How A Former Nigerian Village Boy Built A Conglomerate Worth Over $1 Billion Dollars
Success comes through many routes. Some through outright entrepreneurship, and others through the corporate ranks before eventually setting out to build a business of their own. No matter what route you take, your dreams are valid, and to can be a success story for others to marvel at.
This is the success story of Pascal Dozie, the founder of Diamond Bank PLC, an astute corporate giant, entrepreneur, technocrat, and inspiration to millions of people around the world.
Here’s how he did it.
Who Is Pascal Dozie?
Pascal Gabriel Dozie is the founder and former Chairman of Diamond Bank Plc. He does not own investments in the banking sector but is also an accomplished investor with stakes in several highly rated companies including the MTN Group. In addition, he is the Chairman of Pan-Atlantic University and the founding partner of Africa Capital Alliance.
Early Life And Education Of Pascal Dozie
Dozie was born in 1939 in Egbu village of Owerri, Imo state. His father, Charles Dozie, who was a Catholic catechist. Dozie obtained his First School Leaving Certificate from Our Lady’s School, Emekuku, before proceeding to Holy Ghost Juniorate Seminary and Holy Ghost College, Owerri, where he obtained his West African Senior School Certificate.
Describing his upbringing, Dozie reveals, “We did not have many modern facilities, but we had the village set up. If you were hungry, someone would feed you. If your neighbour caught you doing something wrong, they would punish you.”
Dozie was barely 15 years old when his father died, leaving the responsibility of taking care of him and his siblings solely to his mother. He witnessed first-hand the undesirable realities of widowhood in the form of alienation, stigmatisation, loneliness, intimidation and social injustice against his mother.
When Nigeria became an independent nation in 1960, Dozie was offered a scholarship by the London School of Economics. He attended City University in London where he studied Operational Research and Industrial Engineering and later got a Masters degree in Administrative Science. Dozie is married to Chinyere and they have five children.
His Journey Into Entrepreneurship
Pascal Dozie began his career as an economist at the National Economic Development Office in the United Kingdom. He was also a part-time lecturer at the North-Western Polytechnic, London. Between 1970 and 1971, he served as a consulting economist at African States Consulting Organisation in Uganda.
Having garnered sufficient education and experience, in 1971, he quit his job in Uganda and returned to Nigeria.
Upon Pascal’s return, with his experience in Econometrics and Industrial Engineering, he launched his first company, African Development Consulting Group (ADCG) which prospered on the back of projects for bluechip companies such as Nestlé and Pfizer. Then Pascal Dozie had his “big idea”.
He remembered from his childhood the difficulties that Nigerian traders from remote villages in the eastern part of the country faced in keeping secure the big bundles of cash they carried to and from Lagos for business.
“Sometimes, they would be waylaid by rogues on the road,” Dozie recalls. “Life would be less stressful if they could wire their cash ahead.” And this was the big idea!
So, Dozie pioneered electronic money transfers in Nigeria. On the back of the popularity of this service, he set up Diamond Bank in 1991.
He was subsequently hired by Clement Isong, the then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to conduct some studies on Co-operative and Commercial Banking.
How It Happened
In 1985, he was appointed Chairman of Progress Bank, which is now defunct. Later that same year, Dozie applied for a banking license in order to help traders in South-Eastern Nigeria who were faced with issues of banking. This brought about the birth of Diamond Bank. At inception, the share capital of the bank was ₦10million ($28,000) with only 21 interested shareholders. In 1990, he satisfied the terms of Central Bank of Nigeria to operate a standard bank and in 1991, the bank began operations. He was the CEO of Diamond Bank from 1991 to 2006 when he handed over to his son, Uzoma Dozie.
Dozie faced his fair share of challenges in business. In 1991, after Diamond Bank kicked off operations, the question of how to get people to trust the credibility of his business and partner with him arose. “The first customer was my wife,” revealed Dozie. “The assumption was we were going to come by money easily, but it wasn’t easy.”
The problem? Most companies at the time wouldn’t deal with a bank less than three years old. Invariably, he had to find a way of getting around it if his business was to survive.
Fast forward to many years later. In 2005, the Central Bank of Nigeria mandated all banks to hold a minimum of ₦25billion share capital. At the time, Diamond Bank had N6.4b share capital which put the bank on a hot seat.
Nevertheless, as a future-forward businessman, he listed his shares in the bank to raise funds. Although, the step made him lose a large part of his stake in the bank, he was eventually able to meet up with the CBN’s demand.
After diligence and persistence come reward.
The big break for Dozie came when the South African telecommunications company, MTN, approached him with the idea to set up a cellphone network in the vast and unexplored Nigerian market. His part of the deal was to raise 40% of the funds needed to set up a subsidiary in Nigeria.
Dozie loved the idea. But when he turned to his friends for funding support, they turned him down. “If the country (Nigeria) could not set up her own telecoms company (NITEL), no one could,” his friends thought. They were later proven wrong. But Dozie’s pain at that moment could not be excused.
In his words, “It was very disappointing. You have a good project and you are turned down. You start to question yourself and start to question your head.”
However, with determination, Dozie was able to raise a 20% stake in the company.
MTN has now grown to become Nigeria’s largest telecommunication company, making it a great investment after all.
According to Forbes, Dozie’s net worth is in the region of US $1.1 billion.
Hard work pays and Pascal Dozie has reaped the fruits of diligence and persistence. Some of his achievements include:
- Director at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
- Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group
- President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange
- Chairman, MTN Nigeria
- Chairman, Nigeria Business Support Group
- Co-chair of the Commonwealth Business Council
- National Award of the Order of the Niger(OON)
- Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON)
- Lifetime Achievement Award winner, All Africa Business Leader Awards (AABLA)
The Janet Dozie Foundation was established by Pascal Dozie and his wife, Chinyere, to reach out to indigent widows and mitigate their hardships. This is unsurprising, with Dozie having witnessed first-hand the undesirable realities of widowhood when his father passed away.
“If by any chance you believe I have done well, you have the capacity to do better.” Pascal Dozie’s words. How soothing! There really is no limit to what we can be, have, and do if we truly desire it and put our hearts to it.