Nigeria has thousands of silent businessmen in the informal sectors of
the economy, pursuingm business interests ranging from the importation
of refined crude oil to selling repackaged table water. It is estimated
that the informal sector accounts for over 60% of Nigeria’s GDP and represents a source of livelihood for about 70% of Nigerians.
These business operators in the small
sectors are the engine that drives any
economic revolution, and Nigeria has
no scarcity of them. However, some
of these Nigerians have become icons
and models for enterprise and business
pursuit today through the sheer size and
influence of their business dealings.
They are from the banking, energy,
manufacturing and other industry sectors
and have distinguished themselves
by contextualising the resources they
manage and by contributing to growth
of entrepreneurial spirit in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s business opportunities have
tremendously as the political
system becomes increasingly stable. The
era of private sector-driven investment
has just arrived.
One of the key Nigerian business
entrepreneurs to watch out for is Bolaji
Balogun, the principal of Chapel Hill
Advisory Partners, a financial advisory
service that seeks to interface with
private equity sources that have an
eye on developing the real sector of
Nigeria’s economy. This effort has
generated many wins, including the
IPOs of several key corporations.
He has many years of experience
in investment banking and helped syndicate local equity for what was
then Nigeria’s second-largest mobile
telecommunications company, Econet
Wireless Nigeria (now V-Mobile).
What distinguishes Balogun is his
consistent belief that private sectordriven
enterprise is the key to unlocking
Nigeria’s potential. He also believes
that the current privatisation drive
of the Nigerian government presents
an opportunity for Nigerians to
the stronghold of government on the
economy as well as a chance for private
capital to take a firm root in Nigeria.
Another emerging entrepreneur is
Jubril Adewale Tinubu, CEO of Oando
His greatest feat was the bringing
together of like minds to generate capital
for the takeover of a majority stake in
Unipetrol Nigeria. He has since grown
it into the largest privately-held energy
sector organisation in West Africa, with
revenue for 2004 in excess of $94bn.
Then there’s Aliko Dangote, who
learned at the feet of his uncle, Sanusi
Dantata, in the 1970s in Kano, and has
grown up to become Nigeria’s leading
entrepreneur in his own right. His mix
of commodity trade and manufacturing
through local industry is the balance
that Nigeria needs to compete in the
Today, as CEO of the Dangote
group, Aliko runs its heavy interests in
importation. His group controls 60%
of the sugar market in Nigeria, and
its trading interests
in textiles, food
commodities and transportation span
the West African sub-region, particularly
Benin, Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.
Tony Onyeamachi Elumelu, CEO of
Standard Trust Bank, Nigeria’s most
widely spread new-generation bank,
is another man who is not afraid to
take risks; indeed, it is his appetite for
measured risks and his ability to turn
around those risks that has brought him
into the limelight as the facilitator of
Nigeria’s largest banking merger ever.
His Standard Trust Bank and the United
Bank for Africa (Nigeria’s third largest
Bank) are completing due diligence for
As managing director of BGL
Limited, he and a savvy team moved
to take over Crystal Bank, one of the
financially-distressed banks that was to
be axed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Most industry observers were alarmed.
Today, the emergence of Standard Trust
Bank into a neighbourhood bank with
a presence in most Nigerian cities and
increasing spread to West Africa
remains an undisputable testimony to
the benefit of innovative resilience.
Finally, there’s Mike Adenuga,
chairman of Nigeria’s second national
operator and GSM provider Globacom,
who has proven himself a man of many
He is chairman of Elf Petroleum
Nigeria, Equatorial Trust Bank, Devcom
Bank and has continued to pursue
growth in all of these operations.
He has become legendary for heating
up competition in the telecom sector
by the introduction of people-related
pricing and challenging the erstwhile
king to a price war.
Globacom is also credited with being
the only provider providing lasting
infrastructure to accommodate the
bandwidth demand that is approaching
a crunch, as the Nigeria’s mobile
revolution continues to explode.
Market news on your cellphone
Get live JSE listed shares, warrants, major indices, brent crude oil, international markets, agricultural futures & daily market analysis via SMS on your mobile.
Find out more...
Energy in Africa is an intelligent and in-depth look at how energy impacts people, places, projects, price and development around the African continent. Subscribe now...
African Business Leaders Forum
African business and public sector leaders define and construct a prosperous future for the continent. Find out more...
Online travel bookings
Planning to travel? Book accommodation in Africa & South Africa here. Book now...