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July 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

bayo-ogunlesiA Nigerian, Adebayo Ogunlesi,  has acquired the London Gatwick Airport as the new owner. The Gatwick deal is a £1.455 billion agreement with BAA Airports Limited. Adebayo Ogunlesi, 56, is the chairman and managing partner, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an independent investment fund based in New York City with worldwide stake in infrastructure assets,is  the new owner of the London Gatwick Airport.  Ogunlesi attended the prestigious King’s College, Lagos. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. He was a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School. Ogunlesi, whose father was the first Nigerian-born medical professor, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and then earned law and business degrees from Harvard.  Ogunlesi has lived in New York for 20 years and is active in volunteer work. But he also cultivates his ties to Africa. He informally advises the Nigerian government on privatisation. And last summer Manute Bol, former NBA center, visited Ogunlesi in his Park Avenue office, seeking donations for a charitable foundation in former basketball star Manute Bol’s homeland, Sudan. Ogunlesi walked Bol around the hallways, introducing him to junior staff. It was just another day in the Bayosphere. Prior to his current role, he was executive vice chairman and chief client officer of Credit Suisse, based in New York. He previously served as a member of Credit Suisse’s Executive Board and Management Council and chaired the Chairman’s Board. Previously, he was the Global Head of Investment Banking at Credit Suisse. Since joining Credit Suisse in 1983, Ogunlesi has advised clients on strategic transactions and financings in a broad range of industries and has worked on transactions in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.   In the US, he is known as the Nigerian who clerked for late Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, who they say was unable to pronounce his name and quickly dubbed him Obeedoogee. Colleagues and friends call him Bayo. *africancelebs]]>

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Living the dream: How Ashish Thakkar became Africa’s youngest billionaire
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

BY Lillian Kiarie*

ashish010714Having a fortune worth more than half the current value of Kenya’s Eurobond, and being dubbed Africa’s youngest billionaire while still in his 20s by Forbes, has not gone to Mr Ashish Thakkar’s head. He does not have that arrogant self-assurance many moguls relish projecting, nor does he have the inflated ego that so often stalks those at this level.
Instead, the 32-year-old projects modesty and warmth. Inspired by business tycoons such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, Ashish insists the billions of shillings he has amassed are a drop in the ocean. He says he knows where he stands in the entrepreneurial food chain — smack in the middle of the pecking order.
The genocide On a chilly Saturday afternoon, Business Beat sat down with the Ugandan-born serial entrepreneur — he started his first company at 15 — to get the story behind his success. Wearing a pair of jeans, loafers and a trendy trench coat, we found Ashish winding up a meeting with one of his business associates. He does not compromise on his image. He looks dapper and his scent screams affluence. He laughs when asked if he’s wearing the Sh240,000 Clive Christian perfume, the world’s most expensive scent. He does not answer.
From the beginning of the conversation, Ashish emphasises the importance of mentorship, compassion and ethics.
But just what is his background “I was a refugee, I’m a school dropout, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, an astronaut and a young African,” he says.
He is of Indian descent, but his parents were born in Africa, as was he. “In 1993, when I was 12 years old, my family sold their business in the UK and moved to Rwanda where we invested. Several months later, the Rwandan genocide began, subjecting us to weeks of terror as we watched bodies pile up around us. We lost all of our physical investments, but luckily managed to escape in a chartered plane to the United Kingdom.
“From being top entrepreneurs, my parents were reduced to waking up at the crack of dawn to sell women’s clothes and drive vans to markets all around England,” he says. Ashish’s family then moved to Burundi and then to Kenya before resettling in Kampala, Uganda, when he was 15.
Having seen people look down on his parents after they lost their fortune, Ashish was determined to start a business while still in school. His parents were not too pleased with the idea as he was still young.
One day, a family friend came to their home, and Ashish sold him his personal computer, making a profit of about Sh8,600. “I then got convinced I could make a lot of money in IT. I dropped out of school after finally convincing my family that this was temporary and I was just testing the waters.
If business did not work out, I would go back to school — the option is still open, 17 years down the line,” he laughs. “I convinced my dad to borrow $5,000 (Sh438,000 at current exchange rates) from friends, and I used the money to travel to Dubai on weekends to stock up on computers, hard disks and motherboards, among other items.”
Ashish cashed in on the “Africa Rising” wave of democracy, globalisation and technology that was sweeping across the continent in the early 2000s. With the help of his parents, the last born with two elder sisters, Ahuti and Rone, branched out and started offering credit to other businessmen.
Today, Ashish is the founder of Mara Group, which has more than 8,000 employees across 21 countries, 19 of them in Africa. The company’s annual turnover is in excess of $100 million (Sh8.76 billion), and according to the Financial Times, the Mara Group is valued at “slightly above” $1 billion (Sh87.6 billion).
“Mara has its tentacles in banking, real estate, IT and agriculture. We offer a wide range of products through Riley Packaging (a leading East African packaging company), Atlas Mara (a bank founded in partnership with former Barclays Bank UK boss Bob Diamond), Mara Ison (a pan-African IT services company) and Ison BPO (a pan-African business process outsourcing company), among so many other businesses.”
Ashish says he started taking home a salary two years ago after it dawned on him that his business had come of age. “I take home about $5,000 — the same amount I borrowed to kick-start my business,” he says. So what does he spend his money on “As cheesy as it sounds, I like using my life to make a difference in the lives of other people.
I have gone through the phase where people isolate you because you do not have anything. If you do well, with a clean heart, you will flourish.” Ashish begins to dole out his nuggets of wisdom as he sips on green tea, explaining that he used several tactics to change his perception of life at a young age to prosper.
“On the advice of my elders, I took the right steps, such as registering my business and being part of the formal sector. I paid taxes, I started building a track record so I could get loans. Thinking short term is futile, I learnt; think long term.” He credits his determination to think differently from others as a key reason for his success.
“I was persistent even when they refused to offer me credit; I questioned this and refused to accept the norm. If I had got comfortable, I’d still be a small-time businessman trying to grow,” he says. How is he able to run his empire “I don’t juggle, I just pretend to be smart, yet I don’t run anything. I oversee my fantastic team of smart, empowered individuals who help me run the organisation. I’m involved in strategy and spearheading growth,” he says.
Spiritual teachings
Ashish says his visit to Kenya is purely to catch up with friends and is not business related. However, his companies, such as Ison BPO, Dodhia Packaging and the Mara Foundation, are scaling up in the country. “I am here to catch up with long-lost friends, business partners. I haven’t visited this beautiful country for close to five months now. I’m here for a weekend. I studied in Kenya, St Mary’s along Nairobi’s Raphta Road, in my younger years, though I lost touch with most of my friends. I consider Kenya my home,”
How did it feel to make the first Sh1 million
“Frankly, I can’t recall that moment. I can genuinely tell you that I wasn’t tracking my wealth; I was focusing on the challenges as I was new in business. I didn’t have mentors. I didn’t track it or celebrate, I was cautious. I’m very impatient, I want everything done yesterday.
I reinvested everything in my business. The only way you are going to grow is if you keep on planting.” Ashish adds that over the years, he has formed the habit of taking a step back whenever he thinks he has achieved something, or as Aloe Blacc sings, when he feels like he is “The Man”. “I go out and see what others are doing and I get back to working. I have never settled.
Look at the late Steve Jobs, over half the world is using his products! “I’m a billionaire, yes, I agree, but billions of people are yet to hear about the Mara Group and Foundation. I feel the need to work hard every day. I follow my spiritual father, Morali Bapu’s teachings, which have had a great impact on me.”
His biggest mistake while starting out in business
“In my first year of business, I trusted a European man who showed up to ask for credit. He was dressed sharply and was in a four-wheel drive car. I advanced him goods worth $15,000 (Sh1.3 million at current rates) and he gave me a cheque from a certain water project; it all looked legit. I loaded the goods in his car but when I took the cheque to the bank, it bounced.
Half of my investment was gone. I was devastated! I kept asking if it was a sign Should I go back to school” And does he plan to going back to school He laughs. “Education is good. However, informal education is much more important and valuable in life than formal education. Mentorship and vocational skills training build up an individual,” Ashish says.
So how does it feel to be young and rich
“Feeling young feels great. Rich I feel like success should never be measured by wealth, but by the impact you’ve made, the lives you are changing, the difference you are making. People think too often that success is equal to dollar signs. It’s not.
How is that being successful “So when a guy robs a bank or a politician siphons public funds into his private accounts, does he become successful No. Ethics, making an honest living and giving back are what make you successful. I am saddened by the fact that many of us have got the wrong perception and associate money with success.”
Ashish, who has in the past said he avoids bidding for government tenders because of the tricky dealings often involved, explains why he thinks the youth fail in business: “Many go for shortcuts and engage in unethical deals, forgetting that where there is no pain there is no gain. They compromise on value. Like my mentor, Bapu, says, have love, compassion and be truthful. Stop thinking business is a destination, it’s a journey.” He, clearly, feeds on positivity and transforming lives.
“People keep talking about bringing Silicon Valley to Africa, and I like and appreciate this message, but it doesn’t excite me. I do not want to bring Silicon Valley to Africa, I want to take Africa to Silicon Valley. We need to be innovative and global. Why keep using Facebook, Twitter and all these American products when we can create great things like Safaricom’s M-Pesa Those great innovators started in gory garages, what’s holding us back” To contribute to changing the status quo, the Mara Foundation has partnered with various organisations to launch Mara Mentor, a platform that seeks to connect entrepreneurs across Africa with business leaders.
For his efforts, Ashish has won a tonne of accolades, most recently the MTV Base Leadership Award at the June MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) held in South Africa.
His next conquest Space.
“We don’t want to rush it; we want ensure it is a return ticket, although I hope to find it habitable and see if I can set up Mara Group and foundation there,” Ashish jokes. He became East Africa’s first astronaut, and only the second African after South Africa’s software mogul Mark Shuttleworth.
Market worth
Finally, how much is he worth exactly?
“I have no idea. Last I checked was in 1996, and back then I had a loan of $5,000 with the bank. Mara Group is a private entity. “However, the market worth of my bank, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, is open information, and it is worth $850 million (Sh74.5 billion).”
He is shocked into silence when he sees an Internet story that claims he is married. Eventually, and with a laugh: “Wow! People have time … I am single. But I don’t want to focus on that lest I start getting crazy messages ….”
*Source Standard

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Aliko Dangote: A lesson for African entrepreneurs
March 23, 2014 | 1 Comments

I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” – Aliko Dangote

images (1)Alhaji Aliko Dangote represents what African businessmen should be. He is an example for aspiring entrepreneurs across the continent. Start small, aim very high, identify and take advantage of opportunities. Do not be discouraged by challenges.   Give, and give generously to help others make progress.

That was how Aliko Dangote, who started out as a trader of commodities, became Africa’s leading businessman, with companies in 16 countries, employing over 10,000 people. In the process, he became the richest African and black man on the planet, with a personal fortune of $25 billion. It is this feat that makes him eminently qualified, and deservingly recognised as the Vanguard Newspaper African Personality of the Year.

Born with the Midas touch

When on 10th of April 1957, a male child was born in Kano; little was heard or known of the child. Like Shakespeare wrote in one of his epic books, Julius Caesar, ‘when beggars die there are no comets seen but the heavens themselves blaze the death of Princes’. In some dynasties and royalties, when kings are born, they are celebrated.

hat was not the case in Kano when Aliko Dangote was born. He was just like any other child. He, like other children, learnt to crawl, walk and run. He cried like others but at school, he was focused on what he chose to do.

He probably discovered his destiny early enough and keyed into it. In his words: “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.” Dangote, right from when he was young had his eyes on business.

He had always, as all real entrepreneurs do, seen opportunities where others see high risk and failure. In an atmosphere of difficulty, when others would have given up, he took the risk. He is known for taking great risks in a highly risky environment.

He has grown to have a Midas touch in every business he ventured into. He started as a commodity trader, he made success of it, he entered into sugar refining, and he made success of it. He set up cement manufacturing; he has made a huge success of it.

Now he is venturing into petroleum product refining. His hard work has set him apart to the envy of his detractors who only see him as a beneficiary of government waiver and concession. But there are others who have had the same benefit but could not make anything tangible from it.

That has brought success to him, his family, state and his country. He has invested in the various sectors of the Nigerian economy and across the African continent thus creating millions of direct and indirect jobs in the continent of Africa. He has become a business colossus that bestrides the global business environment, making him the richest African today.

Undeterred by Risks & Uncertainties

In one of the articles written by Jonathan Berman in Harvard Business review entitled; American CEOs should Stop Complaining about Uncertainty, he wrote how uncertainty has not deterred Aliko Dangote from investing in Nigeria and across Africa. In the write-up, Barman said: “This month, the chief executive officers of America’s biggest companies went on a media blitz to decry the uncertainty caused by the fiscal cliff. In such uncertain times, they say, they are hesitant to invest in the US economy.

I departed Washington in the midst of these rumblings to attend a forum of Africa’s leading CEOs. Here’s a quick sample of the scheduled participants: Aliko Dangote, CEO of Dangote Cement. He’s building a $2 billion fertilizer plant in his native Nigeria. He recently announced the next two growth markets for sizeable investment by his group are Iraq and Myanmar.

“For Dangote and many other executives in frontier markets, uncertainty is not the inhibitor of opportunity. It is the condition in which opportunity arises. That is a reasonable perspective to look for in American CEOs as well.” The moving force behind private enterprise all over the world is what Adam Smith described as the invisible hand that allocates resources in the most uncertain environment.

It is real entrepreneurs that see opportunity in very risky areas, yet go in there with the hope of making profit. Business is about taking risk and any local entrepreneur that is not ready to take risk is not a genuine businessman. Dangote saw opportunities in the very uncertain and tough business environment in Nigeria. From trading in rice, sugar and other commodities, he veered into manufacturing in an environment many foreign and local investors see as very risky.

Alhaji   Aliko Dangote’s business empire is estimated at a net worth of $20.8 billion as of November 2013 spanning interests in commodities with operations in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa , including Benin, Cameroon, Togo , Ghana, South Africa  and Zambia. Dangote in 2013 was ranked by Forbes Magazine   as the 43rd richest person in the world and the richest man in Africa based on his investment and the listing of his companies’ interest at the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Taking some of his companies to the exchange has given other Nigerians opportunities to share in his success and has shown that he operates his companies in an open manner.

Early life

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a northerner, precisely from Kano State, Nigeria, was born on the 10th of April 1957 into a wealthy Muslim family. He studied Business at the Al-Azhar University   in Cairo, Egypt   and thereafter returned to Nigeria to borrow from his uncle, Sanusi Abdulkadir Dantata. The uncle (Dantata) eventually gave him a loan of N500,000 when he was just 21 years old to start his own business.

Business career

The Dangote Group which started as a small trading firm was established in the year 1977. Today, it is a multi-trillion naira   conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin, Ghana , Nigeria, and Togo. At present, Dangote has enlarged his line of businesses to also cover food processing, cement manufacturing and freight. The Dangote Group also dominates the sugar and cement markets in Nigeria and is a major sugar supplier to Nigeria’s soft drink   companies, breweries , and confectioners.

The Dangote Group has also moved from being a trading company to being the largest industrial group in Nigeria and the group includes: Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement and Dangote Flour   just to mention but a few. He plans to set up the largest petroleum product refinning facility in Nigeria.

In the month of July 2012, he approached the Nigerian Ports Authority with the idea of leasing an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port, which was welcomed and approved. He later went to build facilities for his flour company there. In the 90’s, he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with a proposal that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company manage their fleet of staff buses which was also approved.

He owns the Obajana Cement plant which is the largest cement manufacturing facility in Africa. Apart from these, Dangote Group owns salt factories and flour mills and also a major importer of rice, fish, pasta and fertilizer. The company exports cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seed and ginger to several countries. It also has major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles and oil and gas.

The company employs over 11,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in the whole of West Africa. Dangote is also exploring the telecommunications sector and has started building 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria and as a result, he was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, continues to expand his publicly traded Dangote Cement across the continent, announcing plans to build new plants in Kenya and Niger. With operations in about eight countries, it is the largest cement manufacturer in sub-Sahara Africa.

In May 2013, Dangote said he would build a $9 billion oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Nigeria. When completed, it will be Nigeria’s first and Africa’s largest petroleum refinery.

His words; “As an investor who believes in Nigeria, knows Nigeria well and whose prosperity was made in Nigeria, we have responded to the challenge with our decision to invest $ 9 billion in a refinery/petrochemical and fertilizer complex to be located at the OKLNG Free Trade Zone.   This complex will be the largest industrial complex project ever in the history of our great nation.

On the 14th of November, 2011, Dangote was awarded a National Honour, Nigeria’s second highest honour, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger   (GCON ) by the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan .

Apart from his business acumen, he is also a philanthropist who has collaborated with American billionaire, Bill Gates Foundation to invest in the provision of health especially the eradication of polio in Africa and other parts of the world where the disease is still prevalent.

The DANGOTE Group consists of:

Dangote Cement Plc

Dangote Sugar Refinery  Plc

Dangote Flour Mills Plc

 Dangote Pasta Plant Limited

Dangote Agro Sacks Limited

Prayer Mats Production

Dangote Salt Plc

Ports Operations


Steel Production

Dangote Foods Limited

Real Estate


Oil Refinery, Petrochemicals and Fertilisers

The Philanthropic side of Dangote

To underscore his belief in giving back to the society, Aliko Dangote, through his Dangote Foundation, has over the years committed a lot of his resources into philanthropic activities.

The Dangote Foundation which was set up in 1994 is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Dangote Group.   The Foundation intervenes in the areas of health, education and empowerment. The Foundation is also involved in providing humanitarian aid to victims of natural disasters. It has contributed over $100 million (about N16 billion) in charitable funds to several causes in Nigeria and Africa over the past four years.

Dangote recently announced plans to endow the Foundation with N200 billion ($1.25 billion). He said the endowment would come from personal contributions as well as shares of his publicly quoted companies, which would be transferred to the Foundation for onward disbursement to beneficiaries. He added that this will ensure that the Foundation has secure and steady funding to carry out its mission as we significantly scale up our work.

images (3)Board of Trustees of the Foundation include Dangote as Chairman; his brother, Sani; his daughter, Halima Aliko Dangote; Chief Operating Officer, Dangote Industries Limited, Olakunle Alake; A.B Mahmoud (SAN); former Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede; wife of the former Ekiti State Governor, Angela Adebayo; wife of the former Managing Director/CEO Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Hajara Adeola; and Group Chief Executive Officer, Renaissance Capital West Africa, Mrs. Yvonne Ike-Fasinro.


$500,000 to boost UNICEF’s fight against measles

The Dangote Foundation contributed $500,000 (N79.15 million) through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the Federal Government’s response to recent measles outbreak that affected many states in Nigeria. The donation was announced on April 12, 2013 in Lagos during a visit to the office of the Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote, by a delegation of the UNICEF led by the Country Representative, Ms. Jean Gough. Gough lauded Dangote Foundation saying: “Public-Private sector interventions such as these in the health sector and other sectors such as water and early childhood development are the way forward for Nigeria to improve the well-being of Nigerian children.” The grant is a major contribution to government’s fight against measles which is among the leading causes of child deaths in Nigeria, especially in areas where immunization coverage is low.

The grant from Dangote Foundation, Ms. Gough pointed out, will support the measles campaign of the government through its Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).   Dangote said the issue of health and safe living was a core responsibility in the discharge of the corporate social responsibility of the Foundation pointing out that “we have a common synergy with UNICEF in the areas of health, education and nutrition and we hope that our efforts will encourage more private sector operators to engage with on­going efforts to improve the well-being of Nigerians.”

$6.4m to International Cancer Centre Abuja (ICCA)

Dangote Foundation made a donation of $6.4 million towards building a world class International Cancer Centre in Abuja, in 2009. The donation is to strengthen the fight against the disease.   The International Cancer Centre Abuja (ICCA) was initiated by Dr. Hajiya Turai Umaru Yar’Adua, former First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a non-­ governmental humanitarian project devoted to training, research and diagnosis of various forms of cancer. It is intended to be a one-stop centre, providing a comprehensive range of high quality, holistic and cost effective treatment for cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa. The centre will actively engage in research geared towards prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Education and public awareness programmes will be employed as tools for cancer control and prevention.

Donates dialysis machines to Lagos General Hospital

Dangote Foundation, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Victoria Island, donated two dialysis machines to the Dialysis Centre of the Lagos General Hospital, Marina, in April 2010, to facilitate treatment of patients with acute and chronic kidney disease. In addition, the Foundation provides all the consumables used for the treatment. This has drastically reduced the treatment charges on the patients. “The machines have been of utmost importance and inestimable benefits to the patients who come from far and near to receive medical support. The machines have been very useful serving both the acute and chronic kidney patients.” – Dr. Sade Soyinka, Dialysis Centre at Lagos General Hospital, Marina, Lagos

$ 2.6m to flood victims & women in Kogi

President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, on October 5, 2012, announced a donation of $2.6 million (N430 million) to victims of the flood disaster and for women empowerment in Kogi State. At a ceremony attended by top government functionaries in the state capital, Lokoja, Dangote said the contribution which is given through his Dangote Foundation is meant to complement the efforts of the government in providing relief materials to the victims and in resettling them as soon as possible. Dangote who gave out $312,500 (N50 million) worth of foodstuff and relief materials, and $937,000 (N150 million) in cash, also said $1.4 million (N230 million) would be distributed to 1,000 women in each of the 21 local government areas of the state to boost economic activities.

imagesIn his speech entitled: Lending a Helping Hand,” Dangote said, he was touched by the pain the victims were passing through, noting that the flood has led to loss of lives and property and may cause outbreak of epidemic. “Obviously, the government alone cannot shoulder this onerous responsibility of bringing relief to the victims,” he said.

Partners Bank of Industry (BOI) to boost job creation

Dangote Foundation and the Bank of Industry (BOI) signed a partnership deal that will create direct employment for one million Nigerians over the next few years, on March 7, 201 1 in Lagos.

The partners announced the funds release of $32 million in the first tranche, which is expected to grow up to $128 million eventually.

Dangote Foundation committed $16 million to the fund, while BOI also contributed a matching fund of $16 million, thus creating a total fund of $32 million to launch the fund. The fund would be used for lending to groups in the informal sector of the economy, as take off or working capital to support their businesses.

The Dangote component of the fund attracts zero interest, while that of BOI is 5 per cent. This is expected to impact directly on up to 13,000 registered groups in the entire country, each with an average of 20 entrepreneurs, thus impacting the lives of up to 250,000 micro-entrepreneurs, through job creation, spreading across all six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. The project is first of its kind in the country.

Some beneficiaries of the Dangote/BOI partnership:

Ken Baxton Limited: Secured about N19 million ($118,012) loan from Dangote/BOI intervention fund at five per cent interest rate.

Stallion (Ikeja) Cooperative Multi-purpose Society Ltd: Secured a N4.8 million ($29,813) loan under the Dangote/ BOI Fund with just 5 per cent interest rate.

Afriks Vegetable Oil Multi-purpose Cooperative Society, Kano State: Secured a N5.1 million ($31,677) Dangote/BOI loan which has enabled it to expand its operations.

Kudenda Thure Multi-purpose Cooperative Society: Secured N5.25 million ($32,609) loan which has enabled it to employ more hands to run two production shifts.

Geese (Ikeja) Cooperative Society Limited: Secured N7.5 million ($46,584) loan at 5 per cent interest.

Wahabiyya Vegetable Oil and Cold Room: Secured N5.28 million ($32,795) loans under the Dangote/ BOI Fund

 *Source Vanguard Nigeria]]>

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Lupita Nyong’o: The Kenyan star who stunned Hollywood
March 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lupita Nyong’o accepts her Oscar. (Pic: AFP) Lupita Nyong’o accepts her Oscar. (Pic: AFP)[/caption] Lupita Nyong’o, winner of the best supporting actress Oscar on Sunday, stunned Hollywood in her big-screen debut with her searing turn as an abused servant in 12 Years A Slave. The Kenyan actress and Yale School of Drama graduate, who turned 31 on Saturday, has risen in a year from relative obscurity to Hollywood’s A list, winning plaudits for both her efforts on screen and her impeccable fashion sense. Nyong’o has already picked up the Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice awards for best supporting actress for her turn as Patsey, a slave brutalised by her sadistic owner, played by Michael Fassbender. “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” a tearful Nyong’o said Sunday upon accepting her award, after receiving a standing ovation from the audience. “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” Unusual career choice Born in Mexico – the source of her Spanish name, and where her father was teaching political science at university – Nyong’o grew up in Kenya as the second of six children. Acting is hardly a common career in Kenya for the child of a powerful politician, but her father, one-timehealth minister Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, said the family had always supported her dreams. “She started acting very young, right from kindergarten, and even at home with just the family, she would come up with make-believe stories and perform them for us,” he told Kenya’s East African newspaper. “She was always imaginative and creative.” The career of Nyong’o – who now lives in the United States after studying at Hampshire College in Massachusetts and later at Yale – has been avidly followed by the media in her home nation, who remember her first major role on a television show. She was inspired to follow an acting career after working as a production assistant on the 2005 drama “The Constant Gardener.” Actor Ralph Fiennes then told her only to get into acting if she couldn’t live without it. “It’s not what I wanted to hear, but it’s what I needed to hear,” she told Arise Entertainment in a recent interview. First time lucky She struck gold with her first major role in 12 Years a Slave – a role she says she almost did not get because director Steve McQueen thought she “might be too pretty.” Critics have hailed her turn in Patsey, which included some very difficult scenes, including one in which she is viciously whipped while tied to a pole. “Acting is an exercise of deep trust in yourself and an exercise in letting go: Do [all of your preparation] and then trust that when the [filming] day comes, and you’re in the room with Michael Fassbender, what you need will come through,” she told Entertainment Weekly. Nyong’o – who is now appearing in the thriller Non-Stop, starring Liam Neeson – faced many challenges at the start of her career. “She told me there were already actors and actresses in the US, and the odds were against her. Her dark skin tone, her short hair, her Kenyan accent, her name,” recalls Kenyan actor Antony Mwangi, who worked with her in Nairobi. Ahead of her triumph on Sunday night, Nyong’o said she hoped to inspire a new generation of black actresses. “In many ways, me being on the scene is doing for little girls everywhere what Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg did for me,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “My world exploded by them being on screen. Hopefully I will inspire and be meaningful to other people. But I can’t take on other people’s dreams for me. I can only dream for myself.” *Source AFP]]>

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Tony Elumelu: The ‘Africapitalist’ who wants to power Africa
November 17, 2013 | 4 Comments

By Earl Nurse and Jill Dougherty*

Nigerian businessman Tony Elumelu is the founder and chairman of Nigeria-based investment company Heirs Holdings. You’ve probably heard by now about the Afropolitans and the Afropreneurs — but what about the Africapitalists?

It’s the term created by Nigerian entrepreneur Tony Elumelu, one of Africa’s most successful businessmen, to describe what he believes holds the key to the continent’s future well-being.

According to Elumelu, Africapitalism is the economic philosophy “that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.”

Elumelu champions the idea that long-term focus on key sectors such as infrastructure and power does not only offer high returns but, in the process, can also help Africa deal with pressing problems such as unemployment and food security.

“The information people have about Africa in America and the western world is one of aid, one of squalor, one of poverty, one of religious crisis,” says Elumelu, who first found success after turning a struggling Nigerian bank into a global financial institution. “They need to begin to see that Africa is a continent of economic opportunities — a lot of potential and the returns on investment in Africa is huge.”

Backing his words with actions, Elumelu, the former chief executive of the United Bank for Africa, who went on to create investment company Heirs Holdings in 2010, has pledged $2.5 billion to U.S. President Barack Obama’s“Power Africa” initiative — a campaign aiming to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

CNN’s African Voices spoke to Elumelu about Africapitalism, doing business in Africa and his goals for the future. An excerpt of the interview follows.

CNN: What is Africapitalism and how does it work?

Tony Elumelu: From interacting with customers, with communities, with local governments, state governments and national governments, I started to see a pattern that indeed we can as a private sector help to develop Africa in a manner that’s truly sustainable. I also, as a good student of economic history, have observed the development of the African continent and come to realize that despite all the aid inflows into Africa and despite our sovereign government commitment to develop in the continent, not much was achieved.

But … if we can mobilize the African private sector and non-African private sector operating in Africa to think long-term, to invest long-term in Africa in key sectors, then we might end up creating economic wealth, economic prosperity and social wealth. That is Africapitalism.

CNN: Which areas does the private sector in Africa focus on?

TE: The private sector in Africa was largely dependent on government patronage, government contracts. But today, it has changed significantly. You have the private sector in Africa today that is adding real value to the economy through engagements in payment systems; through engagement in key infrastructure projects; through engagement in manufacturing and processing of raw materials in Africa and exporting this within the continent.

So it’s a significant shift from where the private sector was before to where it is today and we’re beginning to see a new crop of private sector people in Africa who believe under the sun that they have a role to play in the development of the continent.

CNN: Why did Heirs Holding decided to commit $2.5 billion to the “Power Africa” initiative?

TE: Because we understand as Africapitalists the importance of power, access to electricity, in unleashing the economic potential of Africa. Because of that, we felt since we preach that the private sector should do long-term investment in Africa in key sectors, there is no sector at this point in time to us that is as strategic as power sector in dealing with the issue of economic empowerment, democratization of economic prosperity across the continent than power.

CNN: Looking ahead, what do you think is going to be the most important source of power?

Earlier this year, Heirs Holdings backed U.S. President Barack Obama's "Power Africa" plan -- an initiative aiming to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.TE: Africa is coming from a deficit position — only 20% of 1.2 billion people have access to electricity. So we need to think of the kind of projects that will help us create the quantum leap we need in power. And I think that that is what should guide the options that we take.

So for me, I believe that we need five years of sustained, massive billion dollar investments (in the) power sector in Africa before we come to the level where we need to discriminate, is it this kind of power or that type of power? But let there be light first in Africa.

CNN: What are your goals for the future?

TE: My goals for the future are twofold — one is personal and two is about the continent. For my personal goal I would like to continue to impact my team. Because you get to a certain level where you wake up in the morning not necessarily because you want to earn a living — you wake up in the morning I think about impact, about legacies, what impact am I going to leave behind?

And so I decide to look at the African continent and I tell myself this is a continent that is about to explode but lacks certain vital ingredients. And so what role can I play in making sure that some of those challenges are addressed in my lifetime, so that my children will not as a kind of question I asked of my parents and grandparents, where were they when the war started?

So that’s important to me. And that is why we invest in power. Not just because I want to make more money, which is good, but because we touch lives significantly making that money.

*Source CNN

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