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Aliko Dangote: The Richest Man in Nigeria + World’s Richest Black Man

Who is the richest man in Nigeria? 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 industrialist billionaire.

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 the world but also the richest black person in the world.

Today, I am going to share some business lessons from one of my mentors and role model. This mentor of mine controls over 60% of Nigeria’s sugar market and over 42% of the country’s cement market. I am talking of a country with over 150 million citizens. I bring to you, Aliko Dangote; the richest black man in the world.

Aliko Dangote is a business magnate, whose business acumen and aggressiveness send fear into the mind of competitors. He is the richest man in Africa, the richest man in Nigeria and the richest black person in the world. This humble billionaire currently sits atop one of Africa’s largest conglomerate, 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 51th 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 lot 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.

Aliko Dangote started business by trading in commodities such as sugar, rice, salt, pasta, cotton, millet, vegetable oil, cocoa and textile. In the course of running his business, he developed strong business ethics and principles. 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.

Aliko Dangote: The Richest Man Man in Nigeria

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 (sold majority of his shares to Tiger Brands)
  • 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 his foundation (Dangote Foundation).

Dangote is respected in the business circle for his ability to buy and revive moribund companies. He is also known for his strong belief. 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.

Aliko Dangote: The Richest Man in Nigeria

In acknowledgement of his business acumen, Aliko Dangote has been showered with many awards and has been listed as one of the 20 most outstanding CEO’s in Corporate Nigeria. He was awarded the Most Respected CEO of the year, by Price Water House Coopers/Business Day in 2005 and Cross River Roll of Honors Award, Best Entrepreneur and Philanthropist of the year in 2002. He was also conferred with the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). Most recently, he was adjudged ThisDay Entrepreneur of the Year, 2006 and Best CEO of the Year also at the 11th Annual ThisDay Awards. He has had a brief stint as the president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

  • In 2008, Aliko Dangote emerged the richest black man in the world with a net worth of $3.3 billion dollars beating Oprah Winfrey: who is the richest black woman in the world with a net worth of $2.5 billion dollars. This is with respect to Forbes ranking of world Billionaires.
  • And in 2010, Aliko Dangote merged his cement companies to become Dangote Cement and this new entity was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Thus, making Aliko Dangote’s cement company, one of the most capitalized company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the biggest listing on the floor so far. The total capitalization of the Dangote Group on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange accounts for over 42% of the market capitalization (as at the time of the writing). Thereby making him “Aliko Dangote” the biggest individual player on the exchange.
  • In 2013, Aliko Dangote borrowed the sum of $3 billion from a consortium of banks to build a $9billion petroleum refinery; which is going to be the biggest refinery in Africa.
  • In 2014, Forbes estimated his networth to be $20billion.

Five Lessons I Learned from Aliko Dangote: The Richest Black Man in the World

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 is known for being a man of determination. Anything he dreams, he set 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 passionate about building a business. Passion will help you endure the challenges of the entrepreneurial process; without passion, forget about building a business.

It is not really work if you are having fun.” – Pierre Omidyar

2.The power of a strong mission

In course of understudying this role model of mine (Aliko Dangote), 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 learned from Aliko Dangote 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?

Now 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.

Aliko Dangote: The Richest Black Man in the World

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 come tough business challenges; if you stick to the process, you will hit the pot of gold.

The Rich Dad Company was an overnight success but it took us many years to get there.” – Robert Kiyosaki

That brings me to the last lesson I learned from this billionaire industrialist and that lesson is this; Rome was not built in a day. There is nothing like overnight, success requires hard work and persistence. At this stage, I leave you with this quote:

“The height attained by great men is not by sudden flight. For while their companions lay asleep, these men were toiling in the night.” – Anonymous


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