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BIG STORY

Sijibomi Ogundele (Sujimoto): Meet The Agege Boy That Built A $400Million Company

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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.

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.

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BIG STORY

Financial Recklessness: Pondei, Other NDDC Staff Spent N5bn As Medical Allowances During Lockdown —- Senate Report [Full Breakdown]

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The Senate report on the alleged financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission has revealed how the top management of the agency shared N4.9bn among themselves in the guise of medical checkup.

The document also showed that the management paid N114.9m as a supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members during the same period.

It stated that both disbursements were made when the nation was under lockdown to check COVID-19 spread.

The report was adopted and approved by the Senate shortly before it proceeded on its annual recess penultimate week.

A copy of the document obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Monday indicated that the monies were paid to the individual accounts in March and April this year.

The document indicated that the acting Managing Director, Daniel Pondei, and the two executive directors got N14.2m each.

The report noted that no such payment took place during the first Interim Management Committee led by Joi Nunieh.

It nonetheless, stated that available data showed that the allowance had been in existence even though it appeared to have no specific policy underpinning it.

The report stated, “The three members of the Interim Management Committee received the highest amount of N142m each.

“Two other people, namely Evan Caroline Nagbo and Ms Cecilia Akintomide, took N12,387,500 each, while Peter Uwa Edieya was paid N10,340,000.

The report further added that four other members of staff collected about N8m each while 140 others collected an average of N7m each.

The NDDC management also paid 75 others N6m each while 153 staff members were paid N5.5m.

Four other categories of staff were paid between N4.1m and N4.8m while seven others got about N3m each.

The document further indicated that 804 staff members collected between N2.4m and N2.9m each.

Apart from these, the document showed that the management paid N114.9m as a supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members.

No fewer than 15 of them got N7m while one of them collected N5.2m.

The rest however collected between N375, 000 and N550, 000 each.

The report indicated that “payment to all the 1,401 staff who received the allowance was made on 16 March 2020.”

It added that the distribution of the payment category and the number of staff did not suggest a regular hierarchical pattern and an absence of clear policy, which raised suspicion of arbitrariness.

The report also stated that the NDDC management used staff members for the distribution of Lassa Fever kits.

It explained that Personal Protective Kits were given to the 185 LGAs of the Niger Delta states through the NDDC staff.

The staff members, according to the document, were paid various amounts, ranging from N300,000 to N6,845,000, on April 15, 2020, for the distribution of the kits.

The report stated, “The total amount used for the distribution is N55,090,000.

“Twenty-nine employees were engaged in ‘Monitoring of the Emergency Response Programme on Lassa Fever Outbreak at a cost of N5,972,500’.

“NDDC did not provide any returns on the end-user beneficiaries which would have helped in evaluating the accountability and transparency of the programme. There was also no mention of the original target beneficiaries.

“NDDC management did not provide details of allocation of the Lassa fever Protective Kits per each state and LGA and how the distributors were assigned as well as the collated report on the distribution exercise.

“They should have justified the huge amount of money allocated for the exercise.”

The report further added that by its own record. NDDC spent N808.9m as imprest between October 29 2019 and May 23. 2020.

It stated that “this covers a period of seven months during most of which the nation was on lockdown.

“Given that significant amount was also expended on travels, duty tour allowance during this period, payment of bills, it is difficult to justify this huge amount as imprest necessary for the services of the commission.”

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BIG STORY

mediaReach OMD Employs Data On Media Consumption To Aid Businesses In Navigating The New Normal

Peter Okunoren

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mediaReach OMD, a frontline marketing and media agency, had during this period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, guided media planners, buyers, and businesses in their investment bid with data-driven newsletters on media consumption habit to maximize profits and increase productivity and to navigate the new normal.

Published in ThisDay Newspapers and titled “COVID-19 and Media Consumption Habit, What has Changed?,” the newsletters are a culmination of the sequence of information aimed at examining the potential impact of the pandemic on audience behaviour and media consumption in Nigeria.

It also contains thought starters and needed actions regarding adaptation of the definition of the new normal posed by the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, the Managing Director of the Agency, Nitinchandra Nandekar, said the firm has been monitoring changes in media consumption and adapting to innovative ways of connecting with the target audience, through data-led approaches to guide clients’ investments during the COVID-19 lockdown/post lockdown.

Nandekar avowed that while businesses, especially the marketing and media ecosystem waits for an end to this deadly disease which has dealt a hard blow on world economies, the journey to success will continue to be guided with key principles, including being ready for the day after.

The foremost media agency with presence in Nigeria, West, and Central Africa, posits that media consumption which is in favour of the TV continues to be stable with much attention on genres like news and entertainment, while businesses are now adopting a more creative and innovative form of operations with adaptation to the new normal.

Commending the media agency for these initiatives, the Chairman and Managing Director of Expand Global Industries Limited, Rajat Kapur, said as a global partner of Henkel for Media Investment Solutions, MediaReach OMD helps not only in the normal ways but regularly releases data-driven media intelligence information newsletters which ensure that Henkel is prepared to deal with the new normal characterised by the pandemic.

This, he said, contains the changing consumer habits, the higher need for hygiene-based products and the changing media landscape, all highlighted for a better clearer and stronger media investment leading to best in class equity development of Henkel’s brands.

In his remark, the President of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), Tony Agenmonmen, said the breakout of the pandemic has been a defining moment for the world.

He affirmed that the deadly disease came with uncertainty and fear because no one knows exactly what was going on, not even the experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO) which has been struggling a bit.

“A bewildered world therefore became anxious and hungry for news. And with the lockdowns in almost all parts of the world, consumers were hungry for information. They tried to stay connected to all the news about the pandemic and social media was the greatest beneficiary,” he said.

Agenmonmen continued “It helped that some brands understood this and were able to help in providing the information in ways that were not seen as exploiting the fears and worries of consumers. Six months down the line, it appears that the world has come to accept that we will have to live with it for an indeterminate while. The fears remain.”

On the importance of data to investment, the NIMN President remarked that without it, organisations cannot plan their daily activities properly. “Data is life, it is very critical in running your day-to-day investment. If you have the right data, then you are on the right path to success,” he avowed.

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BIG STORY

COVID-19: Air Peace Sacks 70 Pilots, Cuts Salaries By 40%

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A Nigerian airline, Air Peace, has sacked over 70 pilots across its fleet.

It also reduced staff salaries by up to 40 percent.

A member of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers disclosed this to one of our correspondents, craving anonymity.

The source said the number of sacked pilots was between 70 and 75 in total.

The management of the airline, however, linked the pilots’ disengagement to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pilots had, on July 22, protested a major pay cut after negotiations with the management over their remuneration broke down.

A statement issued on Monday by Mr. Stanley Olise, spokesperson of the airline, described the sacking of the pilots as “painful but rightful decision.”

Part of the statement read, “The airline cannot afford to toe the path of being unable to continue to fulfill its financial obligations to its staff, external vendors, aviation agencies, maintenance organizations, insurance companies, banks, and other creditors, hence the decision to restructure its entire operations with a view to surviving the times.

“The pandemic has hit every airline worldwide, so badly that it has become very impossible for airlines to remain afloat without carrying out an internal restructuring of their costs.

“Anything short of what we have done may lead to the collapse of an airline as could be seen in some places worldwide during this period. Therefore, we decided to review the salaries being paid to all staff.

“The new salaries reflect a zero per cent-40 percent cut of the former salary, depending on the salary grades of every staff. Even after the cuts, it was obvious that for us to be able to sustain our operations and survive the times, some jobs must inevitably have to go.

“Air Peace has never, for one day, ever owed salaries to its workers in its almost six years of existence, pilots inclusive. Rather, the management of Air Peace has always been known to be increasing salaries of its employees periodically, without being prompted by staff.

“In fact, in one fell swoop, Air Peace increased the salaries of pilots by over 100 percent in one day. Our salaries have always been paid even before the end of the month in the last five years.

“The decision is a reflection of the negative impact of the pandemic on airlines and aviation worldwide.

“We are in trying times. Even the biggest airlines in Europe, America, Middle East, Asia, Australia, and, indeed, Africa, are all either slashing jobs and cutting salaries in order to remain afloat or are shutting down.

“Air Peace is not immune from these challenges.”

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