Tony Elumelu: On Africa and the Next Generation of African Billionaire-Entrepreneurs

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“Everything I have today is because of Africa, I was born here, went to school here, I work here and I’m achieving some level of financial comfort here.” ~ Tony Elumelu

Good morning Africa! It’s a Tuesday Morning to rise and shine, and we are featuring one of Africa’s brightest stars who is actively engaged in developing its next wave of entrepreneurs to give you some verve!

Tony Elumelu
Source: Flickr

Tony Elumelu is the man behind the eponymously named foundation: The Tony Elumelu Foundation, and if you do not know about their astounding work with young African entrepreneurs, do keep reading.

Mr. Tony Elumelu, entrepreneur extraordinaire, was born in Jos, Nigeria, in 1963. He obtained his Bachelor degree from the Ambrose Alli University and a Master of Science degree from the University of Lagos. So yes, as his quote proclaims, he was educated here, he could have been you or I, striving with tertiary education with all its hassles, the Nigerian way.

He subsequently attended the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme.

Once upon a time, he was synonymous with the United Bank of Africa, at the very peak, and people must have wondered, “Where else can he go from here? What else can he do?” Several other former bank CEO’s have not had such a journey as he, but that is a story for another day.

Upon his retirement from UBA in 2010, Tony Elumelu, the ever-prepared man [must have been an ardent boy scout cub] founded Heirs Holdings with the primary purpose of investing in financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors.

In the same year, he established the previously mentioned Tony Elumelu Foundation.

His business acumen has not gone unrecognised. 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 and recognised as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” by Forbes Magazine.The New African Magazine also featured him in their list of the “100 Most Influential Africans in Business.

Tony Elumelu
Source: BellaNaija

In 2013, he received the Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards, and also named African Business Icon at the 2013 African Business Awards. In January 2015, ESI-Africa, named him amongst its 2015 ‘ESI Most Influential Figures in African Power’.

Even during his reign at UBA, Mr. Tony Elumelu was not bereft of awards. In 2006, he was voted African Business Leader of The Year by the Africa Investor magazine and was recognised as the African Banker of the Year in 2008 by the African Banker magazine.

Back to the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Always trust a man who goes to power meetings, panels and conferences wearing a red-tie and red socks. After all, red is the colour of the daring, the bold, the persistent, and the unafraid. When the foundation indicated that it was going to raise 1,000 entrepreneurs in Africa and invest  N22 billion in funding as part of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP), not many doubted his capacity and ability to pull it off.

Tony Elumelu
Source: TOE Foundation

The Foundation which  is charged with the mission of driving Africa’s economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of entrepreneurship and excellence in business leadership across the continent.

The TEEP program which has kicked off will include a 2-day boot camp, mentorship sessions, access to a resource library and the Elumelu Entrepreneurship Network as well as an Alumni network, and off course, the seed funding.

Other initiatives of the Foundation include a prize to inspire academic excellence in tertiary institutions, the AfriCapitalism Institute, and the Elumelu Nigeria Empowerment Fund.

An acclaimed Speaker, Mr. Tony Elumelu has authored books and blogs on entrepreneurship including ‘The TOE Way: A handbook that offers insights into Elumelu’s philosophies, business practices, values and secrets of success, written by the man himself’. He also writes on the economic development of Africa for several international publications including The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.

From one of his many speeches, I have culled this excerpt on corporate governance; another pointer to the integrity of the man with the red socks.

“It’s not just enough to have the best policy. Develop the policy but more importantly, practice what you have developed. Ensure that you have a code of assessment and monitoring mechanism to ensure that your corporate governance code is put in place and that the rules to control businesses are actually being complied with. Then you need to allow the policies to work, so you are not putting in policies for just some, but for everybody. It should be no respecter of persons.

So for instance, Transcorp Hotel is one of our subsidiaries and we have some policies that guide the way we operate. I visit Abuja almost every week or two and I stay at the Hilton. I’ve never stayed at the hotel without paying because I must live by example. If they have to give corporate discounts, they give to us when we go. If I submit myself to such level of accountability, people who work under me can’t do otherwise. Sound corporate governance entails that the top must practice what it preaches. So we need to allow policies to work.”

As my Publisher says, ‘Copy Genius!’

Have a fantastic week!

© 2015 – 2017, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.

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