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Thursday, January 17 12:00 AM ET

Nigerian Philanthropist Esenam Ayele Powers Economy, Inspires

By Brian Briggs

Lagos, Nigeria - The American economy may be experiencing a downturn, but it's no fault of Nigerian billionaire Esenam Ayele. Through his charitable contributions many businesses have been created and many more lives enriched.

“Years ago I couldn't give away my money, because everyone thought I was a fraud, now after the media exposure I've received, I can't give it away fast enough,” said Ayele from his palatial home in Lagos.

Ayele, founder of the Society of Charitable African Millionaires, shared several of his inspiring stories of success. First, he told of Valerie Wang of Lincoln, Nebraska. “She had made horrible financial decisions throughout her life, leaving her in a financial mess, but she had a dream. She wrote me asking for $50,000 to start a chain of ice cream parlors for pets called 'Petscream Dairy'. Banks wouldn't finance her, but I saw her vision. Now she has twelve stores throughout Nebraska.

If you've ever seen a Hobo's Can Emporium or marveled at the craftsmanship of an “Elephant Enema Kit” then you've witnessed the power of Ayele's charity.

One of the most inspiring stories is of Sam Edwards of Waco, Texas. He lost his job, his wife, his kids, his legs, his index fingers and an eyebrow. He needed money for an operation, and that's where Ayele enters the story. “I read his email and it brought tears to my eyes. I sent him the $10,000 for the operation and now Mr. Edwards has a working index finger.”

Edwards said Ayele was a “miracle from heaven. Now I can point without offending anyone.”

Some economists note that Ayele created businesses may keep the economy from falling into a recession. Tim Margolis from Bear Stearns said, “The economic impact of Mr. Ayele is unbelievable.”

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Sadly, Ayele may have to end his life of philanthropy. A recent illness and a bad string of investments in Second Life have left him with very little to give.

“I know that some day I'll be able to get back to my giving ways, but for now I'll have wait,” said Ayele.

Until then, he'll still have his many success stories like Valerie Wang and Sam Edwards to keep him going.

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