Do you wonder, how Aliko Dangote Made His Billions? Well, Africa’s richest man Alhaji Aliko Dangote is the most successful businessman on his continent. His business is presented in a lot of countries.

As of January 2015, Aliko Dangote had an estimated net worth of US$18.6 billion. He made his fortune in cement, sugar and flour. In April 2014, months before oil prices plunged, he announced $9 billion in financing from a consortium of local and international lenders to construct a private oil refinery and fertilizer and petrochemical complex in Nigeria. In August 2014 he said he would invest $1 billion in commercial rice farming and modern rice mills. His publicly-traded Dangote Cement is also grabbing new markets in Africa, with $750 million in new plants planned for Kenya and Niger.

 He made his first fortune more than three decades ago when he started trading commodities with a loan from his powerful uncle. Nigerianbulletin reviews some of his financial secrets:

1. He once worked for someone

Dangote worked for his uncle, Sani Dangote. He served his master diligently. He acted by the statement which says if you must lead, you must serve. It was while working for his uncle that he gathered experience, skills and confidence.

2. He took a loan to start his business

Aliko Dangote started his business with the NGN 500,000 loan he took from his uncle/master. He approached his uncle in 1977 and told him about his plan to establish a business outfit and his uncle gave him the loan to start the business. However, he was given a three-month deadline and he repaid the loan in three months.

3. He kicked off his business by trading in commodities

Sugar, rice, pasta, salt, cotton, millet, cocoa, textile and vegetable oil were the commodities he started his business with. He was importing these commodities into Nigeria.

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4. He developed a strong distribution network

Since production is not complete until the goods reach the final consumer, Dangote developed a strong distribution channel that made his goods delivered faster than his competitors’ goods.

5. He leapt from importation to manufacturing

After some years in his importation business, Aliko Dangote transformed into a producer of products he was importing. In one of his statements, he revealed that changing from an importer to a manufacturer has so far been his best move. The move produced Dangote Group, an organization that controls over 13 companies.

6. He built a brand

Dangote built a vibrant brand for his business. He corroborated this during an interview by saying “to succeed in business, you must build a brand and never destroy it. One competitive advantage I had when I ventured into manufacturing was my brand (Dangote), which I diligently built in the course of my trading.”

7. He sells cheap quality products

In his mission to gain the loyalty of his customers, Dangote started selling his competitive products at cheaper rates compared to his competitors’ rates.

8. He had a big breakthrough

Dangote’s networking skills and ability to make unprecedented connections made him record the breakthrough he needed for the prosperity of his business. His breakthrough emerged when he acquired the license to import cement.

9. He works pretty hard

As an astute businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote spends most of his time strategizing and brainstorming on how to grow his business. Unverified reports have it that he sleeps by 2:00 am and wakes up by 5:00 am every day.

10. He obeys the laws of the land

Unlike other cunning businessmen, Dangote is an upright man as far as abiding by the rules and regulations governing the ethics of business are concerned. He keeps his credit records as well as his tax records tidy and he preaches that business should be done as stipulated by the regulatory bodies. 

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