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THE MAKERS OF BUSINESS 1 How Aliko Dangote became the richest black person in the world

Hello Business Awoko readers welcome to a new segment in the money and wealth column. We will be featuring once a month an entrepreneur of world repute, to discover their secrets to wealth creation. I hope this will make you learn what it takes to survive in the business world. Today we will be featuring Aliko Dangote. Happy reading!
Who is Aliko Dangote? How did Aliko Dangote become the richest black person in the world? Well, I will suggest you read on as there’s a lot to learn from this billionaire industrialist.
This is the inspiring story of how Aliko Dangote, a man from the third world rose from a humble beginning to become not only the richest black man in Africa but also the richest black person in the world.
Aliko Dangote is the ‘golden child’ of Nigerian business circles. The Dangote consortium spans across many sectors of the Nigerian economy. The Dangote Group provides, cements, sugar, salt, flour, rice, spaghettis, textile etc … at competitive prices.
As a nonpartisan and detribalized businessperson, he is generous to different political parties, religious groups and cultural institutions. Apart from providing employment to elite graduates from different ethnic backgrounds, he minimizes the level of crime by engaging youths who are school leavers in the area of transportation, packaging, and security amongst others.
It may not be a wild assumption to say that every Nigerian has heard of his name because of the impact of his business. His products are in most homes across the country. Those who may not use his products would have passed some of his trailers by the way. He is into export, import, manufacturing, real estate and philanthropy. All these are rolled together into what is known as the Dangote Group.
On the 9th of March 2011, Forbes magazine declared Aliko Dangote the richest black person in the world with a net worth of $13.8billion. It’s also worthwhile you know that Dangote is the 51st richest man in the world as at 9th March 2011. But this was not so 25 years ago.
Born on April 10, 1957 in Kano State, Nigeria, to the family of Muhammad Dangote and Hajiya Mariya Sanusi Dantata. He had his primary and secondary education in Kano before he proceeded to Alazahar University, Cairo, Egypt to obtain a degree. If not for the degree, he would probably have been on my list of the richest school drop out billionaires in the world.
It was while working under his uncle, Sani Dantata that he found his passion and began developing his business skills.
After developing his business skills and building his confidence, he got a loan of N500,000 (approximately $3,500 today) from his uncle in 1977 to start his own business.
Aliko Dangote was also given a deadline of three years to repay the loan but he repaid the loan in three months.
One of Aliko Dangote’s business strategies for succeeding in the commodity market was to develop a strong distribution network and make the delivery of his goods faster than that of his competitors.
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.
Since he moved into manufacturing, Aliko Dangote has never looked back. His company (Dangote Group) controls over 13 other companies with most of them acquired through strategic mergers and acquisitions.
In celebration of his 50th birthday anniversary in 2007, he commissioned a one billion dollar factory (Obajana Cement Factory), which happens to be the largest cement factory in Africa.
Today, his group is made up of Dangote Sugar Refinery (one of the most capitalized stocks on the Nigerian Stock Exchange), Dangote Flour Mills, Dangote Sacks, Dansa Foods, Dangote Transport, Obajana Cement (Africa’s largest cement factory), National Salt Company Of Nigeria (NASCON), Benue Cement Company Plc, the Bachita Sugar Company, Dangote Cement, Blue Star Shipping, Blue Star Investment and so on. Just recently, he boosted his philanthropic activities with the launch of the Dangote Foundation. Dangote is respected in the business circle for his ability to buy and revive moribund companies. He strongly believes in Nigeria and he proved it by investing 100% in Nigeria. To him, Nigeria is the best place to invest your money and I think I agree with that.
The Dangote Group has nationwide staff strength of 12,000 but on completion of on-going projects, it is expected to hit 22,000.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s business success may be influenced by various factors.
He seems to be broad-minded. Unlike some people, his Personal Assistant is Yoruba while his Head of Corporate Affairs is a Christian from Delta State.
Five Lessons I Learned from Aliko Dangote: The Richest Black Man in the World and founder of the Dangote Group
In the course of studying the entrepreneurial lifestyle of this multi billionaire, I was able to grab five business lessons and principles that made him who he is today.

1. Determination and Passion
Aliko Dangote the richest black man in the world is known for being a man of determination. Anything he dreams, he sets out to achieve.
Just as he says “Passion is what drives me forward. Passion is what makes me go to bed at 2am and wake up at 6am.”
For you to build a successful business, you must be passionate about building a business. Passion will help you endure the challenges of the entrepreneurial process; without passion, forget about building a business.

2. The power of a strong mission
In course of understudying this role model of mine, I came to discover that his overall success is all hinged on one factor; his mission. This mission is the fuel that drives his companies to dominate their market. Aliko Dangote was able to become a billionaire because he has a very strong mission statement and that mission is; “To provide the basic need of over 150 million Nigerians”.
I also learnt that 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 even after his death.

3. The power of a life purpose
Another lesson I picked from Aliko Dangote is the power of a life purpose. Aliko Dangote has a strong life purpose and I will quote exactly what he said in an interview he granted:
“After my death, I want to be remembered as Africa’s greatest industrialist.” Dangote
This statement propelled me to also ask myself the question; “What will I be remembered for after I exit this world? What will you be remembered for after you exit this world?
Now the answer to the question above is what a life purpose is. To me, your life purpose is simply what you will be remembered for after your death.
4. The power of strategy
While trading on commodities, Dangote developed a strategic plan that will set him apart from his competitors. The first strategy he implemented was to create a strong brand “Dangote Group;” a brand that signifies quality. The second was to develop a strong distribution network throughout the country, which in turn resulted in his ability to deliver his goods faster than his competitors. The third strategy was to sell his product nationwide at uniform price.
In conclusion, despite the fact that Aliko Dangote emerged the richest black man in the world by 2008, it took him 30years to get there. For 30years, he was committed and persistent to the entrepreneurial process of building a formidable business. Along with this process came tough business challenges; if you stick to the process, you will hit the pot of gold.
That brings me to the last lesson I learnt from this billionaire industrialist and that lesson is this; Rome was not built in a day. There is nothing like overnight success. Success requires hard work and persistence.
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John F Fowler .MCIM, is an International marketing and business consultant, Motivational/Empowerment speaker and Author. He is currently the founder and president of Trinity Empowerment Center a non governmental organization with a vision to empower youths in starting and sustaining small businesses in developing countries. For comments or questions send email to johnffowler@yahoo.com, or johnffowler1@gmail.com.

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