Tony Elumelu is a Nigerian entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor who has been recognized as one of the most influential business leaders in Africa. He is the founder and chairman of Heirs Holdings, a family-owned investment company that operates in various sectors, such as banking, energy, real estate, hospitality and health care. He is also the chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), a pan-African financial institution with operations in 20 African countries and offices in London, Paris and New York. He is the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), a non-profit organization that empowers African entrepreneurs through mentorship, training and funding.
Tony Elumelu was born on March 22, 1963 in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. He attended Ambrose Alli University in Edo State, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1986. He later obtained a master’s degree in economics from the University of Lagos in 1993. He began his career as an entry-level analyst at Union Bank of Nigeria in 1985. In 1997, he led a group of investors to acquire Standard Trust Bank, a struggling commercial bank, and transformed it into one of the top five players in Nigeria. In 2005, he engineered the merger of Standard Trust Bank with UBA, creating the largest financial services institution in Africa at the time.
Tony Elumelu is widely regarded as a pioneer of Africapitalism, a philosophy that advocates for the private sector’s role in driving economic and social development on the continent. He believes that Africa’s destiny lies in the hands of its entrepreneurs, who have the potential to create jobs, wealth and prosperity for themselves and their communities. Through his foundation, he has committed $100 million to support 10,000 African entrepreneurs over 10 years. Since its inception in 2015, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme has received over 300,000 applications from 54 African countries and has empowered over 9,000 entrepreneurs with seed capital, training and mentorship.
Tony Elumelu is also a global thought leader and influencer who regularly speaks at international forums and events on issues such as entrepreneurship, leadership, governance and development. He has received numerous awards and honors for his achievements and contributions to Africa and the world. Some of these include the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) by the Nigerian government in 2003, the African Business Leader of the Year by Africa Investor Magazine in 2006, the African Banker of the Year by African Banker Magazine in 2008 and 2009, the Forbes Africa Person of the Year in 2012, the Lifetime Achievement Award by the African Banker Magazine in 2019 and the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2020.