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When Alhaji was riding his grandfather’s horses, he could have ended up, not as a jockey like his father, but as a horse cleaner, for at that time, growing up in the Zongo area, you either became a cleaner or a driver or a tailor. Those were the major preoccupations of the Kumasi Zongo. Due to poor education, skilled careers and growth opportunities were limited. While some emerged from the grass to become prosperous, Alhaji emerged from under the grass to become a successful entrepreneur. From where Alhaji came in his early life, with all the odds against him, how he managed to become as successful as he makes for a compelling and inspiring story.

— Richard Kwame Peprah, Alhaji’s friend, Ghana’s former Minister of Mines and Energy (1993–95) and former Minister of Finance (1995–2001)


Book information


ISBN: 978-1-928341-63-5

Trim size: 210 x 230mm

Binding: Hardcover

Page count: 200

Imagery: Black and white and full colour photographs

Price: R275.00

Genre: Autobiography

Publication Date: May 2018


Alhaji Yusif Ibrahim

Alhaji Yusif Ibrahim is a real ‘slumdog millionaire’. His life is a compelling tale, a truly African story of a self-made entrepreneur and philanthropist who parlayed business savvy, hard work, dedication, discipline, resilience, tenacity, courage, and a streak of scrupulousness into a business empire traversing various sectors.

Alhaji was born in Kumasi Zongo in southern Ghana during World War II, back when that district was still poor and teeming with predominantly Muslim immigrants from northern Ghana striving to survive. He was blessed with a Western education in a world where most conservative Muslim parents were against their children going beyond the Islamic schooling system, ostensibly to safeguard the sanctity of the next generation of Zongo Muslims. Even then, an over-aged and over sized Alhaji had to walk to school barefoot with no lunch for the day.

With a loan from his father’s friend, Alhaji began an ill-fated petrol station venture soon after secondary school. Instead of abandoning his business vision, he refocused and moved on, even humbly taking up a menial job in Hamburg and cab driving in New York as stepping stones to a brighter future in business back in Ghana. Against all odds, Alhaji and his wife, Hajia Rabi Ibrahim, established and expanded the Dara Salam Group of Companies. And the next generation has been taken into the family business, as Alhaji has brought his children on board.

The story of Alhaji’s humble beginnings tells people, particularly the youth, that you can make it if you try, regardless of your background. This inspiring life narrative also shows that it is one thing to affect society with one’s brilliant and innovative entrepreneurial ideas but quite another to change society for the better through acts of philanthropy, as demonstrated by Alhaji throughout his life, particularly for the Kumasi Zongo community in need.