Aliko Dangote & Femi Otedola: Building Billionaire Friendships
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African CEOs - May 30, 2023

Aliko Dangote & Femi Otedola: 7 Lessons in Building Billionaire Friendships

The bond between African Billionaires, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola has been described as a friendship made in heaven. As business moguls, they have built empires, generated wealth and left an indelible mark on the African business landscape.

Their friendship however holds valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs and anyone striving for greatness. In this article, we would explore seven key lessons from the friendship of Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola. Let’s dive in.

Look for like minds you can rise with

Giving an account of how their friendship began, Otedola said, “I met Dangote in the early 1990s. I was just starting out in business, and he was already a successful businessman. We met through a mutual friend, and we quickly became friends. We bonded over our shared love of business, and we supported each other’s ambitions.”

The first lesson young entrepreneurs can learn from their billionaire friendship is the importance of identifying like minds. Profitable friendships will be sustained if both parties think alike.  Before entering into any billionaire friendship, it is necessary to check if your visions and values align. 

Stick to your friends through thick and thin

Otedola and Dangote have been friends for over 30 years. Their years of friendship has not been void of misunderstandings or feud but they have been able to put their shortcomings behind them and move forward. In friendship, it is important to build a strong foundation that will help you weather the storms of life and remain as friends through thick and thin

Learn from the experiences of your friends

Another lesson to emulate from Otedola and Dangote’s friendship is their ability to learn from each other. With an eleven years difference in age, Otedola has learned a lot from Dangote. He has often referred to him as his mentor, big brother, and dearest friend many times in the past. 

Billionaire friendships provide a fertile ground for mentorship and knowledge sharing. It provides a platform for the exchange of ideas that will enrich both your personal and professional life. 

Be willing to collaborate

Dangote and Otedola have engaged in joint ventures and strategic partnerships, leveraging their respective strengths to achieve collective goals. In 2007, Otedola and Dangote formed a consortium called Blue Star to acquire the Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries, but the takeover was scuttled. Also, in 2019, they both promised the Super Eagles $75,000 for every goal scored in their remaining matches at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

Collaborations with friends can expand your business horizons and deepen your relationship. So, be willing to take risks together.

Resolve issues amicably

No friendship is perfect and Dangote and Otedola have had their share of disagreements. Their billionaire friendship hit the rock in 2009 when Dangote’s company, Dangote Group, outbid Otedola’s company, Zenon Oil and Gas, for the acquisition of Chevron’s West Africa assets. 

The feud degenerated into allegations of share manipulation that made both billionaires lose huge sums of money. Eventually, they resolved their differences and Dangote offered Otedola help in different ways. The success of every friendship lies in your ability to forgive and move on. 

Respect established boundaries

Friendships are sustained by a set of established boundaries. Importantly, the longevity of any friendship is closely linked to how well the boundaries are respected. When Dangote broke a gentleman’s agreement to stay out of each other’s business areas, their friendship suffered. However, they were able to resolve it. 

Young entrepreneurs desirous of a billionaire friendship must learn to establish boundaries and respect them. Today, Dangote and Otedola have shown great discretion and trust in each other, fostering an environment where they can freely share ideas, seek advice, and collaborate without fear of betrayal.

Celebrate each other’s successes

Dangote and Otedola are always there to celebrate each other’s successes. Reacting to the construction of the refinery, Otedola said, “I’m very excited today. Today is one of the happiest moments in my life to see this project come to reality. This is a project I have been visiting with Aliko since 2012.”

Celebrating Otedola on his 60th birthday, Dangote said he is happy to call Otedola his brother, friend and confidant. He also celebrated Otedola for impacting millions of people through his philanthropic acts. From their billionaire bromance, young entrepreneurs should learn to genuinely celebrate their friend’s successes and share in each other’s joy.

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