Why Aliko Dangote became the World’s Richest Black Person

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The name “Aliko Dangote” has a tendency to summon distinctive responses amongst Nigerians and non-natives. Truth be told, the name “Aliko Dangote” implies diverse things to various individuals. Aliko Dangote is one of only a handful couple of business people I hold in high regard; actually, he’s my business guide. Aside the organizations he has worked without any preparation and the billions of dollars he has made; the entrepreneurial existence of Aliko Dangote has been a wellspring of motivation to numerous young people in Nigeria. 

One day, I went to a branch of a bank (name withheld) to open a corporate account and I was asked to tender two references. For a while, I stood there in the banking hall; lost in thought, trying to figure out if there’s anyone I know that has an account with that bank and will be willing to stand as a referee for me. As I stood there with my form, somebody tapped me on my shoulder and asked why I was lost in thought. I explained my predicament to him and he suggested I approach a particular customer sitting in the banking hall. As I turned to see this would-be-customer; lo and behold, that customer was no other person than Aliko Dangote.

I walked up to him and requested he stood as a reference for me but he politely turned me down and stood to leave the bank. I followed him outside and pleaded with him to tell me the secret to his business success. Smiling, he placed his hand on my shoulder and said something I will never forget. He said:

“Some people are waiting for God to come to their aid; without knowing that they have the power to be what they want to be. The power to succeed is in-born in everyone; but it’s up to you to discover this power and use it to your advantage.”

And as I stood in awe, trying to grasp the advice coming from a billionaire; he politely ask to take his leave and rushed into the high rising building that stood opposite the road. As I stood there struggling to recollect everything I have been told; I woke up only to realize it was a dream. But I never saw it as just a mere dream; I saw it as a wakeup call, I saw it as an encouragement to press on. Now enough of the ramblings, let’s get back to the business of the day.

I have written about Aliko Dangote and his business success secrets but there’s still a lot to learn from this entrepreneur; who happens to be the richest black man in the world. Many people know that Aliko Dangote is worth billions of dollars; but only few know how he made it. So rather than tell you the story of his rise to success and fame, I will share with you some exclusive and underlying reasons why Aliko Dangote emerged the richest black man in the world. If you are ready to learn his secrets, then keep reading.

Why Aliko Dangote became the Richest Black Person in the World
1.            Aliko Dangote Creates Value
When it comes to creating value while still earning a profit; Aliko Dangote is the man to emulate. Now I know we all create and add value to life in our own little way but Dangote does this on a large scale. He began as an importer of cement and made a lot of money back then but to him; it wasn’t just about the money, it’s about the value created. That was why his mission is “To provide your basic needs” and he has invested heavily in building cement factories nationwide just to fulfill this mission.

These days, all we see and hear of are young millionaires and billionaires with companies valued at billions of dollars; but they have no solid assets and are yet to turn in a profit. I have also seen entrepreneurs that buy moribund companies and strip them of their assets; or they use these companies as leverage to raise funds but end up diverting the funds to other projects they have interest in, but not Dangote. Aliko Dangote has a number of successful companies in his portfolio that were once dead; he simply bought them and revitalized them.

Now you might be asking, what value has Dangote added to Nigeria? Well, think again. Look at the brand he built; the assets he invested in, the millions of dollars in tax his companies pay to the government, the management team he has assembled, the number of employees on his payroll, the investors buying and selling the stock of his companies and the millionaires he created; both directly and indirectly, and you will come to appreciate the value this man has singlehandedly created.

Aliko Dangote was once asked what he wants to be remembered for; and he said: “I want to be remembered as Africa’s greatest industrialist.” He never said he wanted to be Africa’s richest man; rather, he aims to create more value. Do you know how many jobs will be created by Dangote if he pursues his quest to be Africa’s greatest industrialist? I leave you to do the math.

So what’s the lesson here? The lesson here is: “Stop chasing shadows; stop dreaming about making millions of dollars. Instead, focus on creating value and once such value is created; strive to increase the scale.”

2.            He is focused on his core competence
Most entrepreneurs preach the need to focus; but only few practice what they preach. Aliko Dangote started out in business as a commodities trader; cement to be precise and 30+ years after, he still grinding it out as a cement merchant. He didn’t invest in tech, he didn’t invest in media and he never sojourned into active politics; he focused on his core competence, “commodities.” An industry he understands like the palm of his hand. Rather than divest his interest; he refines and innovates the mechanism of his businesses in this industry. All his other investments are simply vehicles to strengthen his core.

“And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret. Concentrate your energy, thoughts and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged in. Having begun in one line, resolve to fight it out on that line; to lead in it. Adopt every improvement, have the best machinery and know the most about it.” – Andrew Carnegie

As a final note, the above recipe is what makes a great entrepreneur and this is why Dangote became a billionaire. The lesson here is this: “Focus on your core competence. Don’t spread yourself thin; instead, seek ways to improve and innovate in your chosen field. Be the best at something; not everything.”