NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 11 – Former United Bank of Africa (UBA) Chief Executive Officer Tony Elumelu was in Nairobi, on Wednesday, sharing his wealth of information from his over 25 years of experience in the financial and banking sectors.
During his visit, Mr Elumelu met with various CEOs and business students promoting his new concept of African capitalism that encourages the creation of economic prosperity and social wealth through building pan African business.
“African entrepreneurs should see Africa as a market territory and not just bound by their ethnic country. They should be able to think how to make people actualise their entrepreneurial abilities,” he said.
He further stressed the importance of Public-Private Partnerships to help cultivate a nurturing environment for budding entrepreneurs across Africa.
“The private sector must begin now in earnest to engage the public sector to create the right environment that will bring about economic prosperity and social wealth. We can’t do this if public sector leadership and the government do not create the right enabling environment that will make businesses prosper,” he said.
Mr Elumelu, who is also chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, is recognised as one of Africa’s most influential business leaders particularly for transforming the African financial services industry, during his 13-year period of service as CEO of UBA that ended in 2010.
Most recently, Mr Elumelu has taken his experience from the boardroom to impact the community through the establishment of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) late last year.
He said TEF’s primary goal is to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in Africa and to encourage other African business leaders to embark on a path of philanthropy.
“I believe Africa needs more entrepreneurs and we need to improve our business practices. I believe that those successful business people who are endowed with resources should begin to think beyond donation,” he said.
Almost a year into operation, TEF is the first foundation that is African-funded, African- founded, African-based and pan African-focused, which the Foundation’s CEO Dr Wiebe Boer says makes it a unique organization with an even more unique approach.
“Our focus is on building the private sector, which for a Foundation is really unique. You can really drive Africa’s growth and transformation.
So, Mr Elumelu’s vision is how to unlock the obstacles to enable the creation of more companies. “That’s a great way to drive sustainable, long-term development in Africa from within,” he said.
The Foundation’s three areas of focus within the development of the African Private sector are in policy, to help build the competitiveness of the African private sector; impact investing, which is investment with both a social and financial return; and finally management education that seeks to enhance business education throughout the continent.
With seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in Africa, Dr Boer said it was necessary to improve the management pipeline in the continent, to sustain and propel the growth.
“There is a dire need for better management education to make the people going into business more sophisticated. So, as part of that one the things we do is the African Markets Internship Program that equips the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders,” he said.
Though TEF is still in its fledgling stages, Dr Boer says he hopes the foundation can diversify its programs to reach the health care and low-income hosing sectors and even begin its own business school.