Purpose The purpose of this paper is to focus on large-scale portfolio entrepreneurship and its impact on the creation of stable wage employment in African economies. Design/methodology/approach The three studies focussed on Egypt, Uganda, and Malawi were all exploratory, inductive, and qualitative studies, which involved semi-structured interviews with 65 entrepreneurial founders of some of these countries’ most prominent business portfolios between 2009 and 2012. The data were collected through face-to-face interviews, which lasted between one and four hours, with the founders of each of these portfolios. Findings This inductive and qualitative study finds a connection between the creation of stable wage-paying jobs and portfolio entrepreneurship in three countries, representing three of the four different archetypal African economies. It also finds a strong connection between the development of new industries and portfolio entrepreneurship. Practical implications The practical and societal implications of these findings are incredibly important. The current and looming shortage of stable wage employment in Africa is reaching calamitous proportions. The growth in religion-affiliated terrorism and high-risk economic migration to Europe can be directly related to the lack of employment opportunities in African nations. The findings indicate that portfolio entrepreneurs are major players in the creation of such employment opportunities and government policies focussing on this area, as compared to focussing solely on SMEs, may be more effective in mitigating some of the drivers for emigration and terrorism. Originality/value This is the only study of its kind that investigates the role of large-scale portfolio entrepreneurship in the growth of employment opportunities in Africa.