" Where There Is Opportunity, there must Be Success" - Tony Elumelu On His Listings In TIME 100 Most Influential Men In The World

By Mike Cerutti Osagie

" Some men are born Great. Some  achieved greatness; while others have Greatness thrust upon  them" world's great word smith, William Shakespeare, noted in his world classical, Twelfth Night

The combination of such Greatness can be said to be what The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Heirs Holdings  and Transcorp Plc Chairman, Tony Onyeamachi Elumelu-who was earlier this week named  among three Nigerians  by the Time Magazine International on the 2020 TIME100, the annual roll of HONOUR of the 100 most influential people in the world- possess(the other two Nigerians include Tomi Adeyemi and Tunji Funsho)

It was no doubt a thing of joy for many Nigerians to see three of their own being listed, and even the President and Commander -In-  Chief, H.E Muhammadu Buhari openly poured encomium on Tony O. Elumelu, one of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists, to have been honoured & mentionrd  in the 2020 TIME100, the annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. 

The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognises the activism, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. 

Dr Elumelu, who is one of only four Africans on the 2020 list, is recognised for his track record of business turnaround and value creation, and economic empowerment of young Africans.

Tony 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, technology and healthcare. 

He is also the Chairman of pan-African financial services group, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which operates in 20 countries in Africa, the United Kingdom, France, and is the only African bank with a commercial deposit taking licence in the United States. 

He also chairs Nigeria’s largest quoted conglomerate, Transcorp,  whose subsidiaries include Transcorp Power, one of the leading generators of electricity in Nigeria and Transcorp Hotels Plc, Nigeria’s foremost hospitality brand.

Mr Elumelu is the most prominent champion of entrepreneurship in Africa. 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 just under 10,000 entrepreneurs and created a digital ecosystem of over one million as part of its ten year, US$100m commitment through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.  Self-funded, the Foundation is 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.

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 Mr 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.


Many have openly wondered why was Elumelu ,the only billionaire business tycoon, serial investor/ entrepreneur and Africans global philanthropist to make the prestigious Time 100 list ?

He gave an insight in his official reaction on the plum honour, and this is a very important point for the record

" 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 largest power producer; UBA Group, a bank in 20 African countries democratising financial services and breaking down barriers to trade; Avon HMO, innovating in delivering healthcare – our Group CEOs like Dr. Awele Elumelu, Owen Omogiafo, Simbo Ukiri, Dupe Olusola, Uzo Oshogwe, and Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu ideally females! We are changing the African narrative – thanks TIME for recognising this.


"Business and philanthropy have taught me that talent is evenly distributed. Yes in California’s “Silicon Valley”, but also Lagos’ “CC-hub”, the young people are just as gifted, but the structures of institutionalised support, the networks committed to and invested in their success could not be more different. Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity – where there is more opportunity, inevitably, there will be more success. It is this imbalance, the uneven access to opportunity for entrepreneurs in Africa that ignited my 2015 US$100 million commitment to empowering African entrepreneurs. 

"Our rejection of the status quo propelled us to fund, mentor and train 10,000 entrepreneurs and counting, creating a digital ecosystem of support for over one million Africans. The results have been phenomenal. Across tech, agriculture, retail, fashion, education, healthcare and countless others, our beneficiaries are launching and growing businesses that are transforming their cities and countries. Organisations including the United Nations Development Programme - UNDP  , the   International Committee of the Red Cross and leading European development agencies are working with us to reach thousands more – because what we do is pretty unique – we give capital, training and mentorship to those who can make a difference – at scale. But the work remains just as urgent, this is no time to rest"

On his advice and words of hope for young disadvantaged Africans, Elumelu highlighted and advised 


"Young Africans should not be disadvantaged by their heritage and place of birth. They should not be forced to leave our continent. It is the responsibility of all of us – private sector peers and colleagues, the global development world, policy makers home and abroad and all stakeholders – to identify and invest in the next generation of Africans as the world has done for their counterparts elsewhere for so many years. 

"African entrepreneurs deserve the global spotlight today and every day after.


"This is a great day – I am proud, thankful, touched – thanks TIME" was his apt conclusion

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