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Men We Should Know: Tony Elumelu

Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is one of Africa’s most respected business leaders. He is well known for his achievements in and contributions to the growth of the banking industry in Nigeria, as well as his promotion of the idea that Africa’s private sector can drive economic growth on the African continent- a view which he refers to as Africapitalism. He is without question one of the most successful entrepreneurs ever to have operated on the Nigerian business scene, and the numerous awards he has won attest to this. In more recent times, he has become more known for his philanthropic work and initiatives he has come up with to promote African entrepreneurship.

Tony Elumelu was born on the 22nd of March, 1963. He was trained as an economist and holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree in that discipline from Ambrose Alli University. He obtained a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos; he is also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School. He has cast his business net over a wide range of investment interests. He founded Hiers Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, agribusiness, real estate and health sectors. This he did after retiring from the United Bank for Africa (UBA) which he had transformed into a significant player in banking on the African continent. In 2011, Hiers Holding gained controlling share in the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp). The Forbes magazine named him as being number 31 on its list of Africa’s 50 richest men in 2015, with a net worth of $700 million.

The rise to prominence for Mr Elumelu came after he helped transform the Standard Trust Bank from a listless commercial entity into a profitable top Nigerian bank in a few years. In 2005, the bank merged with the United Bank for Africa. Under the leadership of Tony Elumelu, the UBA grew into a giant which now has subsidiaries in about 20 African countries, as well as in the United States and the United Kingdom. It was his accomplishments in the world of banking that shot him into the global limelight. He has however remained influential, and his opinion on various matters relating to economic development and the push for entrepreneurial growth are well sought after.

Apart from his involvement in business, Tony Elumelu has also been on the forefront of efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in Africa. After his retirement from the UBA in 2010, he set up the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The foundation seeks to promote private sector driven economic development by helping the private sector improve its competitiveness. One of the avenues by which this non-profit seeks to actualize its aim is the use of organised vehicles such as the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).


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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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