By Wisdom Deji-Folutile
Forbes has just released its “100 Innovations, Inventions & Icons from Africa” list and some of Nigeria’s biggest names across all sectors can be found on the list.
From music and entertainment superstars like David “Davido” Adeleke, Omotola Jalade Ekehinde and Damini Ogulu (Burna Boy), to corporate icons like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Olugbenga Agboola, the latest edition of this Forbes list seems to be properly salted with Nigerian heritage.
“From Hollywood exports and Grammy artists to award-winning ideas that can save the world, Africa is not only diverse in its people but also in its industries and creativity,” Forbes Africa says.
“For Forbes Africa hundredth issue (since the magazine’s inception in 2011), we decided to curate a list celebrating these very ideas, inventions, and influential role models that have spelt Africa’s growth over the last decade.”
According to Forbes, the list is a testament to the ingenuity of the African mind and spirit of resilience and Afro-optimism.
The list is divided into three categories: Innovators, Icons and Inventions.
Payment processor: Olugbenga GB Agboola, Founder and CEO of Flutterwave
A Nigerian company, Flutterwave, is based on a financial application programming interface that makes it simpler to process payments across Africa. It is not just a useful tool for individuals but also an enabling technology because it helps other businesses including start-ups. And while Flutterwave is useful within countries, the unique nature of Africa makes it doubly useful across borders.
Money transfer app: Chukwunonso Arinze, Kaoshi mobile app
Nigerian entrepreneur Chukwunonso Arinze created the Kaoshi mobile app that connects expatriate immigrants and money senders across the globe. In the Mail & Guardian, Arinze states that starting this business was built on the premise that sending money across borders is rarely a hassle-free process.
“It usually involves long lines, obscene transfer fees, and lots of red tape. But it doesn’t need to be this way,” he said.
It boasts of being able to help users “send money to anywhere in the world quickly and without paying expensive fees”.
Labelled as an Afrobeat superstar by Forbes in 2020, Davido is without a doubt one of Africa’s biggest musicians. The Nigerian artiste, who also graced the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list in 2018 told us that “it was people like (Nigerian music veterans) P-Square and D’Banj” who made him believe “that all this was possible”.
Since his rise to fame, Davido has won multiple awards including BET awards and MTV awards.
He has also signed on several endorsements with MTN and Guinness Nigeria.
Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Easily one of the biggest actors to come out of Africa, multi-award-winning Omotola J Ekeinde has appeared in over 200 movies, according to Entrepreneurs.
In 2013, she was featured on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world alongside Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and Kate Middleton.
Another one of Nigeria’s brightest and biggest stars, Wizkid, is described by Vogue as “an image-maker who speaks to millennials”.
The multi-award-winning Afrobeats artist won a Grammy alongside Beyonce for their song Brown Skin Girl (which came off Beyonce’s visual album Black Is King).
Often known as one of the biggest and most successful African artists on this continent, Burna Boy won the Best Global Music Album category at the Grammys on March 14. The Grammy nomination described Twice As Tall as “a masterclass in the vibe and hustle that have made Burna Boy an international musical force”.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Known for her feminism which comes across not only in her books but in the way she speaks, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has brought the power of narrative to all the work she has done. The Half of a Yellow Sun author has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young Anglophone authors (which) is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”, particularly in her second home, the United States (her first being Nigeria).
“I hope other women will not just emulate me but do better. People ask me how do you manage to be successful but I did not set out to be promoted. For me, success was getting out of bed and running to work,” says Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and the first African to hold the office as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
Okonjo-Iweala has made history, and she was Forbes Africa’s African of the Year in 2020.
Also known to the world as Jeremiah Ogbodo, Swanky Jerry is a Nigerian celebrity fashion stylist who has dressed the likes of Pearl Thusi, Davido, Nyanda, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, AKA, Sarkodie, and African presidents and first ladies. In 2020, he made the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list.
“We would usually have to wear the clothes of the locals of each city we visited, to blend in, and I loved it! Growing up within this lifestyle, I became more inspired by my surroundings and began to invest in Nigerian fashion magazines and people-watching at big events due to the elaborate fashion being paraded,” he told Forbes Africa.
CNN calls her ‘one of Hollywood’s biggest stars”. Funke Akindele-Bello rose to fame after starring in the popular United Nations Population Fund-sponsored sitcom I Need to Know.
Described as a trailblazer in Nollywood, Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut movie, Lionheart, is the first Netflix original from Nigeria. Unfortunately, it was the first Nigerian submission for the 2020 Oscars before it was disqualified over English dialogue.
Known to the world as ‘Mr Eazi’, Nigerian-born singer Oluwatosin Ajibade has made a name for himself as an award-winning African artist. In 2020, he made the coveted Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list, in which he spoke about the side hustle while in college in Ghana that led him to a best-selling career in music and earning millions of fans along the way.
“I began my career with a small cash gift from friends, which enabled me to pay for my first professional-quality video for Skin Tight,” he told Forbes Africa, in the early days.
Seated in a sun-soaked room in Nigeria, visiting her daughter for her 50th birthday, Rose Leke is anything but the typical grandmother. At the age of 74, she has made a significant contribution to the field of science and continues this through her academic career as an Emeritus Professor of immunology and parasitology at the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon. She began her career by being rejected and having to prove her worthiness to become a scientist.