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Tony O. Elumelu (born 22 March 1963) is a Nigerian economist, banker, investor, and philanthropist. Elumelu is Chairman of Heirs Holdings, a pan-African proprietary investment company with interests in strategic sectors of Africa's economy. He is also the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded not-for-profit organisation (NPO) that is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship across Africa. Elumelu holds the Nigerian national honour, the Commander of the Order of Nigeria (CON). New African magazine recently listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in Africa.
Elumelu was born in Jos, Nigeria, in 1963. He has two degrees in Economics from Nigerian schools. His Bachelor degree was from Ambrose Alli University and he has a Master of Science degree, also in Economics, from the University of Lagos. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Programme. Tony Elumelu married Awele V. Elumelu, a medical doctor, in 1993 and has five daughters. He has four siblings including the Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, a member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives.
In his early career, Elumelu made a name for himself when he acquired and turned Standard Trust Bank into a top-five player in Nigeria. In 2005, his corporate reputation as an African Business Leader was sealed when he led the largest merger in the banking sector in Sub-Saharan Africa to acquire United Bank for Africa (UBA). In five years he transformed it from a single-country bank, to a pan-African institution with over 7 million customers in 19 African countries.
Following his retirement from UBA in 2010, Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors; all of which help to create economic prosperity and social wealth across the continent. In the same year, he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded, philanthropic organisation dedicated to the promotion of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship, to enhance the competitiveness of the private sector across Africa.
In 2011, Heirs Holdings acquired a controlling interest in the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), a publicly quoted conglomerate that has business interests in the agribusiness, energy, and hospitality sectors. Elumelu was subsequently appointed Chairman of the Corporation.
Elumelu serves as an Advisor to the USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum. He sits on the Nigerian President's Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC). He is also vice-chairman and a key driver in the formation of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), and serves as Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security. He additionally chairs the Ministerial Committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centres across Nigeria, at the invitation of the Federal Government.
Following his retirement from United Bank for Africa in July 2010, Elumelu founded The Tony Elumelu Foundation. His stated objective was to "prove that the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development." The Foundation is charged with the mission of driving Africa's economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector. As a premier pan-African-focused not-for-profit institution,the Tony Elumelu Foundation is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of entrepreneurship and excellence in business leadership across the continent.
The Foundation strives to deploy its resources to generate solutions to challenges that inhibit the growth of the African private sector. Through its commitment to catalytic philanthropy, the Tony Elumelu Foundation seeks to achieve its mission by enhancing the capacity of African businesses, supporting and driving policies that promote competitiveness, deploying financial capital through impact investments, and educating public and private sector actors through rigorous research.
Elumelu is the originator of the term Africapitalism. According to him, Africapitalism is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector's commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth. Elumelu sees Africans taking charge of the value-adding sectors and ensuring that those value-added processes happen in Africa, not through nationalisation or government policies, but because there is a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who have the vision, the tools and the opportunity to shape the destiny of the continent. He insists that Africapitalism is not capitalism with an African twist; it is a rallying cry for empowering the private sector to drive Africa's economic and social growth.
Elumelu subscribes to Michael Porter's concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV). He studied under Professor Porter at Harvard Business School and Professor Porter is the Founding Patron of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. CSV refers to the idea that “companies must take the lead in bringing business and society back together.” It asserts that “businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues (society) face(s).”
In 2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria granted Tony Elumelu the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), a national honour. In 2006, Elumelu was voted African Business Leader of The Year by the Africa Investor magazine and was recognised African Banker of the Year in 2008 by the African Banker magazine. In 2009, the Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'adua asked him to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis.
In 2012 he was awarded the prestigious National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) for his service in promoting private enterprise. He was recognised as one of "Africa's 20 Most Powerful People in 2012" by Forbes Magazine. In addition, the New African Magazine featured him in their list of the "100 Most Influential Africans in Business."He was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree from the Benue State University and an honorary doctorate of business administration from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
In 2013, Mr Elumelu received the Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards. He was also named African Business Icon at the 2013 African Business Awards.
Elumelu contributed an article to the book How to Excel at Work – Proven strategies for achieving superior work performance by Bili A. Odum. He also contributed to the Nigeria Leadership Initiative White Papers, writing on Leveraging private sector approaches in transforming government delivery.
The Power of Vision: Insights on Tony Elumelu is a testimonial compiled on the occasion of his retirement as Group managing director/chief executive officer at the United Bank for Africa. It contains messages from Aliko Dangote, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Professor Michael Porter, former World Bank managing director and Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President of Sierra Leone; Ernest Bai Koroma, former United States Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.