Here is the interesting success story of Nigerian billionaire businessman Femi Otedola, The chairman of Forte Oil PLC and father to DJ Cuppy
Today we will look at the success story of an African entrepreneur, Femi Otedola, whom Forbes Magazine has described as “the billionaire who bounced back.”
A regular name in Forbes list of richest Nigerians and Africans alive, Femi Otedola’s success story is inspiring, captivating and full of life lessons.
Now before you conclude you already know where this story is heading and exit the page, may I recommend you give it a little time and read it to end. You might be shocked to learn some business strategies that can help you grow your business and boost your earnings to over 100%. if Femi can do it, so can you.
Now let’s take a seat and enjoy his story together below.
Who is Femi Otedola?
He is a Nigerian business mogul, a philanthropist, chairman of Forte Oil PLC and father to the famous Nigerian musician, DJ Cuppy.
He is also the CEO of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for Lagos State come 2019 general elections in Nigeria.
If you are wondering how this young African made his money, you will find it as you keep reading this post.
His Early Life And Childhood
Femi Otedola was born on the 4th of November, 1962 to the family of the former Lagos State governor, Late Sir Michael Otedola.
Sir Michael Otedola was the governor of Lagos between 1992 and 1993.
It was this his father who from the age of six, began to build the passion for business in Femi and as well, teach him the basic principles that governs money.
In his interview with Forbes Magazine, Mr. Otedola puts it this way:
“I had my first business at the age of six. It was called FEMCO. I’d offer to groom my parents’ guests’ nails. Then, write a receipt and charge them for my service. They paid me too. I always had interest in business. For my Seventh Christmas present, I remember asking my dad for a briefcase. I just thought it was a good look. He gave me one of his and I insisted on taking it to school with me. The kids laughed at me, but I still loved the briefcase.”
His Venture Into Business
As Femi grew older, his father employed him to fully work for him.
With a strong passion that has already been formed in him from his earlier years for business, Femi Otedola started running the marketing department of the family’s printing press. This was in the 1980s.
It didn’t take very long before he started venturing into oil business.
With his father’s connection, he was able to get some trustworthy people in the Nigerian government to start supplying him diesel after reaching some agreements with them.
His Big Break In Business
It didn’t take long before things changed in Lagos and several other states politically and so the people who had been working with him before in government, stopped supplying him diesel.
Every entrepreneur or business person reading this will agree with me that this is often the most difficult time in business. It is a time that even the most courageous of entrepreneurs, dread.
(Let’s continue with the story)
When this supply stopped coming, he made a proper research gain about the diesel business and then boldly approached a company for fresh supplies.
(In my post on the first thing every entrepreneur needs to do, I stressed how important it is to know the market very well before investing your money to avoid losses. Back to the story)
Femi Otedola’s big break came when after three days of approaching the new company for diesel supply, he saw a truck driver supplying to his house.
It was right there the idea to start a more powerful diesel supplying business came to his mind. (never underestimate the power of an idea. “Ideas rule the world”)
Not long in 2003, he boldly approached the management of the company that was supplying him before and offered to buy the company for $20 million.
Since he didn’t have that amount at that time, Femi decided to meet with billionaire Jim Ovia, the chairman of Zenith Bank and discuss his idea with him.
Though the meeting only lasted for not more than 10 minutes, Jim Ovia was fully convinced Otedola’s idea was the right one. So he gave the approval for the deal.
This was how the money started flowing in for Otedola and his then young company Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited.
As time went on, he started investing into transport and shipping and even went on to set up F.O. Transport and Seaforce Shipping.
As the money kept coming in, Otedola expanded his business into property and estate, and then financial services, becoming a major shareholder in both Zenith Bank and United Bank for Africa (UBA).
His Biggest Loss And How He Overcame It
I told you earlier Femi Otedola’s success story is full of amazing lessons for young entrepreneurs. You will find one of those lessons in how he handled one of the most difficult times of his life below.
In 2008 after investing hugely in another big oil company, African Petroleum, the prices of crude oil in the market unexpectedly crashed from $146 to $36.
This was a major hit to Otedola and his business empire. In his interview, this was how he explained it:
“we took a very big hit and I lost about %1.5 million, plus interest, in the process. When the oil prices were dropping, I could see myself losing big money. I had diesel worth $400 million on the high seas. It didn’t look good. I’m a capitalist though. I was great while the money was rolling in. Now that I lost so much, it was also time to face the tune. It was a very low time for me and I explored different options, including suicide, but ultimately, I knew I had to solve this problem. My debts had to be paid.”
As expected, not long after this, the banks that had given him loans before then started coming for their money.
“The same banks that had once sent pretty sales ladies to get money from me for their accounts in the past were now sending tough looking men to knock at my door to get me to pay my debts in the morning. The only people I’d credit this point were my wife for her great support, Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank and Segun Agbaje of Guaranty Trust Bank who understood the situation and offered a restructure of the loans for ease of payment. I was however determined to pay it all up and move on. The banks sold the debts to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria. It was a total of N200 billion ($1.2 billion).”
Now pay attention to the lessons he said he learnt from the loss.
“The most important lesson I learnt, is that no one is invincible. No matter how high up there you are today, you can lose it all tomorrow if you are not on top of your game. I also learnt that being a good entrepreneur does not necessarily make you a good business manager. I learnt to keep my hands off managing and leave it in the hands of experts.”
What a lesson! I am glad today this African business role model recovered from this and even made it back to Forbes list of richest Nigerians.
After his recovery from that loss, African Petroleum soon became Forte Oil and presently owns over 500 retail outlets all over the country.
Femi Otedola 2018 Net Worth
As of today, Femi Otedola is worth about $2.3 billion according to Forbes.
He is ranked the third richest person in Nigeria after Aliko Dangote who is number one and Mike Adenuga number two.
His Political Ambition
On September 11, 2018, Sahara Reporters and several other News platforms in Nigeria reported that Femi Otedola has officially accepted PDP’s offer to run against Ambode of APC for Lagos State Governorship in 2019 general elections in Nigeria.
However, to PDP’s disappointment he did not take up the offer. had he done that and won, he would have created a history as the second of the Otedola’s family to rule Lagos State.
Femi Otedola is the man of the moment, a man worth following and learning from -especially when it comes to entrepreneurship.
I am glad you have seen from this story how he made his money and you are inspired to do much more.
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Ref: Forbes, Wikipedia, Sahara Reporters, The Eagle Online