Jim Ovia | Founder of Zenith Bank
In the June 2013 cover on him in FORBES AFRICA, Jim Ovia was called ‘the Godfather of banking’ – a suitable name for a man who founded Nigeria’s multinational financial services provider, Zenith Bank.
Recently, he was one of the co-chairs of the World Economic Forum on Africa 2019.
Ovia has always been passionate about the African continent and the perception of it in the West, which inspired the title of his new book, Africa Rise and Shine.
“I think the readers of this book will gain the spirit of commitment, empowerment, focus, hard work and discipline. They will learn that if you are disciplined and work hard, definitely you will do well. The book is about passing on these principles and documenting how it is to do business in Africa, particularly Nigeria,” says Ovia.
Joseph Siaw Agyepong | Executive chair, Jospong Group of Companies and Zoomlion Ghana Limited
Considered one of the richest men in Ghana, Agyepong is a serial entrepreneur.
But he made his fortune from what everyone else didn’t want; waste management.
“I still have a great desire and passion to resolve the menace of plastic and waste management in Ghana and beyond, and as a result, we have, over the years, put in place various initiatives to ensure effective, efficient and reliable waste management systems,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
Over the past three years, the Jospong Group has made some remarkable progress in the environmental sanitation space in Ghana.
Last year, the company added over 100 trucks and 10 road sweepers to its fleet of trucks and tricycles for waste management which has helped to provide access to households with bad road networks.
Additionally, they have established an ultra-modern Integrated Recycling and Compost Plant (IRECOP) in Accra with plans of extending to all 16 regions in Ghana.
“I have also given several keynote addresses at major circular economy events and other international platforms in Hungary, Austria, Nigeria and Ghana as a thought leader in waste management and environmental sanitation in general,” he says.
Agyepong shows us that waste is not something to frown upon when it brings in the big bucks and pays more than the bills.
Tonye Cole | Co-founder and former Group Executive Director of Sahara Group
Tonye Cole featured on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in April 2016, at the time called ‘the millionaire of oil and toil’.
Since then, his life has been on an interesting trajectory.
Cole ran Sahara for a couple of more years, surviving through a transitioning government, policy changes, business trends and the rise of new technologies, unaware then that all the hard work would come to end in the business.
In 2018, he resigned.
It was time for a new venture, not in business but in politics.
“The decision which saw me formally resign and disengage completely from the company I had founded in 1996 and my partners, was a shock to the corporate world in Nigeria and in some ways, internally too. Transitions of this nature are rare and even when voiced and prepared for, few believe it would happen due to the dirty, corrosive, corrupt and violent nature of politics in our clime,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
It was no easy feat.
But Cole did not look back.
He joined the All Progressive Congress (APC) and contested for the gubernatorial seat in his home State of Rivers.
“The judiciary truncated [my] political journey when the party was denied the right to field any candidate whatsoever of any elective position in the State. That decision further convinced me that I had made the right decision to transition into politics and strengthened my resolve to remain until we can bring to reality the Nigeria we all know is capable of leading the continent and influencing global perceptions of what incredible feats a world with a progressive, inclusive Africa can achieve,” Cole says.
Today, his Twitter page reads: “Running to represent everyone in Rivers State. Founder of The Nehemiah Youth Empowerment Initiative, Mentor & Biker who believes impossible is nothing.”
Thuli Madonsela | Advocate, professor of law and founder of ThuMa Foundation
Thuli Madonsela was appointed Public Protector by former South African President Jacob Zuma for a seven-year term commencing October 19, 2009. It was this role that thrust her into the limelight as her reports garnered strong support as well as vehement opposition from various sectors in society.
Having fully served for the seven years, she has since stepped down and was appointed as the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice in the Faculty of Law at Stellenbosch University in 2018.
“I have focused on social justice and stakeholder mobilization around the need to change our approach to social justice. I started by going to Harvard University for a year where I learned about various approaches to social change,” Madonsela says.
“From the beginning of 2018, I joined Stellenboch University as a law professor and took up research chair in social justice. That has provided me with the platform to link up with other people who work around poverty and inequality and to concretize my ideas on how to accelerate the achievement of the constitutional promise on a society founded on social justice,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
“In the process, we have come out with a project called an ‘M-Plan For Social Justice’. It’s about policy reform, people mobilization and growth to catalyze the work that is being done to end poverty by 2030 and reduce structural inequality in society, particularly in South Africa, including structural inequality as a legacy of apartheid, colonialism and patriarchy.
Madonsela is also serving as an instrument for change through her foundation, the Thuli Madonsela Foundation (ThuMa Foundation).
“We have been doing democracy literacy and training young people in particular, around a better way of governing based on a leadership model we designed. It is leadership that is ethical, purpose-driven and impact conscious,” Madonsela adds.
“There is a social economic development project that the ThuMa Foundation has started with the support of Stellenbosch University. It’s about sustainable development goals to get communities to lead themselves out of poverty and into social economic inclusion… The idea of the project is strategic investment in the most left behind wards.”
One of the stakeholders named a rose after Madonsela with the idea being that for every tree that is sold, R5 ($0.3) will go to the social justice fund which will fund projects in municipalities that have projects targeted at inequalities.
Perhaps, ultimately, life could be rosy for all.
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