The story of Sijibomi Ogundele, better known as “Sujimoto” who is now one of the youngest billionaire in Nigeria is inspiring and a reference point for a youngman, who desires to conquer. It is worthy of note that as at today, Sijibomi sits atop over $400 million worth company.
Dressed in a simple Polo T-Shirt on a Friday Evening, Sijibomi Ogundele, Nigeria’s youngest Billionaire and Luxury Real Estate Czar, can be seen on the Lucrezia project site, in the prestigious Banana Island neighborhood, inspecting the work done and ensuring every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ is crossed.
No one would have thought that this man, who is currently worth billions, was once a Souvenir hawker in France and also did alabaru for his trader Mum in Africa’s most populous market – Oke-Arin, where he was nurtured by enterprising Igbo Traders, which ignited his passion for business.
Growing up in the slum of Agege, as a little 8-year-old, Sijibomi’s first introduction to Entrepreneurship was when he started a bike business popularly called‘Okada’ business, from his little savings. Despite the usual African Parent’s disapproval, he drew inspiration from his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit and grew his Okada business from 1 to 6 motorcycles, a testament to his strong, resolute and resilient business mind.
A rose that grew from concrete, Mr. Ogundele who is only 39 has built his company, Sujimoto Group, in just 5 years, into a Luxury Construction behemoth, focused on building extraordinary edifices in premium neighborhoods of Ikoyi and Banana Island. With annual revenue of approximately $30 million and many other pending projects, Mr. Ogundele believes the Sujimoto group is worth over $400 Million.
His look may be modest but his ambition belies his modesty. After an encounter with the King of Dubai who pushed his ambitious project – LorenzoBySujimoto, from 15 Storey building to a 30 storey building, reminding him that; “To be second is to be last! If people in their 30’s are building 5000 units annually in Asia, 75 units shouldn’t scare you.”According to Mr. Ogundele; “I believe in Nigeria. My passion comes from my patriotism. I believe that the Nigeria that produced the MKOs, the Dantatas, and the Ojukwus, also has something great in store for me.”
The Lawyer tuned Entrepreneur who is son to a John Holt Manager and a trader mother never had the opportunity to attend King’s College or other expensive private schools but attended public schools. With a dream to revolutionize the Nigerian Luxury real estate space and an ambition taller than the Burj Khalifa, one can only wonder how he has steered his company to survive the brutal economic recessions within the last 5 years, growing stronger, bigger and better, to the consternation of the pessimists.
Sujimoto’s Giuliano project which is 100% covered in travertine stone, fully automated, 1st project with each unit having its private elevator and an award-winning Zaha Hadid Bathroom for Porscelanosa, set the standard for a luxury terrace in Banana Island, attracting clients like MD of multinationals, billionaires and music entrepreneur – Davido.
A stone throws from the Giuliano; Sujimoto is building what has been dubbed the tallest residential building in Banana Island – the LucreziaBySujimoto. A revolutionary building, never before seen in Nigeria or Africa! The first building with Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) façade, Full Home Automation, private IMAX Cinema for the residents, standard crèche, Indoor Virtual Golf with over 2,500 courses worldwide to play on, swimming pool in the sky and other exciting features. Sitting on the 12th floor is the best penthouse in Africa. A project that sets an enviable standard for luxury residential apartments in Nigeria with a sales value worth $46 and a delivery deadline of December 2021.
Speaking on the Lucrezia, Mr. Ogundele made a startling revelation; “We are building the best condominium not only in Nigeria but also in Africa. The Lucrezia Penthouse comes with a private elevator, private cinema, private golf, private gym, and a private pool! The Lucrezia is very special to us because Sujimoto is divesting from Residential Projects with 80% of our real estate interest into Commercial Projects.
When asked about the company’s plan to accommodate smaller units, Mr. Ogundele was very quick to add that the company has a new project that is almost sold out! According to him; “Many people have approached us about building smaller and more affordable units with the Sujimoto standard and we have responded with a revolutionary project called the LeonardoBySujimoto. With LeonardoBySujimoto, you can own a Sujimoto Apartment without breaking the Bank. We have studied the best apartments and what we are creating, beats the best.
The Affordable Luxury Project – Leonardo, comes in 2, 3, and 4 Bedroom Units and it is a great investment offer as the 3 bedrooms which are currently selling for N250million will go for N450million once the project is launched later in the year. According to Mr. Ogundele, the present pricing still beats the best apartments in Bourdillon and Eko Atlantic. He also noted that the current price offer will expire by the end of the month.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Hotel Outlook for 2018-2022 has projected that the hospitality market in Nigeria will experience a compound annual increase in the next 5 years.
According to Ogundele, the same passion with which we redefined luxury living in Nigeria, is the same passion we are bringing into the Nigerian Hospitality and Commercial space. We have toured some of the best hotels in the world such as the Address Hotel, Downtown Dubai, the Baccarat Hotel in New York City, and the Dorchester Hotel in London. Sujimoto is building the S-Hotel, African hospitality with a Four Season services. We are building a hotel that is Customer addictive, where putting the customer 1st becomes our priority, from Janitor to General Managers.
Three fundamental qualities separate the S hotel from others: Design, Price, and Service. The plan is to get rid of mediocre experience in the hospitality industry, building one luxury hotel at a time. The focus, therefore, is to build one luxury hotel in the State capital city of every African country, starting from the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. The plan is before 2030, we would have built over 100 luxury hotels with 16,000 rooms, worth $1.9 billion in the portfolio, a move which will bring the company’s overall worth to over $5 billion in 10 years.
In addition to the company’s expansion plan, Mr. Ogundele made it known that Sujimoto is building a world-class Plaza, first of its kind, in Ikoyi and Abuja, with a 2021 and 2022 projection for completion. This 6-in-1 Plaza by Sujimoto is a contemporary one-stop-shop retail and hospitality center, featuring innovative state-of-the-art equipment, rooftop lounge, and bar, premium restaurants, world-class gym, retail shops other premium features.
Upon completion, each project should be valued at approximately N47 Billion, with a combined rental income of about N11billion annually. According to Mr. Ogundele, ‘By 2030, we hope to have completed 61 different malls and plazas in Nigeria and across major African cities, a portfolio worth about $3billion.”
Despite the huge effect of the COVID-19 on businesses and economies, where banks have put a halt to every construction project, Sujimoto just raised N3.5 Billion for the Lucrezia which is sold out with just 2 units left! According to Mr. Ogundele Sujimoto;
“At Sujimoto, we do not see a recession, because for us crises are opportunities disguised as problems! We have developed a highly viable and profitable strategy and found an opportunity for savvy investors to invest N5 billion into Sujimoto and get N10 billion back in 3 years.
This is debt and not equity, and it is guaranteed. Treasury bills and other money market instruments will give you a 5 – 10% ROI on your investment but this is 100% ROI and it is guaranteed! This investment is NOT for everyone, it is ONLY for the vital few, who can identify opportunities when they see one.
One of the reasons why Sujimoto can stand out and guarantee good price and quality is the strength of the company’s procurement capacity and global reach. Mr. Ogundele explained that “We don’t use 3rd parties when it comes to projects; we speak directly to the manufacturers because we want to guarantee two fundamental things – prudent spending and assurance of quality. With offices in Dubai, Gwanzo, and New York City and numerous ambitious projects, one wonders what Sujimoto Group will be worth in 10 years to come.
According to Mr. Ogundele; “Our biggest motivation is our critics because, without them, we couldn’t have come this far. There’s nothing we have today, that we got on a platter of gold. We worked two times harder, 3 times more, just to prove that without a rich Aunty or Uncle, you can get to your destiny”.
Speaking on some of the challenges he has had to contend with in business, Mr. Ogundele recalled the event of 2016 and 2017 where he had conceived and developed the biggest project in Nigeria, over 90 Million USD to build the tallest residential building in Sub-Saharan Africa – the LorenzoBySujimoto.
“After all the investment in time, money, and passion, the recession hit badly, and investors pulled out. The economy was so bad that I had to refund hundreds of millions to our off-takers. Amid the chaos, like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, the Giuliano project was born! A project of terrace houses in Africa’s richest neighborhood – Banana Island. And 20 months after, the record-breaking Giuliano has metamorphosed from a proof-of-concept to a proof-of-product! Fully sold-out 6-Months before completion.”
Many have opined that the young and dynamic Motomatician might be eyeing a political position, but according to Mr. Ogundele, “the business of politics is bigger than the politics of business. We are focused on business but we shall support the government. To us, the Government is like a beautiful woman, marry her only when she is an asset, not a liability.”
When asked if he was married, the single and eligible bachelor who insisted he was married without a wife, claimed that his wife is young and very jealous, she’s Sujimoto.
Meet Yemisi Edun, FCMB’S New Acting MD
The management of First City Monument Bank has appointed Yemisi Edun as its acting managing director.
Mrs Edun, holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and a Master’s degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.
She is also a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Mrs Edun began her career with Akintola Williams Deloitte in 1987 with focus on corporate finance activities and audit of banks and other financial institutions.
She joined FCMB in 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of Chief Financial Officer of the bank.
The acting MD is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers and an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A. and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.
The decision to appoint Edun acting MD came amidst the scandal involving the managing director of the bank, Adam Nuru.
Mr Nuru proceeded on leave earlier in the week to enable the bank to investigate the allegations against him.
The bank has been in the eye of the storm lately when allegations of unprofessional romantic affair were leveled against Mr Nuru.
It was reported that over 1900 people signed a petition asking the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sack the Mr Nuru.
The petition alleged that the bank MD was responsible for the demise of a staffer, Tunde Thomas.
Mr Thomas was said to have died of depression on December 16, 2020.
According to the petition, the FCMB MD allegedly had an affair with Moyo Thomas, who was the deceased’s wife, resulting in two children.
It alleged that Moyo had informed her husband that she was leaving Nigeria for the United States with the kids only to call him upon arrival that the children do not belong to him.
The petition claimed the news initially caused Mr Thomas to have a stroke but he later recovered and thereafter met another lady whom he planned to marry.
Mr Thomas was, however, said to have suffered a cardiac arrest after returning from work about two days before his introduction to his already pregnant girlfriend.
On Tuesday, FCMB called on the public to exercise caution as it looks into the allegations.
In a Twitter post Wednesday night however, the bank said Mrs Edun has only been appointed in acting capacity, “and that she has not been made the substantive managing director”.
Online Security Publishers Honour ‘Mama Diaspora’ for Selfless Service to Humanity
Her Royal Highness Queen Mother Amina Temitope Ajayi F.I.I.M, Chairman/CEO Silicon Valley Nigerian Economic Development (SV-NED) Inc., fondly called, Mama Diaspora was recently honoured at the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP) Dinner and Awards 2020, held at the NERDC Conference Centre, Alausa-Ikeja, Lagos, as the NAOSNP Lifetime Achievement in Humanitarian and Security Award.
Chief Mrs. Temitope Ajayi’s selfless commitment to the welfare of humanity – both at home and in the Diaspora cannot be overemphasized. It was in appreciation of her social entrepreneurship and community activism that Google ranked her as the “third most powerful person” in the Country. The queen mother, a leading advocate of women and youth empowerment, has, in the past two months, empowered over 300 Nigerian youths, and still counting, many of who participated in the 12-day October nationwide protests tagged #EndSARS (#EndSARS is a decentralised social movement, and series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria. The slogan calls for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses), including men and women, with interest-free loans and other materials, to be self-dependent with interest-free loans.
The Queen Mother has restated her commitment to continue empowering and motivating the youths whom she described as bastion of strength and hope for the Nigerian economy.
“Winning this award tells me that people are watching and appreciating what I’m doing. The best thing for me is to keep helping people in every way I can, and I’m sure the award will help more people to come and support the Nigerian Young Adults to do greater work and make Nigeria Proud” she said.
NAOSNP through her President, Comrade Samson Oki believe that as a Community Activist who has always been talking about women and youth empowerment, Mama Diaspora should be publicly recognised for her outstanding humanitarian contribution to humanity.
“She has demonstrated great courage and the power to inspire people, especially the Nigerian Youths to be entrepreneurs, have the ability to lead and possess incredible integrity to stand out in what they do” he said.
The US-based Nigerian business consultant who is an Accountant, Social Entrepreneur and an ardent community activist, was the former President of All Nigerian American Congress (ANAC). Her efforts and continued advocacy on the Nigerian Diaspora issues earned her in the moniker Mama Diaspora, an iconic inspiration of hope and love.
Taste is My Unique Selling Point, Says Tola Animashaun, King of Finger Food
Popularly called Tola Guinea Fowl, Atolagbe Animashaun has distinguished himself in the burgeoning food industry in Nigeria. Whether at home, office or in social functions, food must be eaten. Having carved a niche in the finger food sector in the past 21 years, Tola now calls himself ‘the king of finger food.’
The CEO of Tola Guinea Fowl Ventures stated ‘our business covers guinea fowl, chicken and turkey processing. We also make asun, barbecue, and other products from these poultry birds. I can say that in the past 21 years, God has put fruit to our efforts.’
On the origin of his business, ‘I was not born into the business. I got to know about it having observed my brother who was into the business. He is not really doing the business now but I have moved forward with the business. This is how guinea fowl has become a big business for me.’
The finger food merchant continued: ‘In this business, I always have the mindset that what I cannot eat, I must not give it to others. And this guides me to give superior product quality for each and every one of our orders.’
‘Our unique selling point is the taste. There will always be the unique difference of taste when finger foods come from our brand. This is what distinguish us from the rest.’
‘Those paying us money value us, we must also value them in return. So I ensure that I monitor every stage of the processing. Sometimes I do it myself. I do not say I am the CEO. Product quality is vital and I am so glad that we are receiving commendation from the creme de la creme in the society.’
On ensuring durability of the perishable product, Mr. Animashaun noted:
‘Depending on the distance of our orders, the method of preservation we use also vary. This is so that we can maintain the freshness of the product. We roast some to dryness to lose oil content so there won’t be occasion for rottenness even after 10-15 days. We freeze some products and place ice blocks on them so that it can maintain freshness and taste.’
The agripreneur who is full of gratitude for the clients shared: ‘I want to say thank you to all our clients who patronize us within and abroad the shores of Nigeria. We are online through our website and social media and we deliver in time. This has made us to enjoy word of mouth advertising from our clients which gladdens my heart.’
‘It is their satisfaction that has brought the recognition of the NAOSNP award as the ‘Finger Food Brand Company of the year’ which I cherish so much. I am also praying to attain greater heights and also be able to establish International branches.’
He advised youths to get involved in productive activity. ‘It is not like there is no job but some don’t want to learn or invest time and energy. Many of my customers from 20 years ago are still with me today. That’s the reward of hard work. I am very excited that I am into this business. I was not forced into it. It is my passion and I am enjoying the result of dedication to my passion. I have married, have children, built house, bought cars from this business. It’s a great thing and I thank God.’
‘I also advise youths to use this time well. I am still youthful, it is better for me to use it for my business. My wife understands this. My children know too. So they have to give me the necessary support. When I get customers’ orders I have to set out. I am very ready like a soldier, my business is 24-hour service-oriented’, he concluded.