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21 Entrepreneurial Lessons from the Life of Aliko Dangote

21 Entrepreneurial Lessons from the Life of Aliko Dangote

If you are in Africa but have never heard of Aliko Dangote, then you must have been living under a rock. Undoubtedly the richest man in Africa with a net worth exceeding $20 billion, the entrepreneurial legacies of Dangote are worthy of study. Anyone who seriously desires to reproduce the success streaks of Dangote in business would be ready to learn his secrets.

If outstanding entrepreneurs and business students study the lives and times of wealthy people such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mukesh Ambani among others, then the entrepreneurial streaks of Aliko Dangote deserve greater scrutiny – for wealth creation purposes.

21 Entrepreneurial Lessons from the Life of Aliko Dangote

Who is Aliko Dangote?

Born on April 10, 1957, in Kano State, Dangote studied Business Administration at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, and graduated in 1978. His parents and uncles were commodity traders, so Dangote began trading rice, salt, sugar, grains, and cement after his return to Nigeria. He founded Dangote Limited as his business enterprise and his breakthrough came in the 1990s when he went into cement manufacturing.

Given his outstanding success in cement production, Dangote ventured into sugar manufacturing and soon began manufacturing household products such as pasta, flour, noodles, salt, and other necessities. With huge governmental support under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dangote went into agriculture, real estate, oil and gas, telecommunications, and most recently, an oil refinery.

Over the years, Aliko Dangote emerged as the richest man in Africa with companies in more than 17 countries around the continent. Some of his companies under the Dangote Group include Dangote Cement Plc, Dangote Sugar Refinery, NASCON Allied Industries, Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals, and Dangote Foundation among others.

A taciturn and very modest man, Dangote is also a big philanthropist who revealed that he did not just become wealthy overnight.

“I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008,” he revealed in an interview. “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.”

21 Lessons from the Business Successes of Aliko Dangote

Here are some of the top lessons you can learn from the wealthiest entrepreneur in Africa and the richest black man in the world:

1. Dangote is a University Graduate

Although thousands of millionaires around the world are school dropouts, Aliko Dangote demonstrates that quality education is essential to success. A university graduate, Dangote employed his academic qualifications in business administration to move his commodity trading business to the largest industrial conglomerate in Africa and beyond.

2. Dangote Started Small with What He Had

Aliko Dangote started a business with what he had. You must equally start with what you have. And you must start from where you are. Don’t wait till you have a big capital and all the resources before you launch your business. It is best to start with the little you have and then scale it to where you want it to be.

3. Dangote Knows How to Seize Opportunities

Dangote knows how to seize opportunities – and you must too. Entrepreneurship is all about identifying economic opportunities and seizing them before they become too obvious. To seize opportunities, you must be ready to take economic risks. But you must only take calculated risks; risks that align with your business goals and that do not undermine your business ethics.

4. Dangote Understands Consumer Trends

To succeed in business like Dangote does, you must understand consumer trends. You must be able to analyze popular tastes and the general direction in which the tastes are moving. Consumer tastes change within months or years, and successful products capture these tastes as they change or evolve. You must be able to determine what consumers would want in the next two years, and position your products to meet those future tastes.

5. Dangote Did Not Increase His Standard of Living

Anyone who knows Aliko Dangote can testify to his simple lifestyle. He does not live an opulent lifestyle or live to impress anyone. He is always himself with modest clothing, cars, and residence. This wealthiest man in Africa does not talk about money or discuss business in public; he pulls his strings from behind the scenes and no one knows what he is doing at any point in time.

6. Dangote Amassed the Best Business Teams in The Continent

As the richest black man in the world, Dangote has amazing business teams in place to manage every aspect of his large business. He is also a very detribalized business tycoon with no sense of racism. He employs large numbers of foreigners from all countries of the world and pays them top wages to work in his companies. He hires only the best to achieve the best in his businesses.

See Also: 11 Top Sources of Funding For Your Business in Nigeria

7. Dangote Patronizes and Works With Current Administrations

Although Dangote came to national limelight during the Obasanjo administration, the business magnate has learnt to work and excel under the subsequent Musa Yaradua administration, Jonathan Goodluck administration, Muhammadu Buhari administration, and the current Bola Tinubu government. Without being political in any way, this mogul is a master at making each successive government formulate policies that keep his business prosperous.

8. Dangote Invests In Household and Everyday Goods

Starting from a humble background of selling household commodities, Dangote instinctively knows that the money is in the food business. Today, his companies manufacture household necessities such as sugar, salt, pasta, noodles, flour, cooking oils, and cement. And understanding that the four oil refineries in Nigeria are producing below capacity, the businessman also went into oil refinery. So long individuals and families must eat every day; Dangote’s businesses will continue to bloom.

9. Dangote is A Huge Philanthropist With a Large Heart

Without making any noise about it, Dangote is one of the biggest philanthropists in Nigeria. Through his Dangote Foundation, the billionaire donates to health, economic, education, and other major causes around the country and beyond. In 2009, he donated $6.4 million to the construction of the world-class International Cancer Centre in Abuja. In 2012, he donated $2.6 million to flood victims in Nigeria, and he donated two dialysis machines to Lagos General Hospital in Marina.

The business tycoon gave $500,000 to UNICEF to fight measles outbreak in Nigeria, and he also gave millions of dollars to the African Union to eradicate Ebola disease in Africa. He also gives generously to eradicate poverty and improve healthcare and education across Africa

10. Dangote Sees Into The Future and Plans Long Term

Aliko Dangote seems to see into the future. He is a businessman who understands consumer trends and economic projections. His businesses seem to have been insulated from inflation, global economic crises, currency fluctuations, and political instabilities; the more the economic turmoils in the country and throughout the African continent, the more buoyant his businesses get. This is largely because he plans long-term and positions his businesses against future uncertainties.

11. Dangote Diversifies Into Several Industries

Apart from household necessities, Dangote is also into cement manufacturing, fertilizer production, and goods haulage with heavy trucks across the country. He has his finger in every pie. Everything he touches turns to gold. This canny Hausaman is highly prudent, visionary, calculative, and adventurous. He has a way of using one industry to boost another industry to his business successes.

12. Dangote Builds On Partnerships and Industry Networks

Dangote is an acclaimed guru when it comes to leveraging professional and business relationships. He is also a magician at courting the love of governments, foreign agencies, international businesses, and authority figures. He is always able to harness the partnership of global organizations and regional alliances to further his business interests. Without this knack, his continental businesses across several industries would not be where they are today.

13. Dangote Has a Strong Work Ethics

Dangote is arguably a very hardworking entrepreneur. Being a visionary decision-maker and a calculating risk-taker, this astute businessman must live and work by very strong values to succeed. Some of the outstanding values he lives by are honesty, long hours of work, working overnight even when paid employees are asleep, personal discipline, humility, endurance, and religion among others.

14. Dangote Embraces Innovations and Adaptations

According to close associates, Dangote constantly works to outsmart himself. He follows global trends, market dynamics, industry development, knowledge acquisition, and technological innovations among others. He leverages his education and the core expertise of his management teams to stay ahead of the competition and win the approval of regional governments. He also adapts to the economic and political dynamics of each country he operates in.

15. Dangote Believes In His Industrial Visions

To succeed like Dangote, you must believe in yourself and in what you can do. This Nigerian billionaire does not believe in impossibilities, and you mustn’t believe in impossibility either. You must believe that there is a market awaiting you out there, and that you hold the solutions to people’s problems within and across the divides.

16. Dangote Knows His Strengths and Weaknesses

As an astute businessman and investor, Dangote knows his weaknesses and strengths. In your personal and business lives, you must know your limits and how far you can push your boundaries. Dangote has never been known for any family or business scandals, because he knows his limits. As an entrepreneur, you must operate within your limits to avoid personal scandals that could undermine the success of your endeavours.

17. Dangote is Working For The Needs of All of Africa

When you see yourself as a solution, you will navigate around problems to meet the needs of people. Dangote sees himself as the food solution of Africa. He believes that the majority of the problems of Africa would be solved if the food problem is taken out of the equation. He set out to put food on the table of African families by producing the majority of the staple foods they eat.

18. Dangote Works to Establish Socio-economic Impacts

This self-made billionaire goes beyond producing household foods and necessities to producing what people need to build their houses and the gases they need to run their cars. He manufactures cement, fertilizers, petrol, and industrial gases for industrial uses. All of Dangote’s undertakings are targeted at producing socio-economic solutions to the needs of Africans.

19. Dangote Does Not Dream Small; Knows No Impossibility

You can start small and dream big. Starting small does not mean you should dream small. Dreaming big will sustain and motivate you while starting small. As an entrepreneur, you must always dream and see possibilities even when you have no present resources to achieve them. Just like Dangote, your slogan should be “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

20. Dangote is a role model and inspiration for many

Dangote is a role model and inspiration to millions of people across the world. Successful and aspiring entrepreneurs hold him in high esteem across all industries, and politicians court his favour for their careers. His personal life is free from scandals, and his public life is blameless in every way. No one has ever accused this billionaire of saying or doing anything out of line.

21. Dangote is Not Afraid of Borrowing or Taking Loans

Although Dangote has never hinted at borrowing money to finance his many businesses, industrial experts believe he may have borrowed from banks along the way to expand his conglomerate. At any rate, you must not be afraid to take loans from banks and friends if you must scale your business or expand into other industries. If you must borrow to grow your business, then so be it.


In concluding this discourse on the 21 entrepreneurial lessons from the life of Aliko Dangote, you must imbibe these lessons to enjoy financial independence, entrepreneurial success, wealth creation streaks, and innovative creativity among other things. You must understand that to truly be a millionaire, you must be an entrepreneur who follows in the sure steps of Dangote, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson among others.