The Tony Elumelu Story Inspires MBA Students Across America's Top Business Schools


Scores of African MBA students from America's leading business schools drew inspiration from the Tony Elumelu story at Wharton Business School in Philadelphia, United States of America at the weekend, and were encouraged to pursue their dreams using the same basics of hard work; discipline and visioning that have helped Tony Elumelu achieve unprecedented success.

The occasion was the 18th Wharton Africa Business Forum (WABF) themed: 'A Blueprint for Africa: Navigating the World's Fastest Growing Continent' where Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, addressed students, academics and others with business interests in Africa, on November 20, 2010.

With the global business community's growing interest and involvement in Africa, Tony Elumelu, who spoke on 'Perception and Reality - One African Entrepreneur's Journey,' shared timely and invaluable insights on doing business in Africa as he drew on his experience in building United Bank for Africa (UBA) into a pan African financial institution.

In his role as CEO of UBA, he transformed a Nigerian bank into a global institution - now operating in 18 African countries and across 3 continents. "If I had left the shores of Nigeria, I would not be what I am today and I may not have been in a position to take advantage of the boundless opportunities in Africa. The right people have been a critical ingredient in enabling me to actualize my vision and achieve set goals,' said Mr. Elumelu. ...

Compelled by his own achievements and flanked by a backdrop quoting a statement he made in 1998 at a Standard Trust Bank Town Hall meeting, 'today we may appear young and people may not believe in us, but we are going to compel them to believe in us through our achievements', Tony Elumelu encouraged students to rise and take the opportunities now available in Africa. Other lessons shared included the need to consistently adapt vision and goals to align with strategy, the importance of brand building and the deployment of African solutions. 'If I can do it, you can too.' Elumelu emphasized.

The founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation also urged his peers to think broadly about the value creation for stakeholders and noted the importance of balance and timing for social responsibility.

"I call on Africans who have succeeded as entrepreneurs to start giving back to Africa. To do as Gates and Buffet have done, and make a difference in Africa. We must all join hands in the 21st century and ask ourselves where Africa will be ten years from now and what role each of us will play. We need to make Africa a proud part of the 21st century world community."

Looking forward to developing the private sector through the philanthropic and entrepreneurial work of The Elumelu Foundation and investing in the key sectors across Africa through Heirs Holdings, as a formula for ultimately impacting the economic development of the continent, Elumelu said: 'I want to spend my time, my resources, and my experience building a legacy for Africa.'

Tony Elumelu is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, a principal investment company, primarily focused on Financial Services, Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Healthcare within Africa. He is also responsible for the creation of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit institution dedicated to the promotion and celebration of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship across Africa.

Both organizations are a direct consequence of Tony Elumelu's entrepreneurial and philanthropic passions, fuelled by his desire to nurture a new crop of African leaders committed to Africa's development.

Tony Elumelu is widely acknowledged as one of Africa's most influential business leaders. His corporate reputation was founded on his role in re-shaping the African financial services industry, as the driving force behind the United Bank for Africa Plc.