He is the founder of Invictus Group, a construction, real estate development, oil and gas, agricultural development and energy conglomerate. His company operates in Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia and has an annual turnover of $2 million.
When Okeke completed his Master’s degree in Australia, he returned to his home country of Nigeria to look for an opportunity to tap into.
At the time, he moved to Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, seeking greener pastures. However, finding affordable accommodation was extremely challenging. “I found out that houses in the city were overpriced, structures that were being built were not exactly what people were looking for, and there was a lot of demand for affordable houses,” he says.
He then ventured into the real estate business on a small scale, building a few houses. But before he completed the project, all his houses were sold out. “It was exactly what people were looking for, not just overpriced mansions. Right then, I thought: ‘This is something that I would like to do,’” he recalls.
Having an entrepreneurial instinct, he spotted and grabbed the opportunity to build more affordable houses. The following year, he built 17 buildings.
During the construction process, he realises that power failures were a serious challenge, so he started building energy-efficient houses that rely exclusively on solar panels.
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This move helped diversify his business into the energy sector. He now has his own solar panel brand. “I did research and went to China and Germany. I find partners who will do manufacturing for me, so I am also in the energy industry,” he says.
Okeke’s business experience dates back to when he was a university student at Monash South Africa. At the time, he founded two businesses that were not formally structured.
He started transport and events businesses out of discomfort and a desire to help students, mostly from other African countries. “I remember when I first come to South Africa, we were far away from the city, we couldn’t connect to each other and finding a transport to move around wasn’t easy.
“This is before we had Uber, most of us didn’t have cars, we are in a foreign country and taxis were expensive,” he says.
So he saved money and bought his first vehicle, a Fiat Uno, to be used as a taxi that would ferry students around. Before he left the university, he had grown his business to a fleet of 13 vehicles, which he sold.
“I have never studied business, I’ve always started a business if I feel like I can do better; I can add value… we actually pioneered the transport business in that area to help students. I knew students and it wasn’t just about getting the money the same day, we were trying to provide a service,” he says.
Okeke’s business journey wasn’t all plain sailing. Big corporate competitors, running business by himself, planning for a market and red tape preventing him from doing business were some of the stumbling blocks he encountered. “In order to overcome these challenges, I had to bring in people who are specialised in different aspects of running a business,” he says.
Being the 17th child of parents in a polygamous marriage in rural Nigeria, he only encountered urban life after completing his high school. Now he is living his dream as an entrepreneur and making his mother proud.
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His company won Africa’s Most Innovative Investment Company of the Year 2017 Award at the African Brand Leadership Merit Awards, he was also nominated for the 2017 ABBLAS Awards, the Annual All Africa Business Leaders Awards, in partnership with CNBC Africa, honouring business excellence in Africa.
Okeke has sought to combine his role as an entrepreneur with public speaking, and has become one of Africa’s youngest and most sought-after public speakers in matters of entrepreneurship and investment in the continent.
Most notably, Okeke spoke at the Forbes Under-30 Summit in Israel in April 2017.