Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 8)

The best entrepreneurs in the world do not act like they know it all. They keep learning to be continually successful. Oftentimes, they participate in numerous training sessions, seminars, workshops and symposiums to stay in shape mentally.

The impact of the knowledge acquired and their passion for top-notch result combine to keep them always at the top of their games.

All these can be said of two top business entrepreneurs, Taiwo Olayinka Afolabi and businesswoman, Hajiya Bola Shagaya.

Taiwo Olayinka Afolabi – A Newspaper Vendor

Taiwo Olayinka Afolabi is a successful Nigerian magnate, a lawyer and one of the famous entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

He was born on 29 April 1962 in Ondo State to the family of Chief and Chief (Mrs.) Samson Afolabi, natives of Idokunusi Ijebu in the Ijebu East Local Government Area of Ogun State, Nigeria.

Taiwo completed his primary and secondary school education at Ansar-Ud Deen Primary School, Ondo State and Baptist Grammar School, Ibadan respectively. His quest for academic excellence led him to the University of Lagos where he graduated with a bachelors and master degrees in Law. He was called to the Nigerian bar by the Body of Benchers in 2009.

He started quite early to make his own money. When he was still in secondary school, Taiwo and his friends would collect newspapers from vendors and sell for a commission. He later worked with his Uncle, Otunba Olatunde Olowu, who was the MD/CEO of Nigerian Express Agencies Limited, a freight forwarding company in 1981.

While working at Nigerian Express Agencies Limited, he grew to love the maritime sector and paid close attention to the operations of the company. In no time, he rose to the position of a clearing manager.

Due to his interest in building a maritime business, he travelled abroad to study Shipping Management. When he returned, he became the Head of Operation of the Company.

As a man with eyes for business, he started SIFAX Group as a Freight forwarding Company in 1988. Through risk taking and sound decision making skills, Taiwo has been able to grow the company’s operation across oil and gas, hospitality, maritime, aviation, haulage and logistics, among others.

SIFAX Group, which started in Lagos, Nigeria now has presence in United States, Ghana, United Kingdom, South Africa, Belgium, Holland, Morocco, Spain and Djibouti, to mention but a few.

SIFAX Group is Nigeria’s leading conglomerates with interests and investments in oil and gas, haulage, hospitality, logistics, maritime and aviation. The company provides employment for thousands of Nigerians both directly and indirectly.

Read Also: Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 6)

The company, which started as a small freight forwarding agency in Lagos, now have operation and presence in the US, UK, Spain, Morocco, Holland, Belgium, Ghana, South Africa, etc.

Afolabi is an experienced maritime consultant and a Fellow of many professional bodies including Nigerian Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), Institute of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (IFFN), and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of Nigeria.

Hajiya Bola Shagaya – A Banker

Bola Shagaya was born on the 10th of October, 1959 in Kwara State. She hails from Ilorin, Kwara State but resides and conducts her business mostly in Lagos. Her father, Emenike Moba was a Nigerian public servant while her mother, Adut Makur was a Sudanese seamstress.

She attended Queens School in her hometown and has a degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria before proceeding to United States where she studied Accountancy and Economics from Armstrong College in California.

After school, Bola Shagaya started a promising career as a banker. She worked in the audit department of the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN). In 1983, she left the corporate world and ventured into business.

Her first business experience started with importation and distribution of photographic materials such as roll papers, films and chemicals under the trading name, Bolmus International (Nigeria) Limited. Soon, she became the sole West African agent of the then leading photographic company, Konica.

She introduced Konica brand of photographic materials into Nigerian and West African markets.

As a shrewd entrepreneur, she saw opportunities in Nigerian photography industry and expanded her Konica marketing operations to photo laboratories. This later birthed Fotofair (Nigeria) Limited, a photo laboratory company in 1997.

Read Also: Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 7)

Today, Fotofair (Nigeria) Limited has grown into a leading photo laboratory company in Nigeria with many branches spread across the nation.

Bola Shagaya Hajia also stretched her tentacles into the Nigerian oil and gas sector. She founded Practoil Limited, one of the largest importer and distributors of base oil in Nigeria today.

As far back as the late 1980s, during Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda led-administration, the business tycoon stirred her oil and gas company to secure allocation for oil blocks. Thus, making her one of the first indigenous oil tycoon.

Around 2005, Bola Shagaya became the managing director of Practoil Limited. She expanded her operations in oil and gas industry by establishing another exploration company, Voyage Oil and Gas Limited in 2011. In 2012, Voyage Oil and Gas Limited was awarded an oil exploration license by the Nigerian government.

Shagaya is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Africa, highly recognized with the likes of Folorunsho Alakija. Unlike most prominent industrialist, she skillfully built her wealth and network. In recognition of her outstanding virtues and immense contribution to economic growth, she was recognised and awarded twice by the Nigerian government.

Joy Adams

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