His success story is no longer in doubt. Tony Elumelu’s success story is now widely known. Not only in his home country of Nigeria, but across the globe.
The philanthropist, who is empowering youths across the African continent through his $100 million endowment funds has been changing lives positively. The Tony O. Elumelu amphitheatre at the UBA house on the Marina in Lagos was filled to the brim at an event recently. The packed house had begun to assemble as early as 2 pm, in anticipation of the lecture that was to be delivered by the Chairman of UBA group at 3pm that afternoon. Elumelu’s theory of Africapitalism is becoming today’s watch-word. The MDGs didn’t meet their objectives of alleviating poverty, but the billionaire economist is doing his best to ensure that the continent moves towards self-sustainability through empowerment. He is definitely helping change the narrative positively. Interestingly, a citation was read as he walked into the room full of over 200 UBA group executives, and associates of the bank. But when Tony took the stage, he wasn’t impressed by the accolades. ‘I don’t need all of this’ he said humbly. ‘Leadership must always go with humility. When you get leadership, you need to become automatically humble in order to succeed. You all already know who I am but I would like to tell you the story of my journey to success.’ Elumelu started off selling photocopiers when he first graduated from university. He mentioned the name of the photocopiers and no, it wasn’t Xerox. Hardly anybody in the room knew the brand he had been selling. But the point he wanted to make by starting off his lecture with this introduction was that you cannot sell a product you do not understand. ‘In everything that we do, product knowledge is very important for success. Understand and dissect the history of everything about an organization so that you can do your job excellently’ he said.
Enough of aid says Elumelu. ‘Nobody can empower Africans but Africans themselves’. Tony Elumelu became the youngest bank CEO in Nigeria when at the age of 34, he led Standard Trust Bank (STB). ‘It was a little odd going into all those meetings with older men because the bank CEOs at that time were older than I was’. That didn’t stop Tony from achieving milestones. STB became one of the top banks in Nigeria in a very short time. Elumelu was performing miracles again and continuing to set the pace. ‘People think Tony Elumelu is a whizz kid. They don’t know that he surrounds himself by brilliant and competent people’ he said of his successes.