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SBS in the News

  Aug 19, 2011

Adapted from the Standard on 15/08/2011

By Morris Aron

After steering United Bank of Africa into a Pan-African institution, you may have thought he had finished his job.

But Mr Elumelu had other ideas. Banking on his vast experience, he embarked on a mission to spread the gospel that only Africans will drive Africa’s growth. His idea was simple.

With the vast resources that Africa has, all that was needed was a set of skills to exploit the opportunities available and a proven track record. And so after retiring from UBA Plc, Mr Elumelu decided to advance his entrepreneurial vocation and passion to philanthropy, through Heirs Holdings and The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) respectively.

Training Opportunities

And in April this year, Strathmore Business School —in conjunction with TEF — launched the African Markets Internship Program (AMIP), a programme that will provide Strathmore Business School’s MBA students with opportunities for apprenticeship and internship in other African countries.

“Our 10-week internship program is a win-win opportunity for both interns and African firms. It will build the institutional capacity of African-owned and operated companies, and leverages global talent to increase the firms’ competitiveness, while providing on-the-job training for interns,” said Mr Elumelu.

AMIP places students from top business schools in Africa, Europe and US in structured programs at African companies. The program matches the unique skills of each intern with the needs of each participating host business, to tackle the most pressing business issues identified by the management teams.

The current AMIP interns have been drawn from leading graduate business schools, including, London Business School (England), Wharton School of Business (US), Yale School of Management (US), IESE Business School (Spain), HEC (France), Lagos Business School (Nigeria), GIMPA (Ghana), and Strathmore Business School (Kenya), among others.

African Mindset

But this is not the only venture that the businesses man turned philanthropist is looking at in his quest to change the African mindset. Heirs Holdings, which he chairs, is a dedicated investment vehicle, focusing on principal investments in a variety of sectors across Africa, from start-up ventures to established high growth companies.

Born in 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 also attended the prestigious Harvard Business School, and is an alumnus of IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland. But despite his current pursuits, the business guru is revered worldwide for his role in shaping the African financial services industry, following his stewardship of the United Bank for Africa Plc.

During his tenure, UBA evolved from a single country focused bank into a pan-African institution, which serves over 7 million customer accounts three continents. In June this year, the Boston Consulting Group named UBA as one of only 40 African Champions, seeking to position themselves and compete on a global playing field. Mr Elumelu is also widely acknowledged as one of Africa’s most influential business leaders . In 2006, he was voted African Business Leader of The Year by the UK based magazine, Africa Investor.

African Banker magazine voted him African Banker of the Year in 2008. In 2009 the President of Nigeria asked him to serve on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis.

Internationally, Mr Elumelu’s contributions to the development of the African economic development are acknowledged through his membership of the World Economic Forum’s Regional Agenda Council on Africa, and his presence on the Bretton Woods Committee. He also serves on the boards of several companies, in addition to his principal role at Heirs Holdings. He chairs the Board Risk and Investment Committee of the Africa Finance Corporation; and is on the Advisory Board of Development Partners International LLP, London.

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