The Key to Unlocking Africa’s Potential is Business: Stephen Akintayo
Born and raised in rural northeastern Nigeria, Stephen Akintayo read ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ when he was 17 years old and his life changed forever. With his eyes opened to the world of entrepreneurialism, Stephen started his first business with only limited resources. Stephan has grown his business empire across continents and industries in the following decade, also making his mark through philanthropy.
He is now an Author, Digital Consultant and Chief Executive Officer of Gtex Global, a group of companies with interest in agriculture, real estate, digital marketing and technology. He also leads various charity projects supporting orphans and underprivileged communities in Nigeria.
Stephen’s story elucidates that from any challenging situation lies an opportunity, regardless of the point of departure and level of “formal” education obtained. His mission now? To inspire global audiences and introduce them to ways to attain financial freedom by leveraging the power of technology and communication.
Here are some of the key messages Stephen shared during our Rootencial Conversations podcast episode:
1: “Africa needs to build wealth. When we build wealth, a lot of lives are touched.”
Stephen is critical of the culture of hand-outs, merely gifting money to friends and relatives in need. To truly change lives, and build individual and community wealth in Africa to the point where hand-outs are not requested, we need to invest more in building skills for business and entrepreneurialism. Stephen emphasises the importance of investing in ‘informal’ means of education that embrace the use of technology, which provides unprecedented opportunities to create businesses.
2: “What Africa needs is entrepreneurs.”
Stephen highlights how a traditional university education teaches students how to manage and administer businesses, but not necessarily on how to start their own enterprise. To create enough jobs for Africa’s youth, Stephen stresses the need to invest not in training more business managers, but in more entrepreneurs with the skills to launch new businesses.
3: “The Africa I want is where one out of every five Africans is a millionaire.”
Stephen describes the high percentage of millionaires in Singapore – and how increasing wealth has addressed other issues such as crime and corruption. He shares a future vision where one in five Africans are millionaires, leading to other social and economic changes on the Continent.
4: “I started my business with $10.”
Stephen now runs companies across sectors and continents. However, he started off his entrepreneurial journey by printing and posting fliers and posters with a budget of just $10. Stephen underscores that you don’t need money to make money – just ambition, a vision, and passion.
5: “We are hungry people.”
Discussing the unique entrepreneurial energy and zeal of Nigerians, Stephen says this is born out of challenges faced over previous decades. He recalls how remarkable it is that the richest Africa is a Nigerian entrepreneur, not a South African, despite all the former’s relative challenges – such as inferior infrastructure. This simply goes to show that any challenges faced can essentially provide plenty of opportunities for progress and advancement.