Who is Tony Elumelu? A Detailed Look at His Biography and Where He Is From

Tony Elumelu is a renowned Nigerian and African entrepreneur, an economist, banker, and investor. He is popularly known as the (retired) chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA); current chairman of Heirs Holding and Transcorp; founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation; and a true Philanthropist. The business tycoon ranks among the top 10 richest people in Nigeria.

Anthony Onyeamaechi Elumelu has been responsible for creating businesses across the continent in sectors critical to Africa’s economic development. His major source of income is investments. He is a strategic investor who holds the main interest at Transorp. He is also famous for his philanthropic gestures, which he extends to Africa at large. And his ability to revive a sinking bank brought him to the world.

Profile Summary of Tony Elumelu

  • Full Name: Anthony Onyeamaechi Elumelu
  • Date of Birth: March 22, 1963
  • Age: 58 years old
  • Place of Birth: Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria
  • State of Origin: Delta State
  • Nationality: Nigerian
  • Education: Ambrose Alli University, University of Lagos
  • Occupation: Entrepreneur, Economist, Investor, and Philanthropist
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Spouse: Awele Vivien Elumelu (Married since 1993)
  • Children: 7

Tony Elumelu Hails From Aniocha in Delta State, Nigeria

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Tony Elumelu was born on March 22, 1963, in Jos, Plateau State, and was raised by entrepreneur parents. His mother, Suzanne Elumelu, owned restaurants and was a major distributor of the customer chain, while his father’s name is Dominic Elumelu. However, nothing much is known about his father and what he does for a living.

Although Tony was born in Jos, he hails from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. He was raised together with his four siblings, one of whom is Hon. Ndudi Elumelu,  a former member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives. Ndudi is the most popular among his siblings.

Since the inception of his political career, he has been a part of several committees, including the House Committee on Information, Science and Technology, National Security, Climate Change, Public Safety, etc. He was first elected to the House of Reps. in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2015.

He Has Two Degrees in Economics from Two Nigerian Universities

Tony Elumelu acquired both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Economics from Ambrose Alli University, formerly known as Bendel State University, and Lagos State University, respectively. In addition to these degrees, he went ahead to acquire additional academic exposures from business schools of Harvard, USA; the International Institute of Management Development IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM). Elumelu is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme.

Tony Elumelu Started His Career at an Early Age

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Tony Elumelu started his career in banking at Union Bank of Nigeria Plc as a Youth Corps member during his National Youth Service Corps, one-year compulsory service, in 1985. He later switched to another career as a salesman. Later on, he was hired by Allstates Trust Bank, where he worked for a while before going into investing. He started little and has worked hard to be where he is today.

Before he came into the limelight, he took over a floundering Lagos-based commercial bank alongside some other investors in 1997. He worked hard to make Standard Trust Bank a top player within a few years and helped it secure one of the biggest mergers at the time with UBA in 2005. With the merger, the investment became profitable. Following the merger, he became the bank’s Group Managing Director, helping the bank grow from being a single-country bank to become a Pan-African bank. Currently, they have subsidiaries in over 20 African countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

He achieved a breakthrough as an African entrepreneur when he led this largest merger in the banking sector in Sub-Sahara Africa. His acquisition of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), a bank he later transformed into a Pan African institution by attracting more than seven million customers in over 22 countries, was his highest hit that brought him more fame and wealth. He made a fortune in the banking sector before his retirement. After the merger, he became the CEO of the merged UBA until his retirement in 2010.

List of Offices Tony Elumelu Has Occupied

As a serial investor, Mr. Elumelu was appointed among several leaders in the industry. He has held several positions in several establishments and has chaired several boards. Below is a list of the offices and positions he has occupied so far.

  • The first African member of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum, he was appointed on September 24, 2012.
  • He was given a position in the Nigerian 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)
  • Tony 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 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 held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 11–13 May 2016.

Tony Elumelu Founded Heirs Holdings in 2010, After Stepping Down As UBA Group’s Managing Director

After stepping down as UBA Group’s Managing Director in 2010, Elumelu founded his own company, Heirs Holdings. Heirs Holdings is a company that invests in financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, the healthcare sector, and agribusiness. It is a family-owned investment company that is interested in improving lives. The company operates in over 20 countries of the world.

In 2011, Heirs Holdings procured a controlling interest in Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp). Transcorp is a Nigerian conglomerate that holds investments in agriculture, hotels, and the power sector. He owned 22.2% shares at Transcorp, which was valued at N30.7 billion in 2013. Today, Heirs Holdings has a plethora of investments in several sectors, including Real Estate, Financial Services, Oil & Gas, Healthcare, Insurance, and Hospitality.

In January 2021, the company completed the acquisition of a 45% operating permit called Oil Mining Lease 17 from Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, ENI, and Total, in a deal valued at over $1 billion.

He Gives Back to Society Through Tony Elumelu Foundation

He founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) in 2015. The foundation, which is an African-based and African-funded philanthropic organization, focuses on promoting excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship. At its inception, it committed $100 million to the empowerment of 10,000 Africans within ten years. The foundation aims to prove that the private sector in Africa can be the primary generator of economic development. It is one of the leading philanthropic initiatives in Africa. This foundation champions entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in the continent.

Tony Elumelu’s Books and Publications

The multi-billionaire philanthropist has written about his life philosophies and Africa’s economic development in several publications around the globe. Some of these publications include The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times. He is the source of inspiration for the 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. He is the founder of the theory of Africapitalism, a theory that tends to remake the African continent and pace Africa on equal footing with other continents of the world.

His Wealth and Popularity Grew with Time

In an interview, Tony Elumelu revealed that it was not easy for him at first. He struggled at some point in his life and continued until he achieved his dreams. With time, he made a move and made some revolutions in the sector that brought him the popularity and wealth he enjoys today – Banking. He started by gathering some investors, and they formed a small group that was not profitable at first.

His business tactic and initiative led him to form a merger with UBA, which brought profit their way. From then, his wealth and expansion knew no bounds. He has continued to grow in the sector, though retired. And he has also continued to help many through his foundation. This foundation and his philanthropic gestures, alongside his hard work, have contributed significantly to the kind of popularity he enjoys today. He was initially said to be worth $700 million by Forbes in 2015. However, recent estimates put his net worth at over $1.4 billion.

List of His Awards and Recognitions

As a result of his contributions to the country and Africa in general, Tony Elumelu has been rewarded with several awards and recognitions.

Awards

As a renowned entrepreneur, Mr. Elumelu has won many awards, including the following;

  • African Business Investor of the Year by the African Investor Magazine in 2008
  • African Banker of the Year in the 2008 African Banker Magazine award
  • Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards in 2013
  • African Business Icon at the 2013 African Business Awards
  • ESI Most Influential Figures in African Power’ list, 2015
  • A Lifetime Achievement Award on 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
  • He is also known to be the first African to receive the Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Entrepreneurship Award

Recognitions

  • In 2003, Tony Elumelu was granted the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the Federal Government of Nigeria
  • National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2012
  • Then In 2009, the late Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’adua asked him to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis
  • Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People, by Forbes Magazine in 2012
  • Listed among the 100 Most Influential Africans in Business by the New African Magazine in 2012
  • 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time in 2020
  • On two occasions, Mr. Elumelu had been listed among the Top 10 richest black people in the world and the wealthiest people in Nigeria

In addition to his achievements and awards, the Nigerian bigshot has a luxurious jet, which he comfortably acquired in 2015. Elumelu’s Flacon 7x is not just a means of transportation but also a place where the businessman works during travels as he’s often seen studying with pen and paper on the plane.

Tony Elumelu is Happily Married to Dr. Awele Vivien Elumelu

While Tony Elumelu has become incredibly successful in his career, he is also a happily married man. The chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) is married to Dr. Awele Vivien Elumelu. The couple tied the knot in 1993 after dating for a while. However, the details of their relationship have not been shared with the media. More so, where their wedding took place and the kind of wedding they had is also not known.

Awele is a Nigerian medical doctor, born in 1964, and is currently 58 years old. She is a graduate of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Benin in Edo State, Nigeria. Her areas of specialization include medicine, surgery, gynaecology, emergency medicine, paediatrics, and obstetrics. Dr. Awele has also worked with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and Grantham and District Hospital, Grantham in the United Kingdom.

Nothing much is known about her background, parents, and siblings. She rose to prominence as the wife of the founder of Tony Elumelu’s Foundation, Tony Elumelu. Nevertheless, Vivien is no complacent or lazy woman whose whole world revolves around the activities and achievement of her husband alone, but she also takes up responsibilities that get her to the front scene. She is the Chairman and CEO of Avon Medical Services Limited, a healthcare investment arm of Heirs Holdings.

The Couple Has Seven Adorable Children

For a marriage that has lasted for 29 years and still counting, Tony Elumelu and his beautiful wife are proud parents to seven children, including five girls and two boys. The couple has a set of triplets (girls) and a set of twins (boys). Although nothing much is known about his children, it won’t be a surprise to see them take after their parents in the future.

As a father, Tony loves his children so much and is always present when they need him most. His busy schedule does not take him away from his family; he spends quality time with them. The lovely couple has been called Africa’s Power Couple by CNN as they continue to gain attention globally through their works of empowering African entrepreneurs.

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