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Building a Pan-African Business

  Aug 12, 2011

Strathmore Business School hosted Tony Elumelu MFR, a widely acknowledged African influential business leader on 10th August 2011 where he delivered a key note address to business leaders. The breakfast session dubbed Building a Pan – African Business was held in conjunction with Strathmore Business School, The Tony Elumelu Foundation and United Bank of Africa (UBA).  Mr Elumelu shared his experiences as a widely acknowledged African business leader with his corporate reputation founded on his role in re-shaping the African financial services industry, as the driving force behind the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA). Under his leadership, UBA transformed from a single country focused bank into a pan-African institution that operates in 20 African countries and three continents.

Learning Points

  • Vision: it is crucial for every business to have a vision and articulate it to the employees so that they too share in the vision and work towards achieving it.
  • Strategy: It is the plan of action designed to achieve a goal. Strategy should be developed and should be aligned to the vision of the business. A good strategy is one that is long term and it positions a business in an advantageous position in the advent of competition.
  • Capital: For any business to begin and grow, the injection of capital is needed. However, one should be careful not to incur debts as the interest accrued could affect the goals of the business.
  • Human Capital: Mr Elumelu stressed the importance of human capital in a business. He stated at one point that he performed both the role of CEO and HR as he was involved in the recruitment process. “HR is more important than capital and in order for any business to flourish, the people equation should be right,” he said.
  • Focus: Have a long term focus that spreads across your vision, goals and actions. Avoid short term focus as it not only makes execution of your goals difficult, but also lessens the ability of your business to be competitive.
  • Mr Elumelu, MFR is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, a principal investment company, primarily focused on financial Services, natural resources, infrastructure and healthcare, within Africa and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation whose objective is the promotion and celebration of excellence in business management, entrepreneurship and leadership across Africa.

    He was voted African Business Leader of The Year in 2006 by the UK based magazine, Africa Investor and African Banker of the Year in 2008 by African Banker magazine. He was conferred the national honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic in 2003 by the Federal Government of Nigeria and was asked to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis by the President of Nigeria in 2009. In 2011, he was recognized as one of the most influential 100 Africans in the continent.

    Mr Elumelu serves on the boards of several companies; in addition to his principal role at Heirs Holdings, he is also the Chairman of UBA Capital (Europe) Limited. He chairs the Board Risk and Investment Committee of the Africa Finance Corporation; is on the Advisory Board of Development Partners International LLP, London; member of the African Cancer Centre; and chairs the Establishment Committee (responsible for people and governance issues) of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp).

    Born in Jos, Nigeria in 1963, Mr Elumelu is a research economist with B.Sc and M.Sc Degrees in Economics at both graduate and post-graduate levels from Bendel State University and the University of Lagos, respectively. He is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme and the IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland. He holds an honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Benue State University and honorary Doctor of Business Administration Degree from University of Nigeria, Nsukka [UNN].

    Click here to view pictures of the day that was.

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