The quintessential magnate…Remarkable exploits and philanthropy of the Chagoury brothers

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The quintessential magnate…Remarkable exploits and philanthropy of the Chagoury brothers

The quintessential magnate…Remarkable exploits and philanthropy of the Chagoury brothers
March 19
19:45 2016

• How they resolve Lagosians’ property woes with boutique housing and luxury neighbourhoods
• The Eko Atlantic masterpiece and other marvelous initiatives

Philanthropy has always been at the core of my belief system and has defined my mission in many ways – Ambassador Gilbert Chagoury

Many a billionaire believes that doing good to the needy is akin to throwing water in the Atlantic or fetching spring water with a basket. But it takes a man of unquantifiable means and humanity to shoulder the pains of the needy. At this, Gilbert and Ronald Chagoury are remarkably excellent. The men behind the Chagoury Group, an international business empire, feel strongly that in a world where there is so much to be done, there can be no end to positive humanitarian gestures.

They believe that all our doings without charity are worth nothing thus their interminable gestures at ameliorating the miseries of the underprivileged across societal divides. There is no gainsaying the brothers are detribalized human beings. The business magnates whose stakes cut across various industries and countries considers themselves first and foremost, citizens of humanity. They hardly exploits their ethnic roots or national affiliation for profit.

Ronald, as a businessman and administrator, he seeks to be a humane boss. He ensures that his staff are amply remunerated, well-clothed, well-fed, and happy.

Gilbert founded his empire on keen business acumen that thrives by visionary leadership and humble philanthropic service. This has made him one of the most highly respected industrialists in the world – his influence extends across continents from North America, South America, Europe, Africa to the Caribbean Islands. But perhaps more than any other single attribute, Gilbert has demonstrated a dedication to democracy, peace and the cultivation of healthy, thriving economic environments in which the average person can employ his full range of talents to reach his God given potential.

His enviable pedigree
Born in Nigeria in 1946 to Lebanese parents, Gilbert witnessed the end of British colonial rule of the country and the dramatic changes independence brought to Nigerian life. He paid close attention to the rapidly shifting political situation in Nigeria and learned much about how political change affects the economic and societal destiny of people and nations.

As a young man, he studied at the Collège des Frères in Lebanon before returning to Nigeria, where he believed his entrepreneurial instincts could create opportunities. He started selling shoes but soon worked his way up to selling a slightly more complex mode of transportation – automobiles. His enthusiasm and leadership caught the eye of his employers, to the point that they promoted him to be the youngest regional and then national sales manager in the company.

During a visit to Lebanon in 1967, Gilbert met his lifelong partner and soul mate, Rose-Marie Chamchoum, daughter of a prominent Lebanese family from the same village in northern Lebanon as the Chagoury family. Like Gilbert, she was born in Africa, in the Republic of Niger. In 1969, Gilbert and Rose-Marie married. They have four children, Ramez, Gilbert-Antoine, Christopher and Anne-Marie. All of the children studied at the American University in Paris and both Gilbert-Antoine and Christopher graduated from New York universities. Gilbert and Rose-Marie have been blessed to date with five grandchildren and are looking forward to many more.

With his wife at his side, Gilbert focused his energy on building on his sales and management experience and taking his and his family’s future in his own hands. Seeing great opportunities to build and invest in businesses in a number of emerging industries in quickly growing Nigeria, he founded The Chagoury Group in 1971, and was joined by his brother, Ronald, in 1974. The rest is history.

Businessman per excellence
As you read, the Chagoury Group is an industrial conglomerate with interests in construction, real estate, property development and hotels. The conglomerate owns, as well, industries in agribusiness, flour mills, water bottling, glass, aluminum, furniture and other construction-related manufacturing. The Group also owns great establishments in telecommunications, IT, insurance, and international finance.

There is no gainsaying the Chagoury Group spurred new business development and job growth across West Africa thus setting the standard for firms in the African marketplace. While engaging in competitive pursuits of business glory and profit, Gilbert, unlike most entrepreneurs of his class draws a line demarcating the threshold of his business ethics from under-the-belt exploitative practices by cutthroat competition. Ultimately, he demands that his companies abide by international safe-safety standards and provides private healthcare, pensions and family benefits for his employees. Little wonder the Chagoury Group is a leading Nigerian employer, with a workforce numbering tens of thousands of Nigerian and other African and international personnel.

Building a Lagos city Eldorado…brick by brick
Today, Gilbert Chagoury, with his brother and partner Ronald, is overseeing one of the most ambitious land-reclamation projects ever attempted: Eko Atlantic. In search of a permanent solution to safeguard Bar Beach in Victoria Island, Lagos, from flooding and the effects of severe coastal erosion, Lagos Governor reached out to experts and developers for a solution. But it was the Chagoury Group that provided the answer. Eko Atlantic, a 10 Million Square Meters city is rising out of the ocean, changing the face of Africa. With more than 25 million people expected to live and work in Lagos, Eko Atlantic will transform Lagos into Africa’s first mega-city and will become the new financial epicenter of West Africa by the year 2020.

Before Eko Atlantic, Gilbert found an ingenious way to resolve Lagosians’ property woes, particularly the luxury housing needs of Lagos high society and the rich upper class. His quest to bring world class housing facilities to the doorstep of Nigeria’s high society and the Lagos trendy crowd, spurred him to make massive investments in boutique housing. For instance, Gilbert’s Chagoury Group owns over half of the choice properties in high brow Banana Island in Lagos. The neigbourhood and housing facilities he provides panders to the exclusive tastes and wants of the country’s high society.

Counsel to world leaders
Throughout his illustrious career, Gilbert Chagoury has been best known as an invaluable counselor to leaders at the intersection of politics, business, finance and humanitarian assistance. But he has always given special attention to the people of his beloved Africa. In 1996, Chagoury served as an economic advisor to President Mathieu Kérékou of the Republic of Benin, which had transitioned to a democratic government in 1990. Chagoury’s counsel to President Kérékou was an integral part of the country’s economic recovery process, and his service to the Republic of Benin was recognized when he was awarded the Ordre National du Bénin with the rank of Commander by President Kérékou in 2001.

Gilbert is devoted to supporting the health, education and infrastructure in Miziara, Lebanon, his familial family seat. After donating substantial funds towards infrastructure development in the village, the town’s center was renamed Ramez Chagoury Square in honor of Gilbert’s father. To promote educational development within the village, Chagoury has created a foundation that funds several educational scholarships. Ambassador Chagoury is a well respected figure in Lebanon and is considered one of the best representatives of his community, area and country around the world. In 2005, he was awarded, by the President of the Lebanese Republic, the National Cedar Order with the Rank of Commander for great services rendered to Lebanon.

Champion of the arts
An avid lover of the arts, Chagoury became a benefactor to the Louvre Museum in Paris, and donated a famous 16th-century six-part tapestry, which was commissioned in Paris for Colbert de Seignelay, then Secretary of State for the Navy. By purchasing the piece, Gilbert ensured this national treasure will not leave France. In September 2000, the Louvre Museum dedicated the “Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury Gallery” to display these tapestries and more works of art donated by the Chagourys, like an exquisite pair of pink-ground Sèvres vases that formerly graced the Palais Bourbon under the reign of Louis XVI.

A faithful and devout Catholic, the Church has turned to him for personal and philanthropic assistance on many occasions. In 1990, Pope John Paul II awarded him the distinct honor of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great at the rank of Commander for his generosity to the Church and his unwavering faithfulness. In October 1998, the Holy Father honored Gilbert and his family with a private audience for their service and philanthropy, and in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI bestowed on him the Grand Cross, highest distinction of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great. Gilbert Chagoury helped restoring Notre Dame Maronite church in Paris, the Patriarchal cathedral in Bkerke, Lebanon and was of big help in subsidizing the Pontifical Oriental Institute at the Holy See.

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