Journalism of Courage

Philanthropy: Nigeria’s top 10 most generous people

Persecondnews takes a look at the 10 top wealthy Nigerian philanthropists that have impacted the socio-economic development of the country.

Pioneering American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie once set the standard for giving back: “No man can become rich without himself enriching others,” he said. “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.”

By Ajuma Edwina Ameh

Scores of the world’s wealthiest people have taken to philanthropy, donating their riches to hundreds of causes.

For centuries, wealthy individuals and families in developing countries have been making charitable contributions to improve education and alleviate social problems such as mass poverty, hunger, diseases and epidemics. Nigerian philanthropy is a growing industry as wealthy Nigerians, billionaires and hundreds of millionaires, are establishing foundations and donating money and material to a wide range of causes. A number of these wealthy entrepreneurs, families, and their companies are giving back to the society through foundations and other charitable institutions. Persecondnews takes a look at the 10 top wealthy Nigerian philanthropists that have impacted the socio-economic development of the country.


Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote is a billionaire businessman and a leading global philanthropist. Aliko Dangote currently holds the record of the richest man in Africa with a net worth of $11.6 billion, according to Forbes. Dangote once said he “does not want to be remembered as the richest black man on earth, but as the biggest philanthropist.” He is the founder of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF). The Dangote Foundation is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Dangote Group.

Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) has an endowment of $1.25 billion. The Foundation which was incorporated in 1994 is at the forefront of improving opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and wellbeing, promote quality education, and broaden economic empowerment opportunities. He is passionate about lifting the most vulnerable people out of poverty through economic empowerment. About 27 years later, the Foundation has become the largest private Foundation in sub-Saharan Africa, with the largest endowment by a single African donor. Over the years, the Foundation is responsible for contributing over $100 million in charitable funds to several causes in Nigeria.

In 2020, Dangote donated a $3.3 million complex to Bayero University Business School Kano; A 150 fully kitted operational cars to the Nigeria Police Force; A 200 housing units to Boko Haram victims – mostly women and children; Injected over N7billion to create succor in North East in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency; Donated more than $800,000 to the University of Ibadan and $2.7 million hostel to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

In order to alleviate the suffering of communities in Jos affected by the prolonged ethno-religious crises in 2010, the Dangote Foundation made a donation of relief materials worth N50 million to the community leaders.

The Foundation also donated $2 million to the World Food Programme as part of efforts to help Pakistani nationals devastated by floods in the year 2010.

In 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it had entered into a strategic partnership with the Dangote Foundation to eradicate polio in Nigeria.

Persecondnews recalls that the ADF also recently launched a major philanthropic programme in Zamfara State where they doled out food items running into several millions of Naira to support victims of insurgency. This is coming after the farmers-herders clash and sporadic attacks by cattle rustlers displaced thousands, many of whom are currently seeking refuge at Maradun Local Government Area of the State.

The Foundation is a leading contributor to the ‘Saving One Million Lives’ every year in Nigeria initiative. The Dangote Foundation was at the frontline of containing the spread of Ebola in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, by donating $3 million; the biggest private contributor to African Union Ebola Trust Fund.

To broaden empowerment opportunities for individuals and communities, aimed at reducing poverty through economic empowerment of women, ADF has disbursed the sum of N3.924 billion to 392,490 women and youths across Kano, Jigawa, Kogi, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Lagos, Niger, Nasarawa, Sokoto and Katsina state as part of its micro grant programme, the company has said in a press statement. Also recently, they empowered a total of 16,000 rural women in all the 16 local government area of Kwara State. The 16,000 women were given a total of N160 million to help boost their petty trade or start new businesses.

A breakdown of the disbursement shows that N880 million was distributed to 88,000 women in Kano State; 27,000 women received N270 million in Jagawa state; 22,000 women received N220 million in Kogi State; 31,500 women and youth collected N315 million in Adamawa; and 54,000 Women and youth got N540 million in Borno State.

Furthermore, 40,000 women received N400 million in Lagos; 25,000 women received N250 million in Niger; 13,000 received N130 Million in Nassarawa; 23,990 women benefitted from the sum of N239.9 million in Sokoto; and 34,000 women benefitted from N340 million in Katsina State; and 34,000 women and youth benefitted from N340 million in Yobe State.


Mr. Tony Elumelu

Tony Elumelu is a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the Chairman of the pan-African financial services group, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Heirs Holdings, Transcorp Hotels Plc. He is Nigeria’s foremost hospitality brand and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). Heirs Holdings’ portfolio spans the power, oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate and healthcare sectors, operating in 23 countries worldwide.

Elumelu sits on numerous public and social sector boards, including USAID’s Private Capital Group Partners Forum, and is a co-Chair of the Aspen Institute’s Global Food Security Working Group. He also serves on the international advisory board of the Washington DC based think tank, the Wilson Center, and is a member of the Global Advisory Council of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Centre for Public Leadership, as well as a member of the World Economic Forum Community of Chairmen. In September 2020, Elumelu was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

He created the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) in 2010 to have an impact on the development of African continent and focus on supporting young entrepreneurs in Africa. The Foundation is the leading champion of entrepreneurship in Africa. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs. Its objective is to empower women and men across continent, catalyzing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation.

Since inception, the Foundation has created a digital ecosystem of over one million as part of its ten year, US$100 million commitment through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. The Foundation is increasingly sharing its robust delivery platform and working in partnership with institutions such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the African Development Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UBA, to create meaningful and permanent impact across Africa.

“As I have publicly stated and often reiterated, Africa can’t and must not pay for the sins of others. Africa, the least emitter, continues to suffer the worst of the impacts of climate change and must be abundantly supported to adapt to a reality it did not cause.

“At the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we empower young entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries, including thousands of young farmers who we support to build resilience and adapt to climate change. But we can collectively do more for our youth who are the most vulnerable to this crisis,” Elumelu stated in a tweet.

So far, the Foundation has trained, mentored, and funded over 9,000 young African entrepreneurs across 54 African countries through its Entrepreneurship Programmes, and provides capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages to over 1million Africans through its digital networking platform, TEFConnect.

The Foundation introduced a programme with a value of $100 million to support 1,000 entrepreneurs every year from African countries, by giving each one $5000 as well as training them for 12 weeks on business management and provide them with mentors to help them manage their businesses.



Theophilus Danjuma


Retired General T.Y. Danjuma, a one-time Defence Minister in Nigeria, is the Chairman of South Atlantic Petroleum. He is a highly successful businessman and regarded as Nigeria’s top philanthropist. T.Y Danjuma is the founder of the TY Danjuma Foundation.

The former Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff whose net worth is over $1.2 billion, has donated over $100 million to charities. The T.Y Danjuma Foundation is considered to be one of Africa’s largest charity organizations.

The TY Danjuma Foundation which was set up in December 2008, targets the provision of basic amenities, education for children and young adults, and free medical care for indigent people. The foundation partners with several Non-Governmental Organizations across the country to carry philanthropic gestures to the hinter areas and alleviate poverty.

Over N3 billion has been awarded as grants to NGOs working related goals in the area. It also seeks to alleviate the extreme poverty in communities across the country by providing clean drinking water, and encouraging the education and empowerment of women. So far, about 290 projects have been implemented across 31 states and the FCT, with over eight million people reached.

Some of his projects carried out by the foundation includes, providing Succor to Displaced Persons in Borno State. The project involved the purchase and distribution of food items, facility-based training for pregnant and lactating women on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E). Food was distributed to a total of 2,508 IDPs from 500 households. 267 pregnant women received birthing kits and were trained on IYCF-E.

To improve the quality of life of Nigerians through health and education interventions, last year the foundation donated relief items worth millions of naira to over 5,000 persons fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country, at the Internally Displaced Persons resettlement camp in Wassa, FCT.

Other projects includes promoting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) through Provision of Portable Water in Rural Communities; Increasing the supply of qualified teachers in Nigeria; Sustaining access to Maternal and Child Health Services in Edo State; Improving quality education through community engagement and partnership, and community Campaign Against Cancer October.


Folorunso Alakija

Folorunso Alakija is a Nigerian billionaire businesswoman. She is ranked by Forbes as the richest woman in Africa and Nigeria’s first female billionaire. She is involved in the fashion, oil, real estate and printing industries. Her net worth is more than $2.5 billion.

Folorunso Alakija is the founder of Rose of Sharon Foundation which focuses on helping widows and orphans. Being the CEO of the Rose of Sharon Group, she has empowered over 5,000 widows and their children through skills acquisition training programs granting interest-free loans and awarding academic scholarships up to tertiary Institution level. In 2016, Alakija and her husband donated a $2.7 million building to the Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo. In April 2017 she donated $700,000 to the University of Osun.

The foundation has also made available residential/business accommodation for 630 widows, and provided free healthcare consultations and legal services to the widows.

In the wake of the coronavirus challenges, the Foundation gave each of its registered widow and orphans across the six geopolitical zones N25, 000 each, to ensure none of them goes hungry.


Toyin Saraki

Toyin Saraki is a global health advocate, healthcare philanthropist and the Founder-President of Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA). She is the wife of the immediate past Senate President of Nigeria, Senator Bukola Saraki.

Founded in 2004, the Wellbeing Foundation is a pan-African organisation seeking to create real and sustainable change for African families by working with communities across the continent to build capacities and empower women. Mrs. Saraki is a philanthropist with two decades of advocacy covering maternal, newborn and child health, gender-based discrimination and violence, improving education, socio-economic empowerment and community livelihoods in Africa.

She is a global health advocate of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria, reducing the rate of maternal and infant mortality. She also launched a social media campaigns through Wellbeing Foundation Africa called #MaternalMonday in 2012, and #WASHWednesday, #ThriveThursday and #FrontlineFriday in 2018, to raise awareness on key issues in women, children and adolescents’ health and nutrition, gender equality, water sanitation and hygiene, and frontline health workers Africa.

WBFA, a pan-African maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) empowerment organization, advocates for the empowerment of women, the improvement of public health systems, and the reduction of maternal and child mortality rates across the African continent. The Foundation further facilitates the propagation of key advocacy issues, including violence against women, the importance of family planning to safe motherhood, the need for essential commodities to save newborn lives, and empowering and educating front line community health workers, including midwives and nurses.

The Foundation’s MamaCare Antenatal and Postnatal Education programme, has provided midwife care and counsel, and access to family planning information, to over 11,000 mothers monthly at health facilities across Nigeria. It has also expanded to integrate MamaCare+N, with an increased focus on reinforced nutrition. The MamaCare+N programme expansion includes a further 28 healthcare facilities and 40,000 mothers in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

In partnership with FHI360 in April 2020, and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WBFA has achieved its objectives above and beyond. It has been a privilege to have been able to deploy more than 45 skilled and professional midwives as expert coaches and inter-personal communicators to over 550 health centres and communities, reaching more than 40,000 mothers, newborns and their families.


Mohammed Indimi

Mohammed Indimi is another Nigerian billionaire businessman and philanthropist. He is the founder and chairman of Oriental Energy Resources (OER), a privately-held Nigerian oil exploration and production company, as well as Muhammad Indimi Foundation (MIF).

MIF focuses on vulnerable families through the poverty alleviation, fight against hunger, illiteracy and health challenges. The foundation is working to build, through alleviation of poverty and illiteracy, a Nigeria where everyone has equal opportunities.

Through the MIF, Indimi has empowered and supported people affected by the Boko Haram crisis in the North East. He built a 100-unit N600 million housing estate, provided food, clothing, schools and clinics for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State. The estate is equipped with five blocks of classrooms, a fully-equipped health centre, an open-shade market to revive commercial activities among the inhabitants, sport facilities for the children and an incinerator. Since the inception of the foundation, thousands of internally displaced persons and their families have benefitted from these initiatives.

The foundation has also built a 100 unit N700 million modern residential estate in Enwang, Mbo LGA Akwa Ibom, awarded over 470 scholarships in Akwa Ibom State and created a sponsorship program for University of Uyo’s Department of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering. Indimi donated a multi-million-dollar International Business Centre to Lynn University in the USA, which was named after him.

Through his company, Indimi has also trained up to 500 women in various skills, 200 of whom were awarded seed funding to start new business. His investment of about $2 million for the upgrade of laboratories and library in the department of chemical and petroleum engineering of the University of Uyo helped to secure the department’s full accreditation by the National Universities Commission and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria.

In 2015, the foundation started running an annual scholarship fund, which has facilitated the admission of students from Borno State into the International University of Africa, Sudan, on full scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to students in need of bridging funding gaps in furthering their education. The scholarship scheme is meant to ensure that people committed to furthering their education and making valuable contributions to society are not deterred by lack of finance. It covers all academic fees, accommodation as well as sustenance for all recipients.


Abdulsamad Rabiu

Abdulsamad Rabiu, the sixth richest person in Africa, according to Forbes, is the founder and chairman of the BUA Group; a business conglomerate with wide influence in Nigeria’s economic and business sector, and a special interest in sugar, cement, ports, real estate, agricultural produce, oil, import rice, flour, and iron and steel products.

In 2015, Rabiu donated more than $1 million towards the Boko Haram Victims Support Fund. The BUA Foundation also donated a $20 million, 220-bed pediatric ward to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.

Last month, the philanthropist announced the launch of the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative; an annual fund of $100 million that is intended to help boost African development. The funds will be focusing on education, health, and social development. Nigeria, will receive $50 million and the other half of the funding will be distributed across the African continent.

In the first phase of the initiative, six Nigerian universities will receive N1 billion to provide and upgrade infrastructure. The institutions receiving the grant in the first phase include Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, University of Maiduguri, University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of Benin, University of Ilorin, and University of Ibadan.

The funds will also be used for equipping facilities, researchers, health care practitioners, and service providers at the community level with the tools needed for their work.


Segun Adebutu

Segun Adebutu is a Nigerian businessman, economist and philanthropist, with interests in oil and gas, shipping, mining, construction, real estate, agriculture and entertainment. He is the chairman and CEO of Petrolex Oil and Gas, a company presently building the second largest refinery in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2014, Adebutu founded the Oladiran Olusegun Adebutu Foundation (OOA), an NGO focused on economic empowerment, health, community investments, philanthropy, and vocational enterprise for vulnerable women and children in crisis. Since 2014, OOA Foundation has been involved in philanthropic initiatives ranging from educational support, health support, nutritional support, psychosocial support, recreational support, shelter and provision of clean water.

Through the philanthropic work of the Foundation, Adebutu and his team have adopted over 400 vulnerable children. The OOA Foundation has implemented the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Care and Support Programme as an umbrella programme that responds to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children, through improved access to essential services and needs. One initiative of the OVC Project tagged ‘Leave No Child Behind’, operates in 53 primary schools with the goal of reducing educational disparities and barriers to access on basic education among school-age children of ages 3 to 15. An additional element to this project, psychosocial care and support programmes, builds on existing resources to place and maintain children in stable and affectionate environments through resources like mentorship programmes and community caregiver support.

Additional programmes include food and nutrition intervention, to strengthen the capacity of families to protect and care for children through Household Economic Strengthening (HES); youth empowerment through addressing unemployment and offering work/study programmes through Social Mobility Enterprise; women’s empowerment by addressing poverty amongst vulnerable women through HES; and raising awareness about sexual abuse prevention.


Emeka Offor

Sir Emeka Offor, is an oil magnate and entrepreneur with a net worth of $2.9 billion. He established his foundation, Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF), as far back as the early 90s with the motto, “helping those in need become independent and self-sufficient.” SEOF has made an impact in the lives of several Nigerians through its domestic programmes and projects which includes youth empowerment, widows Cooperative Programme, education, health and infrastructure development. As a major donor to the rotary foundation, he serves as Rotary International’s Polio Ambassador to Nigeria.

The Foundation’s other health care initiatives include supporting free rural medical consultations, that allow those who cannot access healthcare receive treatment from highly trained doctor; a self-contained 25-room ward under construction at the National Orthopedic Hospital in Enugu State; and a €100,000 glaucoma research grant and Nigerian fellowship for Cataract Surgery and Glaucoma Management at the Department of Ophthalmology University of Mainz, Germany. . SEOF also collaborated with Rotary International with a donation of $250,000, to assist in the polio eradication initiative in parts of northern Nigeria.

The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation has so far committed over $4.9 million to charitable projects. The foundation has developed a multi-faceted approach to education in line with its understanding that education is the cornerstone of the future. This includes a scholarship programme that provides comprehensive university scholarships to academically gifted but economically disadvantaged students. According to the records of the foundation, more than 120 scholarships have been granted.

The foundation runs a programme where it builds model schools and classrooms furnished with internet facilities and modern equipment, to provide enabling environments for learning.


Oba Otudeko

Oba Otudeko is an accomplished entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist who has contributed immensely to Nigeria’s economy. He has highly successful domestic and foreign investments that cut across diverse sectors of the economy investment, which includes oil and gas, flour milling, real estate and marine transportation.

Oba Otudeko is the chairman of Honeywell Group. He is highly educated and is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Corporate Secretary, and Chartered Banker. In 2011 and 2014, he was ranked as the 5th Richest Nigerian Stockholder and among the 50 richest Africans respectively, by Forbes.

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He has served on the Boards of Central Bank of Nigeria, Guinness Nigeria Plc, British American Tobacco Ltd and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, headquartered in Lome, Togo.

In 2003, Oba Otudeko formally inaugurated the Oba Otudeko Foundation (OOF), which is committed to programmes aimed at ensuring that Nigeria keeps pace in the technologies and competencies that will define the twenty-first century and beyond, through people empowerment, capacity and institutions building.

The Foundation has four focus areas, namely Education, Health, Environment, and Public Enlightenment. In addition, OOF also provides grants and material donations to other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and worthy social causes.

Otudeko believes that the continuing chronic shortage of human and institutional capacity presents a major constraint to economic growth, poverty reduction and sustainable development in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries.

Notable contributions of the foundation includes: Building of an Auditorium to Pan Atlantic University, Lekki-Ajah, Lagos, Administrative Block to All Saints’ College, Edun Village, Ibadan; Students’ Cafeteria to Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State; and Endowment of the Centre of Entrepreneurial Studies of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, as well as a footprints Occupational Training Centre.


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