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Who made the list? Find out below… We recently shared the story of Mrs. Nike Davies-Okundiaye, the founder of Nike Art Gallery who never went to school and yet, has taught at the highly prestigious Harvard University.We found her story to be truly inspiring, and in this article, we will shine the spotlight on other Nigerians who have had similar experiences. Many people give up on their hopes and dreams of success the minute they drop out of school – due to financial or health reasons, or are told by society that their lack of a formal university education puts them at a disadvantage. The stories of the men outlined in this article prove that prominent entrepreneurship is still attainable, with some raising multi-million naira empires in their lifetimes. The individuals include: 1. Alhassan Dantata: Born in 1877, this Hausa kolanut trader was the wealthiest man in West Africa at the time of his death in 1955. He started his business on a small scale by transporting kolanuts, beads and necklaces between Accra and Lagos. This happened shortly after he bought his way out of teenage slavery. Aliko Dangote is one of his many prominent descendants.
Photo credit: Nairaland
Photo credit: Nairaland
  2. Michael Ibru: The head of one Nigeria’s largest conglomerates, the Ibru Organisation, also never went to university. Instead, he was recruited as a management trainee by the United African Company in 1956 immediately after finishing secondary school. His first business was a partnership called Laibru which he started shortly after his first job, and later on a fishing business right out of his truck.
michael ibru
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  3. Orji Uzor Kalu: The founder of Slok Holdings, Daily Sun and New Telegraph newspapers actually left school to start his first business. He was initially studying at University of Maiduguri and was suspended for participating in the Ali Must Go riots against the country’s Education minister. He also goes down in history as the 7th governor of Abia State.  
Photo credit: Bella Naija
Photo credit: Bella Naija
  4. Razak Okoya: The billionaire’s only formal education was at Ansar-un-deen Primary School, Oke Popo, Lagos. Today, he is known as the owner and founder of Eleganza group of companies. He got his start working in his father’s tailoring business which also sold tailoring accessories. Eventually, Okoya began to import goods from Japan with his saved earnings.  
Photo credit: Punch News
  Who else should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section below.     Source: Wikipedia  

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This article was first published on 9th July 2015


Ify Halim is a Writer and media enthusiast based in Lagos. She enjoys writing self-help/inspirational articles with published work in UYD Magazine, Edufrica, Our Stories Inc. and The Keele Concourse. She currently works at, Nigeria’s Information Portal. Follow her on Twitter @MissHalim or visit her online space at

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