Business Biography: Orji Uzor Kalu

Business Biography

Orji Uzor Kalu is a Nigerian entrepreneur, philanthropist and politician, who served double tenures as the governor of Abia State, Nigeria (29 May 1999 – 29 May 2007). He is the founder of Slok Holding and chairman of the News Telegraph and the Daily Sun newspapers.

Early Life and Personal Life

Kalu was born on the 21st of April, 1960 to Mr. Johnson Uzor Nesiegbe Kalu and Mrs. Eunice Kalu, in Abia State, Nigeria.

Education

He attended Christ the King School, Aba for his primary education and proceeded to the Government College Umuahia and Barewa College, Zaria for his secondary education. He thereafter got admission into the University of Maiduguri to study political science. He was however unable to complete his education there, as a result of his expulsion following his involvements in school riots. Later, he traveled to the United States to study at the Catholic University, Washington, USA where he bagged a degree in Political Science. Kalu’s interest in business prompted him to further study Business Administration at Harvard University.

Orji Uzor Kalu is married to Mrs Ifeoma Ada Menakaya. They got married in December 1989, in his hometown of Igbere, Abia State. The couple is blessed with four children: Neya Lawrence Iyere (nee Orji Uzor Kalu), Michael Uzor Kalu, Olivia Uzor Kalu, and Nicole Uzor Kalu.

Career and Business Life

After being rusticated from university for leading a series of student riots, Orji Uzor Kalu decided to venture into the business world at age 19. His business interest at the time was in the trade of palm oil. So he started his business with a loan of $35 from his mother. He was getting the palm oil from Aba and then selling it in Maiduguri. He also traded other commodities as rice and sugar.

As a result of his frequent business engagements in the north, Orji Uzor Kalu was able to identify another business opportunity in the northern region. He discovered that there was a desire and widespread liking for wooden furniture in the north. And in Aba, there was affordable wooden furniture which he could purchase on a large scale and resell in the north for a profit. So he did not hesitate to dive into this business opportunity.

Over time, his new furniture business grew and he was able to expand it by creating his own furniture company. Thus, he no longer had to buy from other companies as he could start manufacturing and selling his own products.

In the early 1980s, Orji Uzor Kalu got his big break. The then military government awarded him lucrative contracts to import and supply arms and ammunition to the military and defense forces of the country. This contract made him a millionaire instantly at an early age.

Eventually, Orji Uzor Kalu founded SLOK Holding, a conglomerate with several subsidiary businesses and a significant workforce. SLOK Holding consists of so many successful companies, including First International Bank Limited, Sun Publishing Limited, SLOK Airlines, Supreme Oil Limited, SLOK Korea, SLOK Botswana, Liberia, South Africa, Guinea, Cotonou, Togo, Ghana, SLOK United States Incorporated, SLOK Paper Factory, Aba, SLOK Vegetable Oil, Aba, Adamawa Publishers Limited, SLOK United Kingdom Limited, SLOK Nigeria Limited, and Ojialex Furniture Company.

Orji Uzor Kalu’s SLOK Nigeria Limited, one of the subsidiaries of SLOK Holding, is engaged in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. The company is the largest Nigerian company that independently owns, operates, and handles its own fleet. It is involved in marine transport services that involves offshore assistance and deep-sea transportation within the Nigerian inland and coastal waterways.

Net Worth, Wealth and Assets

As of 18th of November, 2015 Orji Uzor Kalu’s net worth was $330 million according to Forbes. He was listed as #49 on the Forbes list of Africa’s 50 Richest 2015. The previous year, in November 2014, when Forbes released their Africa’s 50 Richest list, Kalu ranked higher on the list with a net worth of about $1 billion. He has however dropped off the Forbes list of Africa’s 50 Richest since 2016.

Conclusion

As a philanthropist, Orji Uzor Kalu has founded his own foundation which provides undergraduate scholarships and anti-malaria treatment. Although Kalu has his share of political and economic controversies, he has made significant contributions while serving in different political offices. He emerged as the youngest Nigerian to be awarded the National Merit Award, at the age of 26 in 1986, by the then military president Ibrahim Babangida.

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