Gbenga Akinnawo is a Nigerian businessman who is the founding managing director of African paints, he has also served as president of the Ikeja branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.
Akinnawo was educated at the University of Salford, Lancashire, England. While at Salford, he was fascinated by the wealthy students and was attracted to the business world dropping his initial plans to collect lab samples and a career in academics to plan a vision as a manufacturing entrepreneur.
On his return to Nigeria, he first worked at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research as a chemist. After fifteen months at the institute, he left to join ICI where he learned the paint industry. At ICI, he served as a lab chemist and was trained in painting technology, he was also a marketing manager, production manager and technical service manager.
In 1973, together with Alhaji Amusan, he decided to start a company which became the first indigenous owned Nigerian paint factory and the 8th major firm in the painting industry. He raised equity from the directors of the company and from a loan from the Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry.