We call them SMEs but these companies are not small in any way. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), SMEs in Nigeria account for 95 percent of formal manufacturing activity and 70 percent of industrial jobs.
With Bossman 50, we hope to identify and celebrate local business solving real and meaningful problems, profitably. On this list, you’ll find companies founded by Nigerians, operating in Nigeria with NGN 300 million in net annual revenues and more than five employees.
Because this is Nigeria, such revenue estimates were based on logically verifiable entrepreneur reports, reliable human sources and other data sources.
The Ultima studio records and produces the wildly popular Who Wants To Be A Millionaire TV game show. The MTN-sponsored music reality TV show, Project Fame, is also one of the many shows the studio churns out.
Since its founding in 1987, the studio has grown to about 200 employees in its Nigerian office. The founder, Femi Ayeni is a University of Pennsylvania alum who is also a Non-Executive Director at Ecobank.
Ultima studio is committed to growing “quality content locally that meets or beats Global standards.”
Animal Care Services Konsult produces and sells farm feed and maintenance tools to Nigerian farmers. They also offer extension services to educate farmers on global farming standards.
This livestock company is the holding company for Futuna Farms which ships the Funtuna Eggs. Olatunde Agbato started Animal Care Services in 1981 after a brief spell as a lecturer at the Department of Veterinary Medicine University of Ibadan.
Between 1987 and 2015, Animal Care Services has bagged more than 15 awards including the CBN Farmer of Year award and the FAO-AIG excellence award for feed analysis laboratories in developing countries.
Futuna eggs is the standard issue for most Nigerian malls. From its farms in Ogun State, Nigeria, Futuna eggs ships more than 105, 120, 000 eggs every year. That is an average of 288, 000 eggs every day.
If a young 20-something Nigerian gets fired up at the end of a premier league fixture, it isn’t because his favorite team just won, it’s likely also because his bet on NairaBET has paid off.
NairaBET is Nigeria’s first and most visible betting platform. Popular with young middle-class Nigerian males – about one in every five of them has or is placing bets on the platform.
iRokoTV is a movie streaming outfit based out of Lagos, Nigeria. It’s been severally called the “Netflix of Africa.”
If there was an ordered list of Nigeria’s hottest Nigerian tech startups, iRokoTV will be close to the top. Jason Njoku, the outspoken founder, and CEO of Iroko isn’t so modest, though. He describes his 4-year old company as “arguably one of the most awesome internet companies in Africa.”.
Since 2015, iRokoTV has drawn more copiously from Netflix’s playbook with investment in original content. ROK Studios, iRoko’s sister company (managed by Mary Remmy Njoku) produces the original content and manages RokTV, a satellite TV channel on DSTV and UK’s Sky TV.
IrokoTV raised $19 million from its series E funding last January bringing its total funding chest to $40 million.
Two years ago, GIGM (then known as God Is Good Motors) was another run-of-the-mill bus transit company in Nigeria. But the last two years has seen it undergo a major overhaul in branding and range of services.
First, the company changed its name from God Is Good Motors to GIGM. That rebranding came with a graceful website and a buttery-smooth online booking module, as well as a consolidation of its Travels & Tours arm. All this thanks to the young Ajaeres (children of the founder) stepping in to support their mom as they take the firm into a new era. The firm is one to watch out for in 2017.
Unseating Presidents seems to be what Red Media is hanging its hat on.
In 2015, Red Media was instrumental in the victory of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari – unseating incumbent Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
As an extra feather in its cap, Red Media managed the campaign office of Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s President-elect. Helping two presidents win is a record that will be hard to surpass.
Led by Debola Williams and Chude Jideonwo, Red Media is a lean PR and digital media agency and publisher. Red Media is carving a niche for itself in political brand management, strategy, and governance communication.
Red Media publishes YNaija, the online magazine for Nigerian millennials and works with leading global brands including Facebook, Uber, and GTBank.
In Nigeria, 2015 was the year of Shawarma. The country’s fast food consciousness was awakened to the middle eastern treat, and in 2016, the trend didn’t let off.
01 Shawarma is one of the most visible and hippiest Shawarma shops in Lagos. As of this writing, O1 Shawarma had 19 stores across Lagos Island and the mainland.
The shop combines in-store walk-in sales with home delivery and bulk orders for events.
Controversial and contentious, Linda Ikeji is a force on Nigeria’s internet. The eponymous news/gist / lifestyle/gossip website is a top local site – almost synonymous to the homepage of Nigeria’s middle-class internet.
In Q4 2016, Linda Ikeji (the owner) launched a social network, not unlike Facebook for her deeply-engaged readers – Linda Ikeji Social. Of the new network, Mobisola Atolagbe writes for TechCabal that “it is what happens when the Linda Ikeji Blog (LIB) meets Facebook at a bar and somehow end up having a baby together.”
A day after launch, the new social media network had racked up 50, 000 sign-ups. Although it would take more than mere sign-ups to monetize the audience, Linda Ikeji has proved she deserves more credit than already given.
Wild Fusion is Nigeria’s biggest digital marketing agency. Through its media sales subsidiary, ROI Digital, WIldFusions helps businesses advertise online. The online media agency cuts its teeth in staying lean and mean. The company is on the bleeding edge of online advertising, marketing, and web publishing in Nigeria.
Wild Fusion and its media sales subsidiary – ROI Digital – have worked with clients including Interswitch, Diamond Bank, The Experience Concert, First Bank, Kenya’s ABC Bank and Hennessy. The media firm has offices in Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana.
One of the wildly popular homegrown fashion brands in Nigeria, David Wej grew from a fashion design house into a style consultancy with lines including shoes, cufflinks, socks, suspenders and more.
David Wej has four outlets in VI, Surulere, Ikeja and Lekki and is one of the first indigenous brick and mortar retailers to take advantage of ecommerce outlets like Jumia and Konga. The brand has grown so big on these platform as to feature in their product ads.
David Eweje started David Wej after working in Marketing and Distribution with Econet and Globalcom in the early aughts.
BellaNaija is a leading Nigerian online entertainment and lifestyle blog. Uche Pedro started Bella Naija as a wedding blog in 2005 while studying in Canada. She would return home few month later to build up the platform.
Now in 2016, BellaNaija is one of the most influential lifestyle blogs in Nigeria. And the wedding page on Bella Naija has become an unofficial lookbook for intending local couples.
There is a level of compliance an organization that will handle monies electronically have to adhere to e.g. banks, payment processors. InfoPrive helps to make it happen. Info Prive started out providing information security services to Nigerian businesses. Now, Info Prive serves clients across three continents with annual revenues in excess of #300m..
Emerging Platforms is becoming an “everything store” for business solutions in Nigeria. Its slew of services ranges from ICT infrastructure deployment, security solution, enterprise software solutions, consulting, advisory and edtech.
Founded by Harvard-trained Kola Aina, the company says it’s creating “innovative solutions that transform people, communities, and organizations.” And they are right to say so.
iLearn, the online learning module for the Nigeria’s open university was designed by the company. One of the most accessible edtech solutions in any Nigerian higher institution.
Betazoo is a content distribution network and mobile value added service provider based out of Lagos, Nigeria.
Its core products are Caller Tunez distribution and SMS service. The Caller Tunez services is a particular favorite for local artistes as it provides a stable outpost to monetize their creative work under the threat of pervasive piracy in Nigeria.
The company is an L5 Labs portfolio company and holds the record for the most downloaded callertune in Nigeria with Harry Songs’ tribute to Mandela recorded earlier this year.
SLOT sensed and caught the wave of Nigerians’ bullish consumer gadget sentiments at the turn of the millennium. The company has remained one of the top online/offline mobile phone retail chains in Nigeria.
Nnamdi Ezeigbo started Slot from out of a shop in Nigeria’s computer village in 1998. Now in 2016, Slot has more than 50 stores across Nigeria as well as an online shopping outpost.
Don Jazzy (real name: Michael Collins Ajereh) started Mavin Records in 2012 after a split with erstwhile partner, D’ Banj.
Mavin Records headline acts including Tiwa Savage, Korede Bello, and Reekado Banks have remained consistent for the past four years.
Aside from an impressive use of technology and social media, Mavin Records with Don Jazzy at the helms has set the standard for music distribution and collaboration in Nigeria.
Cafe Neo is becoming the watering hole for the growing crowd of the trendy young Nigerian millennials.
Ngozi Dozie and his brother, Chijioke Dozie are the forces behind this company that is shaping up to become the Starbucks of Nigeria.
The hippy brand sank further into Nigeria’s consciousness in 2016 and they look set to have a great 2017.
Tizeti, through wifi.com.ng, is distributing uncapped broadband to multi-tenanted buildings and small businesses in Nigeria.
Tizeti rolled out last March into an already crowded space, but the company has grown at a rapid clip in the last nine months. Patrick Ken Ananyi started the company off the back of Swift Network’s sudden decision to cancel their unlimited data plan back in 2012.
Already in Lekki, Ikoyi, Yaba and Ikeja, the company plans to cover all of Lagos in the next 18 months.
House of Tara was founded by Tara Fela-Durotoye, a lawyer turned Africa’s leading beauty and makeup entrepreneur. She started House of Tara at the age of 20, from her living room, whilst an undergraduate at university back in 1998. She’s since gone on to launch Nigeria’s first ever bridal directory in 1999, and in 2004 she opened the country’s leading beauty academy. Today, Tara has over 3,000 reps spread across Nigeria and 19 studios and 150 employees.
Suburban Telecoms has been transforming telecommunications technology in West Africa for the past 17 years.
In 2015, Suburban introduced Legend, a bundled content, fibre-optic internet and voice service. Suburban calls this service a Triple Play bundle.
That got the attention of more internet cognoscenti. But their core business is much bigger. Legend offers some spectacular home automation products on the side.
“People don’t want internet”, Suleiman Arzika, Suburban’s COO said in a TechCabal feature earlier this year. “What people really want is content. Broadband is simply the pipe that allows them to access it.”
Suburban likely will be placing bigger bets on content in 2017, a la Netflix and iRokoTV.
Oxygen Broadband provides high-capacity internet services for SMEs, large corporations and public spaces around Lagos. It’s been doing so since 2005.
The company has been driving its expansion out of Computer Village Ikeja where it debuted its metro Wi-Fi in 2012, to other parts of Lagos.
In 2016, Oxygen Broadband has reached other parts of Lagos. Keeping with its mission of distributing “Internet For Everyone,” 2017 will see Oxygen drive expansion more aggressively.
Wilsons Juice came into Nigeria’s soft drink vertical with a call-to-arms against “fizzy, artificially flavored and from-concentrate stuff everyone was calling ‘juice’”
That was in 2014 and now in 2016, they have driven that farther down the consciousness of middle-class Nigerians.
Wilsons Juice by brothers, Seun and Seyi Abolaji produces all-natural Lemonade in Nigeria. As at 2014, Wilsons employed 20 employees. That would have more than doubled after a major demand uptick in 2016.
NIyya Farms Group Limited is the holding company for Farm Pride which produces Fruit and Yoghurt beverage.
Farm Pride’s fresh fruits come from the 3,000-hectare fruit farm of the holding company in Kaduna – one of the largest in Nigeria.
GZ industries is West Africa’s top aluminum can manufacturer. What’s interesting is that GZI produces cans in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly manner.
The first GZI plants opened in Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, and Abia State, southeast Nigerian in 2006. In 2014, GZI started building a canning plant in Kenya. Plans are also in advanced stages to expand the company to South Africa.
Healthy snacks. ReelFruits is about healthy snacks. The company opened shop in 2012 to process fruits and nuts into dry snacks that can replace regular snacks.
ReelFruits came at a time the Nigerian middle-class was starting to pay attention to health fitness, and the company has ridden that wave.
Now in 2016, ReelFruit snacks are on the shelves in more than 80 stores in Nigeria.
ReelFruits founder, Affiong Williams is a Witwatersrand alum with previous work experience at Endeavor South Africa.
Think of an intensive care unit in the air. Flying doctors provides pre-planned medical air transport service to accident victims who need specialized medical attention.
Flying Doctors is able to provide this service using Air Ambulances and Emergency Transport Units on airplanes. Flying Doctors has affiliations with health service providers in more than 22 countries.
Housessories is a furniture and interior design company with a different approach to design.
They are known to bring in a minimalist, functional and airy approach to design. They’ve worked with companies like Jobberman, Road Chef, and Exteerran.
Nwamaka Okoye, the founder of Housesseries is energized when she describes the mission of her company.
“We believe that mundane things can and should be beautiful,” she says. “For instance, a trash can should look good. And that was our mission – provide people with affordable furniture that are aesthetically pleasing.”
Terragon Group provides integrated digital marketing, advertising and content services for companies in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, India, the UK and Mauritius.
Terragon has been doing this since 2010 with three independent but complementary business units that deliver on the interplay between content, platform, and digital services.
The company employs over a 100 people across Africa.
Loatsad Promomedia is an ultra-innovative outdoor and digital advertising firm responsible for a good number of the innovative digital outdoor advertising boards in Lekki, VI and Ikoyi environs, as well as having scored lucrative exclusive partnerships with PromoMedia Middle East, AirPush, RocketFuel and Shazam. Clients include Coca-Cola, Stanbic and other leading Nigerian companies.
The company was founded by Seyi Tinubu, lawyer-entrepreneur son of Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu and has a star-studded management team of digital and offline advertising experts. The company’s innovative methods and outstanding output makes it worthy of the list.
Solar energy gathered more steam in Africa as conversations around sustainable energy became more intense and accessible. In Morocco the government unveiled a massive solar power plant in the Sahara.
In Nigeria, no such broad-based activity is known to be going on, but Solynta Energy is driving awareness and use of Solar more. The company provides Solar power systems for home and commercial uses, proving 24-hour clean energy to homes and businesses.
Uvie Ogono, former executive at HSBC and Standard Chartered started the company in 2013. In 2015, the company employs about 50 employees in Nigeria. By 2023, Solynta hopes to have created 20 million jobs while installing five million Solar Power Systems, generating 40,000 megawatts of energy.
Castles Lifestyle is Nigeria’s foremost real estate magazine. The weekly issue provides in-depth coverage of Nigeria’s real estate industry with analyses of agency practices, property buying trends, property rental, maintenance and construction and more.
RealHouse Communications publishes Castles Lifestyle. And was founded by Dipo Davies, a lawyer turned publisher-entrepreneur It’s been doing so since 1999. From its initial issue as a simple magazine with real estate classifieds, Castle has grown to include a property section as well as an online commerce platform for real estate sales and purchase.
Mix N’ Bake Confectioneries is one of the leading indigenous cakes and confectionary shops in Nigeria.
Layered on their cake design services, Mix ’N’ Bake instructs new designers at their training arm which has 6 branches across Nigeria.
Ikeolu Biobaku started Mix ’N’ Bake in 2000 after resigning from a bank job.
The GreenRoom is popular among Nigeria’s top celebrities for what the company calls “personalized hospitality.”
Established in 2009, The GreenRoom is Nigeria’s most visible backstage celebrity hospitality service provider. This node in the entertainment value chain in Nigeria was not standardized till GreenRoom opened shop in 2009.
Founder, Lily Aninyei, was an executive at Suite Xviii before launching GreenRoom.
Kinetic Sports organizes and hosts the wildly popular Copa Lagos.
Copa Lagos is the largest beach soccer tournament in Africa. In the December 2016 edition of the event, the Super Sand Eagles and the National beach soccer team of Switzerland, led by Dejan Stankovic faced off in one of the most sensational fixtures of the Copa Lagos history.
Samson Adamu, the founder at Kinectic Sports is an alum from the Université de Neuchâtel.
The world’s Shea industry is reportedly $10-billion strong. Nigeria has the capacity to produce 325,000 tonnes of shea butter which can help it grab a large slice of that market.
Shea Origin, founded by Mobola Sagoe is helping to increase the nation’s capacity to optimally harness Shea nuts / butter as an export commodity.
Since starting out, Shea Origin has exported to the US, UK, and Canada.
Mrs. Mobola Sagoe is also the Vice President of the National Shea Product Association of Nigeria.
Also known as McPeppers, the Nigerian food service brand produces and sells hygienically processed and packaged local Nigerian quick-cooking soups from farm-fresh peppers.
The founder of OmoAlata, Kasope Ladipo-Ajai has a degree in Computer Science and worked at Virgin Nigeria before starting the soup company.
Sixth Sense specializes in the decoration and enhancement of living areas. The company lives by its ideal of creating designs that reflect personality and provide a relaxing atmosphere for homes, living quarters, hotels, guest houses, offices and more.
Temitope Olagbegi started Sixth Sense in 2004 after a degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos. Temitope was also the Entrepreneur of the Year at the City People award ceremony in 2010
Architectural outfit, Design Genre, plans and designs spaces to be functional and aesthetically pleasing. The principals and staff have experience spanning three continents-Europe, North America and Africa.
In 2016, the company instituted an annual design competition for Nigerian universities.
Design Genre founder and Managing Partner, Anthony Okoye holds his first and second degrees in Architecture from the University of Ife and practices architecture and urban planning with firms in the USA, UK and Nigeria.
By 2030, the world will need at least 50% more food to feed a booming population. Experts believe there is no better time to dabble in agriculture.
Hastom teaches and supports individuals to invest in agricultural real estate – building a reputation as the largest “farmland selling and management” company. Hastom owns about 2500 acres of farmland in Oyo State and other locations in Nigeria.
Debo Thomas Olushola started Hastom to help more people take up farming. The company does this by bundling agricultural investment options into accessible plans like the Smart-Agro Investor Plan, Cashew Power Investment Plan, Hastom Seed+ and Farmland+.
Bet9JA is sharing the spotlight with NaijaBET as one of the top online bookmaker companies in Nigeria.
In October 2015, the founder, Kunle Soname became the first Nigerian to own a top European football club. He secured 70% of Portuguese second division side, Clube Desportivo Feirense.
Bet9ja is also the official sponsor of the Nigeria Women’s Football League.
Systemspecs is hardly an SME in the strict sense of the word, seeing as it’s possibly thrice the size of the largest SME on this list.
John Obaro started Systemspecs in 1991 to provide qualitative human capital management and financial software solutions for Africa.
Systemspecs is a pioneer in Nigeria’s SaaS vertical with products like SunSytems, the globally renowned financial management solution, HumanManager; its indigenously-developed payroll and human resource solution and its most popular (and controversial) product to date, Remita, which powers Nigeria’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) project.
Psaltry International Limited (PIL) opened shop in 2005 to sell cassava produce. But the company has since expanded its business line to include farm development and production of food grade starch from cassava. it’s also working with partners including the Nigerian Breweries, IITA, ICRA, Nestle and the BoP Innovation Center.
In 2015 (lead by founder and MD, Yemisi Iranloye) the company won the Outstanding Agriculture Transformation Agenda sponsored by the Federal Government. In the same year, the company generated up to $3.5million in revenue.
Nation Feeders Nigeria Limited
Nation Feeders Nigeria provides infrastructure for poultry and general agricultural farming in Nigeria.
Founder, Dr. Victor Oguguwa is a Harvard alum and a former head of design and value engineering at MTN.
Before starting Nation Feeders in 2012, he was a General Manager at MTN Nigeria.
2016 was the year Air Peace really took off. Air Peace is the air travel arm of Peace Group which started as a bus transportation company in 1995. It’s one of Nigeria’s most reiable carrier as at today since too many claims of Arik having too many issues with delays, cancellations and baggage loss hit the air.
The group also streamlined its basic bus transit offering in 2016. Although its online booking module is often broken, the Peace Logistics arm took off and looks set to have a good 2017.
In 2012, Okoye Chukwunonso started Conifer Konstruktion to help clients manage construction projects.
Since then, the company has expanded its services to cover a range of services including project conceptualization and design; construction project management; turnkey project delivery, labour contracting and more. An interesting fact, the company’s headquarters till date is not in Lagos, Abuja or Portharcourt, it’s in Aniocha in Delta State.
The founder, Okoye Chukwunonso holds the Graduate Certificate in Advanced Project Management of the Walden University, Boston, USA.
Crust Resources provides site infrastructure to the biggest companies around. It has worked with client from Glo to MTN and Exxon Mobil to provide site building and integrated site maintenance services.
Basharu Saidu, a trained Chemical Engineer from the Ahmadu Bello University started the company over 15 years ago. The company has expanded its services to the telecoms infrastructures, civil construction and engineering industries.
RSL International found a sweet spot in Nigeria’s FMCG value chain in 2012 – convenient purchase of wholesale goods.
Finding the right consumer products for the best price at Nigeria’s foremost markets is hard and that’s where the company comes in by providing easy sourcing and distribution of wholesale FMCGs.
The company works with private individuals, corporate and big box stores including Shoprite, Park ‘n’ Shop, Game, etc.
Arnergy is one of the more visible sustainable energy companies in Nigeria.
The company is providing electricity to homes and offices in cities across Africa with innovative solar solutions.
In rural Nigeria, the company provides energy access through Pay As You Go (PAYG) Solar Home Systems (SHS) and MiniGrid Solutions.
Femi Adeyemo, CEO of Arnergy was a project manager at Cornea Consulting before starting Arnergy with his co-founder, Kunle Odebunmi in 2014.
In 1993, Tola Faseru incorporated Colossus Investment Limited to export agricultural commodities including Cocoa beans and raw cashew nuts. The company also sells agricultural processing machinery and provides training and consultancy services for farmers.
As the arguably biggest Cashew exporter in Nigeria (after Olam), Tola Faseru is also the national President of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN).
Nigerian public relations and digital communication agency, Black House Media caters to companies in entertainment, lifestyle, fashion, media and consumer technology.
What the team at BHM is more popular for, though, are their edgy campaigns and tech-powered breakthroughs in Nigeria’s staid PR industry.
Earlier in 2015, the company declared that “PR is dead” to excite conversations around the practice and future of PR in Nigeria.
BHM was founded by Adekunle Ayeni and employs more than 50 people in Lagos and London.