Mr. Tony Elumelu, chairman, UBA Plc & Heir Holdings, an economist and entrepreneur, made a dramatic emergence in the Nigerian banking scene in 1997 when he acquired one of several ailing banks for a turnaround surgery. He injected liquidity into the bank and gave it a living name -Standard Trust Bank Ltd [STB].
He recharged the bank for operations, carved a niche and developed tentacles for competition in a market that was overcrowded and saturated. The initiatives opened a window of rapid growth for the bank in low cost liabilities and personalized financial services. These channels took competition in banking to a new angle through which the bank increased market share.
Banking services had gone a long way in the direction of customer orientated services by the time Elumelu came on stream. Yet he applied innovative services that gave a new momentum in that direction. The market’s response was positive, which set the bank growing well ahead of the competition. STB became a reference mark in corporate turnaround from a bank at the brink of collapse to a high growth driver, excelling in service quality and products innovation.
Tony launched the biggest competitive assault in the banking industry that changed the industry structure and market share. A corporate physician, he produced a cross breed of old and new generation banks with the historic merger of STB and UBA. This was reckoned to be the largest amalgamation in the banking business in sub-Saharan Africa.
The end product was the creation in 2005 of a new UBA and its transformation as a pan African institution of the present day. The new bank towers as one of the largest financial services organizations in Africa, operating in 19 African countries, as well as New York, London and Paris. The merger appears to have illuminated the path of consolidation that Nigerian banking soon followed.
While Tony was carrying out the surgical operation in banking to give life to a dying bank, Vivian – the chairman of Avon Healthcare Limited and chief executive of Avon Medical Services Limited was giving life to humans in her healthcare services. An MBBS holder from the University of Benin, her medical practice covers the areas of medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology and emergency medicine.
Before setting up her own company, Vivian worked with Grantham and District Hospital in Grantham, England and Lagos State Teaching Hospital. At Avon Medical Services Limited, she heads a leading healthcare provider that runs a network of full-service clinics and onsite facilities with corporate institutions. The company provides a wide range of specialist services from cardiology and internal medicine to orthopaedics and surgery alongside pharmacies and in-house laboratories.
The strategy and synergy of the power couple met at the family-owned investment company, Heirs Holdings of which Avon Medical Practice is part of the group. Vivian is an investment professional at Heirs Holdings where she is in charge of all the healthcare investments of the group.
Heirs Holdings Group is a proponent of Africapitalism, the principle which says that Africa’s future depends on private institutions to invest long-term in healthcare and other sectors, creating jobs and generating local wealth as well as having a positive social impact on the African society.
Investment in healthcare has positioned the group to meet the gap in the provision of standard medical facilities in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. The purpose is to make available in Nigeria world-class healthcare facilities that people do seek overseas. Avon Medical Practice is a multi-specialty private hospital group with centres in Surulere and Lagos Island, as well as in Delta State and Abuja.
The company also offers an extensive range of home-care services for the elderly and others who require treatment at home. It also undertakes emergency ambulance services, hearse services as well as onsite medical solutions as a medical contract partner to clients.
Tony and Vivian are recognized internationally as an outstanding power couple working to empower African entrepreneurs. Working through the platform of Tony Elumelu Foundation, they are together empowering the next generation of African entrepreneurs. Hand in hand they have driven to a conclusion the goal of creating a million jobs in 10 years by focusing on funding startups and entrepreneurs across the entire African continent.
The task kicked off in 2010 when the family committed $100 million to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs at a rate of 1,000 entrepreneurs yearly. Beneficiaries came from all the 54 African countries. The process of creating the jobs is expected to contribute $10 billion in revenue to the African economy by the end of the programme.
The philosophy of Africapitalism is that Africa’s private sector has the potential of transforming the continent through investments. Vivian is the trustee of the foundation, who stands out as a role model for career women across Africa.
Entrepreneurship empowerment is by way of seed capital, business training and capacity building skills that beneficiaries need to take root and grow their businesses. The foundation signed for another 10-year programme with UNDP to empower 100,000 entrepreneurs in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, which created the TEF-UNDP entrepreneurs programme.
Banking and entrepreneurship woven together are what Tony and Vivian have on offer as a uniting force in Africa. The continent needs massive investments to create jobs and build wealth. The Elumelu power couple provided the financing power to accomplish this by the large capacity building in banking that gave UBA an Africa-wide focus.
On the other hand, entrepreneurship development through massive investments is transforming Africa’s huge potentials into real wealth and opportunities that hold new hopes for the future of the continent.
The power couple shares the accolades for recognitions for exemplary and unique contributions towards the social and economic development of Africa. Vivian is named among global health leaders as a champion for immunization in Africa for her role in increased vaccine coverage in under-immunized nations.