Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 16)

For any individual to succeed in business, he must prepare to navigate through uncertainties, as business, irrespective of the sector, is full of ups and downs.

In this light, any individual who desires to climb higher must learn to brush initial setbacks, and push ahead for ultimate success

The stories of two reputable entrepreneurs, Fola Adeola and Kessington Adebutu succinctly captures the power of consistency and creativity that catapulted the duo to the pinnacle of their areas of businesses.

Fola Adeola- A Street Hawker

Founder and chairman of the FATE Foundation, Tajudeen Afolabi Adeola had his secondary school education at Methodist Boys High School, Lagos. He obtained a Diploma in Accounting from Yaba College of Technology in 1975 and became a Chartered Accountant in 1980 following his training with Deloitte, Haskins and Sells, and D.O. Dafinone & Company.

Fola Adeola

 He also received professional development training at notable institutions like Harvard Business School, INSEAD, and the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland. 

Born into a large family in 1954, Fola Adeola did not have a privileged childhood. Even though his father was a bank clerk at the time, his income was not enough to provide for all the needs of his 17 children.  

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To supplement the family income, his mother would send him and his brothers to join her in hawking wares on the streets of Surulere, Young Fola did not allow this tough experience in his first “job” in life to waste away as he used it to develop his character and business skills.  

He later worked as a Senior Auditor at D.O. Dafinone & Co. before joining NAL Merchant Bank in 1982 as a Manager. In 1986, he moved to Continental Merchant Bank Limited as Deputy General Manager & Divisional Head, Financial Services Division.  

While still working, his sight was always on entrepreneurship, and Fola and his childhood friend, Tayo Aderinokun pooled funds together to put up the first barbing salon in Ikoyi – Finishing Touches Barbing salon. Running the salon together, Fola and Tayo discovered they had a similar appetite for business risks.  

It takes grit, ambition, and business acumen to pull off the achievement of establishing a bank at 30. These were the traits that Fola Adeola had in excess when he established his bank in the late 80s. 


He brought about 40 close associates into the venture including his childhood friend, Tayo Aderinokun, most of whom were in their thirties and working for different organisations. The likes of Femi Pedro, Akin Akintoye, Gbolade Osibodu, Bode Agusto, and Moses Ochu were all part of the project.  

Fola was 34 in 1988 when they applied for the banking licence. On August 2, 1990, the duo received the banking licence No. 58, dated August 1, 1990, and signed by the then Federal Minister for Finance, Chief Olu Falae, for Guaranty Trust Bank Limited. 

While still at the bank, Adeola in 2000 established a non-governmental organization, the FATE Foundation. The aim was to encourage entrepreneurship, using a mix of training, mentoring, loan support, and consulting to support young Nigerians.

 Fola Adeola has headed the boards of several companies including Arm Holdings, Lotus Capital, Eterna Oil, Cardinal Stone Partners Limited, UTC, Credit Registry Services, and Main One Cable Company Limited.  

He was the Chairman of Lagos State Disaster Relief Committee and has served as a member of the Global Advisory Committee on Philanthropy of the World Economic Forum for four years.. In May 2004, he was appointed Commissioner on the Commission for Africa by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.  

In 1999, Mr. Adeola was awarded membership of the National Institute of Policy & Strategic Studies (MNI) in Kuru, Jos, after completing a one-year sabbatical at the institute. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors of Nigeria.  

According to online sources like Wikipedia, Forbes, and IMDb, Fola Adeola’s estimated net worth is estimated between $5-10 million in addition to his massive social media following.

Kessington Adebutu – Itinerant   Salesman

Born in Iperu-Remo, Ogun State, gaming magnate, Sir Kessington Adebutu CON, KJW, FISM aka Baba Ijebu started his career in the ’60s as a salesman at Claflin Chemical Limited, an American chemical company that produced caffinol, magnesia, among other chemicals. 

Kessington Adebutu

He was always on the move across Lagos  and the whole of the Mid-Western state. But the young and vibrant Adebutu, not feeling accomplished in his job as a Sales Manager with an American company quit his job to start a pooling business as an agent! It takes a measure of determination, focus, and audacity to make such a life-changing decision. Pools betting is a risky investment and anyone who makes good out of the business must have something extra going for him.

To put things in proper perspective, Chief Adebutu did not start big, he rented his first pool shop with just 3 Pounds. That was all he started with and now he has been able to set up a business empire presently worth billions of naira. But then the story of his meteoric rise has not been all rosy, the early days of his business were rough. He was almost swept away by storms raging from various angles.

Read Also: Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria – Their First Jobs (Part 15)

“At this point, forecasters were forecasting correctly and winnings were on the rise. During this period, most pool companies folded up and left the business. As for me, I remained stubborn.” Adebutu recalled during an interview in 2019.

The Septuagenarian who is better known nowadays for his philanthropy is an incurable giver to good causes. Billions of his earnings are daily being committed to helping the indigent, improving education infrastructure, sports, and community development via his Kessington Adebunola Adebutu Foundation (KAAF). Well-loved and respected by the high and mighty as well as even the lowly in the society, Pa Adebutu is the Odole Oodua, a revered traditional title bestowed on him by the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi.

Pa Adebutu’sNetworth is estimated at 500 Million Dollars. His company, Premier Lotto Limited popularly called Baba Ijebu is the oldest known Nigeria lotto game operator and was registered in 2001. Kessington Adebutu now owns an oil plantation, he is the financial director of the betting platform Premier Lotto, and he owns the prestigious Gateway Hotels in Ogun State, Nigeria.

 Premier Lotto currently has one of the biggest lotto practices in Nigeria operating with over 200 principal agents supervising over 16,000 sub-agents spread across the western region of Nigeria and beyond. The company’s ability to pay winnings consistently has made her the leader in the gaming industry. The successes of Premier Lotto cannot be detached from the visionary strides of its Chairman. Even the name “Baba Ijebu” which fundamentally moves its market was coined from the founder’s Ijebu background. Quick research into the philosophy, worldview, and work ethos of Pa Kessington Adebutu would reveal why Premier Lotto retains its vantage position in the lottery and gaming business.

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