FORBES AFRICA spent months looking for the best this continent has to offer. Research coupled with nominations from their readers brought the number to 250 potential under 30s. They worked for weeks, verifying and investigating, to whittle it down. They favored entrepreneurs with fresh ideas and took into account their business size, location, potential, struggles and determination. A panel of judges then debated the final 30. And our very own Obinwanne Okeke, the founder of Invictus Group of Companies was among the list.
Okeke could not fail his mother. A promise meant hard work and dreaming big. He was raised in Ukpor village, 790 kilometers from Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, as the 17th child of a polygamous father. He went to boarding school aged 10, lost his father at 16 and moved from one relative to another. He named his company Invictus after one of Nelson Mandela’s favorite a poems, by William Ernest Henley, about the undefeated and unconquerable soul of a hard worker, from an impoverished background, who will not give up.
Invictus is in construction, agriculture, oil and gas, telecoms and real estate. He has 28 permanent and 100 part-time employees across nine companies.
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Obinwanne named his company after William Ernest Henley’s popular poem about an undefeated and unconquerable hard worker from an impoverished background who refused to give up.
Obinwanne’s story is quite similar. He was born to a polygamous father as the 17th child. At age 10, he left for boarding school and when he was 16, he lost his father.
He kept moving from one relative to another. Things became difficult but he wanted a better life for himself and his mother.
As a teenager, Obinwanne took courses in business management as well as obtained a diploma as a computer technician.
He later moved to Australia to study, where he said he “did all kinds of jobs just to survive.”
Hestarted an events/entertainment company for students called Invictus media and also interned at a poverty alleviation NGO in the country.
While in Australia, he founded Literacy Africa International to raise “awareness about literacy problem among children in Africa.”
He also sourced for donors of used children books across Australia and shipped them to disadvantaged kids across Africa.
He saved some money, came back to Nigeria, and invested it in his business.
In 2017, Invictus Group was named as Africa’s Most Innovative Investment Company of the Year by African Brand Congress.
The same year, Obinwanne was nominated in the Young African Business Leader (West Africa) category for the All Africa Business Leaders Awards ( AABLA).