Pascal Gabriel Dozie is one of the most accomplished businessmen in Nigeria. The octogenarian’s business pursuits, spanning over 48 years, have seen him enjoy a fulfilling career particularly on finance and business areas of the Nigerian economy.
Though he is mainly known as the Founder of Diamond Bank, Dozie’s investments are not just confined to the banking and finance sector, his interests cuts across different areas and has led many influential boards, even serving as the pioneer Chairman of MTN Nigeria.
As he steps down as Chairman of MTN Nigeria, this coming September, Nairametrics has found it imperative to present Dozie as the subject of our Founders’ Profile this week.
His early years
He was born in 1939 in a village called Egbu in Owerri, Imo State’s capital. His father, Charles Dozie, was a Catholic catechist. Dozie attended Our Lady’s School Emekuku where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). He subsequently attended Holy Ghost Juniorate Seminary and Holy Ghost College, Owerri where he sat for his West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
After the completion of his high-level, Dozie travelled to London to study Economics at The London School of Economics and obtained a BSc in Economics. He subsequently attended City University in London, where he studied Operational Research and Industrial Engineering, and also bagged a Masters degree in Administrative Science.
Between 1967 and 1970 while studying abroad, he couldn’t return home because of the Biafran war. He recalled events during that period in an interview with Forbes:
“It was a very traumatic period for us. Bombs were going off everywhere and you didn’t know what the truth was. People were being shunted from one place to another and at times I didn’t even know where my own mother was.”
Due to the intensity of the Biafran war, Dozie, who could not return to Nigeria, accepted a job in Uganda between 1970 and 1971, to serve as a consultant at the African States Consulting Organisation in East Africa and returned to Nigeria in September 1971, some months after the war ended.
Starting Diamond Bank
After quitting his job in East Africa, Dozie returned to Nigeria at his mother’s request. With his rich experience in Econometrics and Industrial Engineering, he launched his first company, African Development Consulting Group (ADCG), a consultancy firm.
While working at his consultancy firm, he identified the need to make business transactions for traders to be safer and easier. At the time, they had to move heavy bags of cash around, even interstate, to consummate deals. Knowing that the cumbersome system of banking then had to change, he applied for a banking licence in 1985.
After a 5-year wait, he got his licence from CBN to set up Diamond Bank in 1990, with a starting capital of $5 million.
“When we set up Diamond bank, it became technologically driven right from the word go because we wanted to change the system and eradicate the delay in making transactions,” he shared this in an interview with Vanguard.
Dozie’s journey with MTN
The South African telco giant, MTN Group had approached Dozie with an idea of setting up a subsidiary of the cellphone network in the Nigerian market. The South African firm promised to pump millions into a 60% stake in MTN Nigeria, with Nigerians owning 40%.
Dozie who was full of high hopes at the time turned to Nigerian money-men and expatriates overseas for capital raise. However, he got turned down; many people he met saw the struggles of NITEL, with its wobbly and sparse landlines, and expressed that if NITEL, which was government-owned wasn’t successful, no one could possibly fill the gap.
“It was very disappointing. You have a good project and you are turned down. You start to question yourself and start to question your head,” he said.
In the end, Dozie could only raise capital for a 20% stake in the new company. Through debt funding, MTN poured in millions to make up the difference. It was a huge risk, at the time, but MTN prospered and the rest is history. For 18 years, he has served as the Chairman of MTN Nigeria, though his stint would be coming to an end on September 2, 2019.
“Most of the people I asked to invest now regret not investing—I even regret it myself. They would have enjoyed returns of 20 times their money,” he said.
Dozie, who founded Diamond Bank along with a team of professionals, directed the affairs of the institution as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) till he retired from the executive position in December 2005.
He is a former Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and erstwhile President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). And until recently, Dozie was Chairman of Nigerian Economic Summit Group and Nigeria Business Support Group.
Dozie is currently serving as a co-chair of the Commonwealth Business Council, and the incumbent Chairman of Kunoch Limited.
Challenges encountered and surmounted
Like all businessmen, Pascal Dozie experienced his fair share of challenges in the course of his exploits. In 2005, Diamond Bank faced the prospects of extinction when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), mandated that all banks must hold a minimum of N25 billion in share capital. The development then wasn’t feasible for the company, with its N6.4 billion in share capital.
In order to survive, Dozie listed the shares of the bank to raise more, which subjected him to lose a large part of his stake including that of his family in the bank. In the end, it was a success story for him.
More so, when Dozie was at MTN Nigeria’s helms of affairs, the telco faced a major fine by the Federal Government. The fine which still lingers in the Nigerian media space, saw MTN cough out about N330 billion.
- Pascal Dozie has earned numerous awards, among which are:
- National Award of the order of the Niger (OON)
- Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON)
- All Africa Business Leader Award (AABLA)
- Lifetime Achievement Award
- Personal life
Dozie is married to Chinyere Dozie and they have 5 sons who have inherited their father’s entrepreneurial spirit as they have founded several successful ventures in different sectors of the economy.