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Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria — Their First Jobs (Part 14)

 


 
If there is anything one could say with certainty about most successful entrepreneurs, it is their persistent focus on the future.

They learn effectively from the past and their eyes are always fixed on the future. Even when they experience initial setbacks, they brush these aside to press forward for better results. They are equally known for their ingenious business mindset and strong attention to detail.

The stories of two billionaire entrepreneurs, Emeka Offor and Leo Stan Ekeh, embody this. Little wonder they rose steadily from humble beginnings to the peak of their various areas of businesses.
 
Emeka Offor — Secondary School Teacher

Emeka Offor is the Chairman of The Chrome Group. He is an oil tycoon and  philanthropist who was born on 10 February 1957 to Mr. and Mrs. Benneth Offor in Kafachan, Kaduna. He hails from Irefi Oraifite in Ekwusigo LGA of Anambra State.

He had his basic education at Eziukwu Primary School in Aba, Abia State, and St. Michael’s Primary School at Ogbete, Enugu. On completing his primary school education, he began his secondary school education at Merchant of Light School. He then moved to Abbot Boys High School, Ihiala, Anambra State.

Emeka Offor

After his secondary education, Emeka Offor taught in his alma mata, Abbot Boys High School. However, he left after a few years with his father’s friend to Warri, Delta State.

In Delta, he found a new line of work with Rivways Lines Nigeria Ltd — an organisation that imports bitumen and related items. While working with Rivways Lines,  he became familiar with the fundamentals of the business and began supplying bitumen to small organisations.

In a space of two years, Emeka Offor began providing bitumen to top organisations like Julius Berger Nig. Ltd, Guffanti Nigeria Ltd, and Fougerolle Nigeria Ltd. He became a huge success in the business due to his dedication, uprightness, and business acumen.

In 1985, Sir Emeka Offor set up Chrome Oil Services Limited. Chrome Oil Services Limited later transformed into The Chrome Group in 1994. 

Today, the organisation employs almost 800 individuals and its main interests are in oil and gas, power, security, broadcasting, and media communications.

The organisation has a solid presence in Nigeria, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

His organisations worldwide and other business associates have incorporated China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, Cameron, Divikom, USA, Enikkom Investment Services Nigeria Ltd, and many other firms within Nigeria and outside.

Meanwhile, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) is an NGO that was set up by Emeka Offor in the mid-1990s to assist individuals become autonomous and independent.
 
The Foundation’s goal is to assist the less privileged and provide support in human development, skills acquisition, including the establishment of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and cooperative societies.

The NGO has partnered with some international organisations like Books for Africa, Rotary International, and Mainz Hospital Research. This is in a bid to impact more lives.

Emeka Offor is an active player in the energy sector. The Electricity Reform Act of 2005 birthed the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company with Emeka Offor as Chairman. The company’s primary function is to adequately provide and market power supply in its core areas of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo State.

Other active companies from Emeka Offor’s stables include Global Scan systems Technology Limited (GSTL), Nimek Investment Ltd., Blaze 91.5 FM, Kiss 99.9 FM, Starcrest Nigeria, Global Scan Systems Limited (GSL), and Kingsbury Trading Ltd.

Read Also: Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 12)

Emeka Offor has received many awards and recognitions for his good works. He was the Knight of Saint Christopher of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. In 2016, he received an International Service Award for a Polio Free World by Rotary International.

According to nigerianinfopedia.com, Emeka Offor is worth $5.8 billion. His life trajectory shows an entrepreneur who is a risk-taker.

Emeka Offor’s trajectory depicts him as a man who was never afraid of the unknown having left his first job and comfort zone as a teacher, as well as his family in Anambra State to seek better opportunities. His decision ultimately paid off as he became a very successful businessman in West Africa.

Leo Stan Ekeh — Transport Officer

Leonard Stanley Nnamdi Ekeh was born on 22 February 1956 in Imo State. He is the founder and chairman of Zinox Group. He is also the chairman of Konga.com.

Ekeh attended Holy Ghost College, Owerri. During his early years, he wanted to own the biggest transport company in Nigeria. This inspiration was from the  brief experience he had as a transport officer working for a small group of interstate transporters in Eastern Nigeria.  

He later went to India for his university education where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics at Punjab University.

Leo Stan Ekeh

Ekeh believes that studying in India was the turning point that shaped his views about business and life. He went on to earn an M.Sc in Risk Management from the University of Nottingham. 

When he returned, Ekeh established Task System Limited, his first start up. It was the first company in Nigeria to venture into desktop publishing and computer graphics.

Over the years, Task System Limited became a front-runner and won several outstanding awards such as Best Partner Award for Compaq, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard (HP).

 Leo Stan Ekeh later established the Zinox Techologies Limited in 2001. He birthed it with a team of ICT technocrats. Zinox is one of the innovative ICT companies in Africa.

The brand is the first internationally certified branded computer OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) in West Africa. In addition, it is the first to receive Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) certification.

Similarly, it is the first computer hardware manufacturing company and ICT integration company in Nigeria to receive ISO 9001-2000.

Leo Stan led the team that delivered the largest single ICT project in Sub-Saharan Africa. The group was also responsible for the technology infrastructure of the 2007 and 2011 voters’ registration in Nigeria. In December 2013, Microsoft appointed Leo Stan as a global partner/advisor.

As an entrepreneur, Leo Stan Ekeh is said to have spearheaded the creation of the following companies: Technology Distribution Limited, Task Systems Limited, Zinox Technologies, Buyright Africa Dotcom Limited, Task Direct Limited, ITEC Solutions, amongst others.

In February 2018, Zinox acquired 99% of Konga’s shares a few months after the company (Konga) laid off over half of its staff. Three months later, Konga merged with Zinox’s retail outfit, Yudala, to form the biggest e-commerce company in Africa. Under the new merger, the brand name, Konga, was retained.

Ekeh has a passion for  humanitarian programmes which is usually handled by his Charity organisation, Leo Stan Ekeh Foundation.

Read Also: Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 13)

In line with his interest and devotion to the growth of IT in Nigeria, Ekeh launched the Computerize Nigeria Project in August 2000, to encourage development and sensitise Nigerians in the use of computers. He also launched the CANi Scheme, providing laptops to young Nigerians at a reduced price.

Ekeh is equally a recipient of various awards and recognitions from eminent organisations. He was bestowed with the ICON of Hope award by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on 1 October 2002; Nigerian Science and Technology Achiever of the Year 2003; and Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) in 2004.

Ekeh is a member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. He holds a Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Imo State University, Owerri; Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; and University of Jos.

He is a Fellow of the Lagos State Polytechnic, Lagos; Federal Polytechnic, Idah; and Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State.

Ekeh was worth $1 billion as of June 2018 according to Business Insider. Rated as one of the top tech CEOs in Nigeria according to Ventures Africa, Leonard Stanley Ekeh has earned a name for himself through his contributions to Africa’s ICT space. With his tech start-ups dating back to the 80s, Ekeh can be put in the bracket of visionaries who saw that ICT would define the world in no distant time.