Aliko started doing business at 21 years old, in Lagos, the capital city of Nigeria. Even though he describes his journey as being very exciting and pleasant, he encountered a lot of challenges too.
He believes that the reason he could overcome those challenges was because he always dreamed big, and that is the main culture at Dangote Group as well; Dreaming big, and doing big things too.
“For you to make it, you really have to think big, you have to dream big, to be able to be big.” – Aliko Dangote
On 1989 he started a textile company which actually grew to a company of more than 6000 workers – unfortunately later on he had to close down. In addition to that, he also tried to invest in sectors like banking, manufacturing… Until he settled down and decided to focus only on industries.
When Aliko Dangote started the cement business in 2007, he gave the contract to a company to analyse the soil type. After having the results at hand, all the drawings were made based on the statistics that they only needed 2 meters of foundation – which later they released that the analyses was done wrongly.
They had to stop the construction, change all the drawings and import new raw materials. Unable to borrow enough money from the banks, they started the 400 million dollar project – with most of the invest coming from their personal income.
The Dangote Group had to do 92 km of gas pipe line. Because they had not a water table near, they had to build a dam, they built 480 houses. Aliko says that challenges were coming one by one every day. He says that what kept him in the project was knowing that once the project failed, The Group would be gone. So it forced them to push harder than ever and give their best.”
After going through all the mentioned troubles and hard times, and after having the industry set, operations could not start because of the cost of raw materials. Eventually could overcome this challenge as well, and were able to start producing.
Today, Dangote Cement is the continent’s largest cement producer, with more than 4000 employees, subsidiaries in 15 countries, producing more than 30 million metric tons annually, and with a market capitalizatio of US $20 billion as of 2014.