Renowned Nigerian Entrepreneur, economist, banker, and investor Mr. Tony Elumelu is the focus of this article. He is popularly known as the former chairman of United Bank of Africa(UBA), current chairman of Heirs Holdings, and Transcorp, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Tony Elumelu’s Biography

He was Born Tony Onyeamaechi Elumelu on 22nd March 1963 in Jos, Plateau State. His parents were entrepreneurs, his mother, Suzanne Elumelu, owned restaurants and was a major distributor of the customer chain while his father is Dominic Elumelu.

He had an early introduction into the world of entrepreneurship through his parents and this set him on the path to entrepreneurship as an adult. Although he was born in Jos, Mr. Tony Elumelu hails from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.


Tony Elumelu grew up with four siblings one of whom is a politician, Hon Ndudi Elumelu who used to be a member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives.

He had his graduate degree in Economics from Ambrose Alli University, formerly known as Bendel State University while his Master’s degree also in Economics was earned from the Lagos State University.

Mr. Tony Elumelu didn’t stop there, he proceeded to acquire more academic exposures from business schools of Harvard, USA; the International Institute of Management Development IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland and Singapore Institute of Management (SIM).

Marital Life And Family

Mr. Tony Elumelu is happily married to Awele Vivien Elumelu, a medical doctor. The couple got married in 1993 and are blessed with seven children; five girls and twin boys.

His wife, Vivian, is currently the Chairperson of Avon Healthcare Limited and also the Chief Executive Officer of Avon Medical Services Limited. She also oversees the healthcare investments of her husband’s Heirs Holdings. She holds a degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Benin.

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Professional Career And Investments

Tony Elumelu kicked off his banking career at Union Bank of Nigeria Plc as a Youth Corps member in 1985. Early in his career, he acquired and turned Standard Trust Bank into a top-five player in Nigeria.

His major breakthrough as an entrepreneur came when he led the largest merger in the banking sector in Sub-Sahara Africa to acquire the United Bank for Africa (UBA). He has succeeded in transforming the bank into a Pan African institution by attracting over seven million customers in nineteen African countries.

See also: The Top Ten Under 40s CEOs in Nigeria.

He was Chairman of the Bank until 2010 and upon retirement, he founded the Heir Holdings, a company that invests in financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, healthcare sector, and Agribusiness. In the year 2011, Heir Holdings procured a controlling interest in Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp).Mr.

Tony Elumelu is a serial investor and was appointed among several industry leaders as the first African member of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum on the 24th of September, 2012. This appointment came shortly after he was appointed as a Senior Investment Advisor in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. He is also a member of the Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL).

Mr. Tony Elumelu is a Vice-Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN) and also serves as Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security.

Also, he is a member of the Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC). He also chaired the Ministerial committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centers across Nigeria with the aim of creating 3 million jobs a year at the invitation of the Federal Government and the Presidential Jobs Board.

Mr. Tony Elumelu was one of the co-chairs of the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa that held in Kigali, Rwanda from 11th –13th May 2016.


Tony Elumelu Foundation

Mr. Tony Elumelu founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation; an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organization focused on promoting excellence in business leadership and Entrepreneurship. The aim of the foundation is to prove that the private sector in Africa can be the primary generator of economic development.

Through his foundation, Tony Elumelu Foundation, he has set aside $100 million dollars to help startups in Africa. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme started in 2015 and is the only African-funded entrepreneurial catalyst of its kind. So far, the programme has empowered 4,470 African entrepreneurs, with seed capital of $5,000 each.

They also went through twelve weeks of accelerated online business training and are provided with access to experienced mentors and membership of Africa’s largest entrepreneurial ecosystem. Another batch of 1000 beneficiaries is set to be added to the current number in 2019.

Tony Elumelu’s Assets

Apart from the companies he owns and others he is a significant shareholder of that have been discussed above, Tony Elumelu also has a marginal stake in mobile telecom firm MTN Nigeria. He also has several landed properties spread all over Nigeria. In 2015, he bought a luxurious private jet.

Tony Elumelu’s Net-Worth

According to Forbes, his net worth was put at $700 million in 2015. It is believed that his net-worth currently should be over $1 billion.

Tony Elumelu’s Books

Mr. Tony Elumelu has written about his philosophies of life and the economic development of Africa for several publications all over the world. He has written for the Economist, the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.

He is also the source of inspiration for a book titled “How to Excel at Work,” by Bili A. Odum. A testimonial, “The Power of Vision,” which gives an insight into the life as well as achievements of this business magnate was also compiled in the course of his retirement as the GMD/CEO at UBA.

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Awards and Recognition

He has received numerous awards for his work as an entrepreneur. Some of these are listed below.


  • He was recognized on the list of Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People by Forbes Magazine.
  • He received a Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards
  • He was honored as an African Business Icon at the 2013 African Business Awards
  • He featured on ESI Most Influential Figures in African Power list, 2015
  • He got a Lifetime Achievement Award on 21st April 2016, at the 5th edition of the National Council of Employers
  • He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the General Confederation of Enterprises of Côte d’Ivoire (CGECI) annual forum Academy held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in 2016.
  • He is the first African ever to receive the Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Entrepreneurship Award.
  • In 2003, he was granted the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the Federal Government of Nigeria. He was then honored with higher national honor in 2009 when he was asked by the then President of Nigeria, the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis. He rewarded Tony Elumelu with a Commander of the Order of the Niger(CON) award.
  • On two occasions, Mr. Tony Elumelu has featured among Top 10 richest black people in the world and richest people in Nigeria.


We have looked at the biography of one of Nigeria’s foremost entrepreneurs, Mr. Tony Elumelu. He is an inspiration to all young entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Africa, aspiring to make a name for themselves in their chosen career.

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