Most Generous Billionaires in Nigeria, and How You Can Benefit From Them!

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Nigerian elites are a bit different from their western counterparts when it comes to giving back to the society. The very rich in western countries, do very crazy stuffs with their money. They see giving back to the society as an obligation but they give back in a way that will baffle an average African man.

For instance, Andrew Carnegie, One of the richest men in history made a pledge when he was still a teenager. he pledged that he will spend the first half of his adult life making money, and the second half giving it all away. And he proceeded to do just that. He accumulated one of the largest fortune in history (overtaken only by contemporary oil baron John D. Rockefeller ) and then went on to give it all away before he died.

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In our own time, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the 1st and 2nd richest men in the world, formed the “Giving pledge”, they intend through the pledge to give away the majority of their wealth to noble causes. Warren Buffet, who is worth over $70 billion dollars, has earlier stated that his children will not inherit more than 1% of his wealth. According to him, he will just give them enough to be comfortable, and then give the rest away to charity.

Many foundations in America are funded by the fortunes of past billionaires and multi-millionaires. Rockefeller Foundation, Edward Lowe foundation, Bill Gates Foundation etc. (Millionaires Academy is a partner).

But in Africa, specifically Nigeria, Our elites think differently about money and charity. Our mantra is “Charity begins at home”. No Nigerian will give his children less than 1% of his/her wealth, and give away the rest to charity and if any body is crazy enough to do that, the children will file lawsuit with 23 SAN against that Charity. Our attitude towards wealth is far different from western ideas. We live to accumulate wealth, and their is no clause that says we have to give it all back. It might interest you to know that over 70 world billionaires have joined the Bill Gates/Warren buffet “giving pledge”, but no single African billionaire has dared to join them.

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My greatest fear is becoming poor again !

Maybe it is because of our culture, we think first of family and children, and then our children’s children, before thinking of a total stranger. Some say it is poverty mentality, that even the rich in Nigeria are not free from poverty mentality, they are so afraid of going back to poverty that they will continue to amass wealth even when they no longer need it.

I remember watching an interview of the popular singer KCEE, when asked what he fears most in life, his face changed and he said passionately that what he fears most in life, is returning to poverty ! You see the problem. The rich in Nigeria are totally scared of becoming poor again. Thus if you make someone a Governor or Senator or even Local government Chairman,  he/she will see it as the last opportunity to cater for the needs of his entire generation, and will count himself/herself a failure, if he/she fails to amass an expected level of fortune. Others say it is a class problem, the rich never wants to associate with the poor, they don’t even want the poor to come up to their level. So helping them may remove the class difference and make their wealth meaningless. They will rather run off to Lekki or banana island Lagos, to ensure they have no contact with the poor masses.

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After the inauguration of Donald Trump, the immediate Vice President Joe Biden took a public subway train back to his place. Imagine a Vice president in Nigeria doing that ! or even a deputy governor ! No way ! In Nigeria, class must be maintained, A senator in Nigeria has to ride in a N200 Million Naira bullet-proof Mercedes S-class AMG.

And that is why we have to appreciate the few Nigerians that are giving their wealth to benefit the less privileged or to encourage and support younger ones. Make no mistake about this, despite our avarice, there are still many wealthy Nigerians who are privately doing philanthropic work and massively supporting charity.

In this article, we identify some of the more visible philanthropist and ways through which an average Nigerian can benefit from their largesse.

Tony Elumelu:

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For young entrepreneurs, Tony Elumelu remains the most impactful philanthropist, not just for Nigerians, but the entire Africa. Through his foundation TEEP, Tony Elumelu has pledged to give away $100 million dollars (That’s about N40 Billion Naira in today’s exchange rate ) over a period of 10 years, with a target to empower 10,000 youths. Tony Elumelu is worth $700 Million dollars, so giving away $100 million in his prime, an amount approx 14% of his net worth is very commendable. Joining TEEP is based on a selection process. Every young entrepreneur can apply.

Aliko Dangote:

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Aliko Dangote the richest man in Africa, is also a big philanthropist. Dangote’s foundation is tasked with spreading the wealth. Some of the Foundation’s activities in Nigeria include, N1 billion for Nigerian universities including 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 in Kogi State as a micro grant as part of the Kogi Human Capital Development initiative.

In order to alleviate the suffering 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 donated $2 million to the World Food Programme as part of efforts to help Pakistani nationals devastated by floods in the year 2010.

During Nigerians own flood disaster, Aliko Dangote 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. In 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it had entered into a strategic partnership with the Dangote Foundation to eradicate polio in Nigeria.

In 2014, Dangote made plans to endow his foundation with $1.2 Billion dollars from his personal fortune. Dangote said that the foundation would place greater emphasis in the future on large-scale initiatives that cultivate meaningful change in the lives of youth and women. Interventions focused on youth and women currently supported by the foundation include a national cash transfer program that disburses small grants ranging between $50 and $80 to poor rural women and youths seeking to start small businesses. The foundation also partners with the Bank of Industry to provide low-interest loans to micro-, small, and midsize enterprises in Nigeria.

With a current net worth of about $16 billion dollars, Aliko Dangote has spent or pledged approximately 10% of his wealth to charity.

As a young entrepreneur, you can apply for Dangote’s fund through BOI.

Jim Ovia Founder of Zenith bank:

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Like Dangote, the Nigerian banking and telecoms magnate also donated N1 billion ($6.3 million) to assist the Nigerian government in its relief efforts for the rehabilitation of victims of the various flood disasters across Nigeria. Ovia is also the founder and financier of the Youth Empowerment & ICT Foundation, a non-governmental organization which encourages young Nigerians to embrace information & communication technology (ICT) as a tool for socio-economic change. Last year, the foundation gave a N50 million ($320,000) grant to ten young Nigerian techpreneurs to develop their individual tech businesses. Jim Ovia has an estimated net worth of $980 million and  Total estimated giving: $6.6 million, which amounts to approximately 0.7% of his net worth. This guy is a real banker.

Folorunsho Alakija:

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With a Net worth of  $1.6 Billion dollars, Mrs Alakija is the richest woman in Nigeria, and was once the richest black woman in the world. She is also a philanthropist with a firm belief that her philanthropy was a calling from God. (Click here to read her full interview) In line with her “calling”, she established the Rose Of Sharon Foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants. Her company is also a major sponsor of the Agbami medical and engineering scholarship scheme, one of the most reliable scholarship scheme in Nigeria with over a thousand people yearly as beneficiaries. Mrs Alakija is a fervent supporter of education in Nigeria; for example in 2014 she donated a substantial amount of money to Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Lapai, the Niger State University. The money was used to complete the construction of a 350 Seat Lecture Theater, which was named after her. I am not sure young entrepreneurs can benefit from the Rose of Sharon Foundation, unless you happen to be a widow, but you can actually attend the Rose of Sharon Glorious Ministries International, a church founded by Mrs Alakija and try your luck. Who knows, God might just answer your prayers there.

Obviously, there are many other philanthropist all over Nigeria, who are sincerely using their wealth to bless others. Please if you know any, tell us their story in the comment section below.

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