Here on Whoot Africa, we not only showcase brands, but we also talk to the people behind those brands and have them share with us their back stories as well as give tips on how to successfully start and run a business.
Welcome to Whoot Africa’s – 15 Questions with the CEO.
Today, we will be talking with Bashir Dantata, CEO and Founder of Lintex International Limited
1. Can you tell us a little bit about Bashir Dantata and Lintex International Group as a brand you represent?
I am Bashir Dantata, a university of Portsmouth Applied Economics graduate. Lintex international limited is a company that I started about seven years ago with interest in the oil and gas industry. We however grew from that to a range of other businesses, i.e. from hauling to diesel supplies to rice.
2. What were you doing before Lintex International Group started? And how would you describe the Lintex journey so far?
I came back to Nigeria in 2006, and started working with MRS group. Whilst at MRS, I moved around all the departments i.e. depot, finance, trading, marketing and sales etc.
Lintex came about in 2007, when I saw the opportunity in the oil and gas sector, but at that time I did not have the finance to do it big, and no bank would even look at me. So I decided to be a commission trader so to say. I remember my first deal, I got N50, 000 and it got me so excited.
I did this for about a year, by that time, I had saved enough to buy a truck, which I used to transport people’s products.
Today, Lintex is still emerging (we thank God) but the vision we have is big, I mean very big.
3. What are some of the obstacles you encountered in your business journey and how did you overcome them?
The main obstacle we encountered as a company is the initial belief by financial institutions. Banks do not really encourage start ups in Nigeria, which is really sad. You have to find a way of either borrowing from family and friends or save up to go beyond that initial stage. The second obstacle was Time. At that time because I was working, I had to double my efforts to ensure I do my 9-5 and also Lintex at the same time. It wasn’t easy, but was doable.
4. Lintex International is a well diversified business platform, from oil and gas to haulage, water and the popular Lintex Rice. For a young businessperson, surely you must have an amazing team to oversee the smooth running of these businesses; tell us about your leadership style and how do you keep the Lintex International Group team motivated and where do you see Lintex Intl Group in 5-10 years from now?
Lintex rice came about three years ago; the idea actually came up when I was having lunch with my boss. And funny enough we were eating rice. At Lintex, we have a team hungry for success. We express ourselves openly, we criticize ourselves when we need to and we motivate ourselves when we have to.
As for me, I don’t see myself as a CEO that decides on issues alone. We deliberate and decide as a team.
As a team, Lintex’s medium term goal is to finish off our rice mill, then go into the stock market. At that point, we would become a fully integrated rice company. All plans are in place for this, and hopefully we would achieve it.
5. Let’s talk about the agricultural sector of your business, why did you choose to pursue agriculture? Considering how stressful it is as a sector?
Agriculture is the next big thing, not only in Nigeria but in Africa as a whole. If you look at the numbers, any serious young entrepreneur should be looking at that sector. It has a million opportunities. In my opinion, agriculture is a MUST! However, like everything in life it has its challenges but it’s doable. There is nothing that is easy in life; hence we shouldn’t have the idea that agriculture is hard or difficult. Any nation that can’t feed itself is in trouble.
6. The current security challenge in Nigeria affects the Food chain, how are you coping with your agriculture business in the face of these challenges? And are there plans to expand the scope of your agric business beyond rice anytime soon?
The truth is, with food, there is no remedy I.e. weather in terms of war, or not people must eat. Yes, obviously we are so much better off without all that is going on, but it doesn’t stop people from eating.
Yes we have other plans for agriculture, which we would reveal in a short time from now.
7. Can you share with us a little bit about the history of business and entrepreneurship in your family?
My family, the Dantata family has been in the business world for over 200 years, we are the fifth generation of the family. Alhassan Dantata who is my great grandfather started it all; he was at one time the richest person in West Africa. Today, Aliko Dangote is the richest black person in the world, and who knows I might be the one to beat him. Hard work, consistency and honesty are the keys behind our success.
8. The entrepreneurship journey takes a whole lot of learning on the go, especially for first time business owners, but not you; considering the history of business in your family, would you say you find business decisions easier especially with the fact that your family has been in business for so long?
Yes and no. Yes because I get a lot of advice and support from my family, which, if I was to pay for it, I would have paid a lot; but thank God for them. On the other hand, success is all about hard work. There is no easy way, no matter how you look at it. Unfortunately we are at a time where everybody wants to make it big but don’t want to go through the hard work. Sleepless nights, disappointments, just name it, bottom line is, everybody has to pay his dues; there is no short cut.
9. What are some of the vital business lessons you have learnt from your father, Bashir Dantata Snr that you intend to pass on to your children?
My father is Bashir Dantata Snr! One thing he always tells me is; no matter how small or how big, keep doing what you are doing. Don’t be fazed by the success of your family and decide to relax. It should be more of a motivation. This for sure, I will pass unto my children and the future generations.
10. A lot of people criticize rich kids when it comes to business , they claim everything gets done and is easier, do you ever feel like people don’t give you the chance to show your expertise and prove that you are well capable beyond the trust fund kid stereotype?
That is the biggest misconception that people make. Like I said earlier, nothing is easy. Rich kid or poor kid! Yes opportunities are easier when you have successful people around you, but you have to take full advantage of it. I know people from a really poor background, and today they are doing really well, while people from rich families that aren’t doing well. So bottom line is, you must work hard, no cutting corners.
11. Who are some of your business mentors and how has their business journeys impacted yours as a businessperson and individual?
I have a lot of mentors from different fields. Aliko Dangote, Sayyu Dantata , Wale Tinubu et al. These are oligarchs in their various fields and what do they all have in common? Hard work, humility and the belief, that nothing is impossible.
12. If you had to choose repeatedly, would you decide for or against doing business in Nigeria? Would you encourage those in the Diaspora to come down to Africa to invest? If you also had to sell your Nigerian business experience to an investor in a few words what would they be?
There is no place like Nigeria, with one hundred and sixty million unique people; all one needs to do, is get his act right and provide the market with a good product. Imagine getting a market share of just 10percent, which summed up is sixteen million people. I remember reading an interview in Which Mr Aliko Dangote once said, “If he were to get 5billion dollars, he would invest everything in Nigeria”. (This was obviously way before getting unto Forbes).
If I had to sell a few words to an investor it would be: Nigeria, as an emerging economy is a haven for business, Sow today and reap a bright future.
13. If you had to share with a room full of young aspiring business people, what are some of your tips on building a successful brand and hard work?
Nothing is impossible; only you can see your vision, so chase it.
14. What do you think about college education? Should kids go to college now or get into business if they feel it’s a better choice? Considering some of the worlds greatest never had college education, your thoughts?
Education is a key of life, so it’s a must! However, it is not a measure for success. Education broadens the mind set. Education involves a whole lot. If you look at all the successful people that didn’t go to school or are dropouts, at some point in their journey, they still go back to learning.
My advice is; go to school, work hard and nothing is impossible.
15. Lastly, what is the one thing you’d like to be remembered for when the name Bashir Dantata is mentioned around the world in the near future?
I want to be remembered as a successful entrepreneur, who touched the lives of people, and also brought about a positive change in the world we are today!
If you missed the previous parts of the 15 Questions with the CEO series, please click here