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How Dangote borrowed N500k from uncle, Dantata to set up $11.9 billion Empire

Nigerian businessman and billionaire tycoon, Alhaji Aliko Dangote is the richest man in Africa by a mile and proclaimed to be the richest black man alive. “Aliko Dangote is the richest Black billionaire, and has held the title since 2013″  As seen on He owns 85% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest. It does not stop there, Dangote Sugar is also a big gun in the booming Nigerian Sugar industry as well as high stakes in the lucrative oil & gas industry with 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) integrated refinery and petrochemical project under construction in the Lekki Free Zone.


Many would say Dangote built his billion-dollar Empire ($11.9 billion, according to Forbes), leveraging on his powerful and rich family through which he got a loan of N500,000 from his uncle, Alhassan Dantata to start trading soft commodities. His business made a huge success from the onset that he paid back his uncle in full in just three months.


Dangote (First from left) pictured with his uncle Alhassan Dantata and two other men (Source: investopidia)

Dangote was born April 10, 1957, to a wealthy and entrepreneurial household. He was born and bred in Kano, the second biggest commercial and industrial center in Nigeria. He grew up in a wealthy Islamic family. Dangote’s grandfather, Sanusi Dantata, was considered to be one of the wealthiest people in the pre-colonial era. He made his fortune selling commodities like oats and rice. Alhassan Dantata became Dangote’s guardian in 1965 after the death of his father.

Dangote quickly became interested in the world of business, once saying, “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.” A move that could be attributed to his time with his father as a child. Dangote’s interest in business fully began after graduating as a Business Major from prestigious Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, an Islamic higher institution considered to be one of the best in the world according to

How He Started His Business

After graduation in 1977, 21-year-old Dangote approached his uncle whom he was under his care, to loan him the sum of N500,000 naira.  He used the fund to set himself up as a trader in soft commodities. Two of his main imports were rice from Thailand and sugar from Brazil. He then sold those items as a retailer to consumers in his village. This ingenuity made Dangote’s pet project into a company that was raking in $10, 000 daily.

“In an interview with Forbes, Dangote claims that on his best days, he was realizing a daily net profit of $10,000. That allowed him to repay his uncle in only three months.” an assertion made by Investopedia

His business began to grow, Dangote whose business model was to cater to the needs of the average Nigerian citizen started expanding his business to the National audience. He created an incredible network to connect potential buyers to the commodity he supplies them. This network birthed the popular Dangote Transport, an arm of the Dangote Conglomerate that moves products in all sort of commodities that include sugar, rice, pasta, salt, cotton, millet, cocoa, textile, and vegetable. He was importing these commodities into Nigeria.

How He Made His Money

Aliko Dangote And Bill Gates

Dangote kept his company in an upward projection as he began local production of some of the items shipped from other countries by the company.  In 1997, Dangote realized that acting as a middleman was a very costly endeavor, so he built a plant to produce what he had been importing and selling for the previous 20 years: pasta, sugar, salt, and flour.

This risk paid off for him, Dangote no longer patronizes his former merchants. One of the reasons why Dangote remains rich is that he was never scared of reinvesting his entire profit from the inception period of his business. During an interview with Al Jazeera News, Aliko Dangote explained, ‘‘We [Dangote Group] are not doing like other Africans who keep most of their money in the bank. We do not keep money in the bank. We fully invest whatever we have and we keep on investing.’’


Dangote’s story is not as parvenue as the average Nigerian that ends with Nada-2-Prada. He was from a wealthy family and he took advantage of the resources available at his disposal. He is working on a massive oil refinery in Lagos, which is projected to start operations in late 2021. If successful, it could significantly reduce Nigeria’s reliance on international suppliers for oil and gas and end the import of $7 billion in fuel a year. The $15 billion refinery in Nigeria is the largest industrial project ever in Nigeria and is expected to produce 650,000 barrels of oil per day. Amidst rumors of the subtle government-backed monopoly, Dangote remains the Richest black man from a country believed to be the poverty capital of the world. How paradoxical.

See How Dangote Withdrew $10 million Just To Confirm That He Has Money


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