Sirjeff Dennis, CEO Exxon is the influencing leader behind the booming investing mania in Tanzania and East Africa. He started his entrepreneurship career at the tender age of 17 years and found himself fortunate enough to receive significant exposure to global opportunities that helped him build a reputation as a turnaround professional trader of financial assets and business experts.
His enthusiasm for technology, innovation, and digitization has given him the ability to build technology infrastructure to help his fellow Africans have access to global financial markets and have the opportunity to buy and sell stocks, Indices, Foreign currencies, cryptocurrencies, metals, and commodities.
Hey SirJeff, Could you please tell us about yourself?
I come from a long line of poverty, born and raised on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, my journey hasn’t been easy. I recall starting my entrepreneurship career empty-pocketed, armoring myself with knowledge, intelligence, work ethics, discipline, and enthusiasm.
I knew I was destined for greatness & this optimistic belief has made me the success I am today, regardless of where I came from. I started chicken farming at 17 and registered my first company Jefren Agrisolutions at 19 years. I studied Petroleum Chemistry at the University of Dar while running and scaling my business at the same time, as tough as it was it never interfered with my ambitions.
Two years later At 21 years, I was mentioned as one of Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs by MasterCard Foundation and African Leadership Academy. My brilliance got me a standing ovation at the 2017 Global Youth Economic Summit in Washington, DC, and as a panelist at the African Union Financial inclusion summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Your story is very very impressive, especially being as young as you are. Please tell us how you got started
Well, I guess I am a little bit gifted. I recall doing petty businesses while still at primary school at ages 8-10. Went on with the same spirit until high school and a military academy, only until I got to university did I start running my business formally. I did a pilot test with 100 chickens, I realized it’s a lucrative business and that’s when I was confident to scale up really fast.
As many people fail with business, how did you manage to attain huge success at such a young age?
I think a combination of many factors got me where I am today, but optimism and quest to leave a legacy behind me has given me the desire to explore other sector and diversify capital in other industries such as Venture Capitalism, Farming, Education, and Consulting, Technology, Forestry, Supply and Distribution, Financial Markets and Investing.
I also spend an incredible amount of time learning about some specific business skills and conducts in digital cyberspace and emerging technologies. I’m indeed lucky to be mentored by some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the continent, the likes of Fred Swaniker founder of African Leadership University, Alex Okosi founder of MTV Africa, and Vusi founder of MyGrowthFund Capital, just to mention a few who enhanced the development of my strong leadership skills, self-confidence, and awareness, and have given me amazing exposure to a different mindset, perspective, and business philosophy.
Talking about self-confidence and awareness it seems like you’ve got to be kind of fearless and pretty courageous to be successful in business.
Confidence is important in business because it helps you to deal better with people, improves your communication and leadership skills, and can make you happier when working, but that doesn’t necessarily mean confident people don’t fail.
Confident people fail just as much, if not more, than other people. This is because we have the courage to take more actions than non-confident people, thus we have a higher chance of success as well as failure. The key is in how confident people deal with failure. Rather than seeing failure as a misfortune, I am willing to learn positively from failure so that I can do better the next time.
Most young entrepreneurs quit the business because of fear of failure, what do you do differently that sets you apart
I too experience fear, doubts, and insecurities just like everyone else. For instance last year, I faced serious challenges that resulted in shutting down my company “360 Capital“ and experienced huge losses that come with fear and doubts, but the difference though is that I did not let fear demoralize and hold me back. I took enough time to analyze and evaluate the situation that resulted in shutting down the operation in order to find the best way to have better results next time.
Having a solid mindset of continuous improvement by learning from past failures really helped me gain strength, morale, and enthusiasm to build a new company that resonates with my visions of trading and investing for Africans.
Great point, would you please tell me a little about the new company?
Yeah sure, we are building a Financial technology solution that will allow Africans to buy and sell equities, commodities, foreign currencies, and cryptocurrencies, with zero commission. Exxon labs have created a stock brokerage platform that democratizes access to the financial markets and aims to make Africans comfortable storing money and trading stocks using our application.
Sounds really revolutionary, how do you think Exxon success will bring goodness to Africa
I’m a strong believer that everyone should have access to the financial system and especially the global financial markets, but that’s not the case for Africans. The continent has been segregated from accessing the financial markets for decades, which is a huge shame given the stock market is an incredible wealth engine.
Over the last few years, African retail investors have been discouraged from investing, distrustful of foreign brokers, and in some cases, blocked out from even opening an account due to high fees, commission, and account minimum requirements. I see Exxon changing the paradigm, for us, the end goal isn’t about becoming just another brokerage, but about creating an Africa where traders and retail investors can take advantage of the most lucrative form of wealth creation.
I’m looking forward to the exciting future that you and your team are building for Africans. What advice would you give a young aspiring African entrepreneur?
Well, I’d say entrepreneurship is a never-ending learning experience, and while you may not succeed the first time, you can’t succeed if you never start at all. So, I would advise young inspiring entrepreneurs out there not to let limited resources, knowledge, experience, or capital distract them from getting started.
The perfect moment to invest or build a successful business will never come, you’ll continue to grow older, time will pass on, and you’ll only look back and regret the things you didn’t do today.
What is the life advice you have for the younger generation, particularly millennials and Gen Z?
We are fortunate to be living in a super advanced world, technology is great if we’re in control of it. It’s not so great if it takes control of us. For example, today people use social media to spreading lies, and send hurtful, abusive, or threatening messages, aimed at scaring, angering, or shaming those who are doing great things for themselves and the people around them.
It can be hurtful if you’re the target but don’t get distracted by the views of others, focus on what engages and inspired you. If you are excited by a subject that no one is, all that should matter to you is that you’re interested. Revolutionary and productive thinkers who create totally new ideas and solutions are driven by their interests, not whether or not others are interested too.
This post was proofread by Grammarly. Try it - it's FREE! Millions trust Grammarly's free writing app to make their online writing clear and effective. Getting started is simple.