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Successful Entrepreneurs In Nigeria- Their First Jobs (1)

Every fame, according to an African proverb, has a foundation. Same way, successful businessmen and women have the genesis of their success. People, however, do not always remember the humble beginnings of successful people. They will prefer to rather focus on the current exciting state of abundance. No entrepreneur can climb the mountain top without crushing some weeds at the foot of the ladder.

Mike Adenuga- The Taxi Driver

Michael Adeniyi Ishola Adenuga is a man whose net worth, according to Forbes rating, grew from $4.5billion in 2018 to $6.2billion in the year 2020. This is a man with two degrees in business administration from Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and Pace University, New York.

Mike Adenuga, as he is popularly called had a humble beginning, but stands today as one of the richest men in Nigeria.

Adenuga’s first job was as a taxi driver. Yes, a taxi driver! He did the job to fund his university education. After graduation, Adenuga stormed the entrepreneur arena as he started the distribution of soft drinks and selling of lace. This yielded so much profit that he hit his first million at age 26. Today, this is an age where many believe they can only make money and get rich through cybercrime, kidnapping, and other vices. 

Mike Adenuga

Now a business guru, Adenuga pondered on what business he could do next. He then decided to dive into the oil sector in the 80s. He was denied license several times but didn’t give up. In 1990, his persistence and resilience eventually paid off when Professor Jubril Aminu, the then Oil Minister introduced a new policy during General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime. This new policy motivated private business owners to venture into oil. Adenuga did not only obtain a drilling licence, he also made history as the first indigenous oil company to own and operate a commercial oil well. His oil company then called ‘Consolidated Oil’ and now known as ‘Conoil’, operated majorly in Ondo State.

Conoil till date is involved in the exploration, production and sale of all types of petroleum products. Mike Adenuga is also the owner of Quatro that produces and markets lubricants.

Today, that taxi driver is not just the owner of Conoil but also the founder of a mobile telecoms company, Globacom, commonly known as Glo.

Glo is the second-largest mobile telecoms operator in Nigeria after MTN. Mike Adenuga equally owns a real estate and property development company. All of his several businesses are under ‘Mike Adenuga Group’.

Folorunsho Alakija- Secretary and Fashion Designer

When we hear the name Folorunsho Alakija, what comes to mind is the woman who owns some lucrative oil blocks on the Agbami deep-water oilfield in Nigeria. But what was her first job?

Folorunsho Alakija was a secretary in a bank. Although she had wanted to be a lawyer, she consented to her father’s decision for her to be a secretary.

Also, while growing up she loved beautiful dresses and art. After 12 years of doing her father’s bit, Folorunsho got back to what she loved most, which was fashion. This made her leave her job as a secretary to answer the call of passion. Folorunsho took the bold step to walk away from the bank and went ahead to study fashion in England, despite being discouraged and persuaded by some of her siblings to have a rethink.

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Folorunsho Alakija

Folorunsho came back to Nigeria, ready to storm the fashion industry. She set up her fashion business. She was really determined to make a name for herself in the industry.

Her stars began to shine in the fashion space when she participated in a national fashion competition in Nigeria, where she emerged the overall winner. Alakija had prominent people that patronised her like Ibrahim Babangida’s wife, Maryam Babangida.

Then came the turning point in her career when she wanted a contract for just rendering catering services in the oil industry. She eventually hit the oil jackpot after several setbacks, challenges and disappointments to acquire an oil license. Alakija turned a worthless place called Agbami, 5, 000 feet deep in water, off the shores of Nigeria into a money spinner. That was how she became the founder, chairwoman and CEO of Famfa Oil.

On 9th March 2016, Folorunsho Alakija became the Chancellor of Osun State University. She became the first female chancellor in the history of Nigeria.

At 69 years of age, Alakija has remained the richest woman in Nigeria with a net worth of US$1.0 billion as at January 2020. Some of her other businesses are Dayspring Property Development Company Limited, a real estate company, and Digitalreality Print Ltd, a world-class printing company.

Oba Otudeko- Clerk at a Cooperative Society

Dr. Ayoola Oba Otudeko, aged 77, is a man that sits at the top of many conglomerates in Nigeria. Otudeko began as a clerk in a co-operative society in Ibadan. He later went into banking. His career in the banking sector moved to another level as he was appointed the Director to the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Today, Oba Otudeko is Chairman, FBN Holdings.

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Dr. Ayoola Oba Otudeko

Otudeko went further to increase in learning as he bagged numerous degrees in business and other areas. Some of the institutions he attended were the International Institute for Management Development, Switzerland, Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, Hult International Business School, and Arthur D. Little School of Management, USA, now known as the Hull Business School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read Also: Entrepreneurship – The Road For The Young

Today, Oba Otudeko is the founder and chairman of the Honeywell Group, a diversified conglomerate with over 10,000 staff members. The group started up as Honeywell enterprises in 1972 and was just a major importer of baking yeast and milk from Holland, stockfish from Norway, glass from Czechoslovakia, and Steel Rods from Brazil and so on. This same group has now grown to become one of Nigeria’s leading indigenous conglomerate. Honeywell subsidiaries include HOGL Energy Limited, Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, Pivot Engineering Company Limited (PECL), Uraga Real Estate Limited, Anchorage Leisure Limited, and Pavilion Technology Limited.

Whether as a taxi driver, secretary or clerk, the 3 Ds, which are determination, diligence and discipline, are clear criteria for success. It is worthy of note that almost all successful persons with sustainable impact started small before gradually climbing to the pinnacle of their businesses.

Faith Omo Ohioze

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