The cultural, artistic, and political contributions of black people to society remain some of the most profound and impactful ones documented in human history. Despite this, the businesses they build – and the impacts those have – are not as often or widely discussed.
This is our list of the world’s wealthiest and most influential top 5 black billionaires.
5. David Steward ($3.7 billion USD)
Steward is an American black billionaire with a reported wealth of $3.7B as of December 2020. Having grown up in the segregated American south with seven siblings, Steward reports having gone without a paycheck in his youth and even mentions having watched his car get repossessed in a parking lot.
Nowadays, Steward is the founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, an information technology (IT) provider firm that does approximately $12 billion in annual sales. The firm’s clients include companies such as Citi Bank, the U.S. government, and Verizon, and boast Steward as the majority owner of the company.
4. Abdulsamad Rabiu ($4 billion USD)
Rabiu is a Nigerian billionaire and founder of BUA Group, a conglomerate based in Nigeria dealing in the refinery of sugar, the production of cement, and real estate.
Rabiu has reportedly doubled his wealth in 2020 – up from $1.9B in mid-2019 to $4B as of December 2020 – due to the merging of his privately-owned Obu Cement company with another firm he controls, Cement Co. of Northern Nigeria. This merger resulted in the creation of BUA Cement Plc, which Rabiu owns roughly 98.5% of.
3. Robert F. Smith ($5.2 billion USD)
Smith founded Vista Equity Partners (VEP), a private equity firm that invests solely in software developer and provider companies, in 2000. Over the last twenty years, VEP has grown into one of the world’s top-performing private equity firms reporting annualized returns of 22% since its inception.
Smith also made headlines in summer of 2019 when, during a commencement speech at Morehouse College, he announced a promise to pay off the student loan debt of the College’s entire graduating class.
2. Mike Adenuga ($6 billion USD)
Adenuga, an MBA alum of New York’s Pace University, supported himself through his time as a student by landing a job as a taxi driver in the Big Apple. He would go on to make his first million at the age of 26 by selling soft drinks and lace products.
As Nigeria’s currently second-richest man, Adenuga built his wealth in the realms of oil production and telecommunications through his mobile phone network, Globacom, which is Nigeria’s second-largest mobile phone network with approximately 50 million subscribers.
1. Aliko Dangote ($11.6 billion USD)
As Africa’s richest man and one of the continent’s most influential people for multiple years running, Dangote saw his rise to wealth by founding and operating Africa’s largest cement provider, Dangote Cement, of which Dangote owns some 85%.
Dangote Cement produces over 45 million metric tons of cement annually and currently operates in ten different African countries. The company’s namesake refinery, which began construction in 2016, is expected to be the latest of its kind in Africa once complete.
As a businessman, Dangote also owns stock shares in publicly-traded salt and sugar manufacturing companies.