I am fascinated by the story of Nigerian billionaire, Aliko Dangote who owns the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities.

This is a man who started a business at age 21 with borrowed money from his uncle. In fact, as far back as primary school, he showed interest in business, and here are his thoughts during an interview: “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets (sugar boxes), and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business even at that time.”

Unsurprisingly, today, Dangote is a celebrated businessman ranked by Forbes magazine as Africa’s richest man.

His lessons are applicable to anyone looking for personal fulfillment and business success in life. Here are four of my favorites:


Dangote has eyes for opportunities and he takes advantage of them. Take, for instance, in July 2012, Dangote approached the Nigerian Ports Authority to lease an abandoned piece of land that was approved. He later built facilities for his flour company there. Before that, in the 1990s, he approached the central bank of Nigeria with the idea that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company to manage their fleet of staff buses, a proposal that was also approved.

To rise to a greater level of success in life and business, you must learn to locate opportunities and seize them. Opportunities are everywhere if you keep your eyes open and dare to look. The more overlooked things you discover, the more opportunities you will have at hand. You must see something that other people don’t.

Whatever you do, be observant of what is going on around you. Being observant is key to finding opportunities. In a world where most things quickly become commodities, the art of finding opportunities in the art of winning.


Dangote is a shining example of a big and global thinker. The Dangote Group was established as a small trading firm in 1977. Today, it is a multibillion-dollar conglomerate in Nigeria and operates in other African countries including Benin, Ethiopia, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Togo, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Dangote could have limited his operations only to Nigeria and be celebrated as a local champion, but he refused to be a small thinker and looked beyond the horizons.
If you are going to be thinking, you may as well think big and think global as that is the pathway to massive success.

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve. The only limitation that will come to your path to limit you will be the ones you place on yourself by your thinking.

You must set for yourself big goals and be able to dream and visualize what you can achieve on an audacious scale. A big thinker visualizes what is possible in the future and reaches out to the stars. If you believe it can happen, it can happen.

Thinking small will place limitations on your potential. Think big and produce big results.


Dangote may have started with only one line of business, but today, he has expanded into food processing, cement manufacturing, sugar production, freight, and transport company, import and export, real estate, banking, textiles, oil & gas, and telecommunications.

To rise to your desired level of success in your business and become a force to reckon with, you must branch out, enlarge your operations, spread your wings and broaden your horizon. You should not limit or reduce your business activity to only one particular line of operation but start to include more different lines of business. Put your money in more than one place to boost your revenue.

Investing in new products and service lines can provide an effective path to fast growth as you establish new markets. New business lines will enable you to grow rapidly and expand into markets that would otherwise have been closed to you.


The Dangote Group was established as a small trading firm in 1977. Today, it is a multibillion conglomerate.

Dangote Group didn’t happen overnight. It took years for the small trading firm to become a conglomerate.

To be more successful in business, you must have the capacity to tolerate delays and endure difficult circumstances.

It took years for Howard Schultz to build Starbucks, for Ray Kroc to build McDonald’s, and for Michael Dell to build Dell computers. In between these years, they had to accept delays, endure disappointments and crisis, but they persevered and never quit despite the difficulties.

Your rise to success will take time, so you must learn to be patient. Things will not always happen when you want them to, and you must have the ability to hang in there and continue until your success becomes a reality.

By Charles Anyomi
President, Africa Entrepreneur Conference

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