Create the Next Dangote Group; Entrepreneurship in Nigeria
Aliko Dangote (GCON) of Dangote Group is the African richest man and the most successful Nigerian entrepreneur. Nigerians, most especially the youth, need to learn from this epitome of business and entrepreneurship.
Now that world economy rest on entrepreneurship, all young Nigerians have to adopt Alhaji Aliko Dangote as their mentor with at least, teacher-to-student relationship if not father-to-children.
Here in this article, you see how Dangote rose to the peak of his business career.
There are 7.2 billion people on the planet today, with a combined wealth of about $241 trillion.
If you took these 7.2 billion people, lined them up from the very poorest of the poor on one side, to the richest of the rich on the other side, the top 85 would have as much as the rest of the population combined.
Is not that amazing?
A lot of people think this is unfair – probably you too and that these super-rich individuals should redistribute some of their wealth back to the rest.
Personally, what I am more interested in knowing (and you should too) is how these super-rich individuals got to be in that position. Sure, some of them may have inherited large sums of money, there is not much I want to learn from these.
But the ones who made their billions from scratch – who built their empires from the ground up. People like Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook – those are the people our interest should be in studying.
The one factor they all have in common is they did not create their wealth through trading time for money. Instead, they created and leveraged scalable systems, which brought in their wealth for them (even while they were sleeping).
So there is a hint for us. What scalable system are you leveraging right now or planning of creating to get wealth? If you are thinking of trading time for money, then by now you should know that that will not make you rich.
When a professional trades his time, knowledge and skills for money, he stays in the class called middle. When he creates a scalable system he becomes rich and if he adds zeal and passion to the system, he becomes very rich and wealthy.
Entrepreneurship is the only way by which the wealth-creating scalable system can be organized.
Remember Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, who build his company from $0 to $50 billion in 8 years, recently said on his visit to Nigeria that economy of the world has shifted from resource based to entrepreneurial economy. This is most applicable to Nigeria where we are suffering from “Resource Curse”.
Nigeria; a Oil-Cursed Country
Resource Curse is the phenomenally detrimental effect of natural resources (like oil, diamond, etc) on the economic growth and development of a country. Very good examples of such “Resource Cursed” countries are Nigeria (oil cursed) and Sierra Leone (diamond cursed) – remember that movie “Blood Diamond”.
In spite of oil discovery and exploration since 1965, Nigeria, unfortunately, fares much worse on measures of poverty and income distribution. Between 1970 and 2000, the poverty rate, measured as the share of the population subsisting on less than US$1 per day increased from close to 36% to about 70%. It does not stop there, year in year out, more and more Nigerians are being pushed toward poverty.
Therefore, it is glaring that all the oil revenues from 1965 till now did not seem to add to the standard of living of Nigerians at all. Worse, however, it could actually have contributed to a decline in the standard of living? That is the paradox called “Resource Curse”.
Who would not want to create the next Dangote Group and become extremely wealthy and famous? No doubt, the African billionaire success should inspire you enough to dream and take action in becoming an entrepreneur and a business owner.
Early Life of Aliko Dangote
I would not have said anything about the background of Aliko Dangote less you be thinking that was the reason for his success. Nevertheless for information sake, he was born into prominent business family of Muhammad Dangote and
Hajiya Dantata from Kano State on 10 April 1957. He had his primary and secondary education in the same state and graduated from Alazahar University, Cairo, Egypt.
If not for the university degree, Aliko would have also be in the class of world richest school dropout billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gate. Academic achievement and family background have less to do with Dangote success because he got his passion and developed his skill for business while working for his uncle Sani Dantata. Aliko said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time”.
The Business of Dangote Group
Aliko Dangote became successful in his business because he has a very strong mission statement: “To provide the basic need of over 150 million Nigerians”.
Dangote started his business by trading in commodities, importing items like sugar, rice and cement into Nigeria and exporting cotton, cocoa, cashew nuts, sesame seed, ginger and gum Arabic to several countries globally.
After gaining a strong hold on the commodities market, Aliko Dangote ventured into manufacturing and producing the same commodities he was importing. In an interview granted to a journalist by this billionaire, he stated that leaping from importation to manufacturing was his greatest business move.
The group manufacturing companies include Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement, Dangote Flour, Dangote Textile and the Nigeria Textiles Mills Plc, Dangote Sacks, Dansa Foods, Dangote Transport, National Salt Company of Nigeria (NASCON), Blue Star Shipping, Blue Star Investment and so on. The sugar refinery in Lagos is the biggest in Africa and the world third largest with an annual capacity of 700,000 tonnes of refined sugar annually.
Besides manufacturing, the group is also into sugar cane and rice farming. The farms are across thousands of hectares in northern part of Nigeria.
What You Need to be a Successful Enterpreneur like Dangote
- Interest and Passion: Want to be like Aliko Dangote? The first thing you need is interest and passion for business. Remember while he was a primary school boy, Dangote was so much interested in business that he sold sweet candy to his peers.
- Skill: You need hand-on experience and skill to successfully operate a business. Aliko acquired business skill while working for his uncle Sani Dantata. School can’t give you this!
- Sensitivity and Observation: For you not to miss it in business, you must be sensitive to and be observant of the need of the people around you and take action in meeting that need. As a school boy, Aliko was able to observe the greatest need of his peer – sweet candy – which he supplied and successfully made money.
- Strength of Mind, Honesty and Perseverance: As a self-employed person, with minimum basic education, Dangote proves that business success is usually through strength of mind, honesty and perseverance; and not necessarily by obtaining Harvard MBA certificates.
- Strong and Clear Mission: Dangote said “the spirit of the entrepreneur is found in the mission statement and if this mission is strong, it will continue to drive the entrepreneur’s companies to success”.
- Belief in Nigeria: Instead of stashing his funds in foreign accounts, a typical feature of fraudulent public office looters, Dangote invests wisely in the productive sector of the Nigerian economy. He said, “Let me tell you this and I want to really emphasize it…nothing is going to help Nigeria like Nigerians bringing back their money. If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria…”
- Diligence: Dangote rarely goes on leave. He goes to bed late and gets out of it early.
- Intelligent Buying: Buy only the things you use frequently, things that add value to your life and business, not extra stuff; not just-in-case items. Dangote sold off a raft of properties abroad, including a 10-hectare estate next to the governor’s residence in Atlanta, Georgia, where he used to go on leave. He sold it when he realized that the property is an just-in-case and idle item because he hardly go on leave and ploughed the money back into his companies. “As he grows older, whatever he buys has to add value to his business,” says Niyi Adebayo, a long-time friend.
- People that Understand You and Your Business Vision: “Working with him as a banker is extremely challenging. If you don’t know his business at an extremely detailed level you don’t stand a chance – he will unravel you in seconds. He does not suffer fools gladly,” says Yvonne Ike, West Africa CEO of Renaissance Capital.
- Jack-of-All-Trade Spirit: The young Aliko got his first real taste of trading in cement dealing in the late 1970s. “You had to be a general merchant. The cement bonanza did not last. The market was flooded. So I moved into sugar and flour.” Dangote said. And now he is also into shipping, real estate, textile production, transportation, packaging, food processing and flour mill. In fact, He is a jack of all trade!
- Risk-Taking Gut: “If I’d actually conceptualised everything in my head I wouldn’t have done it. We jumped into something at the top end. It tested our financial capacity … I was scared. There was a time when we finished spending all the money, and then operating the place became a problem. There was a time I didn’t want to live. I was so unhappy I didn’t know how it would end,” Dangote said.
- Role Models: Dangote says he draws his inspiration from models such as India’s Ambani family, who have won long-term by betting big. As he gradually cedes control of management and shares, he sees himself becoming more of a Warren Buffett type figure.
- Good Treatment of Money: Dangote believes that money like women should not be used anyhow. He always says “Money is like women. If you don’t treat it well, it will leave you.”
- Positive Fear: No matter how highly placed, every man including Aliko, has his fear. Fear is destructive if it is negative and constructive if positive. Positive fear has guided Dangote right in several ways. He said in one of his statement, “We are always scared of borrowing too much money. We do that once in a while… The fear has endured, but I have had to temper it as I have spread the business.”
What You Don’t Need
- Religious and Ethnic Sentiments: If you want to have a successful business like that of Dangote, go for the best hands to work with irrespective of their faiths and tribes. His Personal Assistant is Yoruba while his Head of Corporate Affairs is a Christian from Delta State.
- Sycophancy: “The most dangerous thing is to be surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear,” Dangote remarks,
- People’s Feelings and Thoughts: While Dangote was extending his cement factory at Obajana, people thought he was overextending. He said, “People thought we were crazy…”
Has Aliko Dangote Monopolized Everything?
No one is kept poor because other people have monopolized the wealth and have put a fence around it. You may be shut off from engaging in business in certain lines, but there are other channels open to you.
No one is kept in poverty by a shortness in the supply of riches; there is more than enough for all. A palace as large as the Aso Rock in Abuja might be built for every Nigerian family in Nigeria from the building material in Ibadan alone, and under intensive cultivation this country would produce wool, cotton, linen, and silk enough to clothe each person in the Nigeria finer than Solomon was arrayed in all his glory, together with food enough to feed us all luxuriously.
The visible supply is practically inexhaustible, and the invisible supply really is inexhaustible. Everything you see on earth is made from one original substance, out of which all things proceed. New forms are constantly being made, and older ones are dissolving.
Zillion times as much as has been produced by Dangote might still be made by you, me and all, and even then we should not have exhausted the supply of raw material nor saturate the market.
No one, therefore, is poor because nature is poor or because there is not enough to go around. Nature is an inexhaustible storehouse of riches; the supply will never run short. Original substance from which Dangote is making his wealth is alive with creative energy, and is constantly producing more forms.
When a particular market is saturated, more will be created. When the soil is exhausted so that food stuffs and materials for clothing will no longer grow upon it, it will be renewed or more soil will be made. When all the gold and silver has been dug from the earth, if humanity is still in such a stage of social development that it needs gold and silver, more will be produced from the formless. The formless stuff responds to the needs of mankind; it will not let the world be without any good thing. This is true of humankind collectively.
Nigeria as a whole is always abundantly rich, and if individuals are poor it is because they do not follow the certain way of doing things which makes someone like Dangote rich.
- Aliko Dangote – Africa’s richest man Africa’s richest man Africa’s richest man By William Wallis
- National Bureau of Statistics.
Write-up by O. S. Taiwo, (08153498533, ostaiwo [at] gmail.com).