Tony Elumelu is a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the chairman 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. He was recognized as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” by Forbes magazine.
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 organization.
Elumelu: The Africapitalist
Elumelu is the originator of the economic concept ‘Africapitalism’. He refers to Africapitalism as 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.
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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).”
The Tony Elumelu Foundation
It is the above ‘Africapitalist’ thought that makes Elumelu are a trailblazer. Following his retirement from United Bank for Africa in July 2010, Elumelu founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). The stated objective for this foundation 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”.
Established in 2010, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is the leading philanthropy in Africa championing Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurs across the continent. The Foundation’s long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is emblematic of Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.
The Impact of the Tony Elumelu Foundation
The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is the leading philanthropy in Africa focused on empowering African entrepreneurs. The long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is emblematic of Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.
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The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is the $100million commitment by the Elumelu family to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a 10-year period. The goal is to create at least 1million jobs and contribute over $10billion in revenue to the African economy. Through its flagship Entrepreneurship Programme, the Foundation empowers African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem across 54 African countries. The Foundation has empowered 7,531 entrepreneurs thus far.
The Programme is built on a 7-pillar model, a unique holistic system of effective and intensive support to the African entrepreneurs, consisting of startup enterprise toolkit, online mentoring, online resource library, meet-ups, TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, seed capital and alumni network.
In 2018, the Foundation launched TEFConnect, Africa’s digital entrepreneurship hub last year to connect the entrepreneurship ecosystem and facilitate businesses beyond physical borders. The platform currently hosts 800,000 users.
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