By Aliko Dangote
Amere handshake says a lot about Tony Elumelu. His gritty grip underlines his charming, tenacious personality: a man who hardly backs down from any challenge. The same engaging qualities have propelled him from a modest beginning in Nigeria to becoming chair of the United Bank of Africa, and one of the most innovative and ambitious business leaders of his generation.
He is a leading proponent of “Africapitalism,” a belief that Africa’s private sector can and must play a leading role in the continent’s development through long-term investments, as well as entrepreneurship and regional connectivity.
After deepening the financial market in Africa, he has found an equally important niche: giving a voice of hope to millions of youths across Africa.
Tony has harnessed Africa’s youth bulge to catalyze development and protect the future, committing to investing $5,000 each in 1,000 young entrepreneurs per year across 54 countries in Africa. Having come so far, Tony still forges on, striking a fine balance between personal satisfaction and societal impact.
Tony is perhaps the biggest success story in the Nigerian banking industry having taken the then nascent Standard Trust Bank to challenge the biggest names in the industry, culminating to an audacious merger with the United Bank for Africa (UBA). This merger saw Elumelu to the top echelons of corporate banking in
Nigeria and Africa. The footprints he left in Nigeria’s banking sector is yet to be matched.
His recognition by the much-revered *Time International Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People In The World* is a fitting testimony and badge of honour for a man who has devoted his time, resources, being and comfort towards raising hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs across the African continent.
It is arguable that there has never been any initiative, policy or action across the continent that has challenged African entrepreneurs the way and manner the *Tony Elumelu Foundation* has touched lives, with reverberating effects that will endure for generations.
Whilst many countries are still struggling to have a breakthrough in a sustainable trajectory that can utilize the abundance of talents that straddle every corner of the continent, Tony’s profound and deepening challenge to young Africans will in the nearest future blossom to produce thinking and creative generations.
With interests that cut across power generation, healthcare, hospitality, and banking, Tony Elumelu continues to represent fresh frontiers, full of opportunities but available to only those who dare to chart a new course and brace the odds to succeed.
Being a Leadership Development Professional and a Turnaround Manager myself, I appreciate the enormous work Tony Elumelu has done in raising a new generation of entrepreneurs across Africa. This recognition will undoubtedly bolster his determination to alter the course of emerging Africa’s generations for the better and place them on a pedestal of prosperity, service to humanity, and above all, provide leadership for the continent. He is championing a new Africa that will take a prideful position in the comity of continents.
In the words of Sonia Johnson: “We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”
Congratulations to Africa’s shining star.