One of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists, Mr. Tony Elumelu, has been named among TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2020. Time 100 is an annual list of 100 most influential people in the world, assembled by the respected American news magazine, TIME.
The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognises the activism, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. Elumelu, who is the Chairman of several leading organisations, including top pan-African financial services group, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), is one of only four Africans and one of three Nigerians on the 2020 list. He was recognised for his track record of business turnaround and value creation, and economic empowerment of young Africans. Elumelu was described in the magazine, by Africa’s wealthiest man and President of Dangote Industries Ltd, Aliko Dangote, as: “A man who hardly backs down from any challenge,” one of the qualities that the billionaire, said “have propelled him (Elumelu) from a modest beginning in Nigeria to becoming chair of the United Bank of Africa, and one of the most innovative and ambitious business leaders of his generation.”
Aside from being the chairman of top pan-African financial services group, UBA, which operates in 20 countries in Africa, the United Kingdom, France, providing corporate, commercial, SME and consumer banking services to more than 21 million customers globally and the only African bank with a commercial deposit taking licence in the United States, Elumelu is the Founder and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, his family owned investment company, committed to improving lives and transforming Africa, through long-term investments in strategic sectors of the African economy, including financial services, hospitality, power, energy and healthcare.
He is also the Chairman of Nigeria’s largest quoted conglomerate, Transcorp Plc, whose subsidiaries include Transcorp Power, one of the leading generators of electricity in Nigeria and Transcorp Hotels Plc, Nigeria’s foremost hospitality brand.
In addition, Elumelu is undoubtedly the most prominent champion of entrepreneurship on the continent. In 2010, he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the philanthropy, empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation across all 54 African countries. Since inception, the Foundation has funded about 10,000 entrepreneurs and created a digital ecosystem of over one million as part of its 10-year $100million commitment through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. Speaking at the inception of the programme, Elumelu said “The opportunity and challenge in Africa is scale; in our people, our resources and our horizons. In my business and philanthropic journeys, I have always sought ways to help inspire a generation across our continent.
This programme brings together my own entrepreneurial experience and my fundamental belief that entrepreneurs – women and men across Africa – will lead Africa’s development and transform our futures.” “The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme will offer a structured, multi-year opportunity to access funding, knowledge and perhaps most importantly mentoring, on a scale that is unprecedented in Africa – it is our opportunity to empower a generation. Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone to African development and the key to local value creation in Africa.
I am determined to ensure that Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs has the platform they need to turn their entrepreneurial aspirations into sustainable businesses that will drive economic growth and job creation across Africa,” he added. The Foundation, which is self-funded, is now increasingly sharing its unique ability to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa, with institutions such as the UNDP, the ICRC and leading European development agencies. Both Heirs Holdings, which serves as a corporate role model for African businesses, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, will both celebrate 10 years of impact in November.
Their mission continues to be inspired by Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector and most importantly, entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent. TIME magazine’s listing of Elumelu among its 100 most influential people of 2020 is thus seen by close watchers of the African as a well-deserved recognition of his efforts at promoting entrepreneurship and philanthropy on the continent. Indeed, in a congratulatory message, signed by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, President Muhammadu Buhari lauded Elumelu on his being named among the Time 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
The President commended Elumelu’s vision of Africapitalism, which espouses that Africa’s private sector must play a leading role in the continent’s development through long-term investments, entrepreneurship, and regional connectivity, adding that it was just a matter of time before such caught global attention. According to the president, “Elumelu’s commitment to the development of African youths, whom he has given a voice and empowerment, investing $5,000 in 1,000 young entrepreneurs per year across 54 countries, pedestals him as a visionary, with milk of human kindness, ‘and such, among others, must have qualified him for the Time Hall of Fame.”
Significantly, in his reaction to the announcement that he has been named among Time’s 100 most influential people of 2020, Elumelu wrote the following on his Facebook page: “Not every day do you wake up to this – honoured to be named to the 2020 #Time100 from TIME. This has been a tumultuous year for all of us – challenging, humbling, and forcing us all reflect. “Why am I there? When in 2010, we launched The Tony Elumelu Foundation to champion African entrepreneurship, we had clear goals to catalyse and, yes, showcase the capacity, determination and power of the African entrepreneur. Young women and men shaping economies, creating jobs and singlehandedly confronting the clichés that often surround Africa.
Africa is not a “continent of unrealised potential,” but one of innovation, pulsing with productivity, as our entrepreneurs are reimagining and building a new future for the continent. It is also about businesses like Transcorp Power, Nigeria’s larg-