Charles Ajunwa writes that Tony Elumelu who lately attained 58 Decades, is affecting the world positively through his philanthropic activities
If you partake in entrepreneurial discussions in Nigeria or around the continent, sooner or later, the name Tony O. Elumelu will come up.
Obviously, other titles will pop up as well, however, you’re going to find that none is handled with as much respect and esteem as the title Tony Elumelu is.
Maybe it stems from the collective remembering of his famous dogged entrepreneurial conclusion of turning a hugely failing Nigerian bank about within a rather short time, a move that took the country and market analysts.
Or perhaps it is the fact when you look around you, you are bound to encounter people and businesses which have been grazed by the lush generosity of Elumelu’s philanthropic pursuits.
And those by no means satisfactorily explain the extent of his influence. As he turned 58, taking a look at his life, functions, and achievement is rewarding to set out on.
Born on March 22, 1963, in Jos, Plateau State — a town that’s interestingly the birthplace of some of Nigeria’s brightest minds across sectors like politics, sports, literature, music, broadcasting, and business — Elumelu is a native of Onicha-Ukwu in Delta State. He is also a homegrown achievement.
He gained two Economics degrees from Ambrose Alli University and the University of Lagos and kicked off his career in banking in 1985 as a helping Youth Corps member in Union Bank.
Just over a decade later, he required that much-lauded step of leading a small group of investors to acquire the failing Standard Trust Bank he grew and merged in 2005 to become United Bank for Africa with dozens of subsidiaries in Africa, Paris, London, and New York.
Married to medical physician Awele Vivien Elumelu, and blessed with seven children together, a great deal has been mentioned of Elumelu by a lot of men about his jovial and kind demeanour towards his peers and non-peers alike.
“Entrepreneurship is the very best way to establish true prosperity.” — Tony O. Elumelu, CON
It had been the inherent entrepreneurial drive that led him to do the unthinkable: obtaining a failing bank and turning it around into a massive success story.
The same drive led him to establish Heirs Holdings in 2010 upon his retirement as Group Managing Director from the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc.
Heirs Holdings (HH) is an investment firm owned and mostly run by the Elumelu household. HH intends to enhance lives and change Africa and can so through investment in businesses in the financial services, power, oil & gas, property & hospitality and health care industries.
Heirs Holdings’ operations are based on an economic philosophy regarded as’Africapitalism’, a concept first introduced by Tony Elumelu in 2011 and was formally launched in 2014 at Abuja at the World Economic Forum in Africa.
Africapitalism suggests private sector-led long-term investment in Africa by Africans throughout the promotion of entrepreneurship social venture and local value creation.
It’s on the idea of Africapitalism that the tenets of the philanthropic activities through The Tony Elumelu Foundation are primarily based.
The company version of Heirs Holdings could be traced straight back to Elumelu’s famous rejuvenation of Standard Trust Bank Plc and the eventual merger with UBA.
The company primarily undertakes three kinds of clients/projects: underperforming assets with the aim of preventing growth and endurance, entrepreneurial start-ups, and Joint Venture Partnerships.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe Elumelu as Africa’s most prominent philanthropist, a description lately made by members of the base on his birthday in March.
For how else could you describe a man whose efforts in dressing and funding Africa’s youthful and smartest entrepreneurs has directly impacted 9,000 young people around 54 African countries?
Launched in 2010 as a part of his devotion to the Africapitalism thought, Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is a subsidiary of Heirs Holdings which intends to create new generations of entrepreneurs in Africa. Since its inception, the Foundation has been active in all 54 African nations.
The aims of the organisation tend to be chased through different avenues like research, policy advocacy, communities, and convenings developed to nurture, promote, or finance creation among young Africans.
Examples of these programmes include the annually-organised TEF Forum, a large gathering of entrepreneurs in Africa, in addition to TEFConnect, an electronic hub for entrepreneurs in Africa.
Tony Elumelu, through the TEF, employs his access and massive network in private and public sector circle as resources with which doors are opened and chances for wealth creation are all made available for everybody.
From 2015, Elumelu’s Foundation had introduced that the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, on which he committed $100 million to finance and build the capacity of 10,000 African marketers over in a decade.
Perhaps among the most common compliments, the programme has received is about unique quality for and dedication for identifying, mentoring and financing entrepreneurs around Africa.
The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme currently partners together and shares its strong advanced platform with international organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and GIZ, in generating and sustaining valuable rise and effect on the country.
In addition to TEF Elumelu participates in additional non-profit ventures like the Bretton Woods Committee, the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI), Africa Energy Leaders’ Group (AELG), the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) with Tony Blair, also Called the Blair-Elumelu Fellowship Programme.
In the end, the spread and level of effect that Elumelu has had on the lives of individuals on the continent are unrivalled, and his attempts continue to propagate with every passing year.
Though wealthy, Elumelu’s net worth does not now rank among the top 50 on the continent, yet it can be contended that his prosperity has offered the most value.
As he recently turned 58, possibly his selfless support and dogged attempts will satisfactorily pass the lesson to everyone who fails to find out them: a wealthy man is just as wealthy as the level to which his wealth betters his instant society.
For his contributions, he’s received many awards and honours including two federal honours — Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2003, and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).
In 2012. Back in 2009, he was asked to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis by the then President of Nigeria, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
He has received several Lifetime Achievement Awards in the organisation across the world and appeared on several prominent lists on publications and publications.
But maybe what he is most deserving of all would be the kind words, gratitude, and testimonies his direct heirs give him, some of which are quoted below:
“Dear Tony and the Foundation team, we’re humbled by your INSPIRING course towards enabling entrepreneurs. Many times, in the journey of an entrepreneur, we often overlook ourselves.
However, you believed in us. You re-ignited that fire in our gut to make certain that failure isn’t possible! We wish you good health and long life to keep on touching lives for that’s the sole purpose in life”
“They could have given us some cash and left us to do anything we pleased, however, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme is past the capital.
They’ve taken me from where I was with my small business and are, slowly but surely, moulding me and my company to a fortified powerhouse that can stand strong and be a pioneer in vogue in Africa.”
“Due to Tony Elumelu and TEF, I have achieved major milestones using the first half of 10,000.
My firm was able to partner with two big chemical companies, commenced manufacturing of my packaging, bought a vending machine, employed more staff and started market testing of my merchandise JO-JO powdered detergent, JO-JO liquid laundry, Diamond shampoo and shampoo is also set in motion.
All this I’ve attained with just the first half, and together with the second half, the merchandise will be mass-produced and advertised nationally.
I am quite grateful to Mr Tony Elumelu for thinking in my dreams rather than simply thinking, but also giving me the training and funding to make it a reality”