That Alhaji Aliko Dangote is one of the biggest businessmen in Nigeria today is no longer news. He presides over the Dangote Group that has over 20,000 staff. Not many people know that the successful Kano billionaire started small with a little loan from his uncle.
Aliko Dangote capitalized upon his privileged Muslim upbringing in Kano, Nigeria to construct a gigantic business empire that spans the whole of Africa. He started out from an early age being interested in business, buying sweets and selling them to make profit in school.
This led on to Dangote enrolling in Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt to study Business. Once Aliko Dangote graduated from university he returned to Nigeria, aiming to start his own business at just 21. His amazing story and wealth will not be told without recognizing his dear maternal uncle who gave him the loan he started his business with.
Dangote first ventured into business in 1977 at the age of 21 years and with the small capital given to him as loan. He promised to repay back the loan and he did in just 3 months.After then,in June 1977, he moved into Lagos and continued trade in cement and commodities. Dangote used these funds to launch the Dangote Group, and started out trading in mainly rice and vegetable oil..
However, with the Nigerian construction industry booming and the infrastructure of the country rapidly improving, the Dangote Group soon moved in a new direction, buying trucks and cement to take advantage of the emerging market demands.”Dangote’s business started to experience tremendous success and increase.
This encouraged him to incorporate two companies in 1981. These and more companies to follow have developed into the Dangote Group. The story of his uncle is also an intimidating one that when you talk about Aliko, you will mention his uncle, Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata who died 5 years ago. He was born on September 1 1945 and died in February 7 2012.
Abdulkadir was an heir and prominent member of the Dantata dynasty- Nigeria’s most famous family of wealthy entrepreneurs. Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote is also a member of the Dantata family.
Late Alhaji Dantata was born in Sarari Dantata Quarters in the ancient city of Kano to the famous Dantata family on September 1, 1945. He was the eldest son of Sanusi Dantata, son of business mogul and patriarch, Alhassan Dantata, but by dint of hard work, he built a stupendous fortune for himself.
Not even the family’s renowned business and trade patrimony, which had already guaranteed him a financially secure future, could stop the late Dantata from knowledge acquisition. This took him first to Sudan and then Kumasi, Ghana, where he obtained a certificate in advanced Islamic studies in 1956.
Four years later, he returned to Nigeria to complete primary education at Kuka Primary School, Fagge in Kano. Unlike some of his peers, a thirst for knowledge nudged him on to acquire the Grade Two Teachers’ Certificate in 1968 before he joined the family business of cotton, groundnut and other agricultural products. In fact, the family business line was the largest licensed produce-buying agent of groundnut in Nigeria in the 1960s.
Alhaji Dantata would not be content with that; he needed to express himself as he established his Dantata Land and Sea, a company that was into transportation, civil engineering and farming. The business initiatives further crystallised into one of the biggest construction firms – Dantata and Sawoe (founded in 1975) – which he partnered with German interests. As chairman of various business interests including the Asada Group, Brunelli Construction Co. Ltd, WJ Syndicate, Goguwasia Trading Company, Beijing-China. His business empire traversed construction, shipping, farming, trading and manufacturing.
Long before he died, he had deservedly earned for himself the national award of the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) for his industry and contributions to the development of the country. Despite his late, he would remain a beacon of hope and inspiration to budding businessmen at large.
–TAYO FAJORIN OYEDIJI