If this man made billions in Nigeria why can't we ?

As someone who was involved in the commodities sector, I was recently reading a report of how the world's largest oil refinery is being built by a tycoon named Aliko Dangote from Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the hotspots for growth in Africa.

He built a fortune that makes him worth $10+ billion apparently.

Stephen Schwarzman with him .
http://investorsking.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/0...
Interesting youtube doc on him "Golden Child of Africa" - richest black man on earth

Interesting personality all round. Sugar, Oil, Cement, Pasta, Milk. Dangote is like Bungee + Koch + ADM + Glencore all in one.

I wonder why very few people take the industrial entrepreneur path ? Everyone wanting to cash in on some get rich scheme is into finance or tech start-ups these days. Amazing how he did it all right at home. Quite the personality.

Comments (34)

Sep 7, 2017

Where did the seed money for all this come from. Is he one of those princes ?

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Sep 7, 2017

This is an overly simplistic answer, but Nigeria's economy is not nearly as mature as those of the U.S. and Western Europe. As these are information focused economies, there is naturally a lot of money to be made in tech.

Sep 7, 2017

Think he gave Bill Gates a lift when his private jet broke down in Africa.

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Sep 7, 2017

This dude is a monopolist. Uses his crony connections with nigerian government to block imports and then with massive scale price-drops and squeezes everyone else dry. he captured a chunk of NIgeria's economy with pretty illegal maneuvers.

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Jan 6, 2019

monopolists are okay as long as they're american, that's what you're saying, right? idiot

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Jan 6, 2019

interesting interview (lunch with the ft) with him

https://www.ft.com/content/50f53eac-8370-11e8-96dd...

Jan 7, 2019

I wonder why very few people take the industrial entrepreneur path ? Everyone wanting to cash in on some get rich scheme is into finance or tech start-ups these days

Because it is insanely risky and requires a ton of start up capital? Tech startups have little overhead, and lets face it, don't even need to be feasible or intelligent ideas to get insane valuations.

In addition to the pure real estate issues that come with entitling land for constructing a specialized industrial building, you need to have the connections to manage your supply chain and an idea worth pursuing. Not to mention a shitload of cash. That's no longer a startup; you need a mature business idea and experience in executing on it before you can even think of raising money. Compare that to most tech startups, which get underway on a wing and a prayer and try to figure out whether it's a viable idea or can raise VC money afterwards

What I find amusing is every time a story comes out about someone who made a ton of money in an unusual way, people come out of the woodwork to say "why don't other people take this path" as if there aren't likely to be thousands of people who tried this exact same thing and failed miserably for every one that makes billions of dollars.

Sep 7, 2017

I sadly have to concur about the validity of your points. I've read tons of books on self-made billionaires, and what strikes me about the heavyweights is the unusual combination (read deadly as well) of risk and luck, not to mention their inhuman risk tolerance.

Dangote's employee was murdered in Ethiopia during a property vandalizing attempt. This right here kind of tells you the price the Nigerian magnate is paying to maintain his spot on Forbes. Insane.

Jan 7, 2019

Well, your start-up costs would probably include a $1 million line item for bribery (on the low end). U.S. law prohibits bribery even in your foreign business (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), so you'd be starting off by committing felonies under U.S. law. Not a particularly auspicious start to business success.

Sep 7, 2017

FCPA is a hindrance to American passport holders no ? I believe corrupt wealth is much easier to attain for non-Americans. US DOJ and FCPA have been nailing crooked get rich quick schemers with American passports than any other unilateral force.

I'd imagine it's much easier to become a billionaire in Africa where you can buy the law and write rules of the game than it is anywhere else on earth. Dangote must be a pro. Imagine the level of dead skeletons this guy must have buried to get to where he is:

Bribed politicians, bribed bankers, buried lawsuits, employee lawsuits that don't even go to court, bent over judges, penalties and fines that never get raised, taxes that don't get paid.

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Jan 7, 2019

My best friend is a U.S. citizen immigrant from Bolivia. I asked him years ago why socialism (like, real, true socialism, not Nordic welfare states) was so popular in Latin America--"Why don't they look at the U.S. and see our model for success and try to emulate it?" I asked. Well, he basically told me that nearly every rich person (or a disproportionate number) in Latin America became rich through corruption. So the Latin American public looks at all the wealth of the United States and assumes it was stolen or gotten through corruption.

It really crystallized for me why voters in poor countries gravitate towards socialist/fascist economic models--because they understand that in Nigeria, for example, the "free market" allows you to pull yourself up by the bootstraps by bribing and extorting your way to the top. In their ignorance, they believe that corruption is a function of the market, and the politicians who promise to fix the corruption hold the moral high ground.

Jan 6, 2019

You clearly are an idiot. Dangote come from a long line of successful bussines men, and he has an obligation to keep his name clean. That's why he's not involved in oil where there are alot of bad characters. Also Dangote doesn't outsource lobbying like American firms do, he does it himself and combines it with campaign donations to presidential candidates he likes. There's nothing illegal here. Who wouldnt want to influence the law when it has an impact on one's bussines. Don't confuse lobbying governments with corruption.

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Jan 9, 2019

I think the hardest thing is developing local market knowledge. You can get in real trouble pouring resources into something you don't particularly understand.

Sep 7, 2017

Yeah no kidding. A famous and really scary story is that of some American businessman who was murdered in Russia over a business deal gone wrong. That's the shit that even horror movies can't capture. One day you're on top of the world, the next day someone just knocks you out with a silencer pistol.

I forgot that lad's name, but if you google Radisson hotel moscow murder I'm sure the interested will see more on the story.

Jan 10, 2019

I did some business with his companies, specifically some financing transactions, and his companies are full of formers investment bankers and top corporate guys.

He started when nobody else even thought to do something in Nigeria... Working with cement, which was something almost innovative in the 80s in Africa and diversifing wih great ability in many other businesses like sugar and food production.

Sep 7, 2017

You Nigerian ? Can you explain what are the various challenges of doing business in Nigeria ? Like the sheer kind of complexity and wide depth and scope of things someone like Dangote would have to go through besides all the obvious stereotypical stuff ?

If he really bet big when nobody else was on the move, kudos to him. My guess is he saw the growing population and per capita consumption and decided to zero down on future growth sectors. He looks like he reads a lot of analyst reports .

Jan 10, 2019

I am not nigerian I am South European and I work in a bank involved in many large financing in favour of big clients especially from developing regions.

He started when he was very young (1970s) just trading materials in Nigeria creating a very large web among business and people, a period during which he probably understood many business dyanmics and business men and, crucially, it was a boom period in Nigeria.

Hence, as typical booms, infrastrucutures and buildings start to be built... and he entered in cement business.. now he is the largest cement producer in his area. He then diversified in many business always managing leverage and shareholding of his projects and subsidiaries. He owns the second largest sugar refinery in the world (!!!)

A key element of his businesses is that he owns the entire supply chain, from the production to the distribution (he even owns 100% of vans used), exploiting an area with relant oil reserves (and Negerian oil is of great quality also) and cement reserves.

I think he was able to exploit in the right way relative to natural resources the area in which he was born, during a developing period and managing in the right way his businesses (majority shareholder, small amounts of debt, integrated offer)

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Jan 10, 2019

From wikipedia: Aliko Dangote, an ethnic Hausa Muslim from Kano, Kano State, was born on the 10th of April 1957 into a wealthy Muslim family. He is the great-grandson of Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, the richest African at the time of his death in 1955.

As usual, WSO doesn't tell the whole story. While I respect his accomplishments, he is a dude that was born rich that capitalized his wealth to become filthy rich.

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Sep 7, 2017

add to that operating in a country like Nigeria is probably a cakewalk. Employee lawsuits and litigation against him probably doesn't even see the court. It must be like living in god mode to run a business empire in a country where the laws don't apply to you. His accomplishments are indeed respectable, but there's a lot to him that involves luck .

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Jan 10, 2019

He's selling vibranium to America on the down low ... WAKANDA!

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Mar 6, 2019

Story time everyone!

I honestly hate this type of talk about going to a foreign country and starting a business, that you normally hear in emerging market conferences, and especially among 2nd gen diaspora individuals, whom seem to think because their home countries economy is booming, somehow they can cash in.

My family is from Egypt, were Coptic Christians from Alexandria. My grandfather was an industrialist and my uncle has a controlling stake in a large refinery and is worth 9 figures, while my dad who decided to come to France, then Canada, and then to the US as a Tech entrepreneur, and while not rich (cousins control the business not us) are very well off. Same story for some of my other family so I've seen it all.

In my opinion diaspora individuals, and by that I mean people like me who can speak arabic and a native level, let alone fluent level, have a hard enough time succeeding in our home countries. Politics is dirty in Egypt...news flash we just had a revolution and army coup all in the last 10 years. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT POLITICAL PATRONAGE. You need to be the right guy, at the right time, with the right connects, to even begin contemplating starting a business. Even then not everything is roses. Your business can be taken away from you easily for no real reason, if you get caught in the wrong side of a political tuffle. The revolution was an anxious time for us, as the muslim brotherhood would have for sure caused headaches for my uncle. Thankfully the generals rectified the situation and put the nation under military rule...as it should be.

As a westerner, and by westerner I include 2nd generation immigrants, ESPECIALLY if you can't speak your native language perfectly, you will always be seen as an outsider. You are not likely to succeed in anything meaningful in developing nations without a strong support network and political connections. You have to be cunning, and brutal. I myself can't forsee any future in Egypt for me, with the exception of helping my cousin out, if he needs assistance.

The only outsiders who succeed in countries like Egypt, Turkey, DR Congo etc.. are well connected ones. Jonny Smith from arkansas, despite being a PE principle at some shop in midtown, is a flea and doesn't have the network. Johny Smith is most of you on this website, hell it could even be me, if I didn't speak arabic perfectly/knew the culture well... When people say emerging markets are booming, its only a small group of people who are actually making any progress..Don't believe me? Go to Cairo and look at the destitution...lower class people literally die on boats to try to get to europe.

There are egyptian business magnates who are worth millions but their path was one of serendipity and luck, and something an outsider will not be able to emulate. I highly urge all of you on this site who come from a regular background to realize that you honestly have no business being in a developing market, unless you have those connections, and that network.

Ty

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Mar 6, 2019

100% true BUT you can make money catering to the expat market if it's growing within that country. Usually the local market completely ignores expats or doesn't understand them. I worked in an emerging market and met dudes who were killing it selling things like high end imported air purifiers. Not 9 digits but 7 digits and comfortable. They started catering to expats and expanded to HNW individual locals and then to rapidly expanding upper middle class professionals. You have to find a market that is as little regulated as possible and is being totally ignored by the locals.

Also, lol I have done a consulting project for Dangote before in Niger and he is like the last person I would describe as "self-made," he's old money that became richer through monopolies / natural resource extraction / political machination. Wow, surprising.

Mar 6, 2019

totally agree mate..my dad was telling me about how some guys do this out in Luanda, Angola, since the Oil boom has brought in all sorts of people. I'm sure there are tons of businesses like this in Dubai as well.

Also emerging markets are tiered. Russia, China, South Africa are one story, and then countries like Pakistan, Egypt, are another lol. The second group is significantly more difficult to operate in I think.

Ty