Do you need education to do business?


We have come across several articles that implore on youngsters and the youth to plunge into entrepreneurship as a way to get the much desired life characterized with richness. However easy as it seems, a careful analysis of the early lives of several renowned wealthy personalities reveals a truth much hidden from the public eye, which forms a formidable foundation upon which these people built their wealth. We take a journey through the globe to examine a few of the rich famous.

Kenya’s Chris Kiruni started working as an administrator for Kenatco in the 1960s and 1970s. Around 1971, he started buying run down buildings in Nairobi city and renovating them and selling them off at a premium. He also started acquiring plots of land around Nairobi and putting up residential and commercial units using loans from commercial banks. He is now a majority shareholder in Centum Investments and Haco Tiger Industries Limited. He is the owner of Capital FM too. His latest accomplishment is setting up East Africa’s biggest mall – Two Rivers. He also has interests in the financial and insurance industry. He is among the richest men in Kenya currently.

Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote was born in Kano. Dangote hails from a very prominent business family. He is the great grand son of AlhajiAlhassan Dantata, the richest African at the time of his death in 1955. His wealthy grand father, the late Alhaji Sanusi Dantata provided him with a small capital to start his own business, as was the practice then. He thus started business in Kano in 1977 trading in commodities and also building supplies.

Dangote said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would sell them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.” (Wikipedia)

Alhaji Aliko Dangote moved to Lagos in June 1977 and persisted in trading cement and commodities. Encouraged by tremendous success and increase in business activities, he incorporated two companies in 1981. These as well as others that followed now make up the conglomerate known as The Dangote Group. He is Africa’s richest man at the moment.

From 1998 to 1999, Jack Ma headed an information technology company established by the China International Electronic Commerce Center, a department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. In 1999, he quit and returned to Hangzhou with his team to found Alibaba, a China-based business-to-business marketplace site in his apartment with a group of 17 friends. He started a new round of venture development with 500,000 yuan. Alibaba serves more than 79 million members from more than 240 countries and territories. In October 1999 and January 2000, Alibaba twice won a total of a $25 million international venture capital investment. He is China’s richest man.

Bill Gates was first hired alongside his other three other student students and offered to find bugs in Computer Centre Corporation’s (CCC) software in exchange for computer time. Rather than use the system via Teletype, Gates went to CCC’s offices and studied source code for various programs that ran on the system, including programs in Fortran, Lisp, and machine language. The arrangement with CCC continued until 1970, when the company went out of business.

The following year, Information Sciences, Inc. hired the four Lakeside students to write a payroll program in Cobol, providing them computer time and royalties. After his administrators became aware of his programming abilities, Gates wrote the school’s computer program to schedule students in classes. At age 17, Gates formed a venture with Allen, called Traf-O-Data, to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor. This formed the foundation for Microsoft as we all know it today.

According to the statement from the Moseray Fadika Trust; Ambassador Fadika came from a humble background. He was born in poverty and struggled to pay his school fees. Despite these difficulties and challenges, Ambassador Fadika never lost hope and continued in his efforts to seek a better life. He graduated from university and went on to become a magnate in the business sector.   Ambassador Fadika is today one of the leading entrepreneurs in Africa and he is regarded as Africa’s success story.

Donald John Trump was born in 1946 in Queens, New York City, the fourth of five children of Frederick C. and Mary MacLeod Trump. Frederick Trump was a builder and real estate developer who specialized in constructing and operating middle income apartments in the Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn sections of New York. Donald Trump was an energetic and bright child, and his parents sent him to the New York Military Academy at age thirteen, hoping the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner. Trump did well at the academy, both socially and academically, rising to be a star athlete and student leader by the time he graduated in 1964.

During the summers, Trump worked for his father’s company at the construction sites. He entered Fordham University and then transferred to the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1968 with a degree in economics.

Trump seems to have been strongly influenced by his father in his decision to make a career in real estate development, but the younger man’s personal goals were much grander than those of his father. After graduating college, Trump joined the family business, the Trump Organization. He is now the United States of America.

Warren Buffet has been severally cited as the world’s wealthiest man alive. Buffett was born to Howard and Leila Buffett on August 30, 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the second of three children, and the only boy. His father was a stockbroker and four-term United States congressman. Making money was an early interest for Warren Buffett, who sold soft drinks and had a paper route. When he was 14 years old, he invested the earnings from these endeavors in 40 acres of land, which he then rented for a profit. At his father’s urging, he applied to the University of Pennsylvania and was accepted. Unimpressed, Buffett left after two years, transferring to the University of Nebraska. Upon graduation, his father once again convinced him of the value of education, encouraging him to pursue a graduate degree. Harvard rejected Buffett, but Columbia accepted him. Buffett studied under Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, and his time at Columbia set the stage for a storied career, albeit one with a slow start.

Upon graduation from Columbia University, Benjamin Graham refused to hire Buffett, even suggesting that he avoid a career on Wall Street. Buffett’s father agreed with Graham, and Buffett returned to Omaha to work at his father’s brokerage firm.

Great conclusions come from the above instances. One, almost all the great entrepreneurs and wealthiest people of our times started working somewhere. No one plunged directly into the world of business and made it. Even Richard Branson became broke and sold off his Virgin Records company when he attempted this feat. Initial employment is necessary to help with putting up a foundation for future accomplishments.

Secondly, almost all had education as a basis. Without education, comprehension of basic necessary skills would be a tall order. No one wealthy entrepreneur established his businesses without having the requisite education.

Thirdly, we see a common trait in all- they had family support. From capital for start ups, to moral support to keep the growing well, support provides the necessary impetus to push on.

Do not give in to the temptation of realizing big returns. It takes a real effort to learn in a job environment, acquire the necessary skills through education and psychosocial support to make it in entrepreneurship!

The author is a business writer, having authored business books on passion to profit, and is the Lead Coach at PBL Africa. 



Author: pblafrica
Passionate about personal branding and entrepreneurship. Wana be influence!

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