Tony Elumelu

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Tony O. Elumelu
Born Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu
(1963-03-22) 22 March 1963 (age 54)
Jos, Plateau, Nigeria
Nationality Nigerian
Citizenship Nigerian (1963–present)
Alma mater Ambrose Alli University,
University of Lagos, Lagos
Occupation Chairman & CEO of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, Heirs Holdings & United Bank for Africa
Years active 1987—present
Notable work Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme
Net worth US$700 Million (March 2015)[1]
Spouse(s) Dr. Awele Elumelu
  • Dominic Elumelu (father)
  • Suzanne Elumelu (mother)
Relatives Ndudi Elumelu (brother)

Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu (born 22 March 1963) is a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. Elumelu holds the Nigerian national honours, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). He was recognised as one of "Africa's 20 Most Powerful People in 2012" by Forbes magazine.

Early life and family[edit]

Elumelu was born in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, in 1963. He hails from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. He has two degrees in economics from Nigerian universities,[2][3] a bachelor's degree from Ambrose Alli University and a master of science degree from the University of Lagos. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Programme. Tony Elumelu married Awele Vivien Elumelu, a medical doctor, in 1993, and they have seven children together. He has four siblings, one of whom is Ndudi Elumelu, a former member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives.


In his early career, Elumelu acquired and turned Standard Trust Bank into a top-five player in Nigeria.[4] In 2005 he led the acquisition of United Bank for Africa (UBA), later transforming it from a single-country bank to a pan-African institution with more than seven million customers in 19 African countries.

Following his retirement from UBA in 2010, Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors. In the same year, he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organisation dedicated to the promotion of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship and to enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector across Africa.

In 2011, Heirs Holdings acquired a controlling interest in the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), a publicly quoted conglomerate that has business interests in the agribusiness, energy, and hospitality sectors. Elumelu was subsequently appointed chairman of the corporation.

Elumelu serves as an advisor to the USAID's Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum. He sits on the Nigerian President's Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC). He is also vice-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN),[5] whose formation he was a key driver in, and serves as Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security. He additionally chairs the Ministerial Committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centres across Nigeria, at the invitation of the Federal Government and the Presidential Jobs Board, engineered to create 3 million jobs in one year. He also serves as a member of the Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL) and USAID's Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum.

He was one of the co-chairs of the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, from 11 to 13 May 2016.


The Tony Elumelu Foundation[edit]

Following his retirement from United Bank for Africa in July 2010, Elumelu founded The Tony Elumelu Foundation. His stated objective was to "prove that the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development."[6] The Foundation is charged with the mission of driving Africa's economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector. As a premier pan-African-focused not-for-profit institution,the Tony Elumelu Foundation is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of entrepreneurship and excellence in business leadership across the continent, with initiatives such as The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).[7]

The Foundation deploys its resources to generate solutions to challenges that inhibit the growth of the African private sector. Through its commitment to catalytic philanthropy, the Tony Elumelu Foundation seeks to achieve its mission by enhancing the capacity of African businesses, supporting and driving policies that promote competitiveness, deploying financial capital through impact investments, and educating public and private sector actors through rigorous research.[8]

Other non-profits[edit]

  • Tony Elumelu was a member of the World Economic Forum's Regional Agenda Council on Africa.[9]
  • His presence on the Bretton Woods Committee, which brings together senior leaders in the global banking industry, is recognition of his work on African development.
  • He is a Fellow of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI).[10]
  • He is involved, through his foundation, with the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) in a partnership to strengthen the private sector's role in the economic transformation of select African countries.[11] This partnership is called the Blair-Elumelu Fellowship Programme.
  • He is co-chair of the Africa Energy Leaders' Group (AELG)
  • Elumelu is a Trustee of the Infant Jesus Academy in Delta State, Nigeria.[12]


Elumelu is the originator of the term Africapitalism.[13] According to him, Africapitalism is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector's commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth. Elumelu sees Africans taking charge of the value-adding sectors and ensuring that those value-added processes happen in Africa, not through nationalisation or government policies, but because there is a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who have the vision, the tools and the opportunity to shape the destiny of the continent. He insists that Africapitalism is not capitalism with an African twist; it is a rallying cry for empowering the private sector to drive Africa's economic and social growth.

Elumelu subscribes to Michael Porter's concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV).[14] He studied under Professor Porter at Harvard Business School and Professor Porter is the Founding Patron of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. CSV refers to the idea that "companies must take the lead in bringing business and society back together." It asserts that "businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues (society) face(s)."[15]


In 2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria granted Tony Elumelu the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), a national honour.[16] In 2006, Elumelu was voted African Business Leader of The Year by Africa Investor magazine and was recognised African Banker of the Year in 2008 by African Banker magazine.[17] In 2009, the Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'adua asked him to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis.[18]

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.[19] He was recognised as one of "Africa's 20 Most Powerful People in 2012" by Forbes magazine.[20] In addition, New African magazine featured him in their list of the "100 Most Influential Africans in Business". He was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree from Benue State University and an honorary doctorate of business administration from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.[21]

In 2013, Elumelu received the Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards.[22] He was also named African Business Icon at the 2013 African Business Awards.[23]

ESI-Africa, frequently described as "Africa's power journal", named Elumelu in its 2015 "ESI Most Influential Figures in African Power" list,[24] in January 2015.

At the 5th edition of the annual Economic Forum of the Ivorian National Council of Employers, CGECI Academy, (CGECI) in Abidjan in April 2016, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.[25]

Writings and books[edit]

  • How to Excel at Work – Proven strategies for achieving superior work performance] by Bili A. Odum – a book inspired by Elumelu's work ethics.

Elumelu has contributed to the Nigeria Leadership Initiative White Papers, writing on Leveraging private sector approaches in transforming government delivery.[10]

He has written about his philosophy and the economic development of Africa for several publications around the world including The Economist,[27] The Wall Street Journal[28] and The Financial Times.[29]

  • The TOE Way: A handbook that offers insights into Elumelu's philosophies, business practices, values and secrets of success, written by the man himself.


  1. ^ "Tony Elumelu" at Forbes.
  2. ^ "Tony Elumelu – Ex CEO UBA Group". Financial Freedom Inspiration. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "THE YOUNGEST Nigerian CEO of a commercial bank | Nigeria Book of Records - Official incredible - Home of Record Breaking". Nigeria Book of Records. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  4. ^ syd uk · 5 January 2015 (5 January 2015). "Tony Elumelu: the African you Need to know". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "National Competitiveness Council Meets To Set Agenda For Improving Nigeria’s Business Environment", The Tony Elumelu Foundation, 5 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Tony Elumelu Foundation Set To Commence Operations, Shops For CEO". The Will. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme Launched $100m programme to empower next generation of African entrepreneurs", 1 December 2014.
  8. ^ Ekekwe, Ndubuisi. "Tekedia Report Card on Tony Elumelu Foundation, A Leading African Institution". Tekedia. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "World Economic Forum – IssueBrowserProfiles". Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "NLI | Archive | Policy Papers". 28 May 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Latest News | Africa Governance Initiative". Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "United Bank for Africa PLC" (PDF). Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "Nigeria: Africapitalism", Leadership (Abuja), via, 30 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Rwanda's story of building a shared vision for its future is encouraging". The New Times. 11 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Nigeria Enterprise | Nigerians Biography | Biography/Tony Elumelu". Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "African Banker of the Year". Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "State House Abuja – Photographs". Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "Adenuga Bags GCON". This Day. 10 September 2012. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2016. 
  20. ^ Nsehe, Mfonobong. "Africa's 20 Most Powerful People in 2012". Forbes. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "Africa's Top 40 Global Challengers". 23 November 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  22. ^ "Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards". AIA. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  23. ^ "African Business Awards". African Business. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  24. ^ Simon Echewofun Sunday, "Nigeria: Nebo, Elumelu Others Listed Among Drivers of Africa Power Sector", Daily Trust, via AllAfrica, 1 May 2015.
  25. ^ "UBA Chairman, Elumelu receives recognition for entrepreneurship and support", Daily Post, 30 September 2015.
  26. ^ "Power of Tony's Vision | The News Nigeria". 1 November 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  27. ^ "Middle East and Africa: The rise of Africapitalism". The Economist. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  28. ^ Elumelu, Tony O. (31 July 2014). "Tony O. Elumelu: Africa Is Open for Business, Ready for Investment". WSJ. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  29. ^ "A new framework for a new age", Beyondbrics, FT, 23 January 2015.

External links[edit]