What you need to succeed – XL Africa CEO, Charles Nwodo Jr.



Charles Nwodo Jr, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and the Executive Chairman of XL Africa Group and founder of Centre for Entrepreneurship Knowledge Exchange has a lot of success stories to tell. He served under Mr. Tony Elumelu for six years; from Crystal Bank to Standard Trust Bank and ultimately to United Bank for Africa (UBA) before walking away to found his own company, XL Africa Group.

When talking about the birth of XL Africa Group recently in an interview, Nwodo revealed his secrets of success and the driving force that propelled him through the murky water and high-pressure of the corporate world.

“Everything is possible. All you need to do to achieve success as an entrepreneur is just grit, determination and faith in God,” he revealed and backed his claim with his experience when setting up XL Africa Group.

“I had worked in the banking industry from 1997 to 2003. I left the bank in 2003 to start XL Africa Group. The nucleus of XL Africa Group was mostly some of the services that I superintended during my last posting in the bank as Executive Director, Corporate Services. I considered these services to be non-core to the bank, in regards to the bank’s services. Like Human Resources, especially junior staff management; management of drivers, tellers, cleaners, bulk tellers, sales officers, and things like managing cash. For a retail bank, cash is at the heart of retail banking, so distributing cash, processing it, packing it and making it available to customers on time and at least cost to the bank is something that is central to commercial banking but not necessarily core. Things like branch development, where you have to deal with Engineers, Architects, Quality Surveyor, and all of that these were again not core to the bank,” he narrated.

“One of the areas of interest to me during my time in the bank was how to galvanize opinion in my bank for the outsourcing of these non-core services, as a way of making the bank more efficient and agile. One day, my MD, Mr Tony Elumelu, joked and said to me. “if you consider these things to be very important and valid, then why don’t you take it up and do it yourself?” This registered with me and I made a mental note that if ever I was going to leave banking, that would be exactly what I would do. This is how XL Africa was born,” he said.

Speaking further he revealed how XL Africa Group grew, “As the banks trusted us with time, we were able to expand with them as they set up shop across countries. We were trusted because we understood their speed, processes, quality and we had set a standard of service. That was how we started expanding with them through Africa countries and within the federation. Some of these services matured within our capabilities in these areas, and so we decided to spin-off these services into businesses of their own, and that was how our subsidiaries evolved.”

Today, XL Africa has subsidiaries like XL Outsourcing,  Xtra Energy Support Services, XL Express & Logistics, FMX Integrated Services, XL Security & Protection Services and Integrated Cash Management Services.

“Because we had perfected our service offerings in the banking industry, we were able to move these services to other sectors. We moved into Oil & Gas, Telecoms and others. Today, all the subsidiaries are active players in all the sectors that they play in,” Nwodo said with pride.

Charles Nwodo has an extensive career in Stockbroking and Investment too. His XL Africa Group operates fully-owned subsidiaries in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the USA.

His vision for the Centre for Entrepreneurship Knowledge Exchange is to be the foremost organisation equipping young people across Africa with leadership, entrepreneurial and employability skills to take charge in every sphere of life as tomorrow’s leaders.

Charles Nwodo was born October 9, 1962 at a place called Nsukka in Enugu State. But he is originally from a town called Ukehe in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State.

He started his primary education at Saint Peter’s Primary School, Ukehe in 1970; after the Civil War. Shortly after he started his primary education, his father was rehabilitated into the Nigerian Civil Service, and so his family had to move to Nsukka, hence his primary education was transferred to Central School, Nsukka. Even though he started primary education in 1970, he finished in 1974.

His secondary school was College of Immaculate Conception, Enugu from ‘74 to ‘79. He was admitted into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1980 where he studied Civil Engineering and graduated in 1985. In 1988, he went back to school and got his MBA.

After his MBA, he trained as a Stock Broker and qualified as a Dealing Clerk of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He practiced stockbroking for some years at a company called M&M Securities, who were dealing members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, he did that till 1997.

His many awards for excellence and service include Distinguished service award by Rotary International;The Nigerian Economic Summit Group appreciation award; The portfolio of Management by New York Institute of Finance; Member, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; Member, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; Member, Association of Currency Affairs IACA; Nigeria LNG Ltd Production division safety award to XL Africa Group and Nigeria Economic Summit appreciation award to XL Management Services Ltd.

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