How A Former Nigerian Taxi Driver Made Over $9 Billion Dollars

No start is too small. No matter how menial a job or business a person starts with in life is, its key to be diligent in your work, learn the basics of growth, never cheat the process, and slowly but surely, as you get exposed to more opportunities and take advantage of them, you’d eventually turn out successful

This is the success story of Mike Adenuga, the 2nd richest man in Nigeria, the founder of Globacom Limited, and a highly influential figure in the country.

Popularly known as ‘the bull’, he has shown himself to be a go-getter, hustler extraordinaire, and a relentless individual that goes for whatever he wants and puts his all no matter the results.

Here’s how he did it:

Early Life And Education

Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga is a business magnate born and raised in Nigeria. He was born on the 29th of April, 1953 to Mr & Mrs Oloye Adenuga.

His father was a teacher at a school while his mother, Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga, was a businesswoman from a royal Ijebu descent.

He is married to Titi Joyce Adenuga and they are blessed with many children, one of whom is the influential and highly successful Bella Disu.

Mike Adenuga attended Ibadan Grammar School and Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro, where he obtained his High School Certificate (HSC). He studied Business Administration at Northwestern Alva Oklahoma State University. And also furthered his education by studying a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Pace University in New York.

When Mr Adenuga was a student, he worked as a taxi driver and security guard.

Journey To Entrepreneurship

Mike Adenuga began his entrepreneurial pursuit in his early 20s, making his first million at the age of 26 from the distribution of coca-cola and sales of textile materials, including lace. He was also involved in deals at a sawmill that belonged to his mother. This was after his studies in the United States of America.

As his business grew, he made friends in high places, and since Babangida, the then military president was a friend, when a new policy allowing individuals to engage in the business of oil exploration was implemented, he was one of the first to know and quickly took advantage of the great opportunity.

In the year 1990, Mike Adenuga was granted a drilling license, and in 1991, he started his Consolidated Oil company, which struck oil in the shallow waters of Ondo state.


The Start Of Globacom

In the year 1999, there was a government bid for GSM licenses for both local and international companies, which he applied for. He obtained a conditional licence which was later revoked.

Not to be deterred, in 2003 when there was another opening in the telecommunications sector. Mike Adenuga went for it again, and this time was awarded a license which he used to found Globacom, a telecommunications company that has gone on to become the third largest telecommunications company in Nigeria.


In January 2001, the Nigerian government conducted an auction for 5 Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) provisional licenses and invited bids from institutional investors and individuals. Adenuga was one of the bidders, and through his company, Communications Investment Limited (CIL) (a special purpose vehicle) he bid for one of the licenses, which cost over $100 million each.

A month later, after paying a $20 million mandatory deposit, Mike Adenuga was awarded a provisional license and was given a 14-day deadline to raise the balance of the $265 million.For some reasons, Mike Adenuga failed to meet his obligations and consequently lost his $20 million deposit in the ill-fated transaction.

This was one of the trials he faced in the course of the business. However, this did not keep him from applying for another license when the opportunity rose.

Mike Adenuga In Telecommunications

His mobile phone network, Globacom, is the third-largest operator in Nigeria, with over 43 million subscribers.

In an industry dominated by international firms, Globacom is considered a truly Nigerian company competing favourably with more experienced rivals. It currently has operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic and Cote d’Ivoire and is one of the fastest-growing telecoms firms in Africa.

In 2010, Adenuga spent over $1 billion on Glo 1 Submarine Cable, an undersea cable system, which stretches from Europe to Nigeria and has landing stations in 16 West African countries. Glo 1 provides bandwidth to all telecoms operators, carriers and corporations, connecting them to all the major destinations in the world.

Mike Adenuga In The Oil Sector

Mike Adenuga is one of the more recognised players in Nigeria’s energy sector. In 1991, his oil exploration company, Conoil Producing Limited, made history when it became the first indigenous company to strike crude oil in commercial quantities at a time indigenous companies with oil blocks were selling off to foreign investors.

Conoil Producing is now one of Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil companies with at least 6 producing deep offshore assets and daily production of 100,000 barrels per day. In April 2011 when Shell’s Nigerian operations were divesting their upstream assets in the country, Mike Adenuga acquired the oil major’s most prolific onshore oil block, OML 30 at a cost of $650 million.

Mike Adenuga also has interests in the downstream sector of the petroleum economy. In the wake of a government-engineered privatisation exercise in the year 2000, Mike Adenuga acquired a controlling stake in National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company Plc (NOLCHEM), a petroleum marketing company. At the time Mike Adenuga acquired the shares, NOLCHEM was a shadow of itself. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy; its stock was trading at an all-time low, and several of its retail outlets were dysfunctional at best.

Within a year, Adenuga turned around the fortunes of the company. NOLCHEM, which Adenuga subsequently renamed Conoil PLC, is now one of Nigeria’s largest petroleum marketers. Conoil has over 300 retail outlets spread across Nigeria and is one of the top dogs at the Nigerian Stock Exchange.


Mike Adenuga is a philanthropist whose extent of giving is not really known, as he does a lot of private charitable works. He established the Mike Adenuga Foundation, a foundation which once gave N500m to victims of a flood in Bayelsa. Mike Adenuga is also the major sponsor of the Glo-CAF Award.

One of the other programmes offered by the Mike Adenuga Foundation is the Mike Adenuga Fellowship programme.The foundation awards undergraduate scholarships, postgraduate and research fellowships to academically gifted Africans who desire to contribute to the development of the continent and who have the potential to become innovators and development drivers in their chosen fields.

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