Tony Onyeamaechi Elumelu is a renowned Nigerian and African entrepreneur, an Economist, Banker and Investor. He is popularly known as the (retired) chairman of United Bank of Africa, UBA; current chairman of Heirs Holdings, and Transcorp, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and a true Philanthropist. He has been responsible for creating businesses across the continent, in sectors critical to Africa’s economic development.
Tony Elumelu was born March 22, 1963 in Jos, Plateau State and raised by an entrepreneur parents. His mother owned restaurants and was a major distributor in the customer chain.
Tony Elumelu acquired honours degree at both graduate and masters levels in Economics from Ambrose Alli University – initially known as Bendel State University – and Lagos State University respectively.
He proceeded to acquire additional academic exposures from business schools of Harvard, USA; the International Institute of Management Development IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland and Singapore Institute of Management (SIM).
Tony Elumelu started his career in banking at Union Bank of Nigeria Plc as a Youth Corps member of the Nation Youth Service Corps, in 1985.
Then he achieved a major breakthrough as an African entrepreneur when he led the largest merger in the banking sector in Sub-Sahara Africa to acquire the United Bank for Africa (UBA) – a bank he later transformed into a Pan African institution by attracting more than seven million customers in nineteen African countries.
After he retired from UBA in 2010, Elumelu founded the Heir Holdings – a company that invests in financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, healthcare sector and agribusiness.
In 2011, Heir Holdings went ahead to procure a controlling interest in Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp).
As a serial investor, Mr. Elumelu was appointed among several leaders in industry, as the first African member of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum in September 24, 2012.
This was shortly after he was given a position in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to serve as a senior Investment Advisor.
He is a Vice-Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN) and Serves as Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security.
At the invitation of the Federal Government and the Presidential Jobs Board, Mr. Elumelu chaired at the Ministerial Committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centers across Nigeria.
Elumelu was one of the co-chairs of the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda from 11–13 May 2016.
Elumelu established the Tony Elumelu Foundation; an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organization whose focus is to the promote excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship.
The foundation’s aim was to prove that private sectors in Africa can be the primary generator of economic development.
In 2003, Tony Elumelu was granted the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Then In 2009, the late Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’adua asked him to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis.
On two occasions, Mr. Elumelu had been listed among Top 10 richest black people in the world and richest people in Nigeria.
As a renowned entrepreneur, Mr. Elumelu has won many awards, including the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON); Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People, by Forbes Magazine; a Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards; African Business Icon at the 2013 African Business Awards; ESI Most Influential Figures in African Power’ list, 2015; A Lifetime Achievement Award in April 21, 2016, at the 5th edition of the National Council of Employers, General Confederation of Enterprises of Côte d’Ivoire (CGECI) annual forum Academy 2016 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The Billionaire Philanthropist has written about his philosophies of life and the economic development of Africa for several publications around the globe such as the Economist, the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.
He is the source of inspiration for a book “How to Excel at Work,” by Bili A. Odum
A testimonial, “The Power of Vision,” which gives an insight into the life and achievements of the business magnate has also been compiled in the course of his retirement as the GMD/CEO at UBA.
Mr. Elumelu wrote a handbook titled: ‘The TOE Way,’
A quote from the handbook reads:
“Voracious reading is the solution to making a difference. Knowledge increases confidence and confidence is a key attribute for excellence.”
Aside being an anchor for African investment draws, Tony Elumelu has been invited in many occasions to deliver speeches on ways to boost entrepreneurship in Africa.
In April 2 2016, he was the speaker at the 2016 annual Harvard International Development Conference (HIDC) at Harvard University, Boston, and at Columbia University in New York City.
During the conference, Mr. Elumelu gave an insight on the potentials of African entrepreneurs. He said they are often limited by many challenges that would debilitate business people elsewhere.
“African entreprenures are force to build businesses despite all fundamental constraints that inhibit the viability of their startups such as lack of access to power, reliable infrastructure, access to funding, and more impediments.”
Tony Elumelu is married to Awele Vivien Elumelu, a medical doctor. They got married in 1993, and have seven children; five girls and two boys (Twins).