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LAGOS, Nigeria – Ask Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp), about the African private sector’s integral role in the continent’s economic and social development, and you get a response that is akin to a wake-up call. In a recent interview, Elumelu, former Group CEO of United Bank for Africa (UBA), who is also the founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), speaks enthusiastically about his two passions – entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
The interview is part of the June 2012 Forbes Africa cover, “Power Builder” (on newsstands now). The story highlights philanthropic-entrepreneur Elumelu’s plans to grow Africa’s entrepreneur base following a successful leadership run that took UBA to extraordinary heights. He retired from the bank in July 2010.
Described by the magazine as The Warren Buffett of Africa, Elumelu talks about his rise from banker at a single-country bank to Group CEO of a pan-African financial institution; Heirs Holdings, the investment firm which he now runs; TEF, the philanthropic organisation he founded in 2010 to help enhance the competitiveness and growth of the African private sector, and how he’s getting those private sector players to pay attention to the continent’s development.
Elumelu also delves into his philosophy of Africapitalism, a business-led, African-run approach to maximising the continent’s potential.
“…Today, one has transcended to a different level,” he says, “where you look at your business interests, you look at mankind, you look at society, you look at the interplay of societal forces that shape the system, the economy of the country, the continent. You’re looking at advocacy, trying to make sure there’s good governance because good governance brings economic prosperity and social wealth. You’re also trying to do good; to give back to society in a more impactful way, to mentor others…”
Read the full interview at: www.tonyelumelu.com/sites/tonyelumelu.com/files/Forbes%20-%20Tony%20Elumelu.pdf
Tony O. Elumelu speaks…
On hiring: “Talents I don’t have, I don’t regret; I surround myself with people who have them.”
On continued spate of kidnapping: “Where there’s hope people do not take to violence. Where there’s no hope people become vulnerable.”
On giving back: “We’ve had a trend in the past where it was more of donating monies to society, but I personally believe that this is not the age and time for that. Donations are good, but to a large extent, we should do it in a way and manner that is sustainable. We should make it have more meaning and impact.”
On hard work: “If you saw [Michael] Jackson’s last movie, “This Is It”, you saw a man who was so detailed and meticulous. He believed in hard work. Look at the amount of practice, energy; everything he put into that show!”
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