Entrepreneurs in Africa
The Rise and Rise of Audu Maikori: From Passion to Profit and Fame
Some people work hard and achieve great success. Some others are hardly working and wonder why fortune doesn’t smile on them.
I know a young man who doesn’t just work hard. He also works smart and he has huge achievements to show for his efforts.
Enter Audu Maikori.
The third of five children, he was born into a christian home on August 13, 1975 in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria, but was raised in the city of Lagos.
After his secondary education, he moved over to University of Jos where he studied Law. Considering that his Father, Adamu Maikori was a Lawyer and Politician, choosing the noble profession was definitely an easy decision to make. But destiny sometimes doesn’t respect these seemingly sensible choices.
How It All Began
Sometime in 1997, while in the University, Audu and his friends were contemplating starting an event, more like a mobile club thing that will bring money while in school. After much brainstorming, Audu came up with the name “Chocolate City” and all his friends agreed to it.
Chocolate City became a hit in the University of Jos and became so successful that undergraduates from other universities started launching “Chocolate Cities ” in their own schools. Indeed, the venture brought a lot of money and fame.
After university days, during his National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) program , Audu and his business partner, Paul Okeugo started a non-profit movement called Guild of Artistes and Poets (GAP).
The literary society was aimed at encouraging art and creativity, and it was based in Abuja. This move lead to many collaborative efforts with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the French Cultural Centre and the British Council.
Following the birth of GAP, he started meeting with different aspiring artistes and was offering free legal services to them.
Then they saw a need, a gap that needed to be filled.
The Bold Move
Audu and his partner saw the need to build a platform that would explore the talent of these intellectual people commercially, because art needs to be sustained with money. They moved quickly and in October 2003, Chocolate City was registered with the CAC to help manage up coming artistes and also promote their work.
Indeed this saying is true, “when you’re ready, the universe always have it way of helping you.”
From doing what he had passion for, opportunities started flooding in from different angles until the record label became fully organised and started signing artists.
Their first event was big. Chocolate City had partnered with British American Tobacco and held in the University of Maiduguri. However, it turned out to be a disaster after a drunk police officer accidentally discharged a gunshot.
They quickly got over it and signed their Jeremiah Gyang, a gospel artist after hearing his hit track “Na Ba Ka” in January 2005, as their first artist unto the Chocolate City record label.
After the signing of Jeremiah Gyang, another hip hop artist M.I was also signed into the label in 2006 through Jeremiah Gyang as he knew M.I right from childhood.
Over time, Chocolate City has signed 14 big name artistes and they include Femi Kuti, Ice Prince Zamani, Jesses Jagz, Pryse, Victoria Zamani, Nosa, Djinee, and many others.
On June 31st, 2015, Audu stepped down as CEO of Chocolate City Music via an official announcement on twitter, appointing M.I as the new CEO and Ice Prince Zamani as Vice President.
Today, Audu is an multi-award winning entrepreneur and sits as the President of Chocolate City Group, a Pan African music, media and events brand. who is travelled both locally and internationally. Chocolate City has branched into four companies; Chocolate City Media, Chocolate City Music, Kenya Chocolate City and Chocolate City Distribution, with focus not just on music but cinema, film, lifestyle and distribution.
He has also served as a judge on the Nigerian Idol reality TV Show and was compared to Simon Cowell because of his tough stand on contestants.
This widely-travelled Public Speaker was once named as one of the most powerful people in the Nigeria Entertainment by Ynaija Magazine in March 2014. He was also recognized for his outstanding contribution to the Nigerian music industry by City People Magazine in March 19, 2011.
Audu has also served as a member of the board of Cooperate Society of Nigeria (COSON), a government management organization for sound recording and musical works.
Some key lessons to learn from Audu Maikori:-
- Never be afraid to make your first move, you can never tell what the outcome might be.
- In spite of your first failure (just like Audu experienced in his first event), always continue to push forward until you hit great success.
- Follow your heart, follow your passion. You will surely win because passion pays over time.
What other lessons can you pick out from his story? I would like to know your thoughts.
© 2016, Arise Arizechi. All rights reserved.
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