Alhaji Aliko Dangote
As capitalism in Africa intensifies with businesses putting profits and numbers ahead of altruism and kindness, one man is charting a different path, investing his wealth in alleviating the pain of the suffering while giving financial muscle to the unemployed.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and the richest black man in the world is now cementing his position as Africa’s most generous philanthropist. With a fully integrated conglomerate—that has operations in 15 African countries—enjoying an annual turnover of over $3 billion, and with a personal fortune approximated at $11.2billion, Dangote pays attention to the suffering of the people of his homeland of Nigeria, Africa, and the world.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote at work.
From building schools and hospitals to supporting government’s poverty eradication initiatives and offering succor to victims of natural calamities, there has been no end to the philanthropists efforts.
His guiding mantra is ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’ Such personal conviction and drive led hi to donate $185 million in two years to various charitable causes, becoming the largest allocation of charitable funds by an individual or company in Africa.
Twenty-two years ago, he started the Dangote Foundation, a charitable arm of his business which he envisioned would lessen the pain of the suffering. The organization’s funds come from his private cash reserves and some shares that he has transferred from his listed companies to the foundation.
While most of his charitable work has been concentrated in Nigeria, the generous tycoon has extended his philanthropic initiatives to the rest of Africa and the world, which he says is his ultimate goal.
Nigerina businessman Alhaji Aliko Dangote in one of his philanthropic venues.
In the last two years, for example, Dangote spent $6 billion in rehabilitating universities in Nigeria and equipping them with modern facilities as part of his commitment to funding the educational sector.
He has also donated $18.2 million to cushion residents in Nigeria from the effects of flooding and help them start a new life. Numerous states in Nigeria have been experiencing unprecedented floods that have claimed hundreds of lives while disrupting the communities’ way of life.
In Benue State, in the mid belt region of Nigeria, up to 15 villages have been connected to electricity through his efforts. And in North East Nigeria where community clashes and the rise of insurgency groups is endemic—top among them the terrorist group Boko Haram—Dangote has wiped the tears of the victims of these atrocities, among them women and children, with a $3.3 million contribution while donating 12 trailer loads of relief items to supplement government’s efforts. The foundation has also invested in rural youth and women in businesses through a cash transfer program that gives them small grants of between $50 and $80 as seed capital for their enterprises, which include roadside kiosks, shoe repair and catering.
Outside Nigeria, he has also extended his charity to countries like the Republic of Congo, where he donated $500,000 to victims of a fuel tanker explosion that killed over 220 people in 2012. He has also given $740,500 to help the people of Niger deal with the effects of famine while contributing $2 million to the flood victims in Pakistan.
One of the highlights of his philanthropy has been working with world’s respected billionaire Bill Gates through The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund efforts that address Polio and malnutrition, two of the greatest threats to children in Africa.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote with the beneficiaries of his philanthropic efforts in Nigeria.
Dangote’s wish is for people to remember him not as the richest man African but the most philanthropic, and he is working towards that, one act of kindness at a time. ■