How This Nigerian Entrepreneur Made Over $1 Billion Dollars At The Age Of 39
Africa is home to endless opportunities. The few who understand this take advantage of its limitless potentials, while others simply complain about the economic situations that have ridiculed the continent and have in one way or the other, affected their lives.
Visionaries pay less attention to what their countries can do for them and more to what they can do for their countries. To achieve this, they identify opportunities, take them head-on, and when they do succeed, they create jobs for thousands of people.
This is the success story of Igho Sanomi, a Nigerian entrepreneur who spotted an opportunity in the oil and gas industry as early as the age of 23, followed it through, and eventually built a billion dollar business at the age of 39.
Here’s how he did it:
The Early Life And Education Of Igho Sanomi
Igho Charles Sanomi II was born to a Catholic family on the 17th of May 1975 to late Dickens Ogheneruemu Patrick Sanomi, the second National Vice-President of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) and a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in the Nigeria Police Force.
In 1998, during his final year at the University of Jos, studying Geology and Mining, Igho Sanomi began to get excited about the oil & gas industry. During this period, he had a friend that was interning at a local oil trading company called First Fuels. His friend would always return from work to talk about everything he was learning and experiencing, ranging from fixing ships to hedging, oil prices, and a whole lot more.
His friend’s passion and excitement for the job made many of Igho Charles Sanomi’s friends to want to work for large multinational oil corporations like ExxonMobil, Shell, and the likes, but Igho Sanomi, instead, was always thinking in a different direction.
The profitability of the company his friend worked for sprouted an intense interest in Igho Sanomi for oil trading, and to fuel it even further, he started reading all types of books relating to physical oil trading, while looking out for opportunities that would enable him to easily get into the industry.
A Golden Opportunity
While still studying the physical oil trading business, Igho Sanomi got to learn there was a bid by local businessmen for fuel import and export contracts from the federal government. The unique thing about the bid was that most companies who were bidding weren’t doing so to do the hard work after winning. Rather, they were bidding so they could win the contract and resell them to foreign oil trading companies for a reasonable amount.
Igho Sanomi, a smart lad at the time, decided to find the entrepreneurs who won the contracts and gave them a proposition they couldn’t easily refuse.
He offered to help them maximise their profits from the contract through a joint venture. To achieve this, he approached a friend of his who worked for a Swiss trading company called Masefield, and so, would deliver the contracts gotten, to the Swiss company to fulfill.
In the process of doing this, Igoh Sanomi would usually get paid a substantial but small commission in comparison to the value of the contract. Igho Sanomi didn’t just make a lot of money from these contracts, but he also gained valuable knowledge that would shape his future.
The Start Of The Taleveras Group
After successfully closing a couple of deals, Igho Sanomi went into a long-term venture with Masefield for the period of 1998 to 1999.
At the end of the partnership, Masefield offered Igho Sanomi a job with lucrative benefits, but he instead chose to walk away, and with the knowledge and finance he had acquired, he founded his own company and named it Sarian Oil.
To run the business, he used a line of credit from the bank, which they would only fund if he had a confirmed client/off-taker to supply the imported or exported oil products to.
After a series of multiple successful deliveries, the bank started to trust Igho Sanomi even more and decided to fund his company even if they didn’t have any buyer. With this, Sarian Oil could load a vessel with a product and go out to find a buyer for it. This greatly enabled them to explode their revenue rates and handle multiple transactions at the same time.
Now this was a rare benefit that any African company had at the time, and considering it was between 1999 to 2000, Igho Sanomi had already built a fast growing oil trading business.
According to an interview Igho Sanomi had with Forbes Magazine, he said:
“Everyone starts on a back-to-back basis, and you want to build it up to where you’ve built up the strength of your balance sheet and you have more confidence with the banks to support you to take other positions. In trading, the key thing is to be able to look at your options – on the purchase side, you tie it up. On the sales side, you want to hedge your risk or your exposure and have the opportunity to look at the various markets to see where you can optimize your physical position”
By the year 2004, Igho Sanomi, 28 years old at the time, renamed Sarian Oil to Taleveras, while his company, in the same year, became the preferred supplier of fuel oil feedstock to major refiners in the United States of America (USA). In the same period, he signed a contract with Morgan Stanley’s trading arm for the supply of Nigeria’s crude oil to one of their refineries.
By the year 2005, at the age of 29, Igho Sanomi’s firm, Taleveras, won two oil blocks in a bid organized by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Then when the NNPC introduced the crude oil swap with one of its subsidiaries called Duke Oil Incorporated, Igho Sanomi’s firm, Taleveras, was yet again another beneficiary.
By the year 2008, Talevaras was churning in revenues up to the tune of $2 billion dollars yearly.
His Business & Achievements Today
Today, Igho Charles Sanomi isn’t only just active in the oil and gas industry; in 2013, he acquired a stake in the 900MW Afam Power plant in Rivers State, Nigeria. While his company owns oil blocks in other African countries including Cote D’Ivoire.
He focuses a lot of his time on philanthropic works today, through an NGO he started in honor of his father, called Dickens Sanomi Foundation (DSF) and was also awarded a Papal medal of His Holiness Pope Francis in 2014, for his dedication to the Catholic Church and his support for the Vatican’s mission in Nigeria.
To Sum It Up
Igho Charles Sanomi is an inspiring African success story. His journey has shown that anyone can start and grow in any industry with or without self-owned primary funds. By building excellent sales skills and being able to successfully broker transactions between the buyers and the sellers without spending a dime of his own money, he went on to build a billion dollar company before the age of 40, and in so doing, has proven that anything is possible if you have the right network, skills, and resilience to put in the required work.
What are your thoughts on this success story of Igho Sanomi? Let me know by leaving a comment below.