future Awards Africa, and also the British Council Young Media Entrepreneur prize at the 2013 edition of The Future Awards Africa.

Uche is one of the four Nigerian internet entrepreneurs included among Forbes 30 Most Promising Young African Entrepreneurs to watch out for in 2014.


7. Ukinebo Dare (Poise Graduate Finishing School)

Ukinebo Dare is the Brain behind Poise Graduate Finishing School, a subsidiary of Poise Group. A Computer Science graduate of Benson Idahosa University, Uki is also an alumna of the University Of Bradford, United Kingdom, where she had her M.Sc. in Management.

As the CEO of PGFS, Uki is passionate about transforming young individuals through teaching, motivation, consulting, grooming and connecting them to start and grow excellent careers. The PGFS Full-Time Employability Skills Programme, which she started about four years ago, has attained an employment rate of over 85% of its graduates.

She is currently the Editor-In-Chief of Young Executive Diary, a career development magazine.


8. Bankole Cardoso (Easy Taxi Nigeria)

25 -year-old Bankole Cardoso is the founder of the Nigerian operations of EasyTaxi, a taxi mobile App that was developed in Brazil in 2012 by German technology start-up incubator, Rocket Internet GmBH.

Born and raised in Lagos, Cardoso proceeded to Boston College, where he studied Business Management, majoring in accounting. After studying and working abroad for several years, he decided to move back home to pursue a business idea that came to him while he was living in New York.

Like it was in New York City at a time, he discovered that there was some sort of difficulty in hailing taxis at one’s convenience in Lagos, despite the availability of a reasonable number of taxis. He also brought the safety concerns of the average Lagosian into consideration. Cardoso felt that Easy Taxi could bring a solution to this inherent need and create a more efficient method of hailing taxi’s, just as was practiced in New York City.

The young Nigerian geek was recently featured in CNN’s Africa Start-up and has been named by Forbes as one of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa for Year 2014.


9. Toyosi  Akerele (Rise Networks)

In 2011, Toyosi who is the founder of Rise Networks, a Private Sector funded Youth Interest Social Enterprise in Nigeria focusing on National Development Issues and their relationship to economic growth and democratic consolidation, was described by Michelle Obama as one of her personal inspirations.

The recognition was in acknowledgment of Toyosi’s work with the Dare To Be Different Youth Forum, a platform she uses to reach out to tens of thousands of young people across the country.

Toyosi was born and raised in Nigeria, and has a 2nd Class Upper Bachelors’ degree in Civil Law from the University of Jos. She also studied Strategic Management at Executive Level at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, obtained a Certificate in Youth Inclusive Financial Services from University of New Hampshire, Durham, USA, and holds a Certificate in Media Enterprise from the School of Media and Communication, Pan African University and an Executive Masters’ Certificate in Project Management from The Project Management College, UK.

Toyosi has to her credit an array of both local and international awards in recognition of her spiritedness and thought-leadership.


11. Tunde Kehinde (Jumia Nigeria)

Age 30, Kehinde founded Kasuwa, a Nigerian online retailer and within days of its founding, Kasuwa received seed funding from German online start-up incubator, Rocket Internet GmBH.  The company’s name was thereafter changed to Jumia.

The Harvard MBA graduate has however resigned his role as co-founder of Jumia Nigeria to start up his logistics company. He is one of the four Nigerians recognised by Forbes as the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa for Year 2014.


12. Ladi Delano (Bakrie Delano Africa)

In 2004, at age 22, Delano founded his first business enterprise, Solidarnosc Asia, a Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka. Solid XS went on to achieve over 50% market share in China and was distributed across over 30 cities in China, and pulled in $20 million in annual revenue.

Subsequently, Delano sold the company to a rival liquor company for over $15 million and ploughed his funds into his next venture – The Delano Reid Group, a real estate investment holding company focused on mainland China.

Today, Delano is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bakrie Delano Africa (BDA) – a $1 billion joint venture with the $15 billion (market cap) Bakrie Group of Indonesia.

Bakrie Delano Africa serves as the investment partner of the Bakrie Group in Nigeria. The Indonesian conglomerate has provided over $900 million worth of funds to invest in Nigeria and Bakrie Delano Africa is responsible for identifying investment opportunities in mining, agriculture and oil & gas and executing them.


13. Ayodeji Adewunmi, Opeyemi Awoyemi & Olalekan Olude (Jobberman)

These three young guys run West Africa’s most popular job search engine and aggregator.

The idea of Jobberman all started at the Obafemi Awlowo University, where they were all student at the time. While reading the making of in the book, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” by Rashmi Bansal, the idea of the job site struck Ayodeji Adewunmi, who quickly called up his two friends, Opeyemi Awoyemi and Olalekan Olude to share with them the idea. They were soon to became co-founders of the site a week later, in August 2009

Today, Jobberman attracts more than 50,000 unique visitors daily and operates both here in Nigeria and Ghana.


14. Kumbi Oyelese (April By Kunbi)

Still in her 20’s, Kumbi Oyelese is a young designer with immense talent. A toast of many celebrities, Kumbi has her own fashion label called April by Kunbi.

Her passion for fabrics started way back from her childhood days. On her fifth birthday, she got a little sewing machine from her dad as her birthday gift. Before then, she used to fiddle with fabrics, which she used in making clothes for her dolls. Then, after a while, her mother would ask her to sketch designs she saw on television.