The Secret Behind Aliko Dangote’s Success

“You could easily say that hard work and perseverance go hand in hand with patience. We often hear people say patience is worth it, yet we don’t practice it. I did and look how well it worked out for me.” Aliko Dangote

Most of us admire Aliko Dangote because of his successful businesses and his net worth of $16.7 billion as the number one richest man in Africa, but only few go extra mile to discover how he got started with his business idea, his motives, and dreams, and also to know how he got to where he is today. Some are only interested in reading about Dangote group of companies and trade mark business news and do little to find out about the man behind the trade Mark we see in Nigeria and some of other African Countries. In this Article, I’m going to share with you the secret behind his success, how he got started and what motivates him to become who he is today. Also you will discover how his dreams of becoming successful as an entrepreneur began at his early stage back then in primary school in Kano State, the Northern part of Nigeria. He is a business magnate, investor, and most importantly, the owner of a mega successful business trade mark called Dangote Group.

Aliko Dangote (MFR, GCON) Biography

Dangote was born on 10th April, 1957 into the family of Mohammed Dangote (Father) and Mariya Sanusi Dantata (Mother) of Kano State, the Northern part of Nigeria. He’s the great-grandson of Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, the richest West African at the time of his death in 1955. Aliko Dangote was educated at the Sheikh Ali Kumasi Madrasa, later by Capital High School where he gained his Secondary School Certificate, in Kano State. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies and Administration from the University of Al-Azhar, Cairo, Egypt.

His Humble Beginning

“I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets (candy) and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time” Says- Aliko Dangote

People will always think that why he became successful was because he came from a rich family, no; his idea about business was there even in his primary school education. He never wanted to do any other thing with his life; rather he continues to learn all he could about business and then built up from there. Back then, he was just a dream boy like every one of us but what made him exceptional was because of his enthusiastic and passionate about business and he gave it all he got. As his father passed away in 1965, at his early stage, his grandfather had to take over the responsibility of becoming his guardian. However, his story is still inspiring and motivating because not everyone from wealthy family can work hard to achieve personal accomplishments, and still have such business skills as a black man.

At the age of 21, He graduated from the Egyptian University called Al-Azhar University; it was after his entrepreneur began fully. After his graduation in Dangote he was able to convince his grandfather to lend him $2,500 to start up his business, which he promised to pay the money back after three years. When the money was given to him, he relocates to Lagos State, Nigeria where he started with is business as a young entrepreneur. He started his business with the importation of rice and sugar from Brazil and Thailand, and sells his goods to different parts of Nigeria. Few years later, his quickly reached high demand and became extremely profitable. Aliko Dangote as a smart guy with trustworthy personality, he paid back the money his grandfather lends to him in three months instead of three years he promised earlier on after starting his venture.

 He Established Some Good Connections
As a strong business man, he established and utilized some lots of connections and networking which made him to go beyond his own imaginations . Aliko Dangote went extra mile to meet others who are doing better than him and create his strong network of business and political connections with them. He built his own connections and strengthen by networking with others in the business world. He increased his corporate social responsibility, signing joint ventures and partnership deals, forming significant associations or affiliations, attending business conferences, making public donations, and paying courtesy visits to the big heads in the society. While doing so, his fortunes and business became popular in Nigeria and other African Countries –  it became and an opportunity for his business breakthrough because all these things helped to bring him to the limelight, however, paved way for opportunities. Almost all business successes were facilitated by one streak of luck or the other. Aliko Dangote had his own stroke when he secured a license to import cement.

The Dangote Group we all known today was established in 1977, the same year he decided to relocate to Lagos, in hopes of expanding the company. At first, Dangote Group was producing some Agricultural goods, as well as pasta, flour, and sugar. However, his little business became interesting for lots of people, and they started massively buying his goods that the Dangote Group produced. Today, this young man with great business idea has grown to become number billionaire in Nigeria and Africa as whole. Also, he has won the approval of government to established cement plants in different part of the country and some of other African countries. He is the number one sugar supplier in Nigeria and also has gained a very rich client base in every part of the country.

 He Went For Essential Commodities Everyone Needs
Essential commodities are one of the goods that make the most sales even in the midst of strong competitions. This is one of the ideas that enabled Aliko Dangote to hit his fortune. Based on his success story, it is best to trade in essential commodities, goods that satisfy the basic needs of life. This is because they are ever in steady demand all around the year. Dangote trades on essential commodities like Cement, Sugar, rice, pasta, salt, cotton, millet, cocoa, textile and vegetable oil. Look at your society and find out those commodities that cater for basic needs and if you keep other rules, you’re on your way to success.

Today his Dangote Group dominates the sugar market with his sugar refinery being the major supplier to 70% of the market. It also imports fish, rice, pasta, fertilizer and cement on a large scale. It exports cocoa, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, ginger and cotton to many countries. Dangote Group’s major investments include banking, textiles, real estate, gas and oil. With more than 11000 employees it is one of the biggest conglomerates in West Africa. Currently Dangote is looking into telecommunications; his present work includes building of fourteen thousand kilometers of optic cables in Nigeria. For all this work he was honored in 2009 as the largest provider of employment in the whole of Nigerian construction industry. In 2011 the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan awarded Dangote with Nigeria’s second highest honor the ‘Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger’

 He was Focused and Also Built Brand For Himself 
The need for focus in business can never be overemphasized. It is very vital as it is one of the forces that keep the businessman going up the ladder. He never force himself to do everything right at the beginning of his business ventures but his best. Such principle of doing his best in whatever he does helped him to get the best returns put at the end . He developed the best means in all area of his business where he could spread his resources into diverse channels because of his brand name. The major thing that helped Dangote was that he focused on his major area of competence. In addition to being focused is building an unbeatable brand in that area of specialization. Aliko Dangote so much believes in the power of branding that he built an unrivaled brand. Today, he’s into everything since his first brands paved the way for the upcoming businesses.

Some of Aliko Dangote’s Quotes

  • I enjoy myself a lot but I derive more joy in working. I believe in hard work and one of my business success secrets is hard work. It’s hard to see a youth that will go to bed by 2am and wake up by 5am. I don’t rest until I achieve something.
  • 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.
  • Endeavor to work as hard as possible to attain a new aim with each day that comes by. Don’t go to bed until you have achieved something productive.
  • Don’t kill the competition. Competition is healthy for businesses. It keeps you the entrepreneur on your toes.
  • Africa’s risks are mainly perceived and not real. Unfortunately for us in Africa we are not really very good at telling our own story. But things are changing and people are beginning to understand that things are going very, very well.
  • 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 commodities.
  • Manufacture, don’t just trade. There is money in manufacturing even though it is capital intensive. To achieve a big breakthrough, I had to start manufacturing the same product I was trading on; which is commodities.
If you want to become an established successful businessman, your number one aim should never be money. It is true that money is very important and even indispensable but that should not be your end. If you make money your end, you may make it but you’ll hardly be established, you’ll possibly fade away with time. Dangote was bent on adding value to the life of people. If his aim was just money-making, he may have been satisfied with importing cement because he made fortune out of it. But in other to achieve his mission, Dangote had to go about establishing factories all over the country and even beyond, providing thousands of employment opportunities. Another very important business strategy that made Aliko Dangote what he is today is that he knows the way around a healthy competition. He used selling quality goods at more affordable prices than his competitors to gain a huge customer loyalty. This, however, requires some sacrifice. And you will only be able to pay this price if money is not your major aim.


Despite all this wealth and outstanding achievements as a businessman, Dangote remains as simple, hardworking, humble and cool headed as he was in the very beginning. He is the owner of the largest industrial business in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa providing bread and butter for thousands of families with his employment opportunities. He is the richest African, and in the world he’s an inspiration for the young minds who want to succeed as entrepreneurs.

Until Next Time, Live Exceptionally!!!

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