Africa’s under-40 millionaires share their secrets to success

Ladi Delano

Ladi Delano | Age: 30 | CEO, Bakrie Delano Africa

Ladi Delano reportedly made his first fortune from a liquor company in China. These days the British-Nigerian entrepreneur is the CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa, a joint-venture between Delano and one of Indonesia’s biggest conglomerates, Bakrie Group. The company plans to invest $1 billion in Nigeria over the next five years.

“I have been an entrepreneur in emerging markets, generally south-east Asia and China. During this time, I have been involved in a variety of sectors and also natural resources M&A and structured finance,” says Delano.

So why is he now focusing on Nigeria? “Nigeria is attractive to the Bakrie Group as an investment destination for several reasons. It is experiencing excellent rates of economic growth, approximately 8% per year, which is forecast by a wide cross-section of respected economic commentators to continue over the medium to long term. Indeed, Nigeria is widely predicted to overtake South Africa as the African continent’s largest economy within three to four years. Within the context of this strong overall economic growth, there are individual sub-sectors where rates of growth exceed 8%.”

According to Delano, there is no shortage of entrepreneurial spirit among Nigerians. “We are a nation of businessmen.”

Delano explains that there is a perception among foreign investors that the Nigerian market has political and security risks. However, he says infrastructure is the country’s biggest challenge. “Investors could be hampered by infrastructure not keeping pace with economic growth. That challenge, however, is a function of success and a growing pain, which has been an issue for all rapidly growing and industrialising nations over many decades.”

He attributes his success to hard work and learning from mistakes. “It’s an old saying but the phrase ‘Show me a man who has never failed and I’ll show you a man who has never succeeded’ really resonates with me,” says Delano.

“All entrepreneurs suffer periodic ups and downs and running a successful, profitable business isn’t easy. If it was, everybody would be doing it. But this is Africa’s time and the demand levels within our own continent’s domestic economy needs satisfying. This is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurial, hard working individuals,” he adds.