Diekola Onaolapo: The New Face of Africa’s Top-Gun Dealmakers

Strategic thinking, influence, purpose, winning. Those are the words anyone would hear as they step into Diekola Onaolapo’s office, if walls could talk. Evenly arranged horizontally on his walls are portraits of three great leaders who were serial winners in their prime. Looking at those portraits would set the right tone for any day. But not to be lost in the illusion of winning after recording a few victories, the three leaders on Diekola’s wall overlook a board of chess, reminding everyone who faces that part of his office of the importance of strategic thinking.

One would think the investment banker has been found out after looking away from the special wall and seeing books about leadership, business, investment banking, and corporate finance, neatly arranged on a shelf that sits above a cabinet where soul music is always playing. But his office does not sum up who he is; there is more. Diekola studied engineering, he was a music artiste and a producer, he writes poems and loves teaching. He could be the perfect character for a romantic fiction, but he’s a dealmaker betting big on Africa’s future.

“Eczellon Capital is about a particular region. It’s about the continent of Africa which we see a lot of potential in,” Diekola tells The Nerve Africa. He is the CEO of Eczellon Capital, a Lagos-headquartered investment bank, with focus on Corporate Finance and Advisory Services.

“At some point, we found out that finance could be a missing link between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’. So, finance becomes a very good tool that can aid the development of this market [Africa] and really make the potential manifest.”

He continues: “The Africa Story is somewhat engaging and it’s one of the things that has been empowering us as a team of people and as professionals.

“One of those mysteries [about Africa] is that a continent so rich in resources — mineral and even human — could be somewhat left behind and could be seen as backward. But ultimately, the trend that we are now seeing is that a lot of young people, despite all the limitations that they are subjected to, has aided themselves with the new technologies that enable them to see what is available outside of Africa. Therefore, the gap between what is possible and what they currently experience makes them so determined to get to the next level and its one of the main things that will ultimately drive growth in Africa”.

“So, we see that these things can be leveraged and ultimately that would happen when we have professionals who are able to advise private parties as well as government, and who can use their expertise to create opportunities for these diverse stakeholders within the African community.”

Eczellon Capital falls in this space. Till date, the seven-year-old company has structured more than 60 mandates and deals worth in excess of $1.3 billion.


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