Businessman and philanthropist Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony (1907-1991) was a man who started from the bottom to become one of the richest men in Africa during his time having a major road named after him in the heart of Lagos for his contribution to the growth and development of Lagos as well as Nigeria.
Mobolaji Bank Anthony was born in the Kinshasa region of Belgian Congo on June 11, 1907 to the family of Alfred Bank Anthony of Brazilian quarters, Lagos Island. His mother has her roots in Aleshinloye Williams family of Olowogbowo. His parents are business people. His father at the time ran an undertaker business with using his company, A.Bank Anthony and Sons Ltd.
Mobolaji started education at St. Peters School, Faji, Lagos and later attended various secondary schools including Methodist Boys High School, Ijebu Ode Grammar School, CMS Grammar School and Baptist Academy, Lagos. In 1923, he started work as a junior clerk in the correspondence section of the Post and Telegraphs Department.
He left in 1931 and switched to business. He traveled to Germany and England to study palm oil making and later established M.de Bank Brothers, a general merchant firm originally trading in Palm Oil and then patent medicine.
After both businesses were not very successful, he switched to importing watches, clocks and fountain pens. The unsuccessful business experience was enough to make those without strong conviction to say goodbye to business but Mobolaji is not the type. He is a man who believes that failure is nothing but a propeller to attain greatness.
At one time, he was the third largest seller of fountain pens in Nigeria after UAC and the United Trading Company. In the early 1930s, he was briefly involved with the Lagos Youth Movement. Mobolaji’s business began to pick up at the onset of World War II when prices rose in the country benefiting traders like Bank Anthony who had large reserves of goods before the inflationary pressures.
Anthony acquired shares in a few companies during his business career including Weide Nigeria Limited that dealt with completely knocked down electrical parts, an Italian partnership called Motor Parts Industries, a plywood business venture in Cross River State and the Nigerian arm of May and Baker and Pressed Metal Works.
Through all these business undertakings, he built wealth through his very many connections, intellectual acumen, ability to forge ahead even when failure is one’s best friend and the need to leave a good legacy to the generation behind him. Today, he is being celebrated for his boldness to cast his name in the gold.
Anthony was married to Olamide Adeshigin later known as Lady Bank Anthony. He belonged to a few social and business clubs in Lagos, including the Lagos Race Club, Metropolitan Club, Yoruba Tennis Club and the Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce. He was chairman of the Federal Rehabilitation Appeal Board established by Yakubu Gowon to assist Nigerians affected by the Civil War.
He held the chieftaincy title of the Baloro of Lagos.
Mobolaji Bank Anthony died on May 26, 1991 at the age of 83.