To the ears of whoever knows about United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu is certainly a familiar name. He is a Nigerian business mogul, philanthropist, investor, and human developer who remains one of the most influential business leaders across the continent. Having attained a decent height in the world of business, Tony Elumelu ranked 31st in Forbes Africa’s richest list with a net worth of $700 million.
The business mogul is also the founder of the Africapitalism concept. This is a theory that argues that the African economy can be fixed by private sectors via making long-term investments that create social wealth and economic prosperity. Elumelu would know better since he has enjoyed success with his businesses that are in various sectors of the economy.
Tony Elumelu Accumulated His $700 Million Net Worth From The Banking Sector Among Other Numerous Businesses and Investments
A self-made billionaire whose source of income is mainly investments, Tony Elumelu is one of the popular entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Africa. When we talk about entrepreneurs, he is a true one in every sense of the word. In addition to his role as chairman of UBA, he owns a controlling interest in Transcorp, a public traded Nigerian conglomerate that has an interest in hospitality, agriculture, oil production, and power generation.
He Started Off His Banking Career As A Youth Corp Member with Union Bank
Tony Onyemechi Elumelu’s journey towards success began in his early stages of life as his mom owned several restaurants. His dad, on the other hand, started quite early to inculcate in him the principles of saving. This really helped in shaping his success in life afterward.
The young man went on to acquire a degree in economics from Ambrose Ali Univerity before attending the University of Lagos where he got a Master of Science degree. Following his graduation from Ambrose Ali University, Elumelu was posted to Union Bank for his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program. After the one-year program, he did not stop his academic pursuit but proceeded to enroll at Harvard Business School for an advanced management program.
After he completed the program, Tony Elumelu applied to join Allstates Trust Bank in 1990. In spite of the bank’s requirement, which was a minimum of 2:1 degree, Tony confidently applied with his 2:2 degree. “I know I may not have met the qualifying criteria for the advertised role, but I am intelligent, ambitious, driven, and I will make the bank proud. My 2:2 degree does not demonstrate the full extent of my intelligence and ability, but I know I can do so much more,” his cover letter read.
These words caught the eyes of the then CEO of the company who decided to give him a chance even though he was “unqualified”. After passing the necessary process, a 27-year old Tony was employed as an entry-level analyst. What happened next was him becoming the youngest branch manager of the bank. He says that this particular position gave him an edge in the rest of his career.
He Led The Acquisition of Standard Trust Bank and UBA
In 1997, Tony came into the limelight after his first business venture proved successful. He led a small group of investors to take over a medium-sized floundering commercial bank named Crystal Bank Limited, later renamed Standard Trust Bank. The bank was distressed, sinking on its head, and was on the verge of bankruptcy. But after the acquisition and within a few years, the bank’s fortunes changed as Tony was subsequently named CEO. He stirred the bank to profitability and in 2005 merged it with UBA, the third-largest bank in Nigeria.
By 2005, Tony with his entrepreneurial prowess was able to turn the Nigerian bank into a pan-African bank. The bank today has its subsidiaries in over 20 African countries. He continued serving as CEO of the bank till 2010 when he voluntarily retired. According to Forbes, Elumelu stepped down as the CEO leaving the bank with $12 billion in assets, a $2 billion market cap, and over 10,000 employees.
But in spite of stepping down as the CEO of UBA in 2010, Tony Elumelu remained as the chairman of the Pan African bank which also has offices in Paris, New York, and London. The bank’s assets have since grown in excess of $19 billion.
His Involvement with Transcorp Plc
Inaugurated on 16th November 2004, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria PLC (Transcorp) is a leading Nigerian conglomerate focused on acquiring, managing, and strategizing businesses that create long-term shareholder value and socio-economic impact. It holds investments in Power, Agriculture, and Hospitals. According to Forbes, Tony is the company’s largest individual shareholder with 22.2% of the shares.
Elumelu Founded Heirs Holdings in 2010
Following his retirement as the CEO of UBA, Tony Elumelu established Heir Holdings, a family-owned investment company whose sole aim is to boost the African economy by investing in its promising sectors, including healthcare, financial services, real estate, energy, hospitality, oil and gas, and agribusiness.
Most recently, Tony acquired a 45% participating interest in Nigeria Oil Licence OML17, and related assets from Total, Shell, and ENI. Heir Holdings company currently has a workforce of over 30,000 people.
He is a Published Author
As expected from someone who has achieved a lot in life, Tony has published three books and written articles that have appeared in The Economist and The Wall Street Journal about his philosophy and the economic development of Africa. His books are:
- The Power of Vision
- The TOE Way
- How to Excel at Work
Other Initiatives and Organisations Headed By the African Business Mogul For African Development
- Tony is an advisor to USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa (PCCG) partner’s forum. He is also a member of the Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC).
- He is the vice-chairman and also a key driver in the formation of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN). He co-chaired the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security.
- He currently chairs the Ministerial Committee which establishes world-class hospitals and diagnostic centers across Nigeria.
- He sits on the USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum and Global Advisory Board of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for all Initiative.
- In May 2016, he was a co-chair of the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Rwanda and Kigali. He was named TIME 100 most influential people in the world.
- He founded Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2010.
- According to Forbes, among other assets, Tony owns extensive real estate across Nigeria and a minority stake in MTN Nigeria.
Highlights of All His Major Sources of Income
- Role as CEO and then Chairman of UBA Africa Plc
- Largest Individual Shareholder of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc
- Founder of Heirs Holdings Investment Company
Tony Elumelu Spends His Wealth on a Number of Charitable Works
In 2010, the investor founded Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), a nonprofit organization designed to help and assist African entrepreneurs as well as prepare them for leadership roles in the private sector. In 2015, TEF declared that it had given about $100 million to empower 10,000 Africans over a period of ten years. It has since become one of the biggest philanthropic endeavors in Africa.
TEF has not only aided in the establishment of businesses but also has created numerous job opportunities in Africa. It announced it would spend $100 million over the next decade to ensure unique business ideas become real businesses.
Elumelu Has Received Numerous Recognitions and Awards For His Work
Tony Elumelu has contributed a lot to the economic growth of Nigeria and Africa at large. As a result of this, he has received a number of awards and recognitions. They include:
- The Federal Government of Nigeria granted him the title of Membership of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR)
- He won the 2006 African Business Leader of the Year Award conferred by Africa Investor, a United Kingdom-based magazine
- In 2008, he won the African Banker of the year by African Banker Magazine
- In 2009, the then Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’adua asked him to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis.
- In 2012, Elumelu was awarded the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) for his service in promoting public and private business enterprise.
- In 2016, he was awarded the ‘daily times’ Nigerian Man of the Year
- In April 2016, he was conferred a Lifetime Achievement Award