How The Son Of a Former Governor Built A Billion Dollar Business

Biography & Success Story Of Femi Otedola: Founder Of Forte Oil & Geregu
Biography & Success Story Of Femi Otedola: Founder Of Forte Oil & Geregu

In every person’s journey towards entrepreneurial success, personal growth, development, and gathering experience is a critical component. Whether you’re born with a silver spoon or not, whether you have access to more opportunities than other people or not, growing your business and life skills will be key to reaching your goals.

One person who has successfully implemented this principle over the years and has experienced significant success even though he was born into a wealthy home is Femi Otedola

An accomplished Entrepreneur with well over 30 years of experience, Femi Otedola is a formidable force in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, and he is considered one of Nigeria’s most committed philanthropists.

See Also: How This Nigerian Entrepreneur Built A Business Worth Over $5 Million Dollars


Here’s how he did it:


Early Life & Education 

Born on the 4th of November, 1962 in Ibadan, old Western Nigeria to a former governor of Lagos State, Michael Otedola, Femi Otedola had a great primary and secondary education before proceeding to the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife, where he obtained his first degree.


Journey To Entrepreneurship

After completing his university Education, Femi Otedola joined his family’s printing business as a marketing Personnel and served in the same capacity for several years before establishing Centre Force Limited, a financial, trading and investment company.

See Also: How A South African Farm Boy Built A Famous Multi-Billion Dollar Conglomerate With Operations In Nigeria, South Africa & Many Other Countries



After gaining some experience working with his family’s printing press and Centre Force, Femi decided to venture into the oil and gas sector and eventually founded Zenon petroleum oil and gas limited in 2003, a company with a 147,000MT storage capacity.

Within a short time, Zenon established itself as one of the major players in the Nigerian oil business environment, by distributing petroleum products to several major companies and establishments. As it expanded its operations, in 2007, Zenon went on to purchase 28.7% controlling stake in African petroleum Limited, which led to the appointment of Femi  Otedola as the Chairman and Chief executive of the company. He later went on to acquire an additional 29.3% of the company’s shares which led to Zenon owning a 55.3% stake in African Petroleum. 

Shortly after assuming the leadership position at African Petroleum, the company recorded a significant rise in its share price, with an increase in market capitalisation from 36 billion Naira to 217 billion Naira in 6 months. Due to  Dwindling oil prices in 2008-2009 which happened as a result of the global economic crisis, African petroleum recorded a negative financial outcome in 2009

In 2010 African Petroleum rebranded itself, changing its name to Forte Oil PLC. Femi Otedola then carried out a massive restructuring of the company, this time focusing mainly on improved corporate governance and technology. As a result of the changes the company’s revenue experienced a significant increase and in 2012 the company declared profit at the end of the financial year.

In 2013 Otedola financed 57% of Amperion Limited a subsidiary of Forte Oil in the acquisition of 414 mega watts Geregu power plant from the Federal government at the cost of $132 million. After recording huge revenue growth in the 2013 and 2014 financial years, Otedola had once again made his mark as one of the most outstanding brains in the Nigerian business environment.



After the global oil crash in 2015, Femi Otedola’s company experienced a large financial windfall and saw his net worth dwindle from over $1 billion to a few hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 2019 Femi Otedola decided to sell his shares in Forte Oil with the intentions of shifting attention from oil to power with Geregu Power Plc 

See Also: How The Son Of An Egyptian Construction Entrepreneur Built A Multi-Billion Dollar Fortune.


Zenon Petroleum And Gas

In 2004, Femi Otedola invested 15 billion Naira into downstream infrastructure development. He purchased depots for product storage at Ibafon, Apapa in Lagos and four cargo vessels, which increased the total storage capacity to 147,000 metric tonnes.

As at 2005, Zenon oil controlled a significant percentage of the Nigerian Diesel market and was responsible for supplying products to the biggest manufacturers in Nigeria which included Cadbury, Coca-Cola, MTN, Guinness and many others 

Zenon secured a loan from ten banks in Nigeria in 2007 worth $1.5 billion to build the largest PMS storage facility on the African Continent, all before the acquisition of African Petroleum, which was later changed to Forte Oil.

The company also has interests in the financial sector, as it is one of the largest shareholders in UBA and Zenith banks respectively  

See Also: How A South African University Drop Out Built A Billion Dollar Business.


Impact On Society

Femi Otedola is considered to be one of Nigeria’s most generous philanthropists. Over the years, he has donated billions of Naira in the course of financing several humanitarian projects and he has been responsible for making numerous donations to the Michael Otedola University Scholarship scheme which provides underprivileged students across Lagos state with the necessary funding for their higher education.

Since the program was initiated, over 1,000 students have been beneficiaries. In 2005 a donation of 300 million Naira was made by Femi Otedola to the National Ecumenical Centre, also in November 2019, he donated a sum of $14 million to the Save the Children Fund, a foundation headed by his Celebrity daughter. 

In 2020, Femi Otedola donated 1 billion Naira toward the fight against the novel Coronavirus. Due to his philanthropic works he was honoured with the Philanthropist of the Decade Award at an event organised to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of ThisDay.

See Also: How A Former Uneducated Nigerian Village Boy Built A Multi-Million Dollar Oil Conglomerate.


To Sum It Up

Femi Otedola’s success story is one that shows that experience coupled with a diversity of investment, and philanthropy can lead to a successful life.


What are your thoughts on this success story of Femi Otedola? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Stan Edom
Stan Edom
I'm an entrepreneur with expertise in supply chain management, international trade, small business development, e-commerce, internet startups, renewable energy, and agriculture. I'm also a network engineer, I.T security expert, and computer programmer. In my spare time when I'm not working out at the gym, I try to solve problems people face in their everyday lives with whatever means necessary.

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