If it's true that the only entrepreneurs who fix problems are the ones who focus on profit margins and create new futures, then drenching yourself in the wisdom of Aliko Dangote is a good place to start.
“Every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems, before retiring home.” – Aliko Dangote
Dangote, a direct descendent of the Nigerian trader Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, born 60 years ago is an African visionary and titan in enterprising excellence. With an estimated net worth of USD12.5billion, he is founder and chairman of the Dangote Group, a multi-million conglomerate centred in Lagos with a hard-earned reputation for excellent business practices and services in manufacturing and refining (cement, salt, flour, pasta, sugar), logistics (port management and haulage) and real estate.
Even though he was born to one of Africa’s richest families, Aliko has never been one to be comfortable and has thus always had business as part of his core interests in life. He says: “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.”
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While many of us dream about breaking into markets and making lots of money, Aliko Dangote insists on doing the work and having clear vision of what you want to do. Making more money and creating new business markets is what drives his passion. He is also ardent on growing the Nigerian economy in global markets, thus strengthening trade for his country.
His company, initially established as a trading company in 1977, but today it operates in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo and has gone on to become one of the largest industrial groups in West Africa, operating under Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement and Dangote Flour.
The business has gone on to cover food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group which also dominates the sugar market in Nigeria is a major supplier to the country's soft drink companies, breweries, and confectioners. Reflecting on his 40-year journey as an entrepreneur, Dangote states: “The tenacity of purpose is supreme. The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Insights on Aliko Dangote from Chris Bishops’ book,African Billionaires:
- Aliko Dangote is an entrepreneur everyone wants to meet and whom fellow would-be entrepreneur’s look up to.
- He is passionate about African capitalism which he actively promotes.
- He believes Africans can elevate themselves out of poverty through hard work, sound business acumen and taking calculated business risks.
- Undoubtedly the biggest name in business on the African continent, he believes that lifeisentrepreneurship and encourages others to follow his footsteps.
- Dangote yearns for the day when foreign investors will no longer be seen as the be-all and end-all for Africa.
- Forbesestimates Dangote's personal fortune to be at USD12.2 billion n 2017, andFleet Streetcalls him the second most powerful black man after Barack Obama.
Dangote, a guerrilla entrepreneur is affectionately known as the Che Guavara of business in a suit, to which he told author Chris Baron:
“If you don't have ambition you should not be alive. I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to get to where I am today. Youth of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”
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The key lessons you can learn from Dangote is that you must be able to use foresight with clarity, and even when the chips are down, you put yourself in a position to take that business risk.
His tenacity inspires many and he offers millions of African Entrepreneurs hope and a blue print of what not to be scared of even in the challenge. Self believe is key, hard work the drive that fuels the engine and not giving up the opportunity to create a better tomorrow.