7 Successful Africans Who Dropped Out of College

Education is commonly regarded as the cornerstone of success, yet there is a group of successful individuals whose journeys throw this notion into question across Africa’s vast and diverse environment.

These individuals saw a different path and heard a particular call to greatness that extended beyond the usual academic corridors.

They dropped out of college, guided by their aspirations and propelled by an uncontrollable spirit.

Join us as we delve into the riveting stories of seven extraordinary Africans who defied convention, overcame adversity, and forged their own paths to success.


1. Johann Rupert

South African millionaire Johann Rupert dropped out of college to pursue financial success. He started off as an apprentice in New York, where he stayed for two years. Rupert established Rand Merchant Bank and the Small Business Development Corporation the following year.

He is presently the CEO of the Swiss-based luxury goods giant Richemont and Africa’s richest man. Nelson Mandela University later bestowed an honorary degree in business on him.

2. Orji Uzor Kalu

Orji Kalu is another accomplished African who was dismissed from the University of Maiduguri for his role in the “Ali must go” riot against then-Education Minister.

Instead of returning to school after receiving his pardon, Uzor stole money from his mother and began trading palm oil. Kalu bought oil in Nigeria’s eastern regions and resold it in the country’s northern parts.

He watched his company rapidly grow and later established Slok Holdings, a conglomerate that would incorporate a number of profitable businesses such as Ojialex furniture company, Slok Nigeria Ltd., Slok United Kingdom, and others.

Kalu is a successful politician who later obtained an honorary degree from his university. He was the governor of Abia state twice and is now a senator representing Abia North Senatorial District.


3. Justin Stanford

Justin, 29, is widely considered as one of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs and investors. He started his first business at the age of 13 by selling apple juice to his classmates.

Because he found school boring, the 29-year-old dropped out at the age of 18 to establish his first business.

The technocrat began trading in ESET anti-virus software, eventually becoming the product’s sole distributor in South Africa.

His brand, which operates in around 20 Sub-Saharan African countries, generates more than $10 million in annual revenue and controls 5% of the Southern African anti-virus market.


4. Said Salim Bakhresa

Said, the founder and chairman of the Bakhresa Group of Companies, dropped out of school to work as a potato mix seller. Before launching his company, he worked as a restaurant operator and a salesperson.

Through his organization, the college dropout employs approximately 2000 individuals. Bakhresa’s conglomerate is described as one of Tanzania’s greatest conglomerates, with a revenue of more over $500 million. It specializes in confectioneries, frozen foods, various types of drinks, and packaging.

Bakhresa, who has a net worth of $520 million, has made his company one of the greatest in the country with his excellent managerial talents.

5. Anas Sefrioui

Sefrioui, Morocco’s third richest person, dropped out of college to work with his father on a project to develop a popular clay for washing one’s body and hair.

Working with his father taught him the fundamental business skills he would need to govern his company empire later in life. Sefrioui amassed the funds needed to start a real estate development business in 1988, with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.

The billionaire today runs Adoha Group, which has become a real estate development guide in the UAE.


6. Cosmas Maduka

Cosmas, the brains behind the Coscharis Group of Companies, had to drop out of college due to financial constraints.

Cosmas, who lost his father when he was four years old, was assigned to work as an apprentice at his uncle’s vehicle business. His uncle later wrongfully terminated him for N200.00.

Following a string of commercial failures, Cosmas founded the Coscharis Group, a conglomerate that specializes in the Manufacturing, ICT, Petrochemical, Auto care and Auto Components, Automobile Sales and Services, Agric, and Agro Allied industries.

Coscharis Motors is now a significant distributor of premium automotive brands such as Range Rover, Ford, and Jaguar.


7. Ashish J. Thakkar

Thakkar made the decision to drop out of school and focus on his business. From Dubai to Uganda, the Ugandan serial entrepreneur began by purchasing and selling computers and floppy disks.

Mara Group, his company, is a 16-year-old pan-African multi-sector corporate conglomerate with activities in 26 countries across four continents. The World Economic Forum has named Thakkar a World Economic Forum Global Young Leader.



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