The narrative of the journey from nobody to somebody is an inspiring piece to behold of Sijibomi Ogundele who came from the slum to build a behemoth company worth over $400 million, assuming the influential status of one of the youngest billionaires in Nigeria.
Growing up in the slum of Agege as a little 8-year-old boy, Sijibomi’s first introduction to entrepreneurship was when he started a motorcycle business popularly called ‘Okada’ business, from his little savings. Despite the typical African parent’s disapproval, he drew inspiration from his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit to grow his Okada business from 1 to 6 motorcycles, a laudable testament to his strong, resolute and resilient business mind.
No one would have thought that this young billionaire was once a souvenir seller in France and did head porterage (alabaru) for his trader mother at Oke-Arin market. At the market, he was nurtured by enterprising Igbo traders and which further fueled his burning passion for business.
While most of his peers were then enjoying social and fast life, Sijibomi was visiting the luxury parts of Lagos, getting to meet and mentored by people who were ahead of him in his dream.
Today, Sijibomi Ogundele is the founder and lead partner of the Sujimoto group of companies, a multinational conglomerate that deals in construction, real estate, and energy. Often times, he is always referred to as the “Donald Trump of Nigeria” due to his avid interest in building luxury real estate apartments. He has also been recognized by Forbes Africa as a brave young entrepreneur.
Background Of Sijibomi Ogundele
Sijibomi Ogundele was born on April 8, 1983, in Agege, Lagos, a largely non-affluent part of Lagos. He basically grew on a street where only two houses had power generating sets, depicting the rough background of a person who wasn’t just poor, but grew up surrounded by poverty in a country where it is rather difficult for most of the poor population to rise above their financial means.
Undeterred to his low upbringing, he drew motivation out his want to become successful. At age 9, Sijibomi started visiting Ikoyi, a very affluent part of Lagos exclusively for the elite in Nigeria, and started brewing his inspiration to achieve excellence and live in that luxury someday.
Education And Early Career
Sijibomi Ogundele was opportune to school in Anglica Ruskin University in the UK where he studied law. Sijibomi’s success was not just handed to him, he had to work his way up the ladder.
He started out his career in risk assessment in 2004, where he moved up to lending in SME’s and then set up Moto finance in Paris which later branched out into places like Accra, Dubai, Madrid, and New York City, achieving significant industry milestones. Achieving remarkable feats in this regard, he decided to come back to Nigeria to redefine real estate landscape in the country.
Sijibomi’s first major breakthrough in real estate came when he was living in France. He bought an apartment in Paris, remodeled it, and sold it for double the price to a friend from Qatar. This investment flip in such a short time rekindled his interest in real estate and changed his life path forever.
His introduction into real estate in Nigeria was through a real estate dealer known as “Akin” who he met at a club in Ikoyi on one of his trips to Nigeria, He was asked to invest 50 million Naira into an estate project for block of flats in the estate that is being developed. Going against pieces of advice from his family members, he decided to take the risk, which after some time paid off and he was able to sell the house at 105 million naira, making over one hundred per cent return on investment in that particular deal.
On realizing the lucrativeness of the business, he started considering starting a business of his own to take advantage of a new generation of Nigerian consumers who had started appreciating the value of luxury real estate and were willing to pay for it.
The Birth Of Sujimoto Construction
Sijibomi Ogundele established Sujimoto in 2013, which he named after a Japanese university professor who he attributes a large part of his success to. He identifies the man as the sole personality behind the man he is today.
Sujimoto was founded in partnership with the real estate mogul, Mr Yazeed Alrahji, the chairman of DAERM real estate investment company, Saudi Arabia. His vision was simple, “to redefine luxury living by exceeding all expectations”.
His first big project was Lincoln Avenue in Accra, Ghana, a set of 16 townhouses of 4-bedroom apartments, a project he carried out in partnership with Wonda World/Petronia. He then went ahead to construct the Medici terraces luxury apartments in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Interestingly, Sijibomi’s project dubbed “LorenzobySujimoto” has been described as the tallest residential building in Nigeria and Africa’s first fully automated residential apartments.
Major philosophies Sijibomi have cultivated into his personal life and business are tenacity, resilience, hard work, excellence, and determination.