Entrepreneur Exclusive : Visionary Leader, Tony Elumelu Joins Global Leaders ...Shares His Candid Thoughts & Entrepreneurial Tips For Future Champions ( Part 1)


"Show me the heroes that the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the future of your country" ~ Idowu Koyenikan, Wealth for all Africans: How Every African Can Live the Life of Their Dreams


Only recently, history was made when  one of Africa's topnotch Philanthropist, serial Investor and  chairman, UBA Plc,Dr. Tony Elumelu teamed up with some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs , invited by Thought Economics, a journal of intellectual capital,which is read in over 120 countries to share his thoughts on entrepreneurship.

Other successful entrepreneurs that were interviewed  for the exclusive publication include; Sir

Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group), Robin Li (Founder of Baidu), SirJ ames Dyson (Founder of Dyson), Professor Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Founder of Grameen Bank), Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Founder of Biocon), N. R. Narayana Murthy (Founder of Infosys), Tim Draper (Founding Partner,Draper Associates and DFJ), Jamal Edwards MBE (Founder, SBTV), Nathan Myhrvold(Founder & CEO, Intellectual Ventures), Wendy Kopp (CEO & Co-Founder,Teach For All), Tory Burch (Chairman & CEO, Tory Burch), Steve Case(Co-Founder, 

America Online – AOL&  Revolution), and Jerry Yang (Co-Founder,Yahoo!).

In that historical interview, Dr. Tony O. Elumelu (CON) shared his ideas on what drives him as an entrepreneur, his passion and inspiration and hopes for the future and also gives some advice to future entrepreneurs.

Today,for the records sake, World' Industry Leaders magazine presents you part 1 excerpts of the interview below, with hope that it can inspire the future champions on 



What does ‘entrepreneurship’ mean to you?

 For me, personally, being an entrepreneur is an innate talent, as well as a learned one. 

My mother owned restaurants and was a major distributor in the consumer value chain. So, growing up, I was able to see firsthand the far-reaching value that entrepreneurship creates. Now that I am a seasoned professional,entrepreneurship has come to mean many things to me: as a businessperson,entrepreneurship has enabled me to create wealth, for myself, my investors, my colleagues and stakeholders. Entrepreneurship has also created an avenue for me

to impact humanity positively, by creating and supporting more entrepreneurs,through the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Entrepreneurship has empowered me to raise the standard of living for entire communities, particularly on my continent –Africa.


is the role of entrepreneurs in an economy and society?

 I believe that entrepreneurs, like other private sector operators, have an obligation to channel their acumen toward enhancing their social environment, as much as their financial statements. I run an Africapitalist organization, which means that my businesses create value for shareholders and society alike. For example, our Transcorp Power Company is one of our nation’s top power generators—in 2013, we inherited a plant that generated

less than 150 megawatts of electricity and now we contribute 750 megawatts to Nigeria’s grid, more than 15% of the country’s output. With increased power output, businesses, schools, hospitals and even private households are better

able to save on running costs, freeing up capital for critical expenditures. We also run an agribusiness, Teragro, which is Nigeria’s first local producer of juice concentrate. Until Teragro began processing these concentrates, working directly with local farmers and giving them increased access to the wealth they

help to create, Nigeria imported 100% of the concentrate used to manufacture juices that are consumed locally. Thus, our activities contribute to the companies’ bottom line, while creating jobs, improving quality of life and retaining more local value within the country.

It is inarguable that entrepreneurs play a key role in addressing social and global issues,particularly poverty. Personally, I am pleased to see that global leaders now

agree that entrepreneurship, not charity, is better able to create progressive,sustainable development that benefits the poor. This is why the United Nations has included the promotion of development-oriented policies that support entrepreneurship in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In many developing countries where competing priorities and limited resources can overwhelm government systems, the private sector is uniquely positioned to

mobilize the capital assets that can realize lasting, positive social

transformation. The relationship between corporation and community is symbiotic: by contributing to raising the standards of living around them, these entrepreneurs are also positioning their businesses to profit from increased disposable incomes, a healthier, better-educated pool of potential employees, and numerous other benefits.


What are the key drivers for an entrepreneur?

Ask any entrepreneur and most, if not all, will tell you that they are driven by passion. This passion could be for a single, innovative idea, or it could be a passion to do something that changes the world. But without passion, it would be impossible to stay the course of this most challenging of vocations, and

rewards at the end of the journey make all the struggle worthwhile.


What are the characteristics of a great entrepreneur?

Great men, regardless of their chosen profession, have shared characteristics: discipline,

zeal, competitiveness. They are driven to succeed, and often this requires a brazenness or boldness that most will identify as risk-taking behaviour, but is often calculated. Great entrepreneurs do things differently.  They exhibit traits that set them apart from the general population and, though not all were born leaders, I believe their

achievements make them leaders among their peers.


What are the sources of entrepreneurial ideas?

I run my businesses

according to the principles of Africapitalism, which calls for businesses to commit to development through investing in long-term ventures that increase economic prosperity as well as social wealth. 

This means that a successful business is one that creates value for its

stakeholders but also makes a long-term, sustainable contribution to the

communities that it supports and that support it.

• Part 2 to continue shortly

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