Nigeria has produced billionaires over the last few decades; the likes of Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, and Tony Elumelu, to mention a few. Most of these billionaires are in their 50s and above, and they make headlines every other day.
Igho Sanomi, a 47-year-old billionaire, is the founder and CEO of Taleveras, a leading global energy and services company that was officially launched in 2004. Over the years, his hard work and dedication have paid off. He is renowned for pushing his limits and has parlayed this single attribute to stunning effect, growing Taleveras into one of the largest physical commodities trading companies in Africa. According to Forbes, his net worth in 2017 was $2 billion.
Background: Sanomi broke into the oil and gas industry at the young age of 23. Despite the high barriers to entry into Nigeria’s oil & gas industry, Sanomi did it. While in his final year studying geology and mining at the University of Jos in Nigeria, he became fascinated with the oil industry. At the time there was a local physical oil trading company called First Fuels, which had an internship program for undergraduates, and Sanomi had a colleague who worked for the firm.
- “That’s where my interest was piqued,” Sanomi says. “This friend of mine worked for First Fuels and he would come back and brag about all the things he was learning: oil prices, fixing ships, hedging, taking positions, and all that stuff. Over time he made the whole business so exciting that the allure of physical trading was too powerful for me to resist. So while most of my colleagues were dreaming of joining ExxonMobil or Shell and the other oil majors after school to work as engineers and geologists and all that stuff, I was more fascinated by the prospects of trading.”
In his final year at the university, Sanomi started reading everything he could find about physical oil trading, and he looked for an opening to get into the business. He soon found one. At the time it was popular for local Nigerian businessmen to bid for fuel import contracts from the state-owned oil company, and then upon winning the contracts, they resold the contracts to foreign oil trading companies for a tidy sum – without lifting a finger. Very few local business people wanted to do the dirty work. This is where Sanomi saw an opportunity. He began looking for some of the businessmen who won those contracts and offered them a deal they couldn’t refuse.
- “I offered them a joint venture. I basically told them if you hand me this contract, I’ll fulfill it for you and you can maximize profits.
After years of learning and experiences, he started his own company Taleveras, which became the preferred supplier of fuel oil feedstock to major USA refiners.
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Achievements: In 2017, he acquired a $2.5 billion Shell asset.
- The Forbes Best of Africa Leading Philanthropist 2022 award was presented to him on September 20th by Mark Furlong, president of Forbes Media, during a reception hosted by Forbes Media on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Meetings in New York.
- In 2015, he got award for the Martin Luther King Salute, an International award.
Philanthropic acts: He is also the founder of the Dickens Sanomi Foundation, which funds a number of philanthropic activities and projects and grants scholarships to impoverished children.
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- Sanomi raised $1.5 Million For Cancer Research UK.
- Dickens Sanomi Foundation spent more than $50,000 in funding the surgery of Ali Ahmadu, a seven-year-old boy who became paralyzed after he was run over by the militant Nigerian Boko Haram forces when they attacked Chibok Town in Nigeria’s Borno State.