Project Description

Tony Elumelu – A Driving Force Behind the African Economy

Place of Birth

Lagos, Nigeria


Banking, financial services, energy, hospitality, healthcare, real estate, hospitality.

Leadership in an Era of Disruption


Early in his career, Tony Elumelu bought Standard Trust Bank. He converted it into one of the top five players in Nigeria. In later years Elumelu played a pivotal role in acquiring United Bank for Africa and transformed it from being confined to a single country to being a cross-continental institution with a presence in 19 countries and with over seven million customers. Elumelu retired from United Bank for Africa after five years and founded Heirs Holdings, a financial investment firm. Through Heirs he acquired controlling shares in Transcorp, a conglomerate with interests in agribusiness, hospitality, healthcare, hospitality, and energy.

Philanthropy and Sponsorship

At around the same time as when he founded Heirs Holdings Tony Elumelo also founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The foundation is based in Africa, is funded from Africa and is devoted to promoting excellence in business leadership on the continent – with an ultimate goal of improving competitive pricing in the African private sector. Elumelu coined the term Africapitalism – an economic philosophy that expresses the commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through private sector initiatives.

The idea behind the philosophy is that the continent would be transformed through social prosperity and economic wealth created by long-term investments. According to the entrepreneur, Africans ought to take charge of the economy. With a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who possess the tools and the opportunities, it is possible to shape the future of Africa. According to Elumelu, Africapitalism is what will drive the continent’s social and economic growth. He uses the Tony Elumelu Foundation to be part of the continent’s growth. The foundation generates solutions to issues faced by the African private sector. The aim is to support growth and to enhance the abilities of businesses in Africa with an ultimate aim of strengthening the economy.

Other philanthropic activities Elumelu is involved with include:

• Advisor to USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa
• Member of the Bretton Woods Committee, an organization that brings together world leaders in banking, in recognition of is contribution to African development
• A fellow of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative
• In partnership with the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative as the Blair/Elumelu Fellowship Programme
• Co-chairperson of the Africa Energy Leaders’ Group
• Trustee of the Infant Jesus Academy
• A member of the president of Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council

• Vice chairman and principal founder of Nigeria’s National Competitiveness Council
• Co-chairperson of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security
• Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee to establish world-class diagnostic centers and hospitals throughout Nigeria and to create three million jobs in the space of one year
• Member of United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative’s Global Advisory Board
• Member of USAID’s Africa Partners Forum Private Capital Group
• Co-chairperson of the 26th African World Economic Forum in 2016 held in Kigali, Rwanda