Tony Elumelu: The Journey of Africa’s No. 1 Global Business Citizen

The beginning of a global journey
The man, Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is a globally renowned personality in the space of entrepreneurship. An economist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, he is a capacity builder of men and institutions.He is chairman of Heirs Holdings, United Bank for Africa and Nigeria’s only homegrown conglomerate, Transcorp Plc.

He is a self-starter and a long runner, who has covered one of the longest distances from self-survival to advancement of the African continent and the world. The strength for the run is his titration of business and philanthropy that has produced the desired solution for hatchingentrepreneurship anew in the continent.

He is the founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation from which, he preaches Africapitalism –the injection of lifeblood in young entrepreneurs for the rise of Africa. Unleashing Africa’s potential and giving entrepreneurship a new momentum across the continent constitute one step by a man that means a giant step of hope for a continent that is home to more thanone-sixth of mankind.

Self-drive and ambition are the key words that are found often in people who make it to the hall of fame. Elumelu has them in addition to his intelligence and hard work driven by vision.

He was born on 22nd March 1963 in Jos, Plateau Stateto the familyof Mr. Dominic and Suzanne Elumeluin Onicha-Ugboin Delta State. He was born with an entrepreneurial blood in his veins – his father taught him the principle of saving and his mother, who owned several restaurants, led him through the practical lessons of investing.

He added the third leg of his success tripod – his thirst for knowledge that saw him reading leadership books very early in life. It was a big advantage for him to discover quite early how successful people were able to transform industries and build lasting business empires.

Developing the mindset of people, who grew up with little and yet succeeded in building multi-national companies, equipped him with a rare perspective in life. His different way of thinking and acting has marked the course of his life all the way.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Ambrose Alli University and a Master of Science degree in economics from the University of Lagos. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme.

He recalls that he began his career as a copier salesman, young, hungry but hardworking.He was not just hungry for food and necessaries but for a change of status to change the world around him. He was just one of thousands of young Nigerian graduates, out on the streets for jobs, hoping to succeed.

“How did I get from there to where I am now? Of course, hard work, resilience, a long-term vision - but also luck”, he said.

The inspiring story of his success contains an element of luck. Luck is the bearer of help and he believes that everyone needs a little help. The opportunity he had to begin a career in banking came because of help and luck.

He applied to join Allstates Trust Bank Plc with his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in economics despite being short of the required second class, upper division in his first degree. Making a case for the shortfall, he wrote a forwarding note.

“I know I may not have met the qualifying criteria for the advertised roles but I am intelligent, driven and ambitious and I will make the bank proud. My 2:2 degree does not demonstrate the full extent of my intelligence and ability and I know I can do so much more”.

Moved by his self-confidence, the bank decided to give him a chance despite being ‘unqualified’. He was employed as an entry-level analyst – which was the entry point for a man who was later to take Nigerian banking to the world.

In 12 months of his job at Allstates Trust Bank, the star in Elumelu had begun to shine, even outshine. He became the bank’s youngest branch manager at the time, rising to become its most outstanding regional manager in the 90s.The light of outstanding success has since then continued to illuminate from Nigeria to Africa and to the world. 

In starting out, he had no connections of people to place confidence on; rather he encouraged people to place confidence on him. Two important personalities did and provided him the stepping stones for the great millage he has attained in his career. These were his immediate boss then – Toyin Akin-Johnson and the bank’s then chief executive officer EbitimiBanigo.

Ever since, the confidence has grown and overflowed. He had certificates like many did but the difference was a load of knowledge that many were bereft of.

“They took a chance on me by appointing me as branch manager after an incredibly short time in the bank. My rise to branch manager within a short period is a great story but I know in my heart, I was lucky, as well as deserving”, he said.

Having benefitted from luck, he has become a spreader of help and luck beyond national and continental boundaries. 

The establishment of his foundation in 2010 is an expression of his commitment to helping others. “I promised to leverage the success I have enjoyed to spread luck and hope, provide opportunities and to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs to succeed.

“Without luck in my early career, I would not be the man that I am today. I am a leader and philanthropist today because I encountered people who gave me a chance early in my career. It has been a lifetime goal to pay this forward in a transformative and impactful way.”

For Elumelu, spreading help and opportunities has no geographic boundaries. He is delivering help with expertise to build entrepreneurship capacity across Africa. He represents a new force in social and economic transformation to fill the void in development between the continent and the rest of the world.

He is out on a big bet that the African private sector has, in itself, what it takes to be the primary generator of economic development.The zeal and the vision have given Africa a new chance to rise and a new hope to live.

He is a man, who presently lives more for the global society than for himself. He is an advisor to the USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum. He serves as a member of the Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. He also serves as co-chairman of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on global food security.

He was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Regional Agenda Council on Africa, a Bretton Woods Committee, which brings together senior leaders in the global banking industry.

Through his foundation, he is in partnership with the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative that aims at strengthening the private sector’s role in the economic transformation of select African countries. He is co-chair of the Africa Energy Leaders’ Group.

Elumelu was one of the co-chairs of the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in [Kigali], Rwanda in May 2016. He was part of Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council. He was also vice-chairman of the National Competitive Council of Nigeria- a body which hewas a key driver to its formation.

Additionally, he chaired the ministerial committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centres across Nigeria.He also led the Presidential Jobs Board that went for the big haul – to create three million jobs in one year.

The global view and response to Elumelu for what he has set out to accomplish for Africa and for the world is respect and honour to a man, who is different from the rest. He has rekindled hopes for Africa – a continent that had languished under a long siege of exploitative leadership.

There is in Elumelu a beacon of hope that the continent can self-propel the development functions to square up with the rest of the world. He has charted the course of self-fulfillment and is showing the way for others to follow.

The African wealthy are counted for how much they have; Elumelu has more wealth in the value of people and institutions he has helped to build than in money. The editors of Top 10 Magazine didn’t search too far for people for this type of impact before all thumbs went up for him.

This special edition isn’t a celebration of millions of dollars he might have earned for his outstanding accomplishments. It is in recognition of the exceeding counter cyclical forces he has set in motion to deal with poverty and under development in Africa. It is a revelation of his superior value system when it comes to the best way to build wealth.

It is meant to be a restraint to competitive rankings at Forbesthat fires corruption and denies Nigeria and Africa of the much needed development capital. The purpose is to show forth the Tony Elumelu model in terms of who is truly rich.

His success story is meant to be a beacon of hope to Africans, particularly the youth – that if a man who started out with nothing could attain to the heights of the world’s 100 most influential persons in 2020, according to the latest recognition by Times Magazine, there is hope for Africa and its people. The hope is that this work might propel the springing up of people across Africa who cancommand the critically needed development capital to follow the Elumelu example and swing into action now! It is a call to stop building foreign bank accounts and begin to build people, institutions and society beginning at home.

Coming to Limelight with Standard Trust Bank Ltd

Having given banking a good stead in Allstates Trust Bank, Tony Elumelu was sent over to do to the insurance arm of Ebitimi Banigo’s conglomerate what he had done to banking. He was made executive chairman of Linkage Assurance Limited. His opportunity was however in banking, not insurance. It was from this position that he saw an opportunity to invest in a struggling bank with his closest friends, Messrs. Chuka Onwucheka and Albert Okumagba.

His exploits in banking worked out for him a strong foundation for an outstanding career in the industry. From his position as a branch manager, he could affirm that in the business of financial services, management makes all the difference.

It therefore follows that a sufficient dose of good management superimposed on run down bank will bring it back to life. This was the hypothesis that Elumelu was on a mission to prove at a time the Nigerian banking scene was strewn with a number of troubled institutions in the late 1990s.

He could see the banking sector headed for a consolidation and his strategy was to position a company that would structure mergers and acquisitions deals of troubled banks. He formed Banc Garanti Limited together with his group for this purpose.

His first major port of call was then failing Merchant Bank of Commerce, which he restructured and renamed Continental Trust Bank. The next move was the acquisition of Crystal Bank Limited – one of the many distressed banks that strew the financial districts of Lagos by the late 1990s.

The then ailing bank happened to be Elumelu’s opportunity for a dramatic emergence in the Nigerian banking scene. It could have been taken for granted that an application to acquire a distressed bank for a turnaround would receive express approval by the regulators that constantly blew their trumpets on managing financial distress. It didn’t, as regulatory approval for Elumelu’s application was painfully delayed.

System operators do suffer needlessly when regulatory bodies flex muscles to press home their superiority. Between the finance ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria at that time, who had the regulatory mandate to sell distressed banks was in contest.

It was for Elumelu a tensed moment running back and forth between the ministry of finance and CBN trying to make sure what he had put so much into did not become a victim of regulatory discord. The acquisition bid that apparently had all the ingredients of succeeding dragged through various stages and moments of both cheer and gloom.

Persistence paid off at last. Elumelu was able to put together the CBN minimum share capital of N500 million required to acquire the bank and successfully completed the acquisition process in 1997. That turned out to be one bank saved from a crowd of commercial and merchant banks that crossed into the corporate graveyard in that year and in the next.

The emergence of a team of young, ambitious managers on the Nigerian banking space was nothing for the well-established industry leaders to bother themselves about in 1997. Doubts and skepticism went rift for a young entrepreneur to pick up one of several troubled banks in the marketplace to try his hands where many seasoned bankers had failed along the way.

Elumelu was nonetheless quite convinced of his experimental financial therapy. Technical insolvency is curable and even capable of self-healing with consistent profit through time.

He apparently laid the ailing bank on the master surgeon’s table, injected it with new liquidity and gave it a living name – Standard Trust Bank Ltd [STB]. As the bank came back to life, he gave it a quickening spirit – an aggressive marketing push that set it attacking and defending market share.

He redesigned the bank’s service framework to give it competitive niche and tentacles it had lacked in the business.Thus began the journey to the actualization of the vision of building Africa’s global bank.

He led the bank to develop firm footings in two new service areas that were yet to be explored even in a market that was labeled overcrowded and saturated. These are management of public sector accounts – which opened a new window of rapid growth in low cost liabilities and personalized financial services – which seized clients from other banks in yet a new dimension in competition.

Having re-positioned the bank on a viable path, Elumelu began to add new arms and extensions on the competitive field and to increase its operating speed.These actions began to register great impacts in the industry to the point that got him and his bank noticed as a force to reckon with in the competitive space.

Banking services had gone a long way in the direction of customer orientation by the time Elumelu came on stream. Yet he gave it a new momentum in that direction. He applied innovative services to increase the length and breadth of banking services to a willing market.

The market responded positively – putting in his hands resources that set the bank growing well ahead of the industry leaders. Elumelu’s hypothesis was proven – good management brings a troubled bank back to life. STB became a reference mark in corporate turnaround from the brink of collapse to a high growth driver, excelling in service quality and products innovation.

In barely seven months from takeover, STB sped off from N6.49million asset base to become a N473-million bank. In a space of three years, it closed with a balance sheet size of over N40 billion with annual profit in excess of N1 billion.

Excelling in entrepreneurship involves identifying what people need and providing it. Elumelu did just that with state governments. He detracted from the general industry trend of branch concentration in commercial locations but planted STB branches across all the states of the federation.

That positioned his bank to provide credit facilities to state and local governments, securing the facilities with Irrevocable Standing Payment Orders tied to the monthly financial allocations of state and local governments from the federation account. This gave the bank a large, virgin market in an otherwise over saturated financial services industry.

By mid-2004, STB was already the 5th largest bank in Nigeria. Elumelu then raised the stake – to become one of Nigeria’s three largest banks with a 150-branch network in five years. The listing of the bank on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2003 was a strategic move in pursuit of the new vision.

In 2004, the bank added more than N10.7 billion in new money to its equity base through a public offer and reserve build up. With that, Elumelu positioned the bank to explore M&A options with the top three banks at that time. He rolled out a five-year strategic plan that flagged off the commencement of the bank’s second phase of growth.

Exploits in banking – from single-country to pan-African institution

UBA House, Marina, Lagos

The bank maintains an edge in its global operations, being the only sub-Sahara Tony Elumelu had raised a competitive disquiet with his Standard Trust Bank’s emergence in the marketplace. The dust wasn’t settling and other banks were yet trying to dress up to the new code in competition when in 2005 the man launched the biggest competitive assault that changed the Nigerian banking industry structure and market share. He steered a merger of STB and United Bank for Africa Plc, setting the pace for banking industry consolidation that soon followed.

Then, the Nigerian banking industry was made up of new generation banks that were rapidly building market share and the old generation banks that were struggling to defend their territories. The newcomers had come with innovative financial services that excited the market but the old brigades, with their large retail network, still held dominant market shares.

There was strength in size but quality in smallness. Elumelu went into his financial engineering laboratory and came out with a cross breed: a combination of the large size of an old generation bank that offered a critical mass and the high quality service of a new generation bank.

The combination of the two gave him the weight and the speed he needed to advance the quality of financial services to a global level. This historic corporate titration added the high growth drive of STB to the massive business volume of UBA.

This was reckoned as the largest amalgamation in the banking business in sub-Saharan Africa. The end product was the creation of a new UBA in 2005and its transformation as a pan African institution. While other banks were stirred by the regulatory-induced consolidation of the Nigerian banking that soon followed, UBA was already set for a global mission.

The new UBA towers as one of the largest financial services organizations in Africa,operating in 19 African countries, as well as New York, London and Paris. When it comes to who is rightly the whiz kid in Nigerian banking, Eumelu is a name that rings a bell. He is outstanding for having built a bank that wears the corporate personality as Africa’s global bank.

The towering corporate name has emerged all the way from the backyard: from a bank that was losing its local market share to a dominant financial services institution doing exploits in the global market. At the end of the first quarter in March 2020, UBA was a N6.3 trillion bank with a net customer lending position of N2.2 trillion financed by customer deposits in excess of N4 trillion and an equity cushion of over N612 billion.

The accomplishment has clearly established Elumelu in a place of honour in the history of Nigerian banking. He is outstanding in his ability to pick up the smallest business idea and blow it up beyond recognition. He entered Nigerian banking with just a mustard seed in his hands – too insignificant to attract attention. Yet, with that, he has dramatically reconfigured the industry’s operating structure and took over the leadership of one of the nation’s largest banks.

Elumelu came into banking on a mission to accomplish backed by a strategy for action, which competitors never imagined was possible from a newcomer nursing a dying bank. It takes a vision to rightly define and successfully drive a corporate purpose through the thick and thin of the operating difficulties and regulatory policy hurdles that have strewn the path of Nigerian banking. It takes a well-defined strategy to act once the opportunity presents itself.

Elumelu’s success formula is his ability to think big but begin small. He painstakingly worked on his dream to rule the banking industry unnoticed and when the opportunity came, he struck in what can be described as a business coup. This sums up the corporate story of how Elumelu has moved from an insignificant job of reviving a troubled bank in 1997 to presiding over one of Africa’s largest banks.

Elumelu is acknowledged as one of the most influential corporate leaders in Nigeria and a prolific African entrepreneur of the new generation. His accomplishment in picking up and nurturing a mustered banking seed to become a great oak in the African market gives him an enviable top ranking in the evolutionary journey of Nigerian banking. This has earned him presence on the Breton Woods committee, which is made up of senior leaders in the global banking industry.

Records of firsts firing up growth

UBA has a track record of firsts in its operating history that have given it the prime positioning in the marketplace as Africa’s global bank. It is the first Nigerian Bank to make an initial public offer and to list in the Nigerian Stock Exchange as far back as 1970, defining the future for the banking

industry. It is the first Nigerian bank to issue Global Depository Receipts (GDRs).

The new UBA is a product of the biggest business combination in the banking business in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005. It was the first to emerge in Nigeria’s banking consolidation era of building megabanks.

The creation of the new bank flagged off its transformation as a pan-African institution. UBA stands as Nigerian-headquartered pan-African Bank with footprints across 19 African countries in addition to its global presence in the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

The bank employs one of the most robust digital banking platforms in Africa to serve about 11 million customers in the retail, commercial and corporate market segments in 22 countries. The size of the group balance sheet has multiplied more than 10 times from the post consolidated position of N600 billion in 15 years.

With a huge human resource capacity of 12,745 staff at its command, UBA offers a range of financial services and pension fund custodian services. It has one of the largest retail service networks in Africa with 614 business offices, 2,200 ATMs and 13,500 POS machines in addition to robust online and mobile banking as well as social media.

The bank’s vision to be the leading and dominant financial services institution in Africa is continually being achieved through pioneering steps that set the pace for the banking industry. UBA pioneered the twitter alert in Nigeria, as it is renowned for leveraging on cutting-edge technology and social media platforms to exceed customers’ expectations.

African bank with deposit taking license in the United States. UBA continues to invest and grow globally with over N103 billion invested in subsidiaries around the world at the end of June 2019.

Kennedy Uzoka

UBA’s pan-African expansion strategy has hoisted its flag in a growing number of African countries outside Nigeria. These include Republique du Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Congo Brazzaville and Congo DRC. Others are Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya and Liberia. The rest are Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Tchad, Uganda and Zambia.

All the African subsidiaries outside Nigeria are grouped under rest of Africa geographic segment and now contribute a significant part of the bank’s earnings. The rest of the world segment covers the group’s operations in Europe and America and represents its high growth zone.

The percentage contribution of earnings from the Nigerian market segment faces a gradual decline as the bank expands globally. The rest of Africa segment contributed over N166 billion to gross earnings in 2019, maintaining its percentage contribution in the region of 30over the past two years. The segment also produced over N40.9 billion or 46 percent of the group’s after tax profit of N89 billion in 2019, rising from 40 percent in 2018.

The rest of the world segment also maintains a rapid growth in a journey into the global banking space. Revenue from the segment grew by 25.4 percent in 2019 to about N17.8 billion. The bank recognizes this segment as a high growth area with great potentials to materially contribute to group revenue in the years ahead.

Given the growing contributions of the two external markets to earnings, the proportionate contributions of the domestic market segment to revenue and profit have declined from 78.8 percent and 80.7 percent in 2015 to 71.6 percent and 63 percent in 2019 respectively.This is an indication that the subsidiaries outside of Nigeria are increasingly gaining market share. The developments are taking UBA to its chosen operational definition as Africa’s global bank.

Diversification across markets and geography is UBA’s strategy to maintain operating stability and growth in the volatile economic and financial market environments facing every country in the world today. The bank’s leadership seems to have foreseen the challenges and charted a strategic course to take advantage of emerging opportunities globally.

Banking in volatile markets is where who leads a bank makes the difference in delivering growth and stability out of the volatility. African markets have been particularly unstable in the past several years but Elumelu has continued to make good his promise to shareholders to adapt and make the most of opportunities in each region.

The bank’s earning structure affirms that the strategy of global diversification is delivering growth and operating stability at home. He charts the course for new growth functions to drive defiant growth pedestal that beats the competition.

The bank’ latest report in March 2020 recorded a high speed growth of N747 billion in the size of the balance sheet in three months to N6.4 trillion. A build up in earning assets led the expansion in asset base, driving a strong growth in revenue and profit. The bank boasts customer credit portfolio in the region of N2.2 trillion and an investment portfolio of close to N2 trillion.

The history of UBA dates back to 1947 when British and French Bank for Commerce and Industry, a French bank operating in London sponsored a mission to Nigeria on the feasibility of setting up a banking business. Following a favourable report by the mission, the bank opened a branch office in Nigeria in 1948.

The bank received a strong patronage from French speaking West Africa, French enterprises and nationals as well as Indian traders. In 1956, the bank dropped ‘Commerce and Industry’ from its name and became British and French Bank. It experienced rapid growth and by 1961 it had built 10 branches in Nigeria.

Also in 1961 it was incorporated locally as United Bank for Africa Limited with a capital base of £1.5 million, which was the statutory minimum capitalization requirement at that time. The capital base was soon raised to £2.0 million, which was subscribed by five international banks.

The banks were British and French Bank, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Montedel di Sciena, Bankers Trust Co. of New York and Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank. Following the merger of three French banks in 1966, UBA was left under London control and that continued until the indigenisation policy came into force in 1973.

UBA, under Elumelu, has carved for itself a leading role in private and public sector partnerships aimed at supporting the acceleration of Africa’s economic development. Having registered its African footprints in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, the bank has positioned as a rallying point for Africans, African businesses and players in the global and other emerging markets.

Elumelu’s promise with UBA is to make banking simple, fast and convenient across its diverse service channels.The bank is one of the first three Nigerian-listed entities to be certified for strong governance by the joint assessment team of CBN/NSE.

Heirs Holdings –Born of Innovation


Tony Elumelu retired from United Bank for Africa Plc as chief executive officer in 2010 when his vision of attaining a global reach in business geared up to a new speed. He expanded his scope of investments beyond financial services, beyond Nigeria to Africa and to the rest of the world.

In that year, he founded Heirs Holdings, his family owned investment company with investment interests across the key sectors of the economy across twenty three countries worldwide. UBA became a component of Heirs Holding’s portfolio that spans financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness and healthcare.

The company focuses on long-term investments in Africa’s most strategic sectors. Elumelu believes that long-term investments in these particular sectors of the economy would spread wealth within communities and ensure a stable and prosperous economy.

The portfolio includes Elumelu’s philanthropic foundation that catalyses entrepreneurship across Africa, through its USD $100million entrepreneurship programme, advocacy and research. The programme is designed to ensure that unique, impactful business ideas become actual businesses and that the continent takes a laudable step forward in the global economy.

Heirs Holdings became the vehicle of Elumelu’s entrepreneurship drive, unlocking the power of the nation in key sectors of the economy. Through deployment of long-term capital in strategic sectors, the corporation sets out to deepen and widen economic value creation to deliver financial returns with social value. It leverages local inputs of which human capital is central to create high value supply chains.

It has a regional connectivity focus that seeks to maximize the space of the value creation through development of cross-border infrastructure and policy consistency. The value building endeavour is again given a multi-generational focus to make it happen not just presently but also in the future.

It is in all a shared purpose through collaboration to create conditions that quicken the African private sector into action.Heirs Holdings currently employs over 30,000 people and continues to invest in the lives of people in Africa and beyond.

Elumelu is spreading like a gospel his philosophy of Africa pitalism across Africa – the concept of private sector enthronement as the key enabler of economic and social wealth creation in the continent.Shaped by this philosophy, the company invests for long-term, combining deployment of strategic capital with expertise in industry operations and business turnaround to quicken the companies where it invests.

Financial services

A large financial services operation is strategic to Heirs Holdings in its mission to empower capacity building for enhanced economic growth in Africa. It focuses on mobilizing development capital and channeling it to critical sectors for tackling infrastructure deficit in the continent.

By addressing the growth limiting infrastructure gap, the company is working to power Africa to prosperity. UBA’s presence in the portfolio with its large pan-African banking network permits the capacity building endeavour across the continent. The extensive reach in commercial banking services is further extended and complemented by the inclusion in the portfolio of investment banking, asset management and insurance services across the continent.

Other members of the financial services group apart from UBA are Africa Prudential Plc, a share registration services company listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It is a leading name in the management of company registers for a number of corporate and institutional clients in the Nigerian capital market.

Heirs Insurance Brokers, is an independent brokerage company offering both insurance brokerage and risk management services. It operates across the short- and long-term insurance markets.

United Capita Plc is a financial and investment services group that operates four business lines. These are investment banking, asset management, trusteeship and securities trading.

Heirs Life Assurance Limited, registered in July 2020 for life business underwriting.

Heirs Insurance Limited, registered in July 2020 for general risk underwriting.

Emmanuel Nnorom
CEO Heirs Holdings

Transcorp Energy was established in 2008 and it is on a mission to spearhead Transcorp’s entry into the upstream petroleum sector. The energy sector operations cover upstream, midstream, downstream and gas-to-power through three subsidiaries. These are Transcorp Energy Ltd, Tenoil Petroleum and Energy Services and Transcorp Power Ltd. Through their integrated operations, the group is actively improving lives and transforming the continent one community at a time.


Heirs Holdings has invested in the power sector where it has undertaken a big role in giving electricity to Africans across the continent. Africa is home to roughly1.35 billion people and about 600 million of the population lack access to reliable electricity.

Elumelu has made a major intervention in the sector in his understanding that reliable supply of energy is critical to the economic and social advancement of Africa. Heirs Holdings has become the leading private sector investor in the US government’s Power Africa Initiative, which is committed to lighting up more homes, businesses, hospitals and schools than ever before across Africa.

Power Africa Initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership between the US government and six sub-Saharan African countries together with the African private sector. The shared objective of this initiative has accelerated investment in Africa’s power sector through the years.

Under Transcorp, Heirs Holdings acquired the 1000 megawatts capacity Ughelli Power plant at a cost of $300 million. It is Nigeria’s largest thermal power plant operated at less than one-third of capacity. Operating four power stations, Transcorp Power is a major player in terms of electricity generated and wheeled to the national grid.

The plan to increase the power generation of the plant from 300mw to over 1070mw has been significantly realized.

Speaking about the acquisition of the plant in 2013, Elumelu said ‘It is a major stride forward and has significance for Nigeria, the region and Obama’s administration, as it represents positive progress in the fulfillment of Power Africa. We are committed to developing Nigeria’s power sector efficiently to meet the increasing demands of our fast-growing economy and improve the living standards of all Nigerians.”

Real estate & hospitality

Real estate and hospitality is another major area of investment by Heirs Holdings. Its mission here is to bridge the shortage of residential and commercial properties in Africa now and in the future. Africa is experiencing rapid urbanization with the urban population projected to reach the one billion mark by 2040.

Africa is therefore expected to beat the rest of the world in terms of increase in the demand for real estate. Elumelu has positioned Heirs Holdings to face the challenges in view as well as take advantage of the opportunities unfolding.Its investments in property development and facility management services are made through Afriland Properties Plc and Transcorp Hotels Plc.


Healthcare is another major area of investment by Heirs Holdings for the development of world-class health facilities, equipment and services. The objective is to create access to quality and affordable healthcare services in Africa.

Africa’s huge population has both the advantage of market power and the challenge of reliable and accessible healthcare. Elumelu is investing in the sector in order to secure a healthy population and workforce for Africa now and in the future.

Healthcare services are operated through Avon HMO and Avon Medical. Avon HMO is a dynamic health maintenance organizations (HMO) licensed by the National Health Insurance Scheme to operate as a national HMO.Avon Medical is committed to meeting the managed care needs of patients and corporate clients in Nigeria and Africa.


Heirs Holdings also has philanthropy in its portfolio, which is designed to support the work of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). It takes it upon itself to empower African entrepreneurs.

Founded in 2010, TEF has pioneered a new approach to philanthropy in Africa. Its flagship programme—The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme—is an investment in Africa’s future with $100million commitment to identify, fund, mentor and train 10,000 African entrepreneurs in 10 years.

The target is to position Africa’s private sector, led by entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent. It is a commitment to enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector across Africa.

Transcorp Hotel, Abuja

Transcorp –Big from birth

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) was born big in November 2004 with the vision to become a multinational conglomerate – Nigeria’s version of South Korea’s Chaebols. It had the graces of a government-backed and the pomp of a high caliber private sector-governed organization.

The business model of ‘made in the sky and implemented on earth’ saw the institution wobble and fumble in trial and error investments with operating woes. Not until Tony Elumelu’s Heirs holdings acquired a majority stake in the corporation in 2011 did it begin to grow its operational weight to match its oversized cloak.

Transcorp’s mission of “serving the global markets with premier products and services from world-class production facilities based in Nigeria and managed by Nigerians,” was rekindled with the Heirs Holdings new lead. The corporation was re-positioned to benefit from the Heirs Holdings’ experience of managing and sustaining businesses beyond national and continental boundaries.

That kicked off its diversification into the key sectors of the economy, giving it the status of a true conglomerate. The corporation’s focus on acquiring and managing strategic businesses that create long term shareholder value and socio- economic impact was reborn.

Two major developments followed that launched the organization into a key player in the Nigerian economy. The first was the regaining in February 2011 of its revoked ownership of OPL 281 oil block after the payment of the balance of the signature bonus.

Owen Omogiafo
President/CEO Transcorp

The second is the acquisition of Ughelli Power Plant in September 2012 by Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited – a consortium of investors at a cost of $300 million. The Ughelli plant is a thermal power generating plant located in Delta State with installed capacity of 1000mw but then running at 330mwor 8 percent of Nigeria’s total power generation. Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited took over control of Ughelli Power Plant in November 2013 after payment of the balance $225 million bid price in August.

Transcorp group has since begun to reap the rewards of these strategic investments. The energy sector became the largest revenue provider for Transcorp group in 2017 as well as the leading revenue growth driver. The conglomerate’s power sector subsidiary – Transcorp Power Ltd, has achieved a significant increase in power generation after improving its operating capacity and securing improved gas supplies to its power generating plants.

From 505 megawatts in 2016, the company raised its electric power generation to 701 megawatts in 2017. Its target is to exceed 800 megawatts power generation mark by the end of 2018. The elevated revenue capacity provided the strength for a turnaround for the group in 2017 from a loss of over N1 billion in 2016. It has since then been the critical factor in earnings performance for the group.

Transcorp group operates 14 subsidiaries across hospitality, power, agro-allied and oil and gas sectors. It is a combination of power, upstream oil, hospitality and agric businesses and sectors, leveraging the synergies in these fast growing and dominant sectors of the economy to create one of the most fascinating investment portfolios in Africa.

Transcorp Hotels Plc

Transcorp Hotels Plc is the hospitality subsidiary of Transcorp, whichwas incorporated in July, 1994. They are the owners of Transcorp Hilton Abuja and Transcorp Hotels Calabar. Transcorp acquired 51 percent controlling stake in the Hilton, Abuja in December 2005for the sum of $105 million – an equivalent of N13.7billion at that time.

Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja is one of the leaders in Hilton’s global network.Transcorp acquired the 146-room Metropolitan Hotel in Calabar later re-branded Transcorp Hotels Calabar in June 2010.

The conglomerate also entered a deal with Hilton Worldwide to build a new premier hotel in the up-market suburb of Ikoyi, Lagos. Transcorp Hilton Lagos is a full service, 350-room hotel on Glover Road, Ikoyi and Hilton group’s second hotel in Nigeria by Transcorp.

Underpinning the Ikoyi development and extensive refurbishment and upgrade undertaken on of the group’s existing hotels in Calabar and Abuja is a demonstration of  Transcorp group’s commitment to driving growth in real estate and hospitality, a strategic sector for Nigeria’s economic development, according to Elumelu.

His vision is to the new Transcorp Hilton Lagos not an additional world-class venue for the increasing numbers of investors, businessmen and tourists to Nigeria but to create the much-needed jobs for Nigerians, thereby enabling their social and economic development.

Since its establishment, Transcorp Hotels has undergone a number of notable changes and attained some major milestone achievements, including a rebranding in 2007.The company has been positioned to build Africa’s choice hospitality assets underpinned by excellence, entrepreneurship and execution.

Its plan is to focus on domestic expansion in the short- to mid-term and thereafter develop a strong African footprint in highly populated and competitive cities. It is implementing a phased approach in developing high-end hotels and apartments in prime locations, including Ikoyi, Port Harcourt and Abuja.

The company wins a good portion of business travel and tourist traffic in Nigeria with its strong brand, a track record of performance plus its partnership with the Hilton Worldwide for management of its facilities. It is on a mission to transform the hospitality experience across the African continent.

Transcorp Power Limited

Transcorp Power Limited is a key player in Nigeria’s power space and manages Transcorp Plc’s strategic interests in the power sector.​ The company evolved from Ughelli Power Plc a power generating company, which Transcorp won the bid during its privatization in September 2012.

The Ughelli power plant is Nigeria’s largest gas-fired electricity generation asset.The purchase amount of $300 million was part of Heirs Holdings’ investment commitment to USAID’s Power Africa initiative.

Transcorp Power Limited was born in November 2015, through the merger of Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited and Ughelli Power Plc. The merger harmonized the management and operations of Transcorp’s power business for greater efficiency.

Awele Vivian Elumelu
Director, Heirs Holdings

The investment has enhanced the company’s daily power generation from

160mw at the time Transcorp took ownership of the plant in 2013.The mandate was to take it power generation back to producing at its full 972mw installed capacity.

Transcorp Power has carried out capacity-expansion in alliance with General Electric at the Ughelli power plant, which was planned to boost power output by 1000 megawatts in three to five years. The partnership with General Electric – proven experts in power technology development, was aimed at accelerating the achievement of the group’s goals in the power sector, according to Elumelu.

Transcorp Power plans to raise power output to over 3,000mw – which will be the biggest supplier of electricity to the national grid. “We want to be recognized as a company that has contributed to Nigeria achieving one of its most critical developmental needs,” Elumelu said.

Transcorp Energy Limited

Transcorp Energy Limited – established in 2008 for upstream petroleum exploration, operator of OPL281. It is a fully owned subsidiary of the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria. Transcorp acquired the oil block in the 2006 oil bid round of the Department of Petroleum Resources [DPR].

In 2007, DPR revoked the Group’s license for OPL 281, in spite of its payment of an 80 percent signature bonus. Double jeopardy followed with the corporation’s acquisition of 51 percent of NITEL in July 2006, which it found to be a lame dog. It had to pull back from the telecom company and hand it back over to the government.

With two problematic investments at the same time, Transcorp was only a conglomerate in name but single focused on the hospitality business. The stock market paid the company back in its own bad coin of earnings disappointment and marked the stock price all the way down to par.

This situation lingered until 2011 when Heirs Holdings acquired majority stake in the company. Transcorp recovered the oil block early in the year and its energy sector investment programme soon began to yield fruit.

Since then the improved operating performance has pivoted on the company’s energy business.A healthy growth in revenue driven by the energy segment has been the company’s strength for the elevated performance records since 2017.

The coming on stream of the energy business multiplied group revenue more than five times in 2017. It has become the largest revenue provider, accounting for over 83 percent of turnover in 2018 and 73 percent in 2019.

The corporation closed the 2018 financial year with 100 percent profit advance, atN20.6 billion for the year, which was almost at par with all the profits it posted in the preceding four years put together. The drop in revenue and profit in 2019 equally followed the downturn in the energy business in the year.

Teragro Commodities Limited

Teragro Commodities Limited is the agribusiness subsidiary of Transcorp and the operator of the Teragro Benfruit plant in Benue State.  It is Nigeria’s first-of-its-kind juice concentrate plant positioned to exploit the agricultural raw materials available in the area of location.

Elumelu at TEF Forum

The Tony Elumelu Foundation

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is one of the great ideas that were hatched at the retirement of Tony Elumelu from United Bank for Africa in 2010. Established in the same year, the foundation is on a mission to support entrepreneurs and catalyse entrepreneur-led development across Africa.

It is a philanthropic organization, giving philanthropy a continental reach with the commitment to transforming the continent through entrepreneurship. Through the foundation, Elumelu is betting “that the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development.”

The foundation undertakes for itself the role of driving Africa’s economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector. It runs on Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, predicated on the belief that a vibrant and competitive private sector is the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential and to creating sustained social wealth.

The foundation is an intervention organized to drive entrepreneurship as Africa’s 21st century solution. It is an effort of the founder to have human development content in the growth functions of Africa’s economies. Though African economies have been growing well above the rest of the world, the growth could not deliver human development and general improvement in living standards.

Instead, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that extreme hunger, poverty, unemployment and inequality in sub-Saharan Africa have increased at the same time that the continent is showing impressive economic growth numbers. Afro barometer Nigeria – A pan-African independent survey research network, conducted a survey in 34 African countries between October 2011and June 2013 and found that even though poverty rates in sub-Saharan Africa dropped, the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased.

It became a matter of the highest urgency for Elumelu that Africa’s growth be made inclusive, that the prosperity is shared and that development is felt by all. It is his concern that if the dividends of this growth marginalizes and excludes the majority of Africans – particularly the youth – then grave challenges lie ahead.

Vice president Osinbajo, Elumelu and El-Rufia at TEF Forum

For Africa, the reliance on the public sector for wealth creation and economic prosperity has failed. In place of wealth, what the continent keeps receiving are an increasing torture of poverty on the rising population, economic and social crises, corruption in governments and mismanagement of human and natural resources.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, most people can access only very little resources to enable them survive on their own and government support is largely missing. It is therefore a matter of self-struggle through life under which some management to stand, many break along the way and a growing number are rebelling against the system that denies them of a fair opportunity.

The vision of the foundation is to turn the seriously looming challenge into an opportunity by capitalizing on Africa’s demographic advantage. With 200 million people aged 15 to 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world but 60 percent of them are unemployed. This statistic becomes even more dire when young people who are under-employed with low pay and few advancement opportunities are included.

By 2011, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa  
Country % Growth
Angola                   11.1
Nigeria                   8.9
Ethiopia                 8.4
Chad                      7.9
Mozambique        7.9
Rwanda                 7.6
Source: The Economist      

Based on the current growth rate, it is calculated that by 2050, Africa’s population will double to 2.4 billion – making it home to the world’s largest working-age population. Elumelu reckons
that this pool of labour has the potential to be a force for transformative and sustained growth across the continent. It could also be the source of social unrest if nobody stands up and does something in terms of productive engagement.

For Africa to fully harness the potential of this demographic shift, a deliberate, comprehensive effort is needed to create millions of new jobs or other forms of gainful employment. The increasing population means a greater influx of labour workforce, which presents the most pressing short-term challenge in the continent.

African economies that are resource dependent are unable to absorb the millions of young workers who enter the labour force each year.  Yet the potential in an increasing population is the human capital and the opportunity to create new industries and expand economies. Africa therefore faces a risk to peace and stability that can be turned into a huge opportunity for economic and social growth.

Making this happen is the central purpose of the Tony Elumelu Foundation – setting the pace for Africa’s public and private sectors to partner to turn the continent’s demographic into a rising and energetic generation that can be used to transform the continent for the better.

It is projected that by 2050, Africa’s youth alone will constitute over a quarter of the world’s labour force. This will require the creation of up to 10 million formal jobs in the continent annually, as more young people enter

the job market. This has little or no chance of happening under the current economic growth models, as the fastest growing Africa’s economies also have some of the highest levels of youth unemployment.

The situation presents the gap in Africa’s development trajectory that Tony Elumelu Foundation has stepped out to bridge. “The only way we can achieve the objective of actively engaging most of Africa’s youth as well as the ultimate goal of a more inclusive society is by unleashing the potential of Africa’s entrepreneurs to take the initiative and build the kind of companies that will rise to meet the increasing needs of Africa’s young and growing population”,  Elumelu said.

This, he has espoused in his Africapitalism philosophy in which the African private sector must take up the leading role in the continent’s economic and social development. It encompasses
the role of African governments to create policies that facilitate personal initiative for the private sector to foster entrepreneurship and be competitive.

The foundation aims at promoting truly pan-African institutional philanthropy. It deploys its resources to generate solutions to challenges that inhibit the growth of the African private sector. Through his commitment to catalytic philanthropy, Elumelu seeks to achieve the mission of the foundation by enhancing the capacity of African businesses, supporting and driving policies that promote competitiveness, deploying financial capital through impactful investments and educating public and private sector actors through rigorous research.

Entrepreneurship is the instrument that Elumelu is both recommending and applying to change the fortunes of millions of Africans. He strives to ensure that entrepreneurship development goes hand in hand with improving the conditions in which people are struggling to bring their ideas to life.

This is expected to not only increase the chances of success in business but also enhance the overall business climate, facilitate additional foreign investment and encourage even more
Africans to take the leap to self-empowerment through entrepreneurship.

“As an entrepreneur myself, I understand what it feels like to yearn for a lifeline, to hope for a big break, to look forward to enjoying some luck”, Elumelu said. To him and his foundation,rapid and massive entrepreneurship development across Africa holds the keys to unlocking the continent’s economic potential.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation has therefore committed itself to entrepreneurship development in Africa since it launched the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme [TEEP] in January 2015. The programme, which has been running since then, has invested $60 million in 6000 selected entrepreneurs across 20 countries in Africa.

Another 4000 aspiring entrepreneurs are planned to join the Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs over the remaining four years of the 10-year programme. Another $40 million is also to be invested in them, summing up to the $100 million intervention fund under TEEP.

Another programme initiative of TEF is The Elumelu Professionals Programme, which began as the African Market Internship Programme. It was an initiative that reflects the foundation’s commitment to the development and celebration of African business leadership.

It was an MBA internship programme designed to improve the competitiveness of small and growing African enterprises while introducing some of the world’s brightest new business management talents to the growth opportunity that African markets present.

The programme placed students from Africa’s top business schools and students from top-tier business schools in Europe and the United States into highly structured 10-week internship programmes in African companies. During their assignments, the interns built actionable knowledge and helped to facilitate high-level decision-making to contribute to the host firms’ success.

The programme matched the unique skills of each intern with the particular needs of each participating host business to tackle the most pressing business issues identified by the management teams. This ranged from formulating business strategies, marketing new products to developing African growth strategies and more.

The programme was unique in bringing both African and international business students together, building bridges and opening horizons for all involved. This programme, which was active from 2011 to 2014, served the foundation’s core mission of equipping the next generation of African private sector champions for success.

The rise of Africapitalism – Empowering Africa

Tony Elumelu is the originator of the concept of Africapitalism – an economic philosophy that places the future of Africa squarely on the hands of its private sector. It embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create economic prosperity and social wealth. Africapitalism is predicated on the belief that Africa’s private sector can and must play a leading role in the continent’s development functions.

Under the philosophy, Elumelu is pressing as powerfully as he can to see Africans take charge of the value-adding sectors and ensure that the value-added processes happen in the continent. He insists that they shouldn’t happen through nationalizations or government policies but because there is a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who have the vision, the tools and the opportunity to reshape the destiny of the continent.

By Africapitalism, Elumelu isn’t out to give capitalism an African flavour; it is for him and for Africa a rallying cry for empowering the private sector to break forth and drive the continent’s economic and social growth.

Africapitalism leans significantly on Professor Michael Porter’s concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV). Elumelu studied under Porter at Harvard Business School and Porter is the founding patron of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.

The concept of shared value avers that companies should take the lead in bringing business and society back together. It catechizes that “businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues society faces.”

By Africapitalism, Elumelu is making an aggressive demand for Africa’s rising. The principles of Africapitalism covey the message for a sleeping continent to wake up and run for its own good. These are as follows:

  • Unlock the power of individuals to create and grow their business ideas into successful companies.
  • Deploy patient capital that creates greater and broader economic value as opposed to merely the extraction of resources.
  • Invest in sectors delivering a financial return as well as broader economic and social value – agriculture, power, healthcare, and finance.
  • Conduct investments and business activity in a manner that delivers financial returns to shareholders as well as economic and social benefit to stakeholders.
  • Leverage locally available human and financial capital, raw materials and other inputs that create longer, more integrated and higher-value regional supply chains.
  • Facilitate intra-regional commerce and trade through the development of national and cross-border physical infrastructures and the harmonization of policies and practices.
  • Focus on investments and economic growth strategies that build value for future generations.
  • Foster collaboration between businesses, investors, governments, academia, civil society, philanthropists and development institutions to create conditions that will empower the African private sector to thrive.

Africapitalism is Elumelu’s continental call-to-action for businesses to make decisions that will increase economic and social wealth and promote development in the communities and nations in which they operate. Such a decision will ultimately help businesses become
more profitable as the communities they serve become well-off consumers,healthy and better
educated employees and even entrepreneurs who advance to become suppliers and service providers.

By Africapitalism, Elumelu is preaching it like a gospel that Africa cannot afford any longer to leave the business of development to governments, donor countries and philanthropic organizations alone. The private sector must not just be involved but should step out and take the lead in the business of development of the continent.

He prizes entrepreneurs highly as the engine of Africa’s development. He is quite impressed that the continent is already blessed with a host of them with many already running home grown businesses based on deep insights into local consumer demand. They are able to spot unique gaps in the market for specific products and services, tap into strong local networks and often create innovative and disruptive solutions to complex challenges. All that is needed next is to unleash them into a new era of Africapitalism driven entrepreneurship.

Africapitalism and Entrepreneurship

Turning Africa’s demographic explosion into an economic boom defines the place of Africapitalism in the development processes of the continent. Africa’s large and growing population of young people requires a different development approach from other parts of the world that lack the population power.

The Africapitalist approach is driving development from the angle of entrepreneurship. In place of the top-down traditional development models, it enthrones entrepreneurship – which is a bottom-up approach to economic growth and development.It is a change of approach from structures and institutions – where Africa is weak to empowering people – where Africa has enormous strength.

The design is to empower people through entrepreneurship at the micro-level, which enables them to best to improve their own economic conditions. When aggregated at the macro-level, it becomes an expression of African solutions to Africa’s economic problems.

The millions of new jobs that need to be created for the millions of young Africans entering the job market every year cannot be expected to be rolled out by governments and big corporates.
Elumelu steps in to unleash Africa’s entrepreneurs, placing in the hands of people themselves the power to create the much needed jobs.

He is on a mission to breed and groom in Africa a mass of job creators out of the rising job seekers. He is pressing hard for the creation of entrepreneurship friendly policies that secure an enabling environment for millions of potential job creators to succeed. The relatively small governments in Africa with their small private sectors are in no way comparable to the development force attainable through entrepreneurship.

Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu

Elumelu has a clear definition of what he wants to accomplish through his entrepreneurship drive in Africa. He is desirous to bring about a situation where Africans no longer have to find a job or be trained to become employees. He wants to enable young people through entrepreneurship to create their own jobs, become employers and take charge of their futures instead of letting the future happen to them.

The development model of Africapitalist entrepreneurialism seeks to empower people, harnessing the power of innovation, personal initiative, hard work and market-driven ingenuity to address previously intractable problems of development in Africa.

Across Africa, economic growth turned out quite strong in the last decade. The growth has been driven largely by a few large sectors of the economies with an enhanced inflow of foreign direct investment. It is an economic growth overly dependent on extractive sectors dominated by foreign companies.

It has therefore been a jobless growth everywhere in the continent – an indication of growth without development. It has been simply economic growth without a sustainable, broad-based increase in prosperity. This explains the exacerbation of wealth disparity in the midst of rapid economic growth of Africa’s economies.

It is this lack of inclusiveness and the need to facilitate local value creation that underpin the philosophy of Africapitalism. Giving a leading role to Africa’s private sector to play, Elumelu is activating the development functions for the continent’s more equitable creation and distribution of economic and social wealth.

The Africapitalist development model that empowers emerging entrepreneurs is targeted at changing the narrative of the next era of economic growth and social development in Africa. Elumelu is keen to see development functions driven by Africa’s enormous demographic dividend. He wants to see a shift that enthrones dependence on the talent of Africa’s most precious natural resource – its people.

The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme

Tony Elumelu isn’t only recommending entrepreneurship development model; he is practicing it. The Tony Elumelu Foundation is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of entrepreneurship and excellence in business leadership across the continent with his initiative of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).  

The entrepreneurship programme is a philanthropic design to provide a new drive to entrepreneurship development across the African continent. With the programme, TEF has positioned entrepreneurship at the centre of all its activities in its consideration that it is the primary vehicle to achieving economic empowerment.  

Its purpose is to grow the capacity of the entrepreneurs through training, mentoring, access to relevant information and a strong alumni network. The foundation provides a seed capital of $10,000 to each startup to catalyze the businesses and position them for growth and profitability.

The programme was launched in December 2014 as a vehicle to lead the actualization of a core principle of Africapitalism – which is to empower African entrepreneurs to unleash the potential of individuals to create and grow their own businesses as a way to build diverse and resilient economies in the continent.

In January 2015 the foundation launched the $100 million Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme to discover and support 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next decade. TEEP also has a target of creating one million new jobs and contribute an additional $10 billion to Africa’s GDP.

The Programme represents Elumelu’s personal commitment to his Africapitalist economic development model. It is a practical demonstration of his belief that the African private sector has the potential to become the catalyst in ensuring Africa’s sustainable social and economic development.

The programme is acknowledged to be the first initiative of its kind to be launched by an African philanthropic organization and is the largest African sourced philanthropic gift targeting entrepreneurs within the entrepreneurial space.

TEEP is Elumelu’s pan-African initiative to fish out, train, fund, network and mentor burgeoning entrepreneurs across the continent with a view to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs.It is looking for people who have ideas and the potential to address social and economic challenges in Africa. It is unique in that it has been created, funded and run by an African for Africans. Its targets are unprecedented in scale and ambition.

The mission is to position Africa’s private sector and its driving entrepreneurs through long-term investments as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.

The year 2015 was the critical point of kick off for the new strategy of the African development mission.It was the year when TEF consolidated its various programmes and initiatives and made investing in Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders its priority.

It is the foundation’s year of stepping forward to begin the big task of reshaping the future of Africa through the provision of structured, robust and multifaceted support to its entrepreneurs. That is precisely why TEEP was created as an intervention vehicle.

In his classic essay published by The Economist, “The World in 2015”, Elumelu declared 2015 as “the year of the African entrepreneur. He underscored the importance of entrepreneurship to Africa’s future. He set the ball rolling early in the same year with the groundbreaking $100 million intervention fund to unleash Africa’s entrepreneurs and improve the enabling environment for start-ups.

TEF has a great vision of Africa giving birth continually to multinational corporations but has put TEEP forward as a small step for realizing it. The plan is for Africa’s entrepreneurs to begin with their start-ups, grow them into small- and medium-scale enterprises, step up to the status of national growth companies and from there to become African multinationals.

The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme is inspired by the recognition of African entrepreneurs as the life blood of Africa’s growth and development. It is driven by three guiding principles:

– The inclusive economic philosophy of Africapitalism,based on the belief that a vibrant African-ledprivate sector is the key to unlocking Africa’s economic and social potential;

– Commitment to drive African economic growth through empowerment of African entrepreneurs; and

–Institutionalizing luck by creating an environment where African entrepreneurs can get critical elements of support in the early stages of their business life.

Through the entrepreneurship programme, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has presented the biggest opportunity in Africa’s history for individual entrepreneurs, who have brilliant ideas and exhibit a passion to create innovative and often disruptive solutions to complex challenges across the continent.

The programme, which is presently in its 6th year, provides $5,000 in seed capital to 1,000 selected entrepreneurs each year with the potential for an additional $5,000 in debt or equity capital, depending on the success of the initial investment. The financial support is normally preceded by detailed technical and business mentorship programme that runs online for 12 weeks.

During the training programme, selected applicants are attached to designated mentors and get linked to the pan-African network of peers in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. They also receive additional hands-on training during a two-day boot camp. The entrepreneurs stay connected to the programme and to each other through their lifetime membership in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme Alumni Network.

TEF recognizes that money is just one of the two major challenges facing Africa’s entrepreneurs. The other is the largely disabling environment in which they operate. The foundation therefore takes steps to address the environmental challenges in addition to providing direct support to select African entrepreneurs.

Its policy research and advocacy arm – the Africapitalism Institute takes up this role by engaging the members of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme Network to ascertain the key challenges they face and developing solutions to improve their competitiveness.

Lubricating the process of entrepreneurship development and riding it of obstacles is the job that the foundation has given to itself. TEF speaks of growing numbers of programme alumni with inspirational success stories across the continent, affirming the effectiveness of its interventions and encouraging upcoming entrepreneurs. Its plan is to enrich its alumni networks, facilitate mentor relationships to prepare tomorrow’s business leaders and build an impactful pan-African entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The entrepreneurship programme is a further deepening of an earlier programme that tracked Nigeria’s fast growing private companies. The Nigeria Fast Growth 50, was launched in 2012 in collaboration with the AllWorld Network to project the fast-growth, unlisted private companies in Nigeria.

By TEF’s criteria, the Nigeria50 members represent companies that have demonstrated the potential for entrepreneurship. These are companies that stood out in terms of average annual growth rate of as high as 100 percent and creation of more than 6,000 jobs in three years.

The programme brought these companies to the limelight as Nigeria50 members were published nationally and globally, giving them corporate visibility as emerging corporate stars. This gave the companies global recognition with invitation to the AllWorld Summit at Harvard University. It also linked them up to a network of growth entrepreneurs as well as exposure to wider sources of investment capital and markets for their products.

TEF-UNDP Partnership

United Nations Development Programme [UDP] has added a special arm to The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s entrepreneurship programme in support of SMEs. The partnership has given birth to TEF and UNDP Entrepreneurship Programme.

Under the programme, which took off in 2019, over 2000 small businesses across seven countries in Africa have been selected for financial support. They include Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon. The overall target is to empower 100,000 entrepreneurs over 10 years across Africa.

In the selection process, intensive business training was held online for specified communities in each country. Invitation of applications opened in July 2019 and ended with a pitching competition in various communities in the seven countries, powered by the United Bank for Africa Plc while the selection process was coordinated by Deloitte.

The selected entrepreneurs received seed funding of between $1,500 and $5,000 each depending on the size of their business initiative. They have joined the alumni network of the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s flagship Entrepreneurship Programme.

The mission of the TEF/UNDP joint effort is to empower young African entrepreneurs on the business front, enhance earning capacity in Africa, create millions of jobs and break the cycle of poverty in the continent – which aligns with the goal of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

TEF is out to forge partnerships in order to reach an increased number of youth in Africa and scale its impact to convert a demographic danger into a great economic opportunity for the continent.   The foundation believes that by creating opportunities and giving young Africans hope for a brighter future will reduce poverty, extremism and illegal emigration in Africa. 

TEF- AfDB Partnership

In March 2019, African Development Bank (AfDB) made a $5 million grant to The Tony Elumelu Foundation to scale up the reach of the entrepreneurship programme. This comes as a major boost to the number of beneficiaries under the entrepreneurship scheme. 

The grant is planned to support 3,050 young entrepreneurs across 54 African countries. The grant enabled an additional 1,000 entrepreneurs to benefit from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. This is another milestone attained in the effort to stem the tide of rising unemployment and inequality in the continent.

The foundation avails the selected entrepreneurs business training, mentoring, access to networks and markets that are available to the other participants under the programme. AfDB has a 10-year Jobs for Youth in Africa scheme it started in 2016, which is in line with TEF’s entrepreneurship programme.

The bank’s initiative targets to create 25 million decent jobs across Africa over the 10-year period. It also aims at developing employable skills among 50 million young Africans to enhance their access to economic opportunities across the continent.

Other development partners supporting the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme include Agence Française de Développement, German Agency for International Cooperation and International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Africapitalism Institute

The Africapitalism Institute is a pan-African, non-profit think tank under the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Its place is in respect of bringing about an enabling environment that supports financial empowerment of entrepreneurs. The institute pursues its mission by carrying out academically rigorous, practically applicable research.

It works by communicating new ideas widely, engaging key stakeholders directly and advocating for public policies and business practices that will unlock opportunities
for all Africans, especially African entrepreneurs.

The institute is based in Lagos and expounds the Africapitalism philosophy by charting the course for matching financial empowerment with environmental friendliness. This is the combination that Africa needs to enthrone the private sector to take a leading role in driving economic and social values in the continent. It is working towards relieving entrepreneurs of the other obstacles to business success other than money.

The institute has gone a long way in its effort to understand these challenges clearly to and develop potential solutions. It has conducted three unique surveys in the course of its comprehensive analyses of Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The first survey posed a series of broad questions to the first 20,000 African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme Network about the conditions in their respective enabling environments.

Building off the results, a second and a more in-depth survey than the first was deployed to the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme Network in order to develop a granular understanding of the issues that emerged from the first survey. A third and final survey covered over 100 start-up incubators and business accelerators present in 26 different African countries. The objective was to gain an understanding of the role they play in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

On completion of the surveys, the results were presented to leading practitioners in banking,SMEs finance providers, business development consultants and economic policy makers to discuss solutions to the challenges identified. Also, during the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme’s boot camp, a survey of two focus groups with a representative sample
of 100 of the 1,000 entrepreneurs participating in the event was conducted.

Participants were drawn from more than 20 countries covering businesses in all the key sectors
represented in this inaugural class of Elumelu Entrepreneurs.These include agriculture, fashion, information communications technology, consumer goods, education and training and media and entertainment. The held sessions that dwelt on the environmental challenges they faced in their respective home countries and proffered suggestions as to what changes needed to be made.

The structure and scope of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme and the large number of applicants coming from across the continent as well as the spread across sectors
and industries has provided Africapitalism Institute with an incredibly rich and diverse data set from which to valuable draw insight.

The combined response rate it received from the two surveys covering more than 20,000 African entrepreneurs yielded roughly 5,000completed surveys and 3,500 individual comments.This makes it one of the largest and most diverse data sets on emerging African entrepreneurship from the perspective of the entrepreneurs themselves.

Key Research Findings

Africapitalism Institute has built up a wealth of knowledge from research findings on the operating challenges hindering entrepreneurship development in Africa. These findings have placed decision makers at business and governmental levels in a position to act. Difficulties in obtaining the necessary seed capital has been identified as the primary challenge. Inability to provide the collateral required prevents most people from obtaining bank loans, according to the survey findings.

Dependence on personal savings is the way most business owners followed to set up their enterprises. Only a small fraction of business incubators are able to secure bank loans and these pattern runs across the various countries.The general view on how to gain accessto capital centred on getting credit providers should reduce the collateral requirements.

The problem of obtaining the necessary machinery, equipment, technology and raw materials needed to operate also featured prominently in the survey responses. High cost of land/office space is among the primary concerns. Another major challenge identified on the side of prohibitive cost is electric power – the solution of which lies on reducing power outages. In other words, improved electricity supply will be an incentive for businesses to spring up across Africa.

The institute inquired into the legal systems of countries in the survey and found that resolution of contract disputes takes a lengthy time, which poses a big problem. Corruption in the judicial system is cited as a concern and so is the cost of business registration and difficult and lengthy processes involved in obtaining required permissions through government departments. The solution was identified to be at the doorsteps of governments to streamline the process.

Availability of human resources to drive entrepreneurship was confirmed in the surveys, as the up to 90 percent of the responding entrepreneurs were confident of finding employees with the right skills for their businesses. The problem is found to be the prohibitive cost of employing skilled labour. Most of the entrepreneurs required training in business management.

The summary of the findings is that it is not easy to start a business anywhere across the African countries due to a variety of factors, including access to capital and high cost of core inputs. The most important incentive required of government is tax relief – a demand that was echoed by the business accelerators/incubators surveyed. 

Networking and access to mentoring are also in high demand among entrepreneurs, as they value encouragements from other entrepreneurs.Other incentives demanded include reducing the cost of inputs such as land and capital and improving the general quality of infrastructures. These are considered the key steps to reducing overall costs hurting business competitiveness in Africa.

Creating Environment for Business in Africa

The ProblemThe Solution
Business registration bottlenecks, delays, corruption, etc.Create a one-stop shop location where aspiring entrepreneurs can find and file all necessary paperwork for business registration.
 Enable completion of all aspects of business registration online.
 The online resource should include key regulatory
requirements for businesses by sector for easy compliance.
Lack of management skillsEducation institutions should formally develop and incorporate entrepreneurship instruction and training into their curricula.
 Raise interest among students on entrepreneurship as an option available to them on graduation.
 The academia should partner with businesses in order to adjust their courses and align training with the needs of the private sector.
High cost of skilled labourEntrepreneurs should encourage a regime of strict
employment contracts to limit poaching by competitors as well as business-led ownership sharing schemes to employees.
The absence of well-functioning intellectual property protection, especially in the ICT spaceThe formation of a private sector-led consortium to
serve as a validated repository of innovative products and processes.
Long delays in dispute resolutions and inefficient traditional judicial system

The establishment of legally binding alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Inability of entrepreneurs to get start-up capital from banks due to lack of collateralBanks should work more closely with entrepreneurs to
help them prepare viable business proposals in accordance with their lending philosophy.
 Government agencies should provide credit support to help de-risk bank lending,reduce the need for collateral as well as the cost of borrowing.
Tax payments on government contracts ahead of payment for the job and poor patronage of SMEs for suppliesPayment of taxes should not be required until payment is made to the contracted business.
 Government could co-sign long-term lease agreements on land and equipment to provide an additional safeguard to vendors who would otherwise require full payment.
 Governments should incentivize large firms to develop local supplier standards and training programmes as a way to develop a pipeline of entrepreneurial talent.

Despite the difficult operating conditions they operate compared to other regions of the world, African entrepreneurs are managing to find ways to build successful businesses. It has become imperative however for these limiting conditions to be improved for Africa’s large and rapidly expanding population of working-age adults to find opportunities for economic advancement. Otherwise, the millions of aspiring African entrepreneurs with innovative ideas will have no room in the economies, as opportunities for formal employment continue to decline.

Africapitalism Institute is in the business of shedding light on how to improve the operating condition in African economies in order to change the fortunes of millions of Africans. Improving the conditions inwhich young people are struggling to bring their ideas to life is a critical step in increasing their chances of success.

Elumelu with his Excellency,
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

Developmental Roles

Tony Elumelu has proceeded from building people and enterprises to building the nation, the African continent and the world. The strategy is to enhance public sector’s capacity to stimulate private-sector growth. This has informed his presence and significant funding and other contributions in a number of national and international bodies and organs of government. 

Presidential Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council

Nigeria’s government has continued to demonstrate its commitment to grow the agricultural sector to become a major driver of the economy. An enabling environment is therefore needed to attract significant local and foreign direct investments into this sector. A catalytic growth of the agricultural industry is needed through enhanced capacity for mobilizing investments.

Elumelu has come in to provide the growth driver. He was named a member of Agriculture Transformation Implementation Council by former President Goodluck Jonathan – a move that set the benchmark for collaboration between the public and private sectors. The alliance gave credence to government’s target of adding 20 million metric tons to domestic food supply by 2015.

In 2012, the Tony Elumelu Foundation launcheda fellowship programme with the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development. The initiative is in pursuit ofa major objective of providing strategic support to key ministries of government, enabling a new level of engagement with the private sector.

It is agrand Africa-wide programme focusing on Nigeria at its starting stagebut plans to expand to other fast-growing African economies. The mission is the same for every country – to create the enabling environment for inclusive, jobs-focused growth, led by a competitive African private sector.

Under the programme, the foundation deployed a senior investment advisor with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The role is to support the government’shigh priority programme of achieving a value-chain driven agriculture transformation.The advisors serve as the point person for domestic and foreign investors with an interest in the Nigerian agriculture sector.

Fellows in the programme were seconded for an initial period of two years and were obligated to sign strict conflict of interest agreements to ensure transparency. They were selected through a competitive and transparent global search that producedpeople with the most appropriate skill sets to meet the needs of any ministries where they are deployed.

Elumelu and President Buhari and other dignitaries

Through the programme, the foundation brought to the service of government high quality and well experienced technocrats, results-orientationand able to transfer knowledge and build the capacity of government ministries.

The programme is an extension of the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s cadre of expert fellows providing delivery support to African governments through the Blair Elumelu Fellowship Programme in place in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Through it, Elumelu offers his innovative model for philanthropic support to the African public sector. He is keen to see Africa move away from the traditional grant-making model to human capacity support. The goal isto infuse a private-sector influenced execution ethos with the government’s broad transformation agenda.

Speaking on the developmental targets for the programme, Elumelu said “this programme is part of the foundation’s effort to create the best possible environment for the African private-sector-led economic transformation of Nigeria and Africa. We see this as a homegrown solution, leveraging the best of Nigerian business talent and private-sector innovation to contribute to driving the right kind of capital in to Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

‘We are starting with the ministry of agriculture to visibly show our support for the honourable minister of agriculture’s ambitious transformation vision, a key pillar of the overall administration agenda.”

The role of the council was to devise and implement strategies to ensure food security, reduce expenditure of foreign exchange on food imports, diversify the economy, generate foreign exchange and create jobs. Its task involved eliminating corruption in the seed and fertilizer sectors, improving the functioning of market institutions, establishing staple crops processing zones – to attract private sector into areas of high production and reduce post-harvest losses, adding value to locally produced crops and fostering rural economic growth.

The council was one of the major institutional arrangements that government put in place in order to ensure the realisation of its agricultural development targets. It was instrumental to the realisation of government’s bold targets of creating over 3.5 million jobs in the agricultural sector, an additional income of over N300 billion to Nigerian farmers and a saving of more than N60 billion from 20 percent substitution of bread wheat flour with cassava flour.

Elumelu therefore gets the credit for being part of the effort at the Presidential Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council that helped to achieve 40 percent substitution of cassava flour for wheat flour, through collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. It was the first time such a level of substitution was attained. Nigeria witnessed a roll-out of cassava flour bread, with 20 percent cassava flour substitution for wheat flour.

Large scale cassava processing plants came on stream and production of dried cassava chips for exports to China was launched with a target to earn Nigeria $136 million annually.Foreign investment inflows were recordedfor development oflarge rice farms, local rice processing mills, ethanol production, large scale industrial cassava flour processing plants, etc.Since then Nigeria has progressed towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice production and complete substitution of imported rice.

The Tony Elumelu Foundations’ role in steering investment inflow into the agricultural sector succeeded as the international alongside private investorsgave funding support to the new drive in agriculture in Nigeria.These include$500 million support from World Bank, $80 million plus $500,000 grant from IFAD, $1.5 billion from China EXIM and $250 million from African Development Bank.

Others include $750,000 from Ford Foundation, £130,000 from DFID and technical support from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, USAID and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,

Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security

Tony Elumelu is part of the group that shaped the strategy for global food security under the Aspen Institute. He is co-chair of the Food Security Strategy Group (FSSG) of the institute – a three-year, high-level, non-partisan and international dialogue series on private and public sector interventions for global food security.

The group comprised prominent and influential leaders in business, government, non-profit organizations and academia brought together to address the urgent need for cross-sector alignment on a long-term vision for food security planning. The group focused on cross-sector solutions between four interlinked areas:

  • population, health and poverty
  • science, technology and innovation
  • markets, trade and investment
  • environmental sustainability

The high-level, international group was a gathering of diverse, nonpartisan thought leaders, creatives, scholars and members of the public to address some of the world’s most complex problems. Other co-chairs were Madeleine K. Albright, former US secretary of state; Senator Tom Daschle, former US senate majority leader and Dan Glickman, executive director, Aspen Institute Congressional Programme and former US secretary of agriculture.

Aspen Institute has earned a reputation for putting the group together.The goal of the convening is to make an impact beyond the conference room. They were designed to provoke and improve actions taken in the real world to forge a secured future.

The group produced an Aspen Institute report on “Public and Private Sector Interventions for Global Food Security,” based on a multi-stakeholder roundtable dialogue. The report recommended six integrating actions that both public and private sector leaders need to know for tackling long-term food security, particularly decision makers who are not necessarily steeped in the broader dialogue on food security, humanitarian aid, climate change, women’s health, and the sustainable intensification of agriculture.

The strategy group assembles a long list of food security issues and framed them in a concise way that made them actionable for both policymakers and corporate leaders,Dan Glickman explained.The report requiredleaders from all sectors must to build shock absorbers into the existing global food system. The step was considered a key strategy in today’s globally interconnected markets to provide resilience over the long term.

Elumelu with Bill Gates

The Food Security Strategy Group was hosted by the Aspen Institute in 2013-2015. It held roundtable discussions in Marrakech, Des Moines, Rome, Belgrade and Milan in order to support the development of the group’s priorities.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a non-partisan venue for dealing with critical issues. It works with an international network of partners.

National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria

Tony Elumelu has served as vice chairman, National Council of Nigeria –an organ of government designed as a catalyst for transforming Nigeria’s business environment. The coming on stream of the council under former President Goodluck Jonathan and the high caliber of its membership were perceived as a decisive step in demonstrating Nigeria’sreadiness for business.

The goal was to transform the business environment, enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness and therefore the nation’s ability to attract local and international investment capital. Other key members of the transformation team drawn from the Nigerian and international communities were Segun Aganga, former trade and investment minister – chairman, Michael Porter, Aliko Dangote, Lynda Chalker and Dr. Juan E. Pardinas. They constitute a team of people of ambition and experience,a strategically placed body able to help Nigeria attain global economic prominence.

Their task was to improve dramatically the ability of local and international businesses to conduct and operate business in Nigeria.This was one major step forward to tap Nigeria’s potentials of Africa’s most populous nation and the home of one of the largest consumer markets in the world. This is the first direct effort by government to raise Nigeria’s ranking onthe World Economic Forum’s global competitive index and the World Bank’s doing business index rankings.

Elumelu played a leading role in the establishment of the council and provided its take off grant.To him, the effort to enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness is a prerequisite for national development. It was for him a welcome opportunity to create an enabling environment for the private sector to flourish. “This is the only sustainable solution for Nigeria’s and Africa’s development”, he said.

Nigeria’s move through the council is in line with World Bank’s view that countries that successfully implement reforms and overhaul regulatory obstacles experience better economic outcomes, job creation and improved standards of living.

Tony Elumelu Foundation was involved from the very start because its objectives are in alignment with that of the council. “Our aim is to improve entrepreneurship and provide the right environment for entrepreneurs. The Council’s role is to drive the process by which we improve Nigeria’s competitiveness. This will attract the capital that is looking for a home and turn Nigeria into an investment destination, which will benefit the whole country, Elumelu said.”

NCCN was formed in recognition of the private sector’s instrumentalityto creating sustainable growth, reducing poverty and boosting collective prosperity in the economy. Its work was to ensure that the right conditions are put in place to optimise this role in Nigeria.

In the course of it work, the council identified infrastructure, technology, health and primary education as some of the areas in which the country needs to improve. It acknowledged policy reform as another key focus point that could impact positively on the environment for ordinary Nigerians and contribute to stimulating foreign direct investment. By addressing these concerns with reformative actions, the NCCN affirmedthat the ease ofdoing business in Nigerian was set to rise.

The target was for Nigeria to improve its ranking by 75 places in four years to 2015.

The council was to act as the intermediary to linkdevelopment capital with Nigeria’s resource potential by improving the environment for investment. This held new hopes for creating new jobs, diversifyingthe economy, increasing productivity, developing human capital among others.

The NCCN created four working groups that draw membership from the council as well as the private sector, international development bodies and consulting firms. The groups were set to develop recommendations and facilitate the implementation of desired changes to improve Nigeria’s competitiveness and performance in global rankings.

NCCN’s Working Groups
Tax, Trade and Business Enablement
Human Capital, Innovation and Capacity Building
Security, Corruption and Country Image
Bureaucracy, Titling and Registration

The council issued National Competitiveness Report,which expanded the framework and methodology used in the World Economic Forum’s – global competitiveness report and the World Bank’s – doing business report to provide insights into the challenges to improved competitiveness. It assessed the regulation surrounding the ease with which businesses are able to set up and operate in Nigeria. The report provided a platform for policy changes expected to lead to Nigeria’s increased competitiveness.

Ministerial Committee onEstablishment ofWorld Class Hospitals

Tony Elumelu has headeda ministerial committee mandated to develop the framework forunlocking the private sector potential to establish world class hospitals and diagnostic centres in Nigeria. The role of the committeewas in recognition thatgovernment alone cannot provide all the health facilities needed to ensure high quality medical care to all Nigerians.

The committee was set up against the background of inefficiency in resource management, which has made it difficult for hospitals in Nigeria to meet up with best global practices. The associated failure to provide high-end medical services in many instances has resulted in loss of patients to medical tourism with its attendant capital flight from the economy. 

Establishment of the private world-class hospitals and diagnostic centres is expected tomeet the needs of Nigerians for such services and reverse the direction of medical tourism to Nigeria’s advantage.

Defining the task before the committee, Elumelu said the 21-member team was on a mission to address the associated failure to provide quality medical services to Nigerians and curtail the increasing cases of Nigerians seeking medical treatment outside the country. He pressed for regulatory and institutional changes such as the passage of health insurance bill, then before the National Assembly as a big step forward to free the resources needed to develop the sector.

Through the work of the committee, he identified under investment as the critical problem facing the healthcare sector – which is responsible for lack of adequate healthcare infrastructures. The absence of healthcare facilities was in turn fostering the movement of Nigerians to India and South Africa, in search of treatment for ailments that could easily be treated locally.

He emphasized the summary of the problem of the health sector is money – grossly insufficient funding.  “If there is no money to make this sector attractive, then it will collapse over time,” he warned.

The committee worked extensively on how to fast-track the setting up of six world-class medical facilities and diagnostic centers in each of the ​​six geo-political zones in the country. He succeeded in making it one of the key projects of the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“This is an assignment that the committee members are seriously committed to. We believe that the health sector is key for the development of a country, human capital is important and you have to have a healthy workforce for a country to develop. We are happy that this​administration is seriously committed to pushing things forward in this case,” Elumelu said.

The committeesurveyed hospital projects then ongoing in the country and found 84 of them yet to be completed across the country. He drummed it to ears of the President the urgent need for the completion of the projects.

He explained that his committee’s intent was to see how by working with government,it helps to bring about the completion of the hospitals. The target istobring to an end the search forhigh quality medical services outside the country. “We believe that our people deserve good medical facilities, attention and care at this age and time” he said.

The committee focused on opening up the health sector as a step forward to unleash private sector contributions. It worked extensively towards creating the enabling environment and initiatives needed to draw in private sector investments. Some of the starters the committee brought into play include zero waivers on importation of medical facilities and equipment.

The committee carried out a critical analysis of the apparent low private sector investment in specialist hospitals. It also drew up strategies and defined the road map for unlocking private health entrepreneurship in the healthcare sector.

Presidential Jobs Board

Tony Elumelu has served asvice chairman of the Presidential Jobs Board set up by the Goodluck administration in 2014. The board was given the mandate to create three million jobs in 12 months. It was an initiative to ensure that people, who have been trained for skills acquisition, also get opportunities to work.

The board was made up of top raking personalities in the public and private sectors, selectedto draw on cross expertise of people ingovernment and private enterprise. The objective is to bridge the missing link between training people to acquire skills and the job they are to do. It was to bring about a change in paradigm from counting accomplishments in terms of the number of people trained to how many of them employed after training.

The appointment of the board marked a regime where agencies of government responsible for training people were also charged with the duty to ensure that people trained in different skills get employed by others or by self. Government considered it a waste of resources to train people without directing them to jobs where the skills acquired were to be applied productively.

The role of the board was therefore to facilitate employment generation across the length and breadth of the economy, matching job opportunities with skills development. This is in government’s recognition that jobs constitute the central force in economic revolution. “They are essential to make our people live well and they are critical to the promotion of our people’s dignity. Jobs enhance self-worth and it is a source of personal pride. Indeed it is at the heart of national economic and social development,” former President Jonathan said.

Elumelu’s keen interest in directing the affairs of the board came from government’scommitment through its policies to enthrone the private sector’s role in the economy.  Other top members of the Presidential Jobs Board include former Vice President, Sambo as its chairman;former secretary to the government of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; former minister of petroleum,Mrs. Alison-Madueke; former minister of trade and investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga; CBN Governor- Mr. Godwin Emefiele, among others.

Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative

Tony Elumelu is a member of the Advisory Board for the “Sustainable Energy for All [SE4All]” initiative, which was constituted as a major new phase of activity for global public-private partnership. It is an international not-for-profit organization based in Vienna established to help build on the strong multi-stakeholder nature of the initiative.

The initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership between governments, the private sector and civil society launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2011.It has three inter-linked objectives to be achieved by 2030, which are toprovide universal access to modern energy; double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency. These steps are meantto ensure universal access to modern energy services around the world.

Energy has been recognised as the golden thread connecting economic growth, increased social equity and a healthy environment. Sustainable energy has become the major factor in the pursuit of sustainable development.

The advisory board is made up of distinguished global leaders in business, finance, government and civil society.  The launch of the Board was co-chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General and the World Bank’s President, the first time the two leaders jointly led such an effort, underscoring the emphasis the global bodies placed on the role of the board.

The advisory board commands top-flight expertise and experience the world is counting on to attain the goal of providing sustainable energy for all by 2030.  It is being counted upon to drive a  change that will give electricity to over 1.2 billion people around the world that don’t it and another2.8 billion at others that use solid fuels to cook and heat their homes.  The target is the rid the world of toxic smoke that kills about 4 million people a year. 

Delivering universal access to electricity and safe household fuels is a big task ahead of the United Nations of which Elumelu is one of the frontline drivers. It is a challenge that needs to be met in a sustainable way in order to create the fundamental conditions to end povertyand attain a major milestone towards tacking climate change.

The world is depending on the advisory board members to provide strategic guidance and serve as global ambassadors for the initiative. They are to conduct high-level advocacy for action on energy and mobilize stakeholders on behalf of Sustainable Energy for All. 

The Sustainable Energy for All initiative brings together top-level leadership from all sectors of society, drawing on the global convening power of the United Nations and the World Bank and combining the efforts of hundreds of stakeholders around the world. The initiative’s 10-person executive committeeis headed by Chad Holliday, chairman of Bank of America. 

The initiative is a demonstration of the ability to mobilize multi-billion-dollar commitments, to leverage large-scale investments and to build upon a rapidly expanding knowledge network.  More than 70 countries have opted into the initiative since its launch with support being received from every part of the world. The initiative is also mobilizing businesses, investors and civil society to take action on high-impact initiatives, such as off-grid lighting, building energy efficiency, energy and women’s health and the procurement of renewable energy.

USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum

Tony O. Elumelu was appointed to the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum in 2012.His role is to advise on leveraging global private capital for Africa’s development.

The forum comprised several leaders in industry convened to provide expert advice to the US Government on the best strategies for engagement with Africa’s private sector and to better align its private investment and development goals. They include several prominent personalities such as Edward Mathias, managing director and co-founder of the Carlyle Group and Thomas Barry, CEO and founder, Zephyr Capital Management.

Among the several prominent personalities appointed to the forum, Elumelu was named the forum’s founding African member. His appointment is in recognition ofhis demonstration of deep understanding ofAfrica’s investment environment and leadership priorities.

Commenting on the appointment, Raja Jandhyala, chairperson of the PCGA said, “we identified Tony Elumelu as one of the leaders in the continent and his perspective and expertise on issues related to investment in Africa will be valuable to our efforts to advocate for Africa and identify priorities for private investment.”

The PCGA was initiated to leverage USAID and the US government’s resources to shape and accelerate the flow of private capital to critical development areas in Africa. The consultative Partners Forum comprised external experts and leaders from around the world counted capable of supporting the effort to promote investment in Africa.

In his statement accepting the appointment, Elumelu stated: “it is indeed an honour to work with the United States government and other members of the Partners Forum. I am proud to be a part of a mission to change the way that Africa is perceived – from a charity case to a demonstrably economically vibrant continent offering the opportunity for private sector investment through partnerships with Africa’s own successful businessmen and women.”

Tony Elumelu Representing Africa as Global Leaders gather at President Macron’s Tech for Good Summit

Tony Elumelu: An accomplished global business citizen

Tony Elumelu is scored as a personality having the qualities and actionspositively impacting people across institutions, cultures and geography. He is a model of men, who have come to this world, saw mountains of undesirable situations in society and have succeeded in putting them behind, yet pressing on for greater conquests.

The scales and levels at which men accomplish great things differ greatly; from self and family to the global stage. Elumelu has journeyed all the way to the heights of a caregiver to the world through private enterprise. He has in his stock a great deal of the attributes of a global citizen.

These include the exceptional quality of seeking to understand people, cooperate with them, show empathy for othersand givethem help. He has great ideas of how to change things for the greatest good of the largest number and he expresses themprofoundly and puts them to work. He ensures various transformative forces are constantly in motion while tirelessly working to raise both the number and momentum of benevolent channels.

There is in him a dogged desire to put something new on the table every moment humanly possible to spread help and luck down and across, adding to the number of people who get lifted daily.He is driven by curiosity to discover how the world around him can run better for people to unleash their potentials and fulfill their purposes, adding value to society.

Elumelu is guided by foresight of what must be done presently in order to secure a future that would be beneficial to all. He sets the ball rolling doing it for the benefit of people he might never meet. He is a typical example of a man who passes through a rough path and clears it that others may find it a significantly improved terrain. 


He is fair in making choices, firm in taking decisions and motivating in speaking. He is a clear example of how the past does not determine the future and how entrepreneurial success can be achieved with courage, persistence, hard work and discipline anywhere in the world.


He strives to set positive functions in motion whether self-driven or in alliance with private and public sector organs for the economic and social empowerment of people across national boundaries. He is desirous to set the pace for the good of society that good people everywhere, seeing the selfless motives and targets, might willingly put their hands on deck.

He doesn’t expect or run that he might win alone but that everyone should be part of the effort and part of the victory. He therefore believes that he is just as important as everyone else for the task that must be accomplished. Yet, he is independent-minded and never afraid of exploring the unknown – even if it means going solo.

Elumelu wants the benefits of what is accomplished to be shared as equally as possible in every home, community and nation desiring help. To him, noindividual or group, particularly in the African society, should be denied of the empowerment the continent needs to fast-track economic development.

As a truly global citizen,borders donot stand in the way of his business and philanthropy. He is a man forall people in need of better lives in all places around the world -mostly those he has never met.

He has a mind broadened with ideas for all inclusive well-being and ears tuned for delightful news of how the next man has succeeded through the help and luck that he is spreading in Africa and the world.He seeks to put money for use in building people, institutions and nations to purchase values that last longer than things purchased at the mall.

Elumelu has embraced a big role in the world community in his understanding of how one’s actions can go a long way to shape our world.He is committed any day to putting time and energy into something new and something big, running with it with zeal and tenacity until the vision begins to deliver superior results.

He isn’t given to lamentations of failures of systems and governments but steps forward to make a change in boundless dimensions. He feels a sense of responsibility to help when the rights of people are violated, no matter where it happens in the world.It isn’t in his character to stand by and wait for somebody else to come up with answers to theproblems of society.

He is determined to do anything humanly possible to ensure the well-being of people at local, national and global levels, maximizing resources and spreading opportunities. He has an unlimited operating space that ranges from local to global with a tremendous capacity to act to make the world a more sustainable place than he found it.