The name of Fola Adeola is synonymous with entrepreneurial success stories in Nigeria.
Most Nigerians consider Adeola a maverick in the Nigerian private sector.
Adeola is the fifth of his parents’ seventeen children. His father worked as a bank clerk to cater for their large family. His mother used to send him and his brothers to the streets to hawk wares to supplement the family income. Despite their very humble backgrounds, they made the time to instil the values of hardwork and integrity into the lives of their children. Adeola attended St Paul’s School, Breadfruit and 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).
Fola Adeola remains a successful entrepreneur by all standards and he is regarded as a man with a large heart for small businesses.
In 1990, Adeola who is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Institute of Directors, 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 in the saddle, handing over to his deputy, Tayo Aderinokun.
After he retired from Guaranty Trust Bank, took up fellowship at Corporation for Enterprise Development, Washington D.C. to continue his research on economic development, looking at pension’s reform, entrepreneurship and financial services provisioning for poverty reduction. In May, 2004, Mr. Fola Adeola was invited by Mr. Tony Blair, British Prime Minister, to serve as a commissioner on the Commission for Africa, through which he attended the 2005 G8 meeting at Gleneagles, Scotland.
Since then he has played a significant role in the public sector, where he became the pioneer Chairman of National Pensions Commission, following the promulgation into law by the National Assembly of the Nigerian Pension Bill, principally authored by him. He was also a member of the National Honors and Awards Committee and The Solid Minerals Committee. He served as Chairman of Asset & Resource Management Company Limited and is currently Chairman of Omatek Computers Limited, Socketworks Limited and Lotus Capital Limited and a director of UTC Plc.
He served until 2006 as a member of Global Advisory Committee on Philanthropy at the World Economic Forum, attended the HRH the Duke of Edinburgh Commonwealth Study Conference in the UK and was invited to join 24 other business leaders for the Aspen Institute ISIB Annual Business Leaders Dialogue in Aspen, Colorado.
Given Adeola’s commitment to empowering Nigerian youth to create jobs for themselves and others, he established the FATE Foundation in 2000.
FATE is a non-governmental organization which is dedicated to encouraging the creation of wealth through entrepreneurship, using an innovative 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.
Through the vision of Adeola, FATE is expanding its offerings to start an innovation centre in Abeokuta. The Institute for Venture Design in close collaboration with the Centre for Design Research at Stanford University is starting a new kind of entrepreneurship program focused on engineering, technology, and innovation with a goal to boost development of industry in Nigeria.
Adeola 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.
He was also a member of the National Honours and Awards Committee and the Chairman of Assets and Resources Management Company Limited, a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. Fola chaired the Lagos State Disaster Relief Committee which was set up following the January 27, 2002 bomb blast tragedy in Lagos, Nigeria. He was appointed a member of the Governing Council of Lagos State University in November 2004.
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. Adeola was a Council member, and is Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; Fellow of the Institute of Directors of Nigeria. He was 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 College of Technology, Zik Leadership in 2003, This Day Awards 2011 – Change Makers in Social Entrepreneurship.
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