How Mike Adenuga Became One of Nigeria’s Wealthiest Entrepreneurs


The success story of Mike Adenuga is a one which shows that there is no limitation to how great and successful you can be in life, regardless of your background and circumstances, if you are hardworking, committed and persevering.

Mike Adenuga is currently the second wealthiest man in Nigeria after Aliko Dangote. He controls a large business empire in the African continent and he has investments in several sectors which includes: banking sector, telecommunication, real estate, oil and gas sector.  He is an entrepreneur, business tycoon and a great philanthropist especially when it comes to sports. Presently, his net worth is $9.5 billion according to Forbes.

His childhood

Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga popularly known as Mike Adenuga was born on the 29th of April, 1953 in Ibadan. He is the son of Mr. Oloye Adenuga, a teacher and Mrs. Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga, a business woman from a royal background (some may say Mike’s business spirit was inherited).

Mike had his secondary education at Ibadan Grammar School, Oyo state. He obtained his degree in Business administration in the North Western Alva Oklahoma State university and Pace University, New York. Mike was a hustler from the beginning. He worked as a taxi driver and also a security guard while he was still in university. He is married to Joy Adenuga with seven children.

After he graduated from the University, he came back to Nigeria to hustle in his own father’s land.

Starting off his business carrier

At the age of 26, Mike started making use of his business talents. He came back to Nigeria after his studies in New York and took over his mother’s sawmill business. Opportunity met Mike at the point of disappointment and been a diligent investor, he seized the opportunity and made good use of it.

While coming back from a trip to New York, he missed his flight on British Airway, so he had no option than to use Swiss Airway. There in the flight, he sat next to the owner of the biggest lace manufacturing industry in Austria and in the process of communicating, he was introduced into the importation of lace and other materials. Mike bought the idea and invested in it. Coupled with the sawmill, he fetched money for himself.From findings, he also distributed Coca Cola products.

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No man is an island, but when you isolate yourself from others and don’t network you miss so many opportunities. It is advisable to make friends, but in doing so, make good ones that will benefit you socially, financially, morally and others and vice versa.

Mike made some friends with the Nigerian military and the friendship earned him many state construction contracts including building barracks, military installation, etc. During the regime of Ibrahim Babangida, the former military heat of state of Nigeria, Mike was awarded an oil exploration license. With this, he built Conoil producing limited, a downstream petroleum and chemical industry and the company became the first Nigerian company to struck oil in commercial quantity.

Mike received a drilling license in 1990 and in 1991, he started oil production in the shallow waters of South West of Ondo State. The company was known for producing high quality lubricants and chemicals for both domestic and industrial use. The company invests more of its financial and technical resources on production of products of International standards and conscious of both health, safety and environmental best practices. As at that time, Conoil had six oil blocks in delta state.

In 1990, Mike founded Equatorial Trust Bank (ETB), one of the largest Nigerian banks licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. As at 2011, ETB had one hundred branches in different states in Nigeria. Although, in 2006, ETB was merged with the former Devcom bank. ETB later experienced some difficulties and was listed among the commercial banks that needed injection of new capital. Hence, a significant percentage of the shares was taken over by the Nigerian government.

Mike was issued a GSM license in 1999 which was revoked and he was later granted another one in 2008. He built Globacom limited, a telecom company which had a submarine cable routed from United Kingdom to Nigeria. A first of its kind and the first individual of African origin to embark on such project. Glo started providing high speed Internet services, more reliable and at a cheaper rate in Nigeria.

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Glo was was the first telecom to introduce per second billings. This project provided employment opportunities for many and also attracted foreign investors. Thus, challenging MTN group. It also provided services like vehicle tracking, mobile internet, mobile banking services and sponsored products like Blackberry. It’s services was launched in the Republic of Benin in 2008 and has continued to spread among African countries. In Nigeria, Glo is the second largest telecom with over 37 million subscribers.

Mike also has investment in the real estate. He has a multi-billion dollar real estate company which provides employment opportunities for many directly and indirectly. 

His achievements

Mike has put smile on the faces of millions of people directly and indirectly through his investments which has provided jobs and solutions to the challenges of many.  He has sponsored many projects and activities both home and abroad and has received so many awards. He holds a chieftaincy title as the Otunba Apesin of the Ijebu clan and has a large estate with 9 duplexes on Banana island in Lagos.

According to Forbes, he is the second richest man in Nigeria with a net worth of $9.5 billion.
In 2007, Mike was awarded African Entrepreneur of the year at Median African Telecoms Awards ( ATA ). In 2009, he was awarded Silverbird man of the year
In 2015, he took over bid to purchase Ivorian mobile telecom’s operator for $600 million.

Mike is a lover of sports. During the 2014 world cup in Brazil, he donated $250,000 to the national soccer team of Nigeria to boost super eagle’s morale ahead of their match with France. He was later honoured by the management and board of English soccer (Manchester United) for his financial and moral support towards soccer sports.

Globacom has sponsored many activities which include Nigerian National Football teams, Police marathon, Eyo festival, Ojude Oba festival, Eleghe festival, Confederation of African player award of the year, FITHEB in the Republic of Benin, CAF African player award of the year, Ghana premiership league and a 4 years deal with the Nigerian premier league worth $16.5 million. Glo also sponsored Manchester United football club and young players from Benin, Ghana and Nigeria to train with Manchester club.

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Mike was also awarded with the National Award of the officer of the order of the Niger (OON) by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and was later upgraded to the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger ( GCON) in 2012.

From findings, Mike is a very creative and diverse enterprenuer. He invest in unique projects and large ones as it maybe. Hence, providing more job opportunities. He is a hardworking, persevering and has the ability to negotiate and carry out business under any circumstance.

What can young entrepreneurs learn from Mike business success story? Focus, determination, flexibility, creativity, perseverance, networking and ability to take calculated risks are what every enterprenuer should have at his/her finger tips to be successful.

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About the writer:

This was written by Chiamaka Uduezue, content contributor 1 at MyAfribusiness.com. She is a graduate of Environmental Management and enjoys researching, learning new things, sharing knowledge with others and motivating people to succeed.

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