Aliko Dangote is Forbes 2017 richest person in Africa. He’s stipulated to also be the richest black person in the world. He has held this position for over 4 years and counting, and seems to be unstoppable.
Aliko Dangote was born in 1957 to a business oriented household in Kano State, Nigeria. Unlike many other self-made billionaires, Aliko Dangote was born with a silver spoon. His grandfather, Sanusi Dantata, was one of the wealthiest men in West Africa at the time. He made a bulk of his fortune from groundnuts, oats, and rice.
Following the death of his father, Aliko Dangote’s grandfather took him in and became his defacto guardian. Living with his grandfather exposed him to the different rudiments of entrepreneurship. He learnt a lot about marketing, procuring goods, establishing customer relationships, and more. This even prompted him to start selling boxes of sweets (candy bars) in primary school to his classmates as one of his first trials at entrepreneurship.
How Did Aliko Dangote Build His Business Empire?
After his graduation from Al-Azhar University in Egypt, in 1977, Aliko Dangote at age 21, got a loan of 500,000 Naira ($2,500) from his grandfather to start a trade in commodities, to be repaid within three years. At that time, 500,000 Naira could buy one hundred Mercedes Benz in Nigeria.
He took this loan, and went over to Lagos, in Nigeria, with an uncle of his. With the business loan he had secured, he started importing rice and sugar from Thailand (rice) and Brazil (sugar) respectively.
As he sold these commodities to the locals, his business growth quickly exploded with extremely high revenues, sometimes reaching net profits of over $10,000 daily, and he returned his grandfather’s loan in 3 months, instead of the agreed 3 years.
As his conglomerate grew, Aliko Dangote realised that if he was ever to reach a true billionaire status, he’d have to start manufacturing and stop importing commodities. He’d have to fully control the final price, so he could compete effectively, and also comfortably push out competitors in the industries he operated in.
As he took steps towards manufacturing in 1997, he began to produce sugar, flour, and pasta. He was later awarded a cement plant by the federal government, and further built a multi-million dollar cement manufacturing plant in 2005 with $319 million dollars of his own money, and a $479 million dollar loan from the World Bank International Finance Corporation
Following the success of all his multiple investments, Aliko Dangote took many of his companies’ public.
Before this, he stated that his company, The Dangote Group, always reinvested everything it made, back into the business, than storing up money in the bank like many other companies do.He’s currently building a $9 billion dollar oil and gas refinery in Nigeria, stipulated to be completed between 2018 and 2021, and is also building a multi-million dollar fertilizer processing facility.
Today, The Dangote Group is the largest conglomerate in West Africa.
To Sum It Up
Aliko Dangote’s success story is not that of a man who started from a poor or comfortable home and eventually achieved great wealth. His story is that of a child every wealthy parent dreams of. The child who doesn’t need to inherit his/her family’s properties, but one who can turn a loan given to them into a multi-billion dollar empire.
While his story may not be the typical rags to riches type, his success story is definitely an inspiration to anyone that has some start-up capital and hopes to someday become one of the richest people in the world.