Top 10 Most Impactful Power Couples In Corporate Nigeria – Tunde and Reni Folawiyo

Mr. Tunde Folawiyo has been on the saddle atYinka Folawiyo – a diversified industrial group as chief executive officer since 2008. The group operates in key industries such as crude oil exploration and production, refined product storage, energy trading, shipping, farming and real estate. The company, founded by late Chief Wahab Folawiyo in 1957 as Yinka Folawiyo & Sons, has witnessed a new momentum and dynamic expansion in line with the changing times under Tunde’s leadership.

While Tunde is in charge of the extended family owned conglomerate, Mrs. Reni Folawiyo is focused on building an exclusive business enterprise for the nuclear family as founder andchief executive officer, Alara Stores. Her business is a luxury lifestyle brand dedicated to contemporary art, design, fashion, cuisine and culture. Alongside Alara, she runs an interior design business producing customized furniture.

Alara, which means wondrous performer in Yoruba, is a concept store featuring inspirational objects of African origin alongside international designs. Developed in the heart of Victoria Island, the store features an exhibition-style retail space, a restaurant and terrace lounge and an art gallery.

Reni is aiming big with Alara, which is to redefine luxury fashion for Nigerians. She is coasting to destination: Alara has turned out to be one of the major luxury fashion destinations for Nigerians and westerners alike. Designed and built by Mr. David Adjaye – the Ghanian-British architect, whose design for the National Museum of African American History broke ground in 2012, the store is styled after famous concept stores like Paris’ Colette, London’s Dover Street Market and Milan’s 10 Corso Como.

It offers a mix of fashion, art and design and stocks a range of western designers alongside Nigerian designs such as the work of Maki Oh, Lanre de Silva Ajayi and Tiffany Amber. Reni is ambitiously driving the vision of making Alara a beacon for other fashion retailers and a collection centre for global luxury brands. The concept is to make people who would otherwise shop abroad for luxury purchases change their minds.

While Reni is succeeding in building the luxury fashion district in Lagos, Tunde is taking the Folawiyo business empire to greater height. The group consists of several subsidiaries operating across sectors and in different industry segments.

The oldest of these is Maritime Associates International, which are shipping and forwarding agents. The group’s shipping business is operated by the company, which is the first Nigerian shipping company to own a vessel. Its establishment broke the monopoly of foreign shipping companies in Nigeria. Today, the company is reputed internationally and represents the interests of many foreign ship‐owners whose vessels sail into Nigerian sea ports.

Real estate operations of the group are handled by United Property Developers, which boasts several iconic property developments in Lagos, including extensive warehousing, residential and office properties. Its mission is to carter for the growing needs for residential and commercial properties in Lagos.

The group has built a value chain in the energy and power sector, which began with the establishment of Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum in the early 1980s. The company is the operator of the Aje oil field offshore western Nigeria, the first oil‐producing field outside the Niger Delta.

Under Tunde’s leadership, the company made the first production of crude oil from the field in 2016. Given his commitment to developing the gas potential of the field, he secured the renewal of the prospecting license in 2018 for another period of 20 years.

The value chain expanded to midstream with the establishment of Folawiyo Energy, which is a petroleum products storage and distribution outfit in Lagos. The company provides storage solutions for refined petroleum products through its privately-owned deep-water jetty in Lagos.

Operations in the energy sector extended further to downstream with the coming onboard of Envo Retail Supply in 2016. This is in realization of the desire to expand the group’s trademark in the energy space down to the last mile consumer.

The purpose is to create one of the most exciting fuel retail brands in Nigeria. The strategy is to leverage the terminal business of Folawiyo Energy and international supply business of Envo Trading to create a value chain not easily replicated in the Nigerian market.

Folawiyo Farms is the subsidiary in charge of the group’s agricultural business. It operates its farms in Oyo State where it breeds poultry and grows crops such as maize, pineapples and cassava. It has a nationwide distribution network for supplies of eggs and frozen chickens. The investment in the agricultural sector is intended to diversify the group’s interest beyond the oil and gas industry. 

Though they are in different businesses entirely, this power couple is doing precisely the same thing – drawing the business world to their courts. The value chain extension strategy at Tunde’s Yinka Folawiyo is to put the next consumer on the group’s product line. Reni has gone iconic to redirect the eyes of foreign oriented consumers back home.

 “I felt that we needed something iconic that would change our city, change the way we see ourselves and also change the way the world sees us.” she told The Wall Street Journal. She is putting in everything it might take to establish a contemporary visual language for African luxury. The Alara Stores building, with its approach facade plays well with geometry and its red and grey colour palette presents an enduring brand impression that meets taste and style.