Nigerian-born business man, Obinwanne Okeke is Chairman and CEO at Invictus Group of Companies – and recent honoree of the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2016. Makamba Online recently sat down with this successful African entrepreneur to discover his secret to success.
Obinwanne Okeke: A dream to succeed
Okeke says that he has harnessed his entrepreneurial skills from a very young age. But that it wasn’t until he enrolled at university in 2008 that he’d take the plunge into the business world. “I first registered my events company with the name “Invictus”, inspired by the Invictus Poem by William Ernest Henley. The poem is about the undefeated and unconquerable soul of a hard worker from an impoverished background, but who won’t give up. This portrays my story,” Okeke explains of his thinking behind the name of his first company.
The Nigerian business man says that being a successful entrepreneur was his dream from a very young age. He explained that all he needed was this dream, knowing that he would be able to put in the hard work to make it a reality. “Coincidentally, the dream is free,” he says smiling! “I am proud of the hard work put in over the years, and also proud of every other African youth listed or not who is working hard in a corner in order to move our continent forward,” he said on his blog after being named one of Africa’s future billionaires.
His advice to other aspirant entrepreneurs on the continent is to “Do it now! Don’t wait for tomorrow!”
Building an unconquerable business
The Invictus Group of Companies Ltd is an investment company which has a diverse portfolio; Under the parent company, it has subsidiaries in Real Estate, Construction, Investments, Agriculture, Oil & Gas and Telecoms. “These are industries where we felt gaps requiring harnessing existed, and the harnessing of these gaps could contribute towards the development of Africa,” Okeke says.
Makamba Online went on to ask Okeke if this (a diverse portfolio) was important to the success of his business. His answer was simple, “Yes.”
“My approach is one of consistently and continuously filling gaps identified, viable in the markets within which we operate. Our approach as a business is to have as many hands in as many interests as possible. Whilst doing this, ensuring that we don’t drop the ball in any area – this is definitely one of the many keys to our success story.”
Obinwanne Okeke is personally intrigued by African politics and history. He says this has helped him break the boarder lines which the Europeans had put in place. This allowed him to expand his business interests into various African Markets. Also having attended the most diverse university on the continent, Monash University, for his undergraduate degree, he built friendship as well as business relations in and around the continent without bothering to know the nationality of the said individual. “I see opportunities not boarder lines,” he says.
Development projects in Africa
Okeke has a passion for building capacity in Africa. This is demonstrated through his work as a social entrepreneur on the project Literacy Africa International.
“Initially it began as a personal project which I and a friend, William Moore, set up while living in Australia. We launched the project to be able to contribute towards alleviating the literacy problems in Africa. Having both lived on the continent, we knew exactly what was lacking, but we didn’t have the framework to make it work. So we called on volunteers and started collecting through donation of unused children books. Within three months we were shipping containers filled of books to impoverished African communities. When we read the letters of appreciation from the children we helped, we knew that our efforts had started to yield results.”
Top 3 investment tips from Obinwanne Okeke:
- Agriculture, let’s feed ourselves first while making money at it.
Author: David Nothling