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Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 11)

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In life, few people are born into wealth, while many others need to work very hard to attain it. However, one lesson life has taught humanity is that being born with or without privileges is not a guarantee of long-lasting success. Nothing is guaranteed in life as everyone must work to earn his or her position every single day.

The stories of two billionaire entrepreneurs, Anthony Ifeanyichukwu Ezenna and Samuel Adedoyin are those of two personalities that had no option in life but to work hard and fight to eventually break the pangs of poverty, as they advanced forcefully towards the pinnacle of success.

Tony Ezenna – Worked as an assistant in a Chemist

Tony Ezenna is the founder of the multimillion-dollar Orange Drugs Nigerian conglomerate. He was born on the 21 April 1957 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He is from Akokwa, Ideato North LGA of Imo State. He grew up initially in Port Harcourt before his family moved to Onitsha.

Ezenna
Tony Ezenna

Tony attended St. David Primary School in Owerri, Akokwa and then moved to Christ the King College, Onitsha for his high school education. As a result of financial hardships and difficulties, his secondary education was put on hold, and he had to join his father’s business.

He was a great learner under the tutelage of his father, Mr. Ernest Ezenna Ebilikwe, who owned a chemist called Eastern Chemists. He showed that he was made for the business world under the tutelage of his father and he introduced a lot of ideas that improved his father’s business remarkably.

He was still a teenager when he left to start his own business. He successfully grew his start-up from a capital base of just N15,000 to a multi-million dollar firm that it is today.

Despite starting Orange Drugs in 1988, he secured the company’s first corporate office in 2001 and went ahead to become a top flight distributor of pharmaceutical and beauty products in countries like Indonesia, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

Tony Ezenna’s success was based on hard work, discipline, and commitment to his goals. He capitalised on opportunities, and turned them into a great success story. An incurable humanist and philanthropist, who gets quantum satisfaction from putting smiles on the faces of the needy, Ezenna has contributed immensely to community development.

Read Also: Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 10)

Tony Ezenna has consistently assisted the helpless, restored hope to the despair, and rekindled life for the famished. Through his Foundation which he set up in 2006 to drive home his passion for the poor, he provides scholarships and financial support to indigent families that cannot afford the cost of sending their children to school. As one who was forced by family situation to drop out of school, he is very particular about educational issues.

With his Orange Drug multi-billionaire ultra-modern factories in Lagos and Onitsha, Anambra state, Ezenna has created thousands of jobs. His industrialisation drive, with the Orange Group as platform, recorded a giant leap in 2012 when former president Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Group’s ultra-modern plant in Onitsha.

The Orange Drugs Group currently consists of three subsidiary companies which include: Orange Drugs Ltd (ODL), Orange Kalbe Ltd (OKL), and Orange West Africa Ltd (OWA).

Samuel Adedoyin – Palm wine Tapper

The story of Samuel Adedoyin is that of a man who was born into poverty but refused to accept it as his life’s calling. He worked his way to the top, and is now celebrated as one of Nigeria’s biggest entrepreneur.

Adedoyin
Samuel Adedoyin

Samuel Adedoyin was born in Lagos in the year 1935, to Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Adedoyin Olaosebikan and Rachel Oni who were both farmers. His mother was also an aso-oke weaver. Following his birth, Samuel Adedoyin was taken back to Kwara state, where he had his primary school education at Saint Paul Primary School, Agbamu.

After terminating his primary school education prematuredly at basic four because his father couldn’t afford to further pay for his education, he went on to learn palm wine tapping, before moving back to Lagos to live with his father at Ebute Metta.

Samuel decided to try his luck abroad so he tried to travel to England hiding in a ship. He was caught in Ghana. In a bid to avoid returning to hard times in Lagos, Adedoyin begged an immigration officer in Ghana to let him stay and work for him, so that he could raise some money. The officer agreed and made him his houseboy.

After staying with the immigration officer for a while, he disengaged using the £2 he had to start a roadside petty trade in Accra, Ghana, where he sold padlocks and door hinges.

While running his business, he met a vendor who sold the Ashanti Pioneer newspaper.

The vendor introduced him to the publisher’s daughter, who also made him a distributor for the newspaper.

He returned to Nigeria after about 2 years and started a business at number 49, Dosunmu Street, where he sold umbrellas, imported holiday bags, and ball-point pens from Italy. He was able to make £9,600 from a surge of buyers, which shocked every trader around him. From the revenue generated, he bought that space.

Read Also: Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 11)

As he spread his product offerings, he bought another property about 3 years later, and further acquired 9 more houses in the Idumota area of Lagos, before eventually building a complex at the Rummens Road area of Ikoyi.

Samuel Adedoyin officially launched the Doyin Group in 1968. The business began with the manufacturing of leather bags and shoes. Today, the Doyin Group has over 14 subsidiaries, a workforce of over 5,000 people, and has grown to encompass a wide range of investments across different industries like real estate, hospitality, manufacturing, food and beverages, soaps and detergents, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and a whole lot more.

The stories of both Tony Ezenna and Samuel Adedoyin should inspire many who think nothing great can come out of the conditions they were born into. Their triumph has shown that no matter what one faces, one has to keep chasing their dreams for as long as it would take to achieve them.

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