On Monday 22 February, foremost serial digital entrepreneur, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh turned 65.
Yes, he has added five years into his life as a sexagenarian and probably added a few wrinkles to his visage, but it has obviously not diminished the entrepreneurial excellence of this affable chairman of the multi-billion dollar Zinox Group who once mulled the idea of retiring once he clocked 65.
But to the contrary, this billionaire investor is still going stronger and there is no telling what sector he might venture into next. Renowned for his disruptive business mindset and unmistaken eye for details, Ekeh’s retirement will come as a surprise to many, especially in view of his very active lifestyle, devotion to healthy living and spartan discipline which has made him look much younger than his years. He recently called for the declaration of a Tech Independence Day, as he confidently said it is only a matter of time before Nigeria starts raising tech billionaires that would rival the likes of Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma.
With his genius and acclaimed successes as a globally recognised tech guru, Ekeh has built Zinox Group into Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest integrated technology conglomerate. Also, as an astute businessman whose presence extends far beyond ICT and into other areas of Nigerian economy, with decades of successes under his belt, Ekeh’s Zinox Group, in one fell swoop in February 2018, acquired 99 per cent of Konga shares from majority investors, Naspers and AB Kinnevik for $10 million. That was just a few months after the third-party online retail marketplace laid off over half its staff. Three months later, Konga —founded in July 2012 by start-up whiz kid, Sim Shagaya as a first-party direct retail in various categories of consumer goods and products— merged with Zinox’s retail outfit – Yudala to form the biggest e-commerce company in Africa.
Under the new merger, the brand name Konga was retained. Ever since, Ekeh —and his team— has been working to ensure Konga retains its prominent position as clear leader in the e-commerce sector. Konga currently has three subsidiary arms — KOS Delivery, KongaPay and Konga.com — and they all have the potential to be individual product portfolios. As part of strategic plans to make Konga number one eCommerce giant in Africa marketplace, Ekeh is currently constructing the multi-billion dollar Africa’s first robotic warehouse on a sprawling land in Lekki, Lagos where Artificial Intelligence will be deployed in its entire operation.
Spotlight gathered that Ekeh acquired the property alone at over N7 billion. And with the reconfiguration of the warehouse, alongside installation of necessary equipment, this Imo State-born billionaire will be committing close to N20 billion to bring the facility to life. And given the spate of work, the facility should be open for operation by the middle of the year.
A first rate, Indian-trained economist and Global Advisor to Microsoft, Ekeh’s target, it was learnt, is to achieve a tech group worth $10 billion in valuation. Spotlight gathered that the billionaire businessman is also planning to change the lives of his devoted employees by making every management staff in the group who has served him loyally a billionaire and others millionaires before retiring into full-time research in the technology sector and social work.
Despite his apparent intimidating status as a multi-billionaire investor, many are continually stunned and humbled by Ekeh’s infectious humility and generosity of spirit. Of course, at 65, Ekeh has so much to thank God for but he is not known to be in the habit of throwing parties in the manner of a conventional socialite. The harsh reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of many prominent Nigerians since its outbreak, precludes such convergent merrymaking for Ekeh. Sources close to the billionaire —a recipient of one of the country’s highest national honours – Officer of the Order of The Federal Republic (OFR)— however, said he marked his birthday with a small family gathering and thanksgiving with his wife, Chioma, as well as their children and grandchildren at his palatial Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos mansion.