The Lunch Hour

The Lunch Hour – Ike Chioke, Group CEO, Afrinvest

With Wole Famurewa

After my Master’s programme at Oxford University, I applied to Wall Street firms in the US and got over 110 rejection letters. I eventually got an offer from Goldman Sachs.”

Ike has over 25 years of investment banking experience. His professional experience cuts across renowned financial institutions including Arthur Andersen, Goldman Sachs, and Salomon Smith Barney Inc. He is the current Group Managing Director of Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, a leading investment banking firm involved in mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and financial advisory. Ike holds a B.Sc. Civil Engineering (First Class Honours) from the University of Ife and an M.Phil in Management Studies from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He has contributed to financial markets development through various civic roles such as Chairman of the FSS 2020 Capital Markets Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria and a member of the Bond Market Steering Committee of the Federal Debt Management Office. Ike is the current Chairman of the Enugu State Technical Committee on Privatization and Commercialization and a member of Enugu State Economic Advisory Committee. He is the 2nd Vice President of the Association of Issuing Houses of Nigeria, National Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarship for West Africa, a member of the Board of the American University of Nigeria and a member of the Board of ServiPower Company Limited.


University, Science or Arts?

I attended St Patrick Primary School in Enugu. I moved to another primary school and proceeded to Federal Government College Jos. I then studied Civil Engineering at the University of Ife (now called Obafemi Awolowo University). I finished with a first-class degree. I then did my national youth service in Benue State in a local government area where I was able to offer my training as a Civil Engineer to fix a drainage problem that was devastating the environment. After NYSC, I joined Arthur Andersen in Lagos in their Tax Department. I then received the Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, where I earned a Master’s Degree in Management Studies.

Biggest lesson from University

There’s no escaping hard work. That consistency was needed for me to stand out even where I lacked the natural brilliance in executing a task.

Greater influence, mum or dad?

My dad inspired me to excel academically. My mum was focused on discipline and integrity. She caned me and the training helped me to form boundaries in life.

Your first Job?

That will be my NYSC job as a Civil Engineer in a town in Benue State that was very prone to erosion. The local government had received a grant to cover the expenses needed to address the erosion challenges. I was able to offer very valuable redesign of the drain project. It was a very important assignment because I reported it in my Rhodes Scholarship application, and I think the impact and leadership that I demonstrated in executing the project was an important element in my application.

And your career after Oxford?

After my Master’s programme, I decided to travel across the United States to see my friends across the country. During this trip, a few of my friends encouraged me to apply for a job in the US. I then applied to Wall Street firms. I think I got 110 rejection letters. I however realized that the rejection letters lacked a personal touch. I think given my profile as a foreigner, my applications were not really reviewed. I then realized that I needed to make a personal connection with people that may require my skills. I then started to comb through financial newspapers for senior bankers behind Wall Street transactions. I started making cold calls to these people, requesting to have lunch with these people. While some slammed the phone on me, a few were impressed by my initiative to make an impression. Eventually, a few people decided to put my name forward as a candidate for positions in their firms. At the end of the day, I got several offers and eventually decided to join Goldman Sachs. After a few years, I ended up working for Citigroup in London.

Your best boss ever?

I will have to say Tayo Aderinokun, the former CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank, though he wasn’t a boss in the true sense of the word. I describe him as a boss because of the role he played in getting us started as Afrinvest West Africa. At the time, we needed a breakthrough transaction and I had pitched ideas to many bankers. However, many were somewhat skeptical and others were simply loyal to certain investment bankers and would rather execute whatever we pitched through them. Tayo Aderinokun, however, gave us the mandate to do the GTB Eurobond and GDR transactions. He also stood behind our firm during a tough time for our company, the 2007/2008 global financial crisis and its attendant impact on Nigeria’s financial market. Afrinvest lost a lot of money at the time and was heavily exposed to GTB. Instead of trying to take aggressive action to recover GTB’s money, he agreed to a restructuring proposal that could get us out of the water and trusted me to execute it successfully which we did. That singular example taught me that trust is a huge currency in business, and I am able to draw that experience whenever I face a seemingly insurmountable situation.

What type of music do you like?

I listen to everything: Jazz, rock n’ roll, classical, afrobeat, old school etc. I have been an iTunes fan for close to 2 decades now. Growing up, I liked Michael Jackson, Fela and many others.

Who are your favourite authors?

No one in particular. Growing up, I liked James Hardy Chase amongst others. I am currently reading We are all Biafrans by Chido Onumah.


Also Read: The Lunch Hour – Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga

What is the most expensive fashion accessory you have spent on?

A Breitling by Bentley wristwatch.

Favourite place to go in Nigeria and abroad?

Obudu Cattle Ranch in Nigeria and Santorini in Greece, abroad.

Favourite Nigerian brand

Ebewele Brown

Favourite car brand?

Lexus for practicality and Range Rover for indulgence.


Mont Blanc.


Ermenegildo Zegna.


Bottega Veneta.

The oldest of your wristwatches?

A Breitling Navitimer which I bought in New York in 1994.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee is my thing. I have an espresso machine in all my homes. I like all sorts: Colombian, Kenya etc.

What is your take on wealth?

Something you use to make an impact. I have observed that wealth in itself doesn’t necessarily make you feel fulfilled. I have found a passion for supporting education and I am always delighted to invest in this area.


Also Read: The Lunch Hour – Femi Akintunde, GMD, Alpha Mead Group

In terms of your ideology, are you more to the left, right or simply pragmatic?

I think Nigeria needs a homegrown solution that is pragmatic. Focus on finding the best people to solve problems.

Someone to go on holiday with?

Yvonne Chioke (my wife) because she takes her holidays very seriously and books all sorts of interesting activities well in advance such that there is no single dull moment.

Best use of money ever for you?

Building a library and computer centre for an orphanage to celebrate my 50th birthday.

Sports: Football or boxing?


What would be your biggest policy ask from President Buhari?

Scrap petrol subsidies.

And specifically for your industry?

Permit investment banks to access the CBN window to trade bonds like commercial banks.

Where do you see Nigeria in 10 years?

Sadly, worse than we are now because we are neglecting the most critical elements of development – qualitative education for all and universal healthcare.

What development model across the world do you think Nigeria can adopt what we’ve seen across the world? India or China?

Neither – we all have to stop deceiving ourselves and sit down to discuss, negotiate and agree to create a uniquely Nigerian model which truly delivers equity and justice for all.

The Lunch Hour was at:

On a couch over breakfast for two at The George Hotel, Ikoyi.

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