Case Study on Enterprise: Aliko Dangote

 “Let me tell you this and I want to really emphasize it…nothing is going to help Nigeria like Nigerians bringing back their money. If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put our heads together and work.” Aliko Dangote

In his book, “The Heart of America: Ten Core Values That Make Our Country Great”, Bill Halamandaris listed ten core values that built America. Ten values with proven ability to build a world superpower:

 Compassion  Opportunity  Responsibility  Equality

Valour  Ambition  Liberty  Unity  Enterprise  Spirituality

In this case study of the value Enterprise, we look at an individual who provides an excellent example of what it means and what it does for a nation.

Background History

Aliko Dangote was born on April 10, 1957 in Kano State to mother Mariya Sanusi Dantata and father, Mohammed Dangote. He started doing business from his primary school days. He is quoted as saying, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”

After completing his primary and secondary school education in Kano, he went to the Al-Azahar University, Cairo, Egypt, where he graduated with a Business Studies degree. On his return to Nigeria, Dangote secured a loan from his wealthy uncle, Sanusi Abdulkadir Dantata, which he used to establish the Dangote Group as a mini trading business in 1977. He was only 20 years of age at the time but had a few years trading experience already. His trading business focused on rice, sugar and cement importation.

Over the years, Dangote moved from running an import based trading company to build the largest industrial group in West Africa. Today, the Dangote Group, whose core business focus is to provide local, value-added products and services that meet the basic needs of the Nigerian population, has grown by leaps and bounds and has presence in 16 African countries.

The Dangote Group operations cover a huge range: food processing, cement manufacturing, freight, oil & gas, port operations, real estate, steel, packaging and telecommunications. The group also exports cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seed and ginger to several countries. The group currently employs over 11,000 people directly and many more indirectly.

The Group, which currently has a market capitalisation of over $24 billion as at December 2013, has four of its 13 subsidiaries listed on the NSE. One of the subsidiaries, Dangote Cement Plc is the biggest listed company in West Africa and the first Nigerian company to join the Forbes Global 2000 Companies. In addition, Dangote’s Obajana Cement Plant is reputed to be one of the single largest cement plants in the world with an estimated capacity of 13.25million metric tonnes per annum.

Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc (DSR) is rated the largest sugar refinery in Sub-Saharan Africa and the second largest in the world. The company is currently working towards actualising its 10-year master plan to produce 1.5 million metric tonnes of sugar per annum, locally, in line with the Federal Government’s backward integration policy.

The Dangote Group is currently building the largest refinery, petrochemical and fertiliser complex in Africa. The refinery will have the capacity to refine 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day, while the petrochemical plant will produce 600,000 MTPY of Polypropylene.

The Group was also rated among Top 40 African Challengers by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in June 2010, and one of the Top 10 African Brands by London-based African Business magazine in November 2013. The Group was also voted the Top Consumer Brand in Africa by the magazine.

Africa’s foremost industrialist, Aliko Dangote is a member of several national and foreign organisations where he devotes his resources to contribute to the growth and development of the society.

He has received many laurels both within and outside the country, in recognition of his achievements and philanthropy whose giving in 2012 was put at $110million. Aliko Dangote, who holds the second highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) in Nigeria, also holds the highest honour in the Republic of Benin, the Grand Commander of the Order of Benin Republic.

He is listed by Forbes magazine in October 2013 as the ‘Most Powerful Man in Africa.’ He is also rated by Forbes as the 23rd Richest Man in the World and Richest Black Man in the World with a fortune of $25billion, as at March 2014. In April 2014, TIME Magazine listed him among its TIME 100 ‘Most Influential People in the World.’ He also made the list of CNBC’s ‘Top 25 Businessmen in the World’ that same month.

He is the current President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

 What can we learn about Enterprise from life of this great citizen?

A can-do attitude: In the article I wrote on ‘Core Value 9 – Enterprise’, Enterprise was defined as ‘the boldness or readiness in undertaking, adventurous spirit or ingenuity. It is the willingness to undertake new ventures or initiative’. Dangote has exhibited boldness, an adventurous spirit and a willingness to undertake new and big ventures.

He has showcased to us that enterprise is an attitude, a can-do attitude: Irrespective of the fact that he had a rich uncle to provide him with initial capital, he has had to surmount so many challenges to big one of Africa’s biggest conglomerate and he is not stopping.

His can-do attitude has produced diligence, hardwork, focus, belief in Africa and her people, creativity and tenacity.

Using enterprise to express the other nation-building core values: He spirit of enterprise enabled him express Compassion for the suffering of Africans and provide them Opportunities to attain life’s fulfillment; he has taken Responsibility for Nigeria and rest of Africa by participating in her development; he recruits citizens from all tribes and ethnic groups thereby building Equality and Unity; but for me, it is his Spirituality (his belief in God’s gift to him) that enables him step out again and again with Courage, a great Ambition and with a Liberated mind, that stands out.

Using enterprise to build a developed Nigeria: Dangote could have invested his money in other stable countries abroad but he has chosen to invest almost all of his money in Nigeria and Africa. It is beyond profit but a deep desire to see the development of Nigeria and Africa.

When we think of all the economic, political and security issues we are still facing in Africa, we cannot question the passion this man has by using his spirit of enterprise to build a developed Nigeria and Africa with his own resources.

In the process, he keeps creating employment opportunities for Africans, stirring belief amongst Africans about the potentials in our continent, creating African millionaires who are shareholders in his companies and in the end, he will reproduce himself in thousands of other Africans with a great spirit of enterprise.


Some of us may have issues with some of Dangote’s business practices but these would call for better regulatory bodies rather than the stoppage of his enterprise.  If we are in doubt about Africa’s prospects, which incidentally can only be harnessed through the spirit of enterprise, Aliko Dangote has done a great job to disprove such doubt.

I wish to point out that enterprise is not primarily about making profit, but rather, it is about an attitude we adopt when pursuing a vision or passion. Enterprise is excellence.

Will you adopt enterprise as a nation-building core value to become equipped to participate in building a developed Nigeria?


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