How Femi Otedola Became One Of Nigeria’s Top Billionaires

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Femi Otedola is the founder and CEO of Zenon petroleum and gas limited, an importer, marketer and distributor of petroleum products in Nigeria. He is also the chairman and CEO of Forte oil Plc, an indigenous energy group whose headquarter is in Lagos and extension in Ghana, which majors in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry and has subsidiaries in other sectors.

The entreprenuerial story of Femi Otedola, who is currently one of the wealthiest persons in Nigeria, will inspire you to become the great and successful entrepreneur that you have always desired to be.

Early days and family

Femi Otedola was born on the 4th of November, 1962 in Ibadan, Oyo state,  Nigeria. A son of the late Sir Michael Otedola, the former governor of Lagos state (1992-1993).

Although he wanted to become a reverend father,  he ended up marrying Mrs. Nana Otedola and they are blessed with four children. The first daughter, Tolani Otedola is a singer, Ifeoluwa Florence Otedola is a popular music producer and disc jockey (DJ) popularly know as “DJ Cuppy” (official DJ during May, 2015 inauguration of President Muhammad Buhari). She is also a Tourism ambassador for Nigeria. While Elizabeth Temi Otedola is a style blogger and an aspiring designer and his only son is Mr. Fewa Otedola.

Femi is a very simple man, who enjoys cruising on his yacht. According to DJ Cuppy, he recently learned to use a tab.

How he built his business career

According to Femi, he started his first business which he called FEMGO at the age of 6, where he would groom his parent’s guests’ nails and even issue a receipt after payment.
Apart from this, Femi worked with the family printing press before he ventured into petroleum business.

By 2003, Femi had saved up money to set up Zenon petroleum and gas company after seeing the opportunities he could grab in oil business. As the company continued to grow, in 2004, Femi invested in downstream infrastructure development, where he acquired storage depots and four cargo vessels of 147,000 metric tonnes storage capacity. That same year, he bought a group of fuel tanker trucks for distribution of petroleum products.

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Femi managed the company so well through innovation, quality management and effective marketing, that by 2005, Zenon was controlling major share of the Nigeria diesel market. He achieved this by making deals with big companies in Nigeria, whom he supplied fuel for. He became the major supplier of fuel to companies like Cadbury, Coca Cola, Dangote, MTN, Nestlé, Unilever, Nigeria Breweries, etc.

With increase in income from Zenon company, Femi increased his investments. He invested and became the highest shareholder in some banks including Zenith bank and UBA and also did same with African petroleum, the Nigeria’s largest fuel marketer then, acquiring 28.7% shares. With this, he was appointed the chairman and CEO of African petroleum in 2007. Zenon also became a salient company in the kerosene market.

In December 2010, Femi re-branded African petroleum to Forte oil Plc, after restructuring it’s administration and concentrating on technology. He also diversified into power sector, he acquired 414 MW Geregu power plant when the Nigerian government decided to privatize the power sector.

In 2015, due to fall in the price of oil, Forte oil sold 17% of his shares to Swiss commodity trader Mercuria Energy group, although it was a means of diversification as it gave Forte access to global community market.

Femi invested in several other sectors of the Nigeria’s economy. He is the founder and CEO of Swift insurance, Fo properties limited, Atlas shipping agency, Fo transport and sea force shipping company, etc. He was Nigeria’s largest ship owner with extention of control in the distribution of diesel then. He also made history as he was the first to own a ship with storage capacity of 16,000 metric tonnes, a flat bottom bunker vessel in Africa.

His Philanthropy

Femi is a great philanthropist and encourages education at all levels. He sustained his father’s scholarship scheme (Michael Otedola university scholarship scheme) through several donations to the scheme. A scheme established in 1985 to enable underprivileged students in Lagos state to attain higher education, from which more than a thousand students have benefited from.

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It can be recalled that in 2005, Feminine donated N300million for the completion of the National Ecumenical Center-primary place for Nigerian Christian worship in Abuja.

In 2007, he donated N200million to the State Security Trust Fund for the reduction of crime in Lagos state and in the same year, he also donated N100million to the Otedola college of primary education in Noforija, Epe.

In 2008, the faculty of Agriculture at the University of Port Harcourt received N80million from Femi.

He continues to support numerous philanthropic projects across Nigeria and Africa till today.

His Achievements

●Femi Otedola established Centre force limited specializing in finance investments and trading in 1994.

●In 2004, Femi was a member of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) and was appointed among the committee tasked with improving commercial relation between South Africa and Nigeria.

●Femi was appointed a non executive director of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, charged with the responsibility of market opportunities requiring heavy capital investment in Nigeria and across Sub-saharan Africa in January 2006 which he held till February 2011.

●In February 2007, Femi was appointed chairman of the Transcorp Hiltons hotel in Abuja, charged with expansion and upgrade to a seven star facility.

●Femi Otedola became the second Nigerian after Aliko Dangote to be listed on the Forbes list of billionaires with a net worth of 1.2 billion in March 2009 and the 29th richest man in Africa in 2014. In 2016, he had a net worth of $1.8billion. But in 2019, his net worth was estimated to be $500million as a result of drop in his share price in Forte oil.


The story of Femi Otedola is a great source of inspiration to many prospective entrepreneurs who desire to succeed in businesses and investments.

He is a business mogul who took after the entrepreneurship spirit of his father. Although, he was born with a silver spoon, he never relented in channelling his income into the right investments, unlike many persons who would have squandered the resources in luxurious lifestyle, if they were in his shoes.

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Parents can learn from this inspiring story in order to pass on the spirit of entrepreneurship to their children. His entrepreneurial skills and readiness to grab business opportunities distinguished Femi Otedola and made him a great success.

Even if you are wealthy, it is advisable to groom your kids to develop entreprenuerial skills and money management abilities, by not making everything too rosy and easy for them. Allow your children to experience the joy of hardwork and the dignity of labour. In addition, give them the freedom to express themselves. Encourage entreprenuerial attitudes in them, build their talents and allow them to thrive in their chosen fields of endeavours.

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