Koffi Djondo may not be a name that is familiar to a lot of people outside of Togo, but Djondo is a businessman who has had huge influence on Africa’s economic landscape.He has built a business empire that has not only created thousands of jobs for many in Africa but also ties into the pan-African agenda. Djondo co-founded the first pan-African bank known as Ecobank in 1985 with his business partners.
Since then, the bank has grown with a presence in 35 sub-Saharan African countries and employs over 18,000 Africans. In 2013, the company made a profit of $2.3 billion. Ecobank also has offices from London to Beijing.
For Djondo, the success of his business is linked to his ethos of pan-Africanism. “You can notice that African strength lies in unity; what we can call togetherness… It was this which gave success.”
He did not relent despite the enviable success of Ecobank. He continued to source for new investment frontiers, and this time around, he landed in the aviation industry. He created Asky Airlines in 2010, and in 2011 its first commercial flights began.
He was born in a small Togolese village on July 4, 1934. His success tells the story of someone who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The business mogul will surely laugh over such a luxurious view of his childhood.
He was raised by strict parents who eventually divorced. As the only child, he developed a sense of self-reliance that he took into his studies.The most difficult period in the life of Djondo was when the Togolese government wrote to authorities in France to expel him while he was schooling there inorder to punish his outspoken uncle, Nicolas Djondo.
Despite the setback he faced, he returned to Paris to complete his university education after a coup in Togo saw a change in administration. After university, he worked for the airline UTA, before moving into newly established government roles.
He was first appointed as the executive director of a government body – Family Allowances Fund in 1964. He became the chairman of the Economic and Social Council in 1973, and only two years later, he was elected as the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Togo.
He later became the President of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce. It was through this position that he met his Nigerian business partner, Adeymi Lawson, leading to the birth of Ecobank.