15 CEOs to watch in 2015: Tony Elumelu

15 CEOs to watch in 2015: Tony Elumelu

Tony Elumelu, Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Nigeria

In August 2014, Tony Elumelu was appointed chairman of the UBA Group, marking a return to the bank where he made his name as one of Nigeria’s most successful businessmen.

Since leaving UBA under a Central Bank of Nigeria rule curtailing banks CEO’s terms, Elumelu has turned his hand to private equity investing, through Heirs Holdings, and to philanthropy, through the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

A proponent of impact investing, which meshes commercial goals with social goods, Elumelu has backed deals in agriculture, construction and infrastructure across the continent.  At the same time, his foundation has worked to advocate for a better environment for entrepreneurs in Africa. His approach, which he dubs ‘Africapitalism’, promotes a business-led route out of poverty for the continent.

In May 2014, Elumelu launched the Africapitalism Institute, a pan-African, non-profit think-tank which will launch its inaugural Africapitalism Index in January 2015. This index will rank countries based on range of economic and social factors, with the goal of giving policymakers a better dataset on which to base their policy decisions.

Elumelu will also be putting his money where his mouth is in 2015, creating a $100m fund for entrepreneurs. The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme is designed to equip entrepreneurs to contribute meaningfully to Africa’s economic prosperity and social development through sustainable productivity, economic growth, job creation and diversification.

An annual programme, it aims to identify and invest in 10,000 start-ups in Africa within the next decade, creating 200,000 jobs and contributing $2bn in tax revenues.


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Written by Alexa Dalby

Alexa Dalby is a freelance arts and business journalist, with over 20 years varied experience of writing and broadcasting about Africa, and is currently assistant editor of African Business and African Banker magazines. She is a film critic and a specialist in African and Middle Eastern cinema.

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