Tony O. Elumelu
During the sidelines of UNGA78, UBA Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, participated in a thought-provoking panel at the Clinton Global Initiative on Philanthropy. He shared valuable insights alongside co-panelist Dr. Carmen Rojas, President of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and was skillfully moderated by Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post and MSNBC.
Mr. Elumelu emphasized the pivotal role of Africapitalism in the holistic transformation of Africa, both socially and economically.
Africapitalism, as he passionately described, is his belief that the African private sector wields the potential to revolutionize our continent, fostering not only economic prosperity but also social well-being.
Drawing from his own remarkable life journey, he spoke with conviction: “I was born in Africa, educated in Africa, I live in Africa, and I have created wealth in Africa. I witness daily, on our continent, the presence of young, talented, energetic, intelligent, and ambitious individuals yearning to succeed and catalyze Africa’s transformation. However, they often lack the essential resources – capital, training, and networks.”
Mr. Elumelu didn’t start at the summit of success. He acknowledged the role of serendipity, mentorship, dedication, and relentless hard work in shaping his journey. He highlighted how entrepreneurial success can address numerous societal challenges in Africa.
In 2013, he and his wife decided to pay forward the opportunities they had received. Thus, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) was born, with a resolute commitment of $100 million to empower a new generation of African entrepreneurs and contribute to economic transformation. This, he asserted, is the essence of Africapitalism—a call to the African private sector to invest in critical sectors that can catalyze humanity’s transformation.
Mr. Elumelu proudly shared TEF’s substantial impact over the last decade, as detailed in their recently launched independent impact report. What began as a family-funded initiative has blossomed into something far-reaching. To date, TEF has empowered over 18,000 young entrepreneurs, providing each with $5,000 in non-refundable seed capital, contemporary business training, and world-class mentorship to facilitate business growth and success.
He emphasized the significance of partnerships, acknowledging organizations like UNDP, the European Commission, and the IKEA Foundation, which has joined forces with TEF to empower innovative African entrepreneurs addressing climate challenges. Together, the potential for impact is immense.
Africa boasts a population of approximately 1.6 billion people, with over 65% under the age of 30. Engaging this demographic economically could yield substantial dividends for the continent and the world. Failure to do so, Mr. Elumelu cautioned, would have dire consequences.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Elumelu challenged all present to embrace the concept of Africapitalism. He stressed the need for collective action among private sector leaders, governments, development agencies, and philanthropic communities. Together, they must collaborate to empower individuals to become self-reliant, not merely dependent on donor funding. This, he asserted, is the path to creating a sustainable future for generations to come.
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