Tony Elumelu is a Nigerian investor, economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist best known for having served as the CEO of the United Bank of Africa (UBA). The 59 year old was born in Jos, Plateau State but is from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Elumelu started his career in banking as an employee of Union Bank. He would later rise to become the CEO of UBA which became one of the most successful financial institutions in Nigeria. He has since retired from the banking industry but is actively involved in other businesses. He is the founder of Heirs Holdings and the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Where is Tony Elumelu From?
Tony Elumelu is a native of Delta State and his hometown is Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area. The records captured Tony Elumelu’s date of birth as the 22nd of March 1963. The renowned banker, economist, and investor, whose given name is Anthony Onyemaech Elumelu, was however born and bred in Jos, Plateau State.
Tony Elumelu’s Parents
Tony’s parents are said to have been entrepreneurs who installed entrepreneurship into the lives of their kids. The matriarch of the Elumelu family, Mrs. Suzanne Elumelu, earned a living as a restaurateur and was with the customer chain as a major distributor. Tony seemed to share a very close bond with his mum as he never misses an opportunity to wish her a happy birthday.
The African investor has so many endearing monikers for his mother; he calls her the first entrepreneur he ever knew, the super matriarch of their family, the most doting grandmother, and the foundation of all the achievements he and his siblings have recorded. Mr. Dominic Elumelu is the name of Tony’s dad but his career path has never been mentioned. The business mogul barely talks about his dad, thus, there are no details about the patriarch of the Elumelu family.
Tony Elumelu spent his formative years with four siblings but only one of them, Ndudi Elumelu, has made it to the limelight through his political escapades. The other two are believed to be involved in mundane work.
His Brother Ndudi Elumelu is a Politician
Hon. Ndudi Elumelu is Tony Elumelu’s brother. He forged a career path in the Nigerian political train. Having been to the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives as a member, Ndudi is recognized as the most popular of Tony’s siblings.
From the beginning of his political career, Ndudi served in numerous committees such as the House Committee on Information, Science and Technology, Climate Change, Public Safety, and National Security. His first election to the House of Representatives became a reality in 2007. Ndudi emerged successful in his re-election bid in 2011 and 2015 as well. He has not won any other political post since 2015 but he is actively involved in politics.
Tony has been severally spotted in public functions with Ndudi as the two also appear to be quite close. The former bank CEO usually takes to his Instagram handle to celebrate Ndudi’s birthdays.
Elumelu Went To School in Both Nigeria and Abroad
Born in Nigeria, Tony Elumelu accomplished his early academic qualifications in the country but the institutions he attended have never been mentioned. Going for higher studies, he joined Ambrose Alli University, formerly Bendel State University, to study Economics.
Armed with a BSc in Economics, Elumelu went to the University of Lagos for a Master of Science in Economics. Moving to the US, he went for additional academic exposure, passing through the Harvard Business School. In Lausanne, Switzerland, the emerging investor joined IMD (International Institute of Management Development), and he also went to SIM (Singapore Institute of Management).
From the above listed, it is glaring that Elumelu’s educational foundation is very strong. He is a man who knew exactly what he wanted from the beginning and made an informed choice in a course of study that would aid him in achieving his goals. Going to study economics was apt, though the African investor also had got a push in the right direction from his mother, Mrs. Suzanne Elumelu who gave him his first lessons in Entrepreneurship. Thus, Tony hit the ground running, little wonder he achieved so much within a short time.
Tony Elumelu’s Banking Career Began in 1985
Upon becoming a graduate, Tony Elumelu had to fulfill the requirements of compulsory one year National Youth Service in Nigeria; he accomplished this by serving at Union Bank PLC in 1985. He then went on to put in some months as a salesman.
Subsequently, Elumelu went for further education and after bagging his master’s, he put in an application for Allstates Trust Bank. Though reports said he didn’t meet the required qualifications, the up-and-coming entrepreneur was lucky to score the job.
According to the accompanying tale, the then chief executive officer of AllStates Trust Bank stumbled on Tony’s application package by chance and handpicked him for an interview. That marked the onset of his career as a professional banker and heralded many good things to come.
It was a golden opportunity when Elumelu at 26, was trusted with one of the branches of AllStates Trust Bank to function as its manager; this feat made him Nigeria’s youngest bank manager then. The opportunity had a great influence on Tony’s life, prompting the future business mogul to give back to society in the same way he was given.
Tony’s accelerated success ignited a burning passion for investing in young people’s lives, exposing them to mouthwatering opportunities.
He Acquired a Struggling Bank
Tony Elumelu has been taking giant strides from the time he joined the Nigerian banking industry but his achievements were never made public. However, the banker gained public attention after achieving the impossible. His name wasn’t ringing any bells until 1997 when he acquired Crystal Bank – a then distressed financial institution.
Tony became its chief executive officer, an achievement that earned him the nickname, – “the cowboys of banking”, alongside his circle of peers. This did not just make Tony a bank CEO at 34, he was named Nigeria’s youngest CEO in the banking industry. The audacious young tycoon changed the name of his acquisition to Standard Trust Bank (STB).
With the new moniker, the formerly struggling bank was catapulted from obscurity into the position of the fifth-largest bank in Nigeria within just seven years. With this incredible feat, Tony Elumelu became one of the most popular names as far as the banking industry and the entire financial circle are concerned.
Tony Elumelu Achieved The Biggest Merger in Entire sub-Saharan Africa
Standard Trust Bank Plc was doing great under the watch of Tony Elumelu but the audacious young CEO was always restless to attain more success. Tony took his business to greater heights in 2005 when he made history for the second time. This time around, the Nigerian investor led what was the biggest merger in entire sub-Saharan Africa.
He did this by accomplishing the merger of STB with UBA which was older, and more established. At that time, UBA was considered to be the number three financial services institution in Nigeria in terms of size.
In barely a decade, Tony Elumelu as the Group Managing Director succeeded in transforming the United Bank of Africa into a pan-African institution from a single-country bank. The bank then moved past the seven million customer-base milestones with banking operations in 20 countries in the black continent of Africa. It could also boast of off-shore offices in London, Paris, and New York.
With this great feat, Tony’s reputation as a business turnaround expert was sealed. He was then named among the most influential business leaders of African origin. Though he has long retired from active banking services, Mr. Elumelu still keeps his finger on the pulse of operations in UBA, serving as the chairperson of the United Bank of Africa’s board.
Tony Elumelu is the Brain Behind Heirs Holdings
Following his exit from the United Bank of Africa in 2010, Tony Elumelu went ahead to do exploits in other fields, replicating the turnaround success he achieved in banking. His imbibed knowledge, understanding, and expertise in economic opportunities led him to establish Heirs Holdings.
The African proprietary investment company, which was birthed in 2010, is family-owned and committed to the improvement of lives and the transformation of Africa, via long-term investments in several strategic segments of the African economy. This is inclusive of financial services, power, hospitality, energy, agribusiness, healthcare, technology, and real estate
Through Heirs in 2011, he got a stake in Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc as a holder of its controlling interest. Trans Corp is a diversified conglomerate having business interests in areas such as Power, Hospitality, and Energy. As 2021 was ushered in, Heirs through its affiliates Transnational Corporation and Heirs Oil & Gas publicized its procurement of a 45 percent operating stake in a permit called Oil Mining Lease 17 from the likes of Shell, ENI, and Total in a mega deal worth above $1 billion.
People would normally expect any company where Elumelu is wielding the big stick to do well and the CEO did not disappoint with Heirs Holding. Presently, the company is exceeding expectations; it can boast of over 30,000 employees on its payroll and at the same time, it empowers thousands more across the black continent of Africa.
He Launched Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2010
Tony Elumelu was really busy during the year he exited from the banking industry. After founding Heirs Holdings in 2010, the Nigerian business mogul also launched The Tony Elumelu Foundation the same year. The responsibility of TEF is the promotion of entrepreneurship in Africa.
The foundation believes that the role of the private sector is critical for the development of Africa and it centers on the economic view of Africapitalism (Africapitalism is the brain-child of Tony Elumelu); he is convinced that the private sector in Africa is capable of transforming the continent via long-term investments, creating social wealth and economic prosperity.
The philanthropic organization is committed to promoting excellence in business leadership cum entrepreneurship, including the enhancement of the competitiveness of Africa’s private sector.
Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant
TEF which was set up as an extension of Tony’s firm belief in the younger generation as catalysts for the continent’s transformation was soon considered a hallmark for sustainable development in Africa. The Foundation lives its mission – leveraging its flagship Entrepreneurship Program in empowering young entrepreneurs of African origin.
There is a ten-year/100 million dollars commitment to identify, train, and mentor 10k young African entrepreneurs; this demography will be selected across 54 African countries; TEF will also take the responsibility of funding all its protégées.
From its inception, Tony Elumelu Foundation has succeeded in funding just below 10,000 entrepreneurs, creating a digital ecosystem of above one million Africans. Considering the extent TEF has gone so far, one would not be far from the truth to assume that the foundation will likely surpass its set target. The black continent of Africa puts so much hope in establishments like TEF.
Tony Elumelu and Africapitalism
As earlier hinted, Africapitalism is the brainchild of Tony Elumelu. It is regarded as an economic philosophy, embodying the private sector’s commitment and obligation to the economic transformation and revolution of Africa via lasting investments that would create economic prosperity in addition to social wealth.
The renowned business mogul sees the black continent taking control of the value-adding sectors as well as making sure that those value-added processes only happen in Africa and not through government policies or nationalization. This will be so because there is a crop of private sector entrepreneurs with the vision, the opportunity, the tools, and every other apparatus needed to profile the destiny of Africa. According to Tony Elumelu, Africapitalism is far from capitalism with an African twist, rather, it is a uniting cry for the empowerment of the private sector in a bid to drive the socio-economic growth of Africa.
Speaking about his home country Nigeria, Tony said it is a country that has always been unique. Nigeria he said is the most populous among the countries of Africa, its citizens are the most traveled and the best educated. The can-do spirit and positive outlook distinguish Nigerians from the crowd. More importantly, Tony added, that there is a strong culture plus the spirit of entrepreneurship in the West African country.
The business mogul stated that smart investors are well aware of the fact that this is the appropriate time to wade into our market because the rudiments of the country’s economy remain strong. Where others would perceive challenges and risks, the glass isn’t half empty but actually half full. No other person than us can develop our continent!
Other Prestigious Offices Tony Elumelu Has Held
Apart from his gigs in the banking industry, Heirs Holdings, and Tony Elumelu Foundation, the African investor has held several other respectable offices in Africa both in the public and private sectors. Below is a comprehensive list of the positions he has occupied.
- Elumelu is part of the Partners Forum for USAID’s PCGA (Private Capital Group for Africa) as an advisor
- He sits on ATIC (Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council) of the Nigerian President
- He serves on NCCN (the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria) as the VP: he was instrumental in its formation.
- The Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security has him as a co-chairperson
- Tony Elumelu is the chairperson of Nigeria’s Ministerial Committee for the establishment of first-rate diagnostic centers and health facilities across Nigeria. He was hand-picked and invited by the FGN and its Presidential Jobs Board to create three million jobs in a year.
- The African investor is part of the Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL)
- He is equally a member of USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum.
- The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development once had Tony as one of its Senior Investment Advisors.
- He co-chaired the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa; this was held between 11–13 May 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The aforementioned indicates that Tony is a guru in the African economy and the business mogul’s impact has been felt in other parts of the world.
Some of His Work Has Been Published
Tony Elumelu has contributed quality content on Africa’s economic development and his life philosophies for several top-notch publications, including the likes of The Economist, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Reports have it that he inspired author Bili A. Odum to pen the book entitled, How to Excel at Work.
Tony’s book, The Power of Vision gives insights into his life and achievements and The TOEWay is a handbook offering insights into his philosophy.
Elumelu Has Been Bestowed with Several Prestigious Awards
As one of Nigeria’s renowned entrepreneurs, Tony Elumelu has swept awards and accolades in their numbers. Below is a comprehensive list of his awards
- In 2008, the African Investor Magazine named Elumelu, African Business Investor of the Year
- In the 2008 awards by African Banker Magazine Tony emerged as the African Banker of the Year
- From Benue State University, he bagged, an Honorary Doctorate of Science Degree in 2012
- From The University of Nigeria Nsukka, Elumelu received, an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration (HonDBA) in 2012
- From the AAI, the renowned investor got Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy in 2013
- In 2013, AAI (Africa-America Institute) awards deemed him fit to receive the Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy.
- At the African Business Awards of 2013, he earned the title, of African Business Icon
- In 2015, he made the list of ESI Most Influential Figures in African Power’
- On the 21st of April 2016 Tony Elumelu got A Lifetime Achievement Award at the fifth edition of the National Council of Employers/General Confederation of Enterprises of Côte d’Ivoire (CGECI) annual forum Academy; in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
- In 2016, he got the Daily Times, Nigerian man of the year
- He became philanthropist of the year in 2018 and 2019 – an honor bestowed by AABLA (the All-Africa Business Leaders Awards)
- Honorary Doctor of Business degree from BUK (Bayero University Kano) in 2019
- Also in 2019, he bagged the National Productivity Order of Merit Award
- He is the first African to be honored with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Entrepreneurship Award
In addition, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and several publications have bestowed him with some of its most prestigious recognition, including the following;
- In 2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria granted Elumelu the MFR (Member of the Order of the Federal Republic) title
- He got the National Honor CON (Commander of the Order of the Niger) in 2012
- The Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis in Nigeria had Tony Elumelu as a member – a special request from the then president of the country, Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
- In 2012, Forbes Magazine named him Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People
- The New African Magazine listed the former bank CEO among the 100 Most Influential Africans in Business in 2012
- Time magazine named him among the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2020
- On two different occasions, the renowned investor has been listed as Top wealthiest people in Nigeria and 10 Richest Black People Worldwide
What is Tony Elumelu’s Net Worth?
With a net worth of $1.4 billion, Tony Elumelu can comfortably hold his own among the richest people in Africa. The former banking guru has revealed his travails during his early days in business. According to him, he had to navigate through a lot of struggles before his dreams became a reality. Consistency perseverance, and making some revolutions contributed to the wealth and popularity he enjoys today.
After he acquired his own bank and formed a successful merger with the United Bank of Africa, Tony’s expansion and fortune knew no bounds and he has continued to record remarkable growth in the banking sector albeit retired. Tony then went on to break new frontiers in the wheeling-dealing world of business which has catapulted him to stardom.
Around 2015, Forbes estimated the African investor’s wealth to be in the neighborhood of $700 million but within a few years, Mr. Elumelu hit the $1 billion mark. Today, his worth is said to be $1.4 billion and still counting.
Sources of wealth for this self-made African billionaire are his business investments in banking and other sectors and he is living a lavish life, residing in the most luxurious homes. Tony cruises around town in the most exotic vehicles – a single Range Rover in his fleet is worth ₦30 million and there is a Mercedes Benz S-Class which worth is ₦42 million. What’s more, Tony has a private jet used for his business exploits across the globe.
Tony Elumelu Is From Which State?
The former bank CEO hails from Delta State in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria, precisely from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North LGA.
Which Businesses Does Tony Elumelu Own?
Tony Elumelu is the former CEO of UBA. He founded Heirs Holdings and is also the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. He has held many prestigious offices in the country.