Tony Elumelu

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Tony Elumelu

Elumelu in 2020
Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu

(1963-03-22) 22 March 1963 (age 60)
Alma materAmbrose Alli University,
University of Lagos
Occupation(s)Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation
Years active1987–present
Known forFounding The Tony Elumelu Foundation

Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu CFR (born 22 March 1963) is a Nigerian economist, and philanthropist. He chairs Heirs Holdings,[1] Transcorp, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and is the founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.[2]

In 2020, Elumelu was named on Time's list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[3]

Early life[edit]

Childhood and family[edit]

Elumelu was born in Jos, Plateau, Nigeria, on 22 March 1963, to Suzanne and Dominic Elumelu from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. [4][5] He grew up with four siblings, one of whom is Ndudi Elumelu, a minority leader in the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives. [6][7]


He studied Economics at Bendel State University (now Ambrose Alli University) obtaining a Bachelor of Science with a Lower Second Class (2:2). Afterward, he studied and received a Master of Science degree in Economics at the University of Lagos.[8]


Early career[edit]

Elumelu worked in the Nigerian Bank Union Bank as a Youth Corp member during his National Youth Service Corps in 1985, before starting his career as a salesman. Elumelu subsequently joined Allstates Trust Bank.[9] in 2005 and United Bank for Africa (UBA) was acquired afterwards.[10]

On his early career, he has said:

I started my career as a salesman, a copier salesman to be specific, young, hungry, and hardworking, but the reality was that I was just one of the thousands of young Nigerian graduates, all eager to succeed.[11]

In 1997, Elumelu led a small group of investors to take over a struggling Crystal Bank (later renamed Standard Trust Bank). He turned it profitable within a few years and in 2005, after being given $20 million from businessman Femi Otedola, he led one of the largest mergers in the banking sector in Sub-Saharan Africa by acquiring United Bank for Africa (UBA). [12][13]

United Bank for Africa[edit]

Following the merger of Standard Trust Bank and United Bank for Africa in 2005, Elumelu led the company as Group Managing Director from a single-country banking group to a pan-African bank with subsidiaries in 20 African countries, France, the U.S and the U.K, eventually stepping down in 2010. [14][15]

Elumelu currently chairs the board of the United Bank for Africa.[16][17]

Heirs Holdings[edit]

In 2010, he founded Heirs Holdings, his family-owned investment holding company. Elumelu also established in the same year the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based foundation championing entrepreneurship in Africa.[18] Heirs Holdings maintains a portfolio of investments across several sectors.[19][20] Through Heirs Holdings, Elumelu holds a controlling interest in Transnational Corporation, a diversified conglomerate with business interests in Power, Hospitality and Energy.[21]

Transcorp Plc[edit]

On April 14, 2021, Elumelu was officially handed the Certificate of Discharge of the iconic hospitality facility. The National Council on Privatization (NCP), which is chaired by the Vice President of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, handed over full ownership of Transcorp Hotels to the Chairman after fulfilling all privatization conditions attached to the sale of the property in 2005.[22]


Elumelu speaks in 2022

The Tony Elumelu Foundation[edit]

Following his retirement from United Bank for Africa in 2010, Elumelu founded The Tony Elumelu Foundation. The Tony Elumelu Foundation promotes entrepreneurship in Africa. The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s belief that the private sector’s role is critical for Africa’s development is hinged on the economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which was introduced by Elumelu; "that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth."[23]

In 2015, Elumelu committed $100 million to create 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa over the next 10 years through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme - a Pan-African entrepreneurship initiative designed to empower African entrepreneurs through a multi-year programme of training, funding, and mentoring.[24]

Awards and honours[edit]

Elumelu has received recognition and praise for his contributions to business and entrepreneurship.

  • In 2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria granted Elumelu the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic MFR, a national honour.[25]
  • In 2012, he was awarded the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger CON for his service in promoting private enterprise.[26]
  • He was awarded the Daily Times, Nigerian man of the year in 2016.[27]
  • In 2018 and 2019 he was awarded the All-Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) Philanthropist of the Year Award[28]
  • Bayero University Kano (BUK) - Honorary Doctor of Business degree in 2019[29]
  • He was honored with the National Productivity Order of Merit Award in 2019.[30]
  • TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.[31]
  • On 11 October 2022, Elumelu received the National honour of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic.[32]


  1. ^ "THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF 2020 - Tony Elumelu". TIME. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Tony Elumelu Archives - The Nation Newspaper". Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  3. ^ "Tony Elumelu: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  4. ^ "Gov. Okowa eulogises Tony Elumelu at 55". The Eagle Online. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Tony Elumelu: The Quintessential Leader". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  6. ^ "20 things about Tony Elumelu, man of means who donates billions". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  7. ^ "National Assembly | Federal Republic of Nigeria". Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  8. ^ "50th Anniversary: Day Unilag Alumni Association Celebrated Distinguished Members". University of Lagos. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  9. ^ syd uk · 5 January 2015 (5 January 2015). "Tony Elumelu: the African you Need to know". Retrieved 17 March 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Africa, United Bank for. "Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N". UBA Group. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  11. ^ Tony Elumelu (2 January 2019). "Years of spreading luck – everyone needs a little help". The Cable. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Elumelu is MD of UBA - Merger of UBA/STB". Proshare. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  13. ^ "Nigerian Billionaire Tony Elumelu Commits $100 Million To Create 10,000 African Entrepreneurs In 10 Years". Forbes. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Meet Tony Elumelu, Africa's Frontline Business Leader". Forbes. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  15. ^ "Access Bank, UBA, GTB… the Nigerian banks making inroads in Africa". The Africa Report. 11 June 2021. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Elumelu returns to UBA as Board Chairman". Premium Times. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  17. ^ Africa, United Bank for. "Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N". UBA Group. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Meet Tony Elumelu, Africa's Frontline Business Leader". Forbes. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  19. ^ "Private Sector – Heirs Holdings". USAID. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Heirs Holdings - About us". USAID. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Elumelu: The Rise, Impact Of A Pan-African Entrepreneur". Leadership. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Transcorp hotels fulfils post privatisation obligations". 15 October 2019.
  23. ^ Amaeshi, Kenneth; Okupe, Adun; Idemudia, Uwafiokun (7 June 2018). Africapitalism: Rethinking the Role of Business in Africa. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107160705. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  24. ^ "Nigerian Billionaire Tony Elumelu Commits $100 Million To Create 10,000 African Entrepreneurs In 10 Years". Forbes. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  25. ^ "Tony Elumelu: The making of a business ambassador". The Cable. 14 January 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  26. ^ "Adenuga Bags GCON". This Day. 10 September 2012. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  27. ^ "Why Elumelu won Daily Times Nigeria Man-of-the-Year 2016". Daily Times. 8 January 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  28. ^ "All Africa Business Leaders Awards announce 2018 West African Finalists". Daily Times. 7 November 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  29. ^ "BUK to honour Tony Elumelu with an Honorary Doctorate Degree". Premium Times. 6 June 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  30. ^ "Elumelu to Receive National Award". Thisday. 27 November 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  31. ^ "THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF 2020 - Tony Elumelu". TIME. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  32. ^ "Full List of 437 Nominees for Nigeria's National Honours Awards 2022". PR Nigeria. 11 October 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.