The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has become synonymous with spreading wealth across the African continent. Founded barely 10 years ago, it has inspired many a young African with knowledge and capital to go into business successfully.
This is courtesy of the highly awarded Tony O. Elumelu, who is recognised at home and across the world for his work and philanthropy. He no doubt believes that for Africa to sit at the table of world innovation it must begin to groom those who would represent it out there at home. Didn’t an African proverb say that to eat with kings one must therefore properly wash his hands. So, upon Elumelu’s retirement from United Bank for Africa in July 2010, he founded the TEF with the objective to prove that the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development.
Born Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu on March 22, 1963 in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, he lives in Lagos with his family and is the chairman, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa Plc.
The originator of the term Africapitalism, he says it is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth. For him, Africans can take charge of the value-adding sectors and ensure that those value-added processes happen in Africa, not through nationalisation or government policies, but because there is a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who have the vision, the tools and the opportunity to shape the destiny of the continent. A man of action, he has since set to work to make this happen by committing not just funds but his time to make this happen within his lifetime. Indeed, many on the continent and beyond are beginning to see the vision that drives Elumelu come to fruition in the number of people, young and old that he has inspired on and beyond the continent.
Bet you didn’t know that apart from inspiring the writing of a lot of books, he has also written many an article about his philosophy and the economic development of Africa for several publications around the world including The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times.