Family businesses control a significant portion of the economy in developed and developing countries but only a few enjoy longevity. The survival rate of most African family businesses is extremely low beyond the founder’s generation, Forbes reports.
The list below includes some leaders of family businesses in Africa who beat the odds. Their companies grew even huger than their successors. Most of these businesses are worth obscene amounts of money, which makes their leaders’ achievements even more fascinating.
Succession planning is one of the big problems facing family run businesses. It gets very personal.
Forbes cites an African example of the late Nigerian business tycoon, Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, once thought to be one of the wealthiest men in Africa. He built one of Nigeria’s largest business empires consisting real estate, an airline, fisheries, a chain of newspapers, and retail. His businesses collapsed after he died in 1998, and none are still around today.
African family businesses face the same challenges as those in other parts of the world when it comes to dealing with family conflicts, formalizing business structures, and managing finances.
One is attracting high-performing talent. Many respondents in a PwC survey of family businesses said that it is particularly difficult for family businesses to attract talented employees with the right qualifications because the brightest prefer working for listed multinationals, where the career path is clearer and where there is the possibility of equity.
CampdenFB, a magazine that covers the growing market of private family businesses, examines current trends, governance and investment best practices, and wealth management of family businesses globally. Formerly known as Families in Business, CampdenFB compiles an annual lists of leading family business leaders.
The list below goes beyond revenue (although that’s included too, where available), examining African family businesses under additional criteria. These include governance, growth and innovation.
This list also takes into consideration diversity and inclusivity.
Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion perform better, according to TalentIntelligence.
Some of the African business leaders listed below have been recognized for the composition of leadership of their businesses, boards or senior management, or for promoting equality and diversity.
Harvard Business School conducted a study in 2013 of 24 companies that had earned reputations for prioritizing diversity. Paul Block, the CEO of Mersant, summed up one of the key findings in the study this way: “People with different lifestyles and different backgrounds challenge each other more. Diversity creates dissent, and you need that. Without it, you’re not going to get any deep inquiry or breakthroughs.”
Some of the African businesses listed below have more than one leader recognized in the family, whether it’s siblings sharing executive roles or a husband and wife team.
These are some of the top-ranking family business leaders in Africa in 2014 and 2015, based on research by Campden Families In Business magazine.