Anthony Elumelu (Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu), is a Nigerian billionaire and philanthropist, born 22 March 1963. He is the chairman and founder of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. Elumelu holds the Nigerian national honours, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2003.
Nigerian entrepreneur and investor Tony Elumelu owns a controlling interest in Transcorp, a publicly traded Nigerian conglomerate with interests in hospitality, agriculture, oil production and power generation. He came into the limelight in 1997 when he led a small group of investors to take over a small, floundering commercial bank in Lagos.
He turned it profitable within a few years and in 2005 he merged it with the United Bank for Africa. That banking group now has subsidiaries in 20 African countries and in the U.S and U.K. Elumelu also owns extensive real estate across Nigeria and a minority stake in mobile telecom firm MTN Nigeria, among other assets.
Anthony Elumelu, fondly referred to as Tony Elumelu was born in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, in 1963. He hails from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. He has two degrees in economics from Nigerian universities, a bachelor’s degree from Ambrose Alli University and a master of science degree from the University of Lagos.
In his early career, Elumelu acquired and turned Standard Trust Bank into a top-five player in Nigeria. In 2005 he led the acquisition of United Bank for Africa (UBA), later transforming it from a single-country bank to a pan-African institution with more than seven million customers in 19 African countries.
Following his retirement from UBA in 2010, Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors. In the same year, he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organisation.
In 2011, Heirs Holdings acquired a controlling interest in the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), a publicly quoted conglomerate that has business interests in the agribusiness, energy, and hospitality sectors. Elumelu was subsequently appointed the chairman of the corporation.
Elumelu serves as an advisor to the USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum. He sits on the Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC). He is also vice-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), whose formation he was a key driver in, and serves as Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security. He additionally chairs the Ministerial Committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centres across Nigeria, at the invitation of the Federal Government and the Presidential Jobs Board, engineered to create 3 million jobs in one year. He also serves as a member of the Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL) and USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum.
He was one of the co-chairs of the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, from 11 to 13 May 2016.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation
Following his retirement from United Bank for Africa in July 2010, Elumelu founded The Tony Elumelu Foundation. His stated objective was to “prove that the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development.” The Foundation is charged with the mission of “driving Africa’s economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector”.
- Elumelu was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Regional Agenda Council on Africa.
- His presence on the Bretton Woods Committee, which brings together senior leaders in the global banking industry, is recognition of his work on African development.
- He is a Fellow of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI).
- He is involved, through his foundation, with the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) in a partnership to strengthen the private sector’s role in the economic transformation of select African countries. This partnership is called the Blair-Elumelu Fellowship Programme.
- He is co-chair of the Africa Energy Leaders’ Group (AELG)
- Elumelu is a Trustee of the Infant Jesus Academy in Delta State, Nigeria.
- In 2018, he joined other global leaders as one of the inaugural Board Members of Generation Unlimited, an initiative of the United Nations refocused youth agenda.
Elumelu is the originator of the term Africapitalism. According to him, Africapitalism is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth. Elumelu sees Africans taking charge of the value-adding sectors and ensuring that those value-added processes happen in Africa, not through nationalisation or government policies, but because there is a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who have the vision, the tools and the opportunity to shape the destiny of the continent. He insists that Africapitalism is not capitalism with an African twist; it is a rallying cry for empowering the private sector to drive Africa’s economic and social growth.
Elumelu subscribes to Michael Porter’s concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV). He studied under Professor Porter at Harvard Business School and Professor Porter is the Founding Patron of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. CSV refers to the idea that “companies must take the lead in bringing business and society back together.” It asserts that “businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues (society) face(s).”
Awards and Recognition
In 2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria granted Elumelu the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), a national honour. In 2006, Elumelu was voted African Business Leader of The Year by Africa Investor magazine. In 2006, He won the African Business Leader of The Year award conferred by the United Kingdom-based magazine, Africa Investor. Also, in March 2007, he was voted The Banker of The Year by the Nigerian Magazine, Global Excellence and Chief Executive Officer of the Year in 2008 by the same magazine.
He was recognised African Banker of the Year in 2008 by African Banker magazine. In 2009, the Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’adua asked him to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis.
In 2012, he was awarded the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) for his service in promoting private enterprise. He was recognised as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” by Forbes magazine. In addition, New African magazine featured him in their list of the “100 Most Influential Africans in Business”. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree from Benue State University and an honorary doctorate of business administration from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
In 2013, Elumelu received the Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards. He was also named African Business Icon at the 2013 African Business Awards.
ESI-Africa, frequently described as “Africa’s power journal”, named Elumelu in its 2015 “ESI Most Influential Figures in African Power” list, in January 2015.
At the 5th edition of the annual Economic Forum of the Ivorian National Council of Employers, CGECI Academy, (CGECI) in Abidjan in April 2016, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award. Also, in 2016, he was awarded the ‘daily times, Nigerian man of the year.’
He was awarded 2017 Philanthropist of the year award on February 28, 2018, by media publisher, Per Second News.
Tony Elumelu married Awele Vivien Elumelu, a medical doctor, in 1993, and they have seven children together. He has four siblings, one of whom is Ndudi Elumelu, a member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives. He is the cousin of legendary Nigerian reggae artiste, Ras Kimono who died on 10 June 2018.
Tony Elumelu Net Worth
Tony Elumelu’s net worth is estimated to be over $1 billion (N362 billion). He had hit the $1 billion mark in 2014 (November) and later fell short to $700 million in 2015, according to Forbes. He has however climbed back ever since.