Tajudeen Afolabi Adeola-Voice of Banking and Youth Development

Tajudeen Afolabi Adeola well known as Fola Adeola is a popular Nigeria businessman and philanthropist. Two among his well know business and philanthropic activities is The Guaranty Trust Bank, one of the most successful Nigerian commercial bank with impact in some other nations around the world and Fate Foundation, an NGO he established purposely to encourage entrepreneurship which I happen to be one of the beneficiaries.

Adeola completed his secondary school education at Methodist Boys High School, Lagos. He obtained a Diploma in Accounting from Yaba College of Technology in 1975 and became a Chartered Accountant in 1980 following his training with Deloitte, Haskins and Sells and D.O. Dafinone & Company (both Chartered Accountants). Over the years he has received professional development training at notable institutions worldwide including Harvard Business School, INSEAD, and the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland.

In 1999, he completed a one-year sabbatical at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Jos, Nigeria, where he carried out research on economic development and job creation policies.

Private sector
Fola Adeola first business in his own word during his Eulogise to his Late friends and business partner Tayo Aderinokun who co founded GT Bank goes thus;

I had moved to Ikoyi in 1986, having joined the wonderful team of young men and women that made up Continental Merchant Bank. My teenage friend, Tayo Aderinokun, was one of them. One of the challenges posed by living in Ikoyi in 1986 was that there were no barbers anywhere near-by! One therefore had to go to the mainland for a simple haircut any time one was required.

I was on one of these barber trips one Sunday when I saw a ghastly accident on Eko Bridge. The only thing that came to my mind was whether the victim of that accident was also on his way to the barbers'! I decided we would put barbers in Ikoyi. The only person I knew that would entertain such a fanciful thought was Tayo Aderinokun. We both dipped into our pockets, and thus Finishing Touches Barbing Salon was born. The salon has remained in business up till now, even though we no longer owned it.

In 1990, after we had obtained a banking licence, Tayo suggested to me that we sold the company. As far as he was concerned, we should no longer be barbers having become bankers. As an aside, one of the terms of the sale was that Tayo, myself, and all our male children, would cut our hair for free, forever! As if he knew! Tayo was an entrepreneur at heart. Someone who could take risks and pursue what others may consider an off-the-wall idea. In that way we were often kindred spirits.

In 1990, he (together with Tayo Aderinokun) established Guaranty Trust Bank, which he managed as managing director/CEO from its inception in 1990 to July 2002. The bank has since expanded beyond Nigeria to other neighbouring African countries (The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia) and in United Kingdom. The bank became listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1996.

In 2002, Adeola voluntarily retired from Guaranty Trust Bank, after twelve years, handing over to his deputy, Tayo Aderinokun. Since then he has served as the chairman UTC, ARM, Lotus Capital, Eterna Oil, CardinalStone Partners Limited, Tafsan Breweries (board member), and Credit Registry Services.

He is also the chairman of Main One Cable Company Limited which completed the construction of an open access submarine cable system that spanned 14,000 kilometres and provides international and internet connectivity to countries on the Atlantic Coast from Portugal to Lagos in 2010.

Public sector
Adeola served as Chairman of the National Pension Commission, following the promulgation into law of the Pension Bill (principally authored by him), by the National Assembly of Nigeria. He chaired the Lagos State Disaster Relief Committee which was set up following the 27 January 2002 Lagos armoury explosion. He was the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) serving as running mate to former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu in the 2011 presidential elections.

Adeola was also a member of the National Honours and Awards Committee and was appointed a member of the Governing Council of Lagos State University in November 2004. He served as a member of the Solid Minerals Committee (constituted by the Federal Government) and was the Chairman of Ogun State Development Trust Fund Committee. He was a council member of Lagos State University and until 17 January 2011 served as a council member Olabisi Onabanjo University.

Civic work
Adeola established the FATE Foundation in 2000. FATE is a non-governmental organisation which aims to encourage entrepreneurship, using a mix of training, mentoring, loan support and consulting to support young Nigerians. To date it has served over 30,000 young Nigerian entrepreneurs, of which over 65% are fully employed by their businesses and are employing on average about four staff.

FATE opened an innovation centre in Abeokuta, the Institute for Venture Design, in collaboration with the Centre for Design Research at Stanford University, which runs an entrepreneurship program focused on engineering, technology, and innovation, and which aims to promote development of industry in Nigeria.

Adeola served as a member of the Global Advisory Committee on Philanthropy of the World Economic Forum for four years. In 2001, he was invited to join twenty-four other business leaders for the Aspen Institute ISIB Annual Business Leaders Dialogue in Aspen, Colorado. In May 2004, he was appointed Commissioner on the Commission for Africa by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He was a Council member, and is Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; Fellow of the Institute of Directors of Nigeria.

Honours and awards
He was nationally decorated as Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in December 2002 by President Olusegun Obasanjo. He has an honorary doctorate from Nkumba University, Ntebbe, Uganda. Banker of the Decade in 2009 by the Vanguard Newspaper group. Distinguished Famous Alumni award by Yaba Tech. Zik Leadership in 2003. This Day Awards 2011 – Change Makers in Social Entrepreneurship.

Personal life
Adeola is married to Hajara, and has six children.

Post a comment