Women in Nigeria and Africa at large usually face peculiar challenges in both career and business. African men seem to believe that women are not supposed to excel in certain careers, and in fact should be restricted to the “other room”. Yet many women break out from this glass ceiling, and go on to excel in their chosen field.
These Amazons are constant reminders to us, that our internal resources and determination, can and will overcome any kind of external conditions and limitations once our mind is made up. Gallant Nigerian women, continue to buttress this point but unfortunately many envious people even their fellow women, will rather ascribe their hardwork and fame to nothing more than “bottom power”. The general trend in Nigeria, is to find ways to run down a success story, instead of learning from it.
I believe our fans on Millionaires Academy has learnt that we do not criticize successful people. We only endeavor to learn from their success. We cheer them on, because we realize that everyone of us has flaws, and so we should never run down our own people, while we celebrate foreigners.
Among the women that has created a name for themselves in Nigeria, one name stands out. Hajia Bola Shagaya is one of the richest women in Nigeria and Africa. With a fortune estimated at about 1.9 Billion dollars, only Folorunsho Alakija can boast of more wealth than Hajia Shagaya. She is among the richest people on earth (There are only 1810 billionaires in the whole world).
Early Life and Business
Hajia Bola Shagaya was born on October 10, 1959. She hails from Ilorin, Kwara state where she had her primary and secondary school education before leaving the peaceful state to acquire tertiary knowledge.
“I had my… tertiary education at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Armstrong College in California where I studied Economics cum Accountancy.”
She started her career as a banker, working in the audit department of Nigeria’s apex bank before her foray into business in 1983.
“My business experience commenced with the importation and distribution of photographic materials,” as the sole West Africa agent of the then-leading photographic company, Konica.
In the manner of an astute entrepreneur, she saw opportunities in the populous image-conscious Nigerian market prompting the expansion of her Konica marketing operations to photo laboratory services; that was the birth of another of her companies – Fotofair (Nigeria) Limited. Today, Fotofair is a leading photo laboratory company in Nigeria with over thirty laboratories spread across the nation.
Around 2005, she became the managing director of Practoil Limited and in 2011 she founded another exploration company, Voyage Oil and Gas Limited. Practoil Limited is one of the largest importers and distributors of base oil in Nigeria, meeting the needs of the local lubricant blending plants. Currently, Practoil is building its own state of the art lubricating plant at Kirikiri, Lagos state. When completed, it is expected to produce multi-grade oils and lubricants. Her business empire, which also includes a huge investment in real estate, spans across major cities in the country and has over three hundred employees.
Her businesses also include huge investment in real estate, spanning across major cities in the country with over three hundred employees.
She was on the board of Intercity bank for over eight years. While on the board of the then intercity bank (now Unity Bank Plc), she served in different capacities on various board committees including the position of Chairman of the bank’s establishment committee and Chairman, Audit committee just to mention a few. In addition, Hajiya Bola Shagaya was a member of the audit and credit committees of the board of Unity Bank plc.
A patron of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria, FADAN, she is also a fashion and art enthusiast who supports and encourages the fashion and art industry. She is also a sports lover, especially Polo. She has consistently supported polo tournaments over the years in Nigeria.
In due recognition of her enviable achievements and outstanding virtues and in appreciation of her services to the country, on July 22, 2010, she was awarded the prestigious national honor of Member of the Order of the Niger, MON by the President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Friendship With Nigerian First ladies
Shagaya is one highly influential businesswoman who has successfully forged strong bonds with four incumbent Nigerian First Ladies – Maryam Babangida, Stella Obasanjo, Turai Yara’dua and Dame Patience Jonathan, staying relevant for almost three decades in Nigeria’s power ecosystem.
Local gossip magazines in their conventional controversial manner have harped on her misunderstood warmth to condemn it has parasitism, attributing her fortunes to the proximity she has forged with the First Ladies of various Nigerian governments.
History has however clearly taught power does not guarantee long lasting success. Hajia Bola Shagaya is obviously doing something right, businesswise.
While several people criticize Hajia Bola for her closeness to power, they fail to see most of the powerful techniques she employs to remain relevant in the chaotic business world. According to Hajia bola, learning never really stops for successful people all over the world. Bola is a life long student of business, according to her,
“I have participated in many local and international seminars and workshops” including some organized by KPMG, Euromoney and Havard Business School in order to keep pace with the development in management techniques.”
She has also attended a number of local and international seminars and workshops, including Harvard Business School. Many entrepreneurs in Nigeria never bother about business training and seminars, claiming that it is expensive. Today, several powerful online business training like Millionaires Academy are now available, making it possible for anyone to have a Harvard style MBA business course, without ever leaving his home and at an extremely low cost. Even as successful as Bola is today, she continues to take business courses every year.
The Family Woman
Bola is to married Alhaji Shagaya, a Kwara-based transport mogul, and has successful children whom she has nurtured and helped shaped their career. In 2010, she was conferred a national honour – Member of the Order of the Niger, MON, for her contribution to the development of Nigeria.
Secret Work Ethic
From the work ethic of Hajia Bola, any serious entrepreneur will instantly notice some of her secrets of success. She is an extremely serious person when it comes to work. For instance, she doesn’t allow friends – no matter how close – to visit her from Monday to Friday. She also doesn’t go visiting anybody on those days. Except on weekends!
Again, no matter where she is or what she’s doing, the staunch Muslim who goes to Mecca at least twice in a year creates time to observe her Majrib. “That’s my only way to praise God”, she once said in an interview. She goes to bed everyday by 9pm (and immediately she finishes listening to the 8 O’clock news) and wakes up daily by 5am to pray. she is also a good networker, and takes time to court the friendship of the elites. Mediocre people do not realize that it takes a lot of work to build and maintain such relationships and networks. Many entrepreneurs do not even make out time to build their business network. Those who know Bola, describe her as fiercely focused and fanatically independent.
Summing her up, one of her friends told us two things that stand her out: Her fantastic business acumen and outstanding networking skills. “She’s good in business, she’s also good in networking. And it is the combination of the two that has made her the huge success she’s become today”.
Bola owns numerous mansions across Nigeria, she also owns a Gulfstream G650 private jet which she bought for almost N12 billion. she owns a fleet of the most expensive and exotic cars, including a James Bond style Aston martin. But what she loves most, are her wide collection of diamonds , exotic gems and fashion.
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