According to Forbes, Tony Elumelu is a Nigerian entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist with a net worth of $700 million. He had previously been listed on Forbes as a billionaire but had since dropped out of the billionaire club.
Elumelu began his career as a salesperson, specifically a copier salesman. Following his master’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos, he worked at Allstates Trust Bank.
“I know I may not have met the qualifying criteria for the advertised roles, but I am intelligent, driven, and ambitious and I will make the bank proud. My 2:2 degree does not demonstrate the full extent of my intelligence and ability, and I know I can do so much more,” he wrote in his cover letter.
He began as an entry-level analyst at Allstates Trust Bank, and after a year of hard work, he became the bank’s youngest branch manager at the age of 27.
“I was hardworking, energetic, creative and prioritised getting things done, but it was also good fortune that my bosses Toyin Akin-Johnson and Ebitimi Banigo took notice, and then, believed in me,” Elumelu recounted.
“They took a chance on me by appointing me as branch manager after an incredibly short time in the bank. They recognised in me the raw materials needed to make a good leader and were prepared to invest in me and my ability. My rise to Branch Manager within a short period is a great story but I know in my heart, I was lucky, as well as deserving.”
He made headlines in 1997 when he led a group of investors to take over Standard Trust Bank, a struggling commercial bank in Lagos. By 2005, he had restored the bank’s fortunes and merged it with the United Bank for Africa. The bank grew to over seven million customers while operating in 19 African countries, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States.
In addition to the bank, he acquired a controlling stake in Transcorp, a publicly traded Nigerian conglomerate with interests in hospitality, agriculture, oil production, and power generation.
According to Forbes, Elumelu also has real estate investments throughout Nigeria and a minority stake in mobile telecom firm MTN Nigeria.
Elumelu, a philanthropist, has donated to numerous charitable causes over the years through his foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme of the Foundation has identified, trained, mentored, and funded 10,000 young African entrepreneurs from 54 African countries.
“Mr Elumelu believes that youth entrepreneurship has the potential to tackle global challenges such as forced migration, poverty, and hunger,” a statement on the foundation’s website says.
He serves on several public and social sector boards, including the World Economic Forum Community of Chairmen and the UNICEF Generation Unlimited Global Board. He was named to Time magazine’s list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2020 for his business leadership and economic empowerment of young Africans.
The businessman is married with five children.