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Tony Elumelu

Tony Elumelu: God’s Gift to Africa

by Olaitan Adeshola

A high-quality thinking such as Tony Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF); Chairman of UBA, Africa’s Global Bank, and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, an African funding conglomerate, amongst a number of different interests, wants little or no introduction. He is God’s present to Nigeria, and then Africa. But Elumelu’s large than existence photograph for sure transcends the boundaries of Africa, making him a international citizen. The center of attention of this essay will be extra about his high-quality philanthropy and burning want to create enduring prosperity and social wealth in Africa by way of empowering entrepreneurs and bettering competitiveness of the non-public sector.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) which is the philanthropic arm of Heirs Holdings was once launched 10 years ago. Since then, TEF has created a legacy of have an effect on and transformational modifications in special sectors throughout Africa together with a new strategic method to philanthropy by means of leveraging impact and impact. It reminds one of the imaginative and prescient of Rotary which is comparable to that of TEF. Rotary is a international community of 1.2 million neighbours, friends, leaders and problem-solvers who see a world the place human beings unite and take motion to create lasting trade – throughout the globe, in their communities, and in themselves.

TEF is funded via an annual supply from Heirs Holdings and supported through the group’s investee companies. In the first 5 years of its existence, the Foundation spent over N2 billion in furtherance of its mission. TEF has additionally supported the philanthropic dreams of different establishments and not-for-profit corporations working in and for Africa.

Upon inception, the 4 key focal point areas of the Foundation were: aiding entrepreneurship; improving competitiveness; coverage intervention and management development. These strategic desires have endured to propel TEF to wreck new grounds with giant consequences however the flagship venture is the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEF Entrepreneurship Programme) which used to be launched on January 1, 2015. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme represents the imaginative and prescient of Elumelu to empower a new technology of African entrepreneurs by using aiding the enterprise dreams of at least 10,000 entrepreneurs throughout Africa over a 10 12 months length with the purpose of developing over one million jobs and $10 billion in extra income for the continent.

When the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme was once launched, President Muhammadu Buhari used to be needless to say very proud of Elumelu. In his view, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme was once if truth be told a proudly Nigerian venture even though it has footprints all over Africa. President Buhari used to be effusive in his reward of Elumelu for his imaginative and prescient for Africa. “I’m thrilled to see that efforts like this aimed at advertising self-help and growing jobs and possibilities for Africa’s youths are gaining ground,” President Buhari remarked. “This demonstrates that the work of re-building our u . s . a . (as nicely as the wider continent) is one all patriots and stakeholders should actively interact in. I’m proud that Nigeria (and a Nigerian) is taking the lead in the effort to promote self-worth, motivate entrepreneurship, create jobs, construct and promote networks for intra-African trade, enterprise collaboration and investment,” the President added. This used to be absolutely a foremost endorsement for the Tony Elumelu Foundation, coming 5 years earlier than the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) used to be launched by means of the African Union to decrease change and funding obstacles between African countries.

It indicates Elumelu is a visionary and he was once developing a future for Africa when he centered TEF in 2010. Innovation is necessary to developing the future. Brian Halligan is an American government who co-founded HubSpot, an inbound advertising and marketing and income software program company. He is additionally an creator and this is what he stated about innovation: “Imagine the future and fill in the gaps.” A lot of innovation is required in distinctive sectors of the economic system and that is what Elumelu is doing in his transformational experience with the aid of the use of non-public capital to create wealth in Africa thru huge based totally partnerships with governments, companies, men and women and philanthropies throughout the globe.

The TEF founder and UBA Chairman, says entrepreneurship is the most wonderful way to set up genuine prosperity and he has persisted to extend this imaginative and prescient to contact lives by using offering seed cash for younger African entrepreneurs. But extra importantly, the TEF founder needs a paradigm shift from the current narrative whereby Africa relies upon generally on aids from multi-lateral institutions; it is now not sustainable and it confers on Africa a weaker negotiating function in worldwide trade. For example, see the injury from COVID-19 pandemic on the economies of African nations – it simply indicates how susceptible the continent is; we do no longer have buffers to mitigate serious monetary headwinds.

According to Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), COVID-19 ought to value Africa’s GDP loss of between $22.1 billion and $88.3 billion in the worst case scenario. Economic recession is already right here with us, and as African nations appear up to the monetary capitals of the world for debt forbearance, no longer forgiveness, Africa’s whole public debt will be over $2 trillion in 2020, Adesina in addition stated. According to facts accessible in the TEF Impact Report, this is the equal Africa that has an annual GDP of about $2 trillion, similar to India or Russia. Twelve African economies are developing at 6% per annum and have been doing so for six years. Every year, $72 billion is invested in infrastructure tasks throughout Africa and with the aid of 2030, it is estimated that Africa’s agriculture zone should generate $1 trillion annually.

For Africa to upward jostle above this steady challenge, the answer lies with African entrepreneurs growing a fee pushed and sturdy financial system that is sustainable. This was once exactly why Elumelu created the monetary philosophy recognised as Africapitalism with the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme serving to catalyse the vision. He is no longer announcing that useful resource is horrific per se, however we ought to quit complaining and get our priorities right. The younger entrepreneurs of Africa can turn out to be monetary disruptors as soon as they are empowered, thereby altering the story from useful resource to exchange and investment.

Since 2015, TEF has been disbursing up to US$10 million each year in direct seed capital to empower younger entrepreneurs throughout Africa below the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme brand, and this imaginative and prescient will be sustained for 10 years till 2025 (the first cycle) by means of which time $100 million would have been invested in the assignment by means of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. According to Elumelu, Africapitalism is the personal sector’s dedication to Africa’s improvement via lengthy time period funding in strategic sectors of the economic system that creates monetary prosperity and social wealth.

For the personal area to thrive there must be an enabling financial surroundings in the shape of investment-friendly authorities policies. But putting and imposing insurance policies – distinct layers of avoidable forms and purple tape can frustrate such insurance policies – takes time. TEF observed that lookup was once a indispensable thing of the approach for the non-public area to liberate the funding plausible in Africa so that entrepreneurship can flourish. To bridge the gap, the Africapitalism Institute used to be launched throughout the World Economic Forum in Africa which held May 7 – 9, 2014 in Abuja.

The Institute is an unbiased non-profit assume tank with a mission to increase and speed up financial prosperity and social wealth in Africa. To gain this objective, the non-public quarter need to have the potential to create and multiply nearby price throughout Africa. The Institute – which is the lookup and advocacy arm of the Foundation; name it the “brain box” if you like — gives rigorous research, curate and talk new thoughts (innovation), improve and take a look at the ideas, at once interact key stakeholders and recommend for public insurance policies and enterprise practices that will unencumber funding possibilities in Africa.

Make no mistake about it, the funding plausible in Africa that Elumelu refers to is huge. As stated by way of Dr Strive Masiyiwa, some other African enterprise chief and investor from Zimbabwe in his Facebook post, Africans in the diaspora make a contribution notably to the wealth of African countries. “According to reliable statistics,” Masiyiwa wrote in his insightful FB post, “Africans in the diaspora ship domestic about $65 billion per year. If this represents 10% of their income, then their complete profits is about $650 billion.” This is a lot of cash which is extra than the complete profits of all the 200 million humans residing in Nigeria — our GDP is about $550 billion. The information shows that about 25 million Nigerians shape phase of the African Diaspora kingdom (about 60 million Africans belong to this community) and they remit about $26 billion again domestic yearly – nearly 40% of our oil income earlier than COVID-19 pandemic hit us under the belt.

An African Development Bank (AfDB) 2018 file indicated that Africans in the diaspora ship domestic about $82 billion a yr which Masiyiwa additionally mentioned in his FB post. After Egypt which remitted about $29 billion, Nigeria got here 2d with annual remittances with the aid of our brothers and sisters in the diaspora amounting to $26 billion, in accordance to the report. These are dollars transferred to household and buddies however most of it is no longer invested; even then, the annual remittances are greater than what comes into Africa as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). In 2018, FDI into Africa used to be about $46 billion in contrast to $82 billion remitted through Africans in the diaspora.

Masiyiwa who has spent most of his grownup lifestyles as an African Diasporan – over 32 years actually; even now, he’s primarily based in London, UK – is very passionate, simply like Elumelu, for Africa to explode with increase and improvement in extraordinary sectors. He believes that there are countless commercial enterprise possibilities in the continent, including that Africa’s entrepreneurship local weather is gradually improving. However, he defined in his five-step information to Africans in the diaspora wishing to make investments in Africa that they have to seem to be earlier than they leap. A Brookings report, in accordance to Masiyiwa, mentioned that higher innovation and funding from commercial enterprise is necessary to meet Africa’s unfulfilled demand for items and services, shut the hole in its infrastructure, create jobs and reduce poverty.

It is evident that Elumelu and Masiyiwa are two African billionaires with single minded willpower to alternate the fortunes of Africa via entrepreneurship. If I apprehend the way these two extra special and modern African buyers are thinking, Africa ought to no longer be a terrible continent, and this wondering is rooted in the Africapitalism philosophy. According to the IMF Data Mapper World Economic Outlook, the pinnacle ten economies in Africa in phrases of their financial measurement by means of GDP — which varies from time to time — are as follows: Nigeria ($494.83 bn), South Africa ($369.85 bn), Egypt ($353 bn), Algeria ($178.64 bn), Morocco ($124.54 bn), Kenya($109.13 bn), Ethiopia ($103.61 bn), Angola ($88.98 bn), Ghana ($69.76 bn), and Tanzania ($67.24 bn).

After reviewing the Impact Report of the Tony Elumelu Foundation from 2010 – 2015, Elumelu believes strongly that the most transformative modifications in Africa will be created through entrepreneurs who have super thoughts and showcase a ardour and innovation in fixing neighborhood issues and developing social wealth. Let me share a private experience. In 2014, our public members of the family and advertising administration organisation used to be honoured alongside forty nine different corporations at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos by means of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Allworld Network on March 22 which is Elumelu’s birthday. That partnership was once a pioneering effort to promote some of the quickest developing however unlisted corporations in Nigeria in the “Fast Growth 50” or “Nigeria50” awards. The partnership helped to entice new investors, customers, boom companions and brain for the 50 groups thru visibility economics with the aid of showcasing their efforts and consequences on an worldwide scale.

I recall that the world famend professor of aggressive strategy, Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School, spoke to us. “Strategy is all about triumphing in the market vicinity with the aid of gaining aggressive advantage,” Prof Porter defined in one of the sessions. TEF later posted The Success Factor to codify the classes and successes of Nigeria50 and it featured the profession of every organization CEO/founder, enumerating the steps they took to construct their companies. Over 5,000 copies of the e book had been disbursed in Nigeria to younger graduates and entrepreneurs.

Subsequently, I grew to become a mentor of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme from 2015 with the first cohort. Mentors are a essential section of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme which helps entrepreneurs throughout Africa with $5,000 non-refundable seed capital to construct their businesses. They additionally get hold of training, mentoring and via peer-to-peer engagement, they construct a bold community and alumni. Once the commercial enterprise is launched, Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs may additionally get hold of extra funding of $5,000 every as mortgage or equity.

Over 3,000 mentors from forty six nations round the world have furnished training and assist to the almost 10,000 entrepreneurs that have been empowered by way of the Foundation throughout Africa. In the first 12 months of the surprisingly aggressive programme, over 20,000 functions have been acquired from fifty two international locations and the greatest quantity of purposes got here from Nigeria (49%), observed through Kenya (17%), and Uganda (4.5%). Since then, the numbers have quadrupled each yr and to date, the Foundation has acquired almost 600,000 purposes for its flagship programme. In response to these numbers, the Foundation launched TEFConnect, its proprietary digital platform for African entrepreneurs, the place TEF gives complete capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages for almost one million African SMEs.

The TEF Entrepreneurship Forum which is the bodily convening of these entrepreneurs has hosted African Presidents which includes President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Uhuru Kenyatta from Kenya, President Felix Tshisekedi of DRC, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda from Uganda, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of Nigeria, amongst others, and it has been known round the world for its ambition, dimension and scale – it is the greatest gathering of entrepreneurs in the world every time it is held.

Apart from TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, the Foundation additionally launched initiatives such as fostering competitiveness (to appeal to neighborhood and overseas investment); have an effect on investing (making cash whilst fixing social and environmental problems); Elumelu Professionals Programme (access to world classification talents); direct intervention in early stage corporations (social science ventures) thru a partnership with Co-Creation Hub (BudgIT and WeCyclers have been two of the 20 beneficiaries and they obtained $5,000 seed capital each) and coverage and ability constructing (strategic engagement between coverage makers and the non-public sector).

TEF additionally promotes notion management to gain its goals. In addition, forging exceptional partnerships and collaborations with applicable enterprises and men and women have grow to be an overarching method for the Foundation. These partnerships are extensive in scope however they are nicely targeted and result-oriented. Some of the consequences encompass research, ideation and publications that cowl a large vary of socio-economic and funding associated topics. Policy makers, notion leaders, journalists and entrepreneurs will locate these publications useful.

Elumelu is no longer on my own on this exceptional transformational trip throughout Africa for the advent of a modern financial environment. He is ably supported by using his beautiful wife, Awele, a extraordinary clinical practitioner in her personal right. Awele is a Trustee of TEF and founder of Avon Medical Practice. She additionally oversees the healthcare investments of Heirs Holdings consisting of Avon HMO, one of Nigeria’s main fitness protection organisations. The Tony and Awele Elumelu Prize was once hooked up to construct the subsequent technology of African leaders and entrepreneurs via participating with 18 associate establishments throughout Africa. The awards have been a supply of motivation for graduates from African universities who attempt to be successful in opposition to all odds. Since 2011 when the prize used to be launched, almost a hundred and forty graduates have acquired promises for their start-ups.

Elumelu is of Delta State origin. His late dad hailed from Onicha-Ukwu (that is additionally the place Chief Sylvester Moemeke, the marketing veteran of Lintas Advertising fame, comes from) whilst his mom (the Ada Onicha) is from Onicha-Ugbo, two idyllic cities in Aniocha North neighborhood authorities vicinity of Delta State. By the way, Onicha-Ugbo the place Elumelu grew up and had his early training is additionally popularly regarded as “Jesus Town”. Maybe Elumelu’s kindness, generosity and humanitarian endeavours have some thing to do with the place he comes from. Naming Onicha-Ugbo “Jesus Town” used to be in reality now not a mistake as it suggests that they are prayerful human beings and they pray for true matters in their hearts.

The Holy Book says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34). The non secular injunction implies that the whole thing we speak, assume or do will attest to what the abundance of our coronary heart brings forth. And in Luke 6:45, we are additionally reminded that, “The right man brings true matters out of the accurate treasure of his heart.” As we can see, Onicha-Ugbo and Onicha-Ukwu people’s prayers have been answered; it capability prayer works — Elumelu is a desirable man and precious ambassador of each communities in whom they are properly pleased. They love him and they are additionally proud of him for his stunning achievements as an executed entrepreneur.

If Elumelu have been an artist, his canvas would have been vast and colourful; he opted to be a world celeb and now not a neighborhood champion. Each stroke of his brush on the canvas would have represented his deep connection with humanity as a father, husband, pan Africanist, visionary, thinker, economist, banker, philosopher, philanthropist and care giver, mentor, goodwill ambassador, patriot, enterprise leader, investor and serial entrepreneur. We honestly want greater high-quality guys and transformational leaders like Elumelu from Africa to make the world a higher place. One extra thing: Elumelu need to grow to be an honorary Rotarian in view of his wonderful offerings to humanity and the Rotary Club of Lagos in District 9110 would be satisfied to honour him.

As the Tony Elumelu Foundation marks its tenth anniversary, I have no doubt in my thought that TEF’s impactful provider to Africa will be sustained for every other cycle of 10 years. I congratulate Elumelu for his imaginative and prescient and exemplary leadership; I additionally salute the whole group for their superb achievements.

Credit: Ehi Braimah, a PR and marketing strategist based in Lagos.

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