He has been listed by Forbes as one of ten young African millionaires to watch, and is part of a growing number of young Africans who are building the next generation of wealth on the continent. For British born Nigerian Ladi Delano, building wealth and big business are only a small part of it; he has a vision for the continent that is much bigger than him.
Delano was born and raised in England, but in 2011, he moved to Nigeria to establish Bakrie Delano Africa (BDA), a billion dollar joint venture with the Bakrie Group of Indonesia. Bakrie Delano Africa currently serves as the investment partner of the Indonesian conglomerate in Nigeria and is responsible for identifying investment opportunities in mining, agriculture and oil & gas sectors. The impact of his work in Nigeria is widespread, but he has made his mark globally as an entrepreneur, particularly in China and the South-East Asian region.
In 2004, he formally launched Solidarnosc Asia, a Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka. The flagship brand did so well that it rapidly became the number one vodka brand in Shanghai, largely due to creating mass appeal to the younger, up-and-coming population that is rejecting tradition and experimenting more. Along with strategic management consultant Matt Reid, Delano grew the group to include a dining and entertainment venue called The Collection, an ambitious entertainment and dining establishment encompassing multiple food, drink and club concepts, in Shanghai’s trendy Xintiandi district. While Solid XS and The Collection grew to their prime, the economic downturn of 2008 forced the company to divest, and it was sold to a rival liquor company for over US$15 million. Forever the serial entrepreneur, Delano moved on to his next venture, the Delano Reid Group, a real estate investment firm he co-founded in Mainland China, which raised over US$80 million for real estate investments. Delano and partner, Reid also established DRG CIN Energy and Global DRG Capital, an investment firm with access to over US$225 million in capital for energy related investments in the Asia Pacific region.
Today he is on the continent and is helping to build Nigeria’s infrastructure. Other than Nigeria being his country of heritage, just like leading business players such as the Bakrie Group, he realizes a growing economic trend and the need for investment in a very attractive market. “The combination of these three factors: rapid economic growth, an operational track record in particular sectors and local knowledge makes Nigeria very attractive”, he has stated.
To aspiring business leaders, he has said, “My advice to African entrepreneurs would be the same to any entrepreneur; success doesn’t come easily, so work hard, believe in yourself and learn from your mistakes. All entrepreneurs make them, the big mistake is not learning from them”.