Alhaji Aliko Dangote was born into a prominent business family of Kano, on April 10, 1957. He is the grandson of Alhaji Alhassan Dantata,one of the richest Africans of his time. With an eye for business since childhood, he engaged himself in buying and selling early in life. According to him: “ 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 to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time”.
With a startup loan of 5,000:00 (Five thousand Naira only) in 1977 from his uncle, Alhaji Dantata, he established his business, which today has grown to become, the Dangote Group. The Dangote Group is today arguably the largest and most established conglomerate of African origin. The Dangote Group operates in areas that include, but not limited to, farming and food processing, cement manufacturing, freight, transportation and general merchandising. The Dangote Group is also an industrial complex with active participation in sugar and salt, refineries, pasta and flour mills as well as petroleum and petrol-chemical refinery. The Group with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, has presence in other countries like Benin Republic, Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote is rated by Forbes as African’s richest man and among the world’s 100 richest men with a networth of over S4.5 billion. He has received several honours and recognition across the world, including from Forbes. The Nigerian government, in appreciation of his contribution to economic, industrial and social cultural development of the nation, awarded him the Grand Commander of the order of the Niger, GCON, the highest honour for a civilian in the land. He is also a recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from several higher institutions, including Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan ,UI.
Alhaji Dangote was honoured as The Guardian Man of The Year 2015.The prestigious recognition ,according to the Chairman/Publisher of Guardian Newspapers Limited, Lady Maiden Alex- Ibru, was in keeping with the tradition of the media outfit to celebrate trailblazers.
According to the publisher, The Guardian saw early on the need to single out trailblazers as worthy examples for the society, which necessitated the institution of the Man of the Year Award, to celebrate individuals and groups that have made the greatest impact in the lives of the people, nation, continent and the world.
Speaking on the choice of Dangote for the award, Mrs. Ibru said the highly successful entrepreneur was an easier pick.Her words “In our estimation, he stood shoulders higher than others in his bold efforts to become the builder of modern Africa, to create jobs for our teeming population and courageously confront conventional wisdom that says an African entrepreneur stands no chance when pitched against multinational firms from Europe, North America and Asia.”
In the process, Alhaji Aliko has rewritten the form book that indicates that Africans would rather patronise western and Asian firms than one of their own. In choosing Dangote, The Guardian is making a poignant statement about the role of the newspaper in the society- One of which is identifying heroes and publicising good examples as a way of redirecting the values of the society. This is what The Guardian has sought to do with the personalities chosen over the years.”
In his remarks, Dangote said he had received three awards that year (2015 )and the one from The Guardian stood out from the others beating the two from Forbes. According to him, the Forbes Award was about his worth monetarily which does not matter to him because he would rather work hard than somebody telling him his worth, because “I know what I am worth.”
He noted that feats by indigenous investors are often times not recognised by their countries and in the local media, thus making The Guardian award notable and commendable.
With at least $16 billion worth of investments in the Nigerian economy, the President of Dangote Group has unveiled plans to surpass the Federal Government’s investments in the private sector since 1980 through expansion of its existing capacity and raising stakes in new investments.
A philanthropist per excellence, he has impacted positively on the lives of many, especially on women and children through the activities of the Dangote Foundation.
According to Wikipedia, The Dangote Foundation is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Dangote Group. The foundation is responsible for contributing over $100 million in charitable funds to several causes in Nigeria and Africa over the past four years.The primary aim of the foundation is to reduce the number of lives lost due to malnutrition and diseases.
In 1997 the foundation was incorporated as a charity in Lagos. Twenty years later, it has become the largest private Foundation in sub-Saharan Africa with the largest endowmwnt by a single donor. Aliko Dangote created the Aliko Dangote Foundation as a vehicle for philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, focusing on helping the less privileged. The organization started off being largely grant based but has evolved to operate and implement programs and has intervened in various areas, most notably healthcare and disaster relief.
In 2013, IT collaborated with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to work on eradicating polio and strengthening routine immunization in northern NIgeria. As a direct result of this ongoing patnership, there has not been any new case of polio since July 2014, but in 2016, new cases were founded.
In 2014, a new board of trustees was appointed to oversee the Foundation and Aliko Dangote endowed the Foundation with 220 bilion Naira, the equivalent of $1.25 billion. The board appointed a new management team in January 2015, with a clear mandate to develop a new strategy.
Activities Some of the foundation’s activities in Nigeria include N1 billion for Nigerian universities.This includes N500 million for development of a business school in Bayero University and N100 million for the proposed Otuoke University in Bayelsa State. The Foundation also disbursed N230 million to women e as a micro grant as part of the Kogi Human Capital Development initiative. In order to alleviate the plight of communities in Jos suffering from effects of a prolonged ethno-religious crises in 2010, the Dangote Foundation made a donation of relief materials worth N50 million to the community leaders.The foundation is actively involved in providing relief materials and rehabilation support to victims of insurgency in the North East as well as other internally displaced persona across the country.
Activities abroad: The foundation donated $2 million to the World Food Programme as part of efforts to help Pakistani devastated by floods in the year 2010. Speaking on the donation, Dangote said: “The hearts of all Africans go out to the people of Pakistan as they go through this ordeal. Africa is not only a recipient of humanitarian aid, but is also able to help her brothers and sisters in Pakistan and elsewhere where there is suffering. Helping our family, in this case our global family is part of Africa’s traditional values.”
Flooding relief in Nigeria
The President of the Dangote Foundation, was made the chairperson of the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief. The Committee raised in excess of N11.35 billion, of which Dangote Foundation contributed N2.5 billion, an amount higher than the entire contribution from the 36 state governors in Nigeria.[
Strategic partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
In 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it had entered into a strategic partnership with the Dangote Foundation to eradicate polio in Nigeria
As aptly described at the 2015 Guardian Man of The Year Award by the newspapers Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Alexander Thomopoulous, “He is a pride to Nigeria, Africa and the black race across the world. His humility and character stands him out.”