Meet The Billionaire Investors Behind Lions Den

The Billionaire Investors in Lions Den

In Nigeria getting early stage investors that are willing to take a risk on an idea that has not been tasted is quite difficult. In fact serious investors prefer to invest in stocks. So it is obviously a great news for Nigerian entrepreneurs when Lions Den debuted in Nigeria in 2021. Today we are going to look at the 5 billionaire investors behind Lions Den Nigeria.

What is Lions Den?

Lions’ Den is a business reality show that gives budding entrepreneurs across Nigeria the chance to pitch their business to 5 successful Nigerian investors. Those investors are generally referred to as Lions. The Billionaire Investors behind the Lions Den are are the ones that make the programme a reality by producing any amount an entrepreneur needs.

These Lions are looking to give back to the society by helping young and innovative Nigerians fulfill their dreams and ambitions as entrepreneurs. As such, if they see the potential in the entrepreneurs’ business, idea or product, they will throw in a couple of millions. Like every other Angel Investors anywhere these millions they throw into the business is in exchange for some equity.

But the Lions are not just about giving cash to the entrepreneurs. They are giving much more than cash. So, even bigger than the cash investment, these Lions, who are business leaders in their own rights bring on board their rich vein of experience and network. Remember that as equity investors they have serious stakes in the business. In fact they become the entrepreneurs’ business partners and help them take their businesses to greater heights. Yes, their interest in the business and its success is just as strong as that of the entrepreneur.

So who are these billionaire investors willing to stake multi-millions for ideas some of which have not been proved? That is the focus of this post.

Meet The Billionaire Investors Behind Lions Den

Audrey Joe-Ezigbo


Her Abridged Profile

Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo is one of the key investors in Lions Den
Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo is one of the key investors in Lions Den

Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo is the Deputy Managing Director and Shareholder at Falcon Corporation, a company she co-founded in 1994.  Falcon Corporation is a leading, wholly indigenous midstream and downstream Energy, Gas Distribution; Trading company.

Since 1994, Mrs. Joe-Ezigbo has been instrumental to successfully growing the company from minor oil services contracting to being a major player in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry as a licensed distributor of Natural Gas and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) in dedicated distribution zones with annual revenues of several billions of Naira currently.

An accomplished professional, Audrey holds several Masters’ degrees in Finance, Marketing and Business Administration from the Lagos Business School, University of Nigeria, and Nnamdi Azikiwe University. She also holds several executive certifications in Management, Leadership and Governance from Harvard Business School, IE Business School, and the WIMBOARD Institute.

Professional Positions Held

Audrey is the immediate past president (2018-2021) of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA). That is the umbrella association and voice for businesses and professionals involved in the Nigerian Gas industry. She is the first woman to occupy the position of NGA President in the Association’s 22-year history.

Audrey is a seasoned energy expert and a Fellow of the Energy Institute UK (FEI), the global body for energy experts. She is the Vice Chair of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria’s Energy & Power committee. She is a founding member of Women in Energy Network (WiEN); a member and global role model for Women in LPG (WiNLPG) Nigeria chapter; and a member of the Nigeria Content Development; Monitoring Board (NCDMB) NCCF Diversity Sectoral Working Group.


She was recognized as one of Leading Ladies Africa 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria 2019, listed on the 2021 PowerWoman 100 list in the Oil; Gas category. She was also recognized as one of top 100 Outstanding Female Executives in the African Oil and Gas Industry 2021.

What is She Bringing into Lions Den as one of the Investors?

An experienced leader, advisor and coach, Audrey will be bringing into the Den over 27 years proven track record and deep expertise in Strategic Planning and Execution, Corporate Governance, Investor relations (Finance and Fundraising), Entrepreneurship Development. She equally has vast experience across executive and different Board levels.

She is passionate about entrepreneurship in Africa. And also committed to actualizing the potentials of SMEs to become large corporations or multinationals. Mrs. Joe-Ezigbo is committed to building African institutions that can survive and scale sustainably and developing leaders and managers for these organizations who are global in their thinking and networks

Kyari Bukar


His Abridged Profile

Kyari Abba Bukar is another heavy investor with Lions Den
Kyari Abba Bukar is another heavy investor with Lions Den

Mr. Kyari Abba Bukar is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Trans-Sahara Investment Corporation. He has over 30 years of experience in information technology, financial services and business analytics. Kyari is a product of Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, where he bagged a B.Sc in Physics, and a resulting M.Sc in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University in the USA. He is also an alumnus of the Lagos Business School and Wharton Business School. And finally a proud product of Harvard Business School

Professional Career

His career began in 1988 at Hewlett-Packard USA in Silicon Valley, where he started out as a Manufacturing Development Engineer, and rose through the ranks, holding positions like Performance Programme and Benchmarking Manager, Marketing Programme Manager and Senior IT Consultant. And later became the Worldwide Technical Marketing Program Manager.

In 2001, Kyari heeded the call back to Nigeria to make his mark and elevate the financial industry to greater heights by joining FSB International Bank (now Fidelity Bank). He served as Executive Director, E-Banking and Information Technology and Operations.

After gaining prominence for his excellent work in Fidelity Bank, Kyari Bukar took another great leap by transitioning to the MD/CEO of ValuCard Nigeria Plc (currently Unified Payments PLC). There he yet again proved his financial prowess by securing a partnership with Visa International Company to transform ValuCard to a highly profitable, global payment processor.

Another Important Switch

In 2011, he took his career further yet again by making the switch to Central Securities Clearing System PLC, where he served as MD/CEO for 5 years before co-founding Trans-Sahara Investment Corporation – a Private Equity firm that develops and actively manages direct investments in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus in West Africa, – in 2017.

Kyari Bukar also seats on boards of different companies and organisations. Some of them are: As the Independent Non-Executive Director on the Board of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria. As the Chairman of Sunu Assurances Nigeria PLC and CRC Credit Bureau Limited among others.

Kyari was equally an ex-chairman on the board of the Nigerian Economic Summit (NESG).

What is He Bringing into Lions Den as one of the Investors?

Kyari Bukar comes into Lions Den as an investor with the financial muscle to support any venture that is worthwhile. But beyond the money what else? He brings over 34 years of national and international experience to the show. As his profile shows he brings experience from IT, finance and investment background.

Kyari Buka is indeed a name that has shaken the financial and entrepreneurship industry both in and out of Nigeria.

Lions Den has got some billionaire investors
Lions Den has got some billionaire investors

Paul Onwuanibe


Professional Career

Paul Onwuanibe is also an investor with Lions Den
Paul Onwuanibe is also an investor with Lions Den

Paul is the Group Chief Executive Officer and founder of The Landmark Group. He began his career in the ‘built environment’ with a formal education in Architecture, Property Development and Construction Management, together with a London Business School MBA merit in “Value Engineering”.

Paul has over 25 years of professional experience of design and execution of projects in Africa, USA and Europe. He served as Development Director with Beacon Housing, in the UK. Paul was the Executive with the responsibility for the Property and Logistics team of Regus Plc during its rapid expansion years. That period oversaw the opening of 190 business centers globally.

He has expert knowledge of commercial property and workplace management and led Landmark’s expansion into America, Europe and Africa. He has raised in excess of $100m of funding for Landmark. And equally grew the company to achieve a PWC endorsed book valuation in excess of $300M.

Paul is an African business leader, with a deep and passionate interest in real estate in Africa driven by his goal to create the first pan African real estate and service organisation themed on his live, work and play philosophy. Landmark Lagos was endorsed by the BBC, Euromoney and African Property Investment Summit as the most visited business, leisure and lifestyle destination on the West African coastline.

What is He Bringing into Lions Den as one of the Investors?

Paul sits on the Board of several institutions in Europe, America and Africa. Some of them include MTN’s subsidiary Fintech Yellow Digital, Cancer Care Federation for West Africa, Lakeshore Medical Centre. Others are Brookstone Properties, Kimberly Ryan, Carbon Micro Finance Bank & Stanmore Real Estate. He also has significant charitable interests in Health and Education as well as mentors a young leadership group operating in 3 continents.

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Paul is focused on adding value to the African region through the creation of job opportunities in several African cities. All these experience within a period of 25 years is what Paul brings into Lions Den as one of the Investors as well as the cash investment.

Adenike Ogunlesi


Adenike Ogunlesi for Lions Den
Adenike Ogunlesi for Lions Den

I am so excited to introduce Adenike Ogunlesi to you. She is Africa’s foremost fashion entrepreneur who is redefining and blazing the trail in the children’s fashion niche. She has over 35 years of experience in the Fashion and Retail Business, and is the founder and Creative Director of Africa’s leading Premium children’s clothing brand- Ruff ‘n’ Tumble. Did you now remember that brand? And I guess it is your favourite for your children’s wear. Ruff ‘n’ Tumble has been sharing happiness to over a million children and families across the globe for years. And all these was made possible because Adenike dared to dream and pursue her vision fearlessly.

How She Started

Adenike started the Ruff ‘n’ Tumble brand from the boot of her car in 1998. She started with just very few people that believed in her vision.  But today she has built a reputable Pan-African brand. Her brand operates to international standards with over 300 employees and 17 retail outlets across Nigeria. Ruff ‘n’ Tumble equally boasts an impressive an online presence and expansion plans across the African continent and the international community.

Adenike is dynamic and phenomenal woman. Her quest for innovation and redefining what’s supposedly impossible on her own terms gave birth to the creation of Gatimo Apparel manufacturing. It is a state of the art garment manufacturing facility with the capacity to contract manufacture high quality garments to global standards.

She is a passionate speaker and an advocate for a more equitable society. Adenike advocates women owning their greatness by believing in the truest expression of themselves and being financially independent. Adenike is alsoan entrepreneur passionate about quality, excellence and service and that is exactly what she transmits to other ladies.

Her calling and desire for the development and growth of people led to the birth the Betti-Okuboyejo Foundation- a garment making training facility which has graduated over 200 youths; empowering them with skills in garment making and entrepreneurship. She also founded the ‘I Share Cuz I Care’ Foundation by Ruff ‘n’ Tumble. It is a community which promotes sharing and caring among children. The community has impacted thousands of children through the feed a child campaign and the dress a child campaign. The campaign provides brand new school uniforms and shoes to pupils in various schools within different communities.

What Does Adenike Bring into Lions Den as one of the Investors?

She is an alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School. Adenike is also a Non-Executive Director at Lafarge Holcim Plc and the founding member and first president of the Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW) at the Nigeria Employer’s Consultative Association (NECA). She is also an advisory board member and mentor at WISCAR (Women in Successful Careers). This is a structured mentoring programme for young women.

As you can see Adenike will be bringing years of corporate professional experience to Lions Den as an investor. But she will at the same time be bringing years of practical street entrepreneurship experience that young entrepreneurs could relate with.

Bolaji Balogun


Bolaji Balogun comes with so much experience
Bolaji Balogun

Bolaji Balogun is Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Denham, Nigeria’s leading independent investment banking firm. He is also the Chief Investment Officer of the Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund. He has over thirty years of experience in investment banking, investment management and mobile telecommunications. Chapel Hill Denham is one of Nigeria’s leading investment management firms and the leading alternatives investment manager with funds in infrastructure, Real Estate and SMEs.

Professional Career

Bolagi spent eleven years with FCMB Group, in investment banking and securities trading, leaving in January 2001. And from April 1993 to January 2001, he was Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer at CSL Stockbrokers Limited. While in FCMB Bolaji was equally an Executive Director at FCMB Capital Markets from January 1996.

After leaving FCMB in 2001 he went ahead to become co-founder and Director at Econet Wireless Nigeria, now Airtel Nigeria. He led the capital raising and license bid auction process for Econet Wireless Nigeria’s $285 million GSM license. He was Chief Business Development and Strategy Officer and was appointed Chief Marketing Officer in October 2001. The $1.67 billion sale of Econet Wireless to Celtel in 2005 remains Nigeria’s single largest successfully exited private investment. Bolaji made that possible. But he left mobile communications and returned to investment banking when he founded Chapel Hill in 2005.

What is Bolaji Bringing into The Lions Den as one of the Investors?

Today, Bolaji is Chairman, Lafarge Africa, Vice Chairman of Endeavor Nigeria. He is also a Director at Trustfund Pension, one of Nigeria’s largest pension fund managers. He is equally a director at SME NG, a Nigerian impact investment platform, investing in Nigerian women and youth-owned SMEs. Bolaji was formerly Chairman on Nahco FTZ Limited, a former Director of Nahco Avaince Plc and NASD Plc. He was appointed to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Africa Advisory Board in September 2009.

Bolaji is also an Economics (Honours) graduate of the London School of Economics, University of London.

Bolaji Balogun will definitely be a great asset to the Lions Den as one of the premium investors. In like manner any entrepreneur that succeeds in convincing him to come on board as an investor in his or her business through the Lions Den will have all to gain.

How to Apply for Lions Den Season 3

Does the opportunity to pitch before these billionaire investors appeal to you? Do you consider your idea big and innovative enough with the potential to convince them? Do you equally  trust yourself to deliver when it matters most? Then you have a great opportunity here. To apply for Lions Den Season 3 simply click here. In fact it takes less than 15 minutes to complete your application if you already have an Ecobank account.


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