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Tony Onyemaechi Elemelu: education, family, politics

Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu is an influential Nigerian, an angel investor, an outstanding economist, a leading philanthropist. He is the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an initiative that gives grants to entrepreneurs annually.


He was born on 22nd March 1963 in Jos, Plateau, Nigeria, to the family of Suzanne and Dominic Elumelu. He has four siblings and hails from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State, Nigeria.


He obtained his first degree in Economics at Ambrose Alli University (former Bendel State University) and later went to the University of Lagos for his Master of Science in Economics.


He is married to Dr. Awele Elumelu and the union is blessed with seven children.


Tony Elumelu served the country (NYSC) with Union Bank in 1985 before venturing into his career as a salesman. Eventually, he joined Allstates Trust Bank in 2005 after which he acquired United Bank for Africa (UBA). When Crystal Bank was struggling, he directed small group of investors and they took over the bank which was later renamed Standard Trust Bank.

Eventually, Standard Trust Bank merged with United Bank for Africa in and he became the Group’s Managing Director. Presently, he is the chairman of the board of the United Bank for Africa (UBA).


In 2010, he established Heirs Holdings, which is his company. Through the establishment of Heirs Holdings, he has the upper hand in Transnational Corporation which has a diversified conglomerate with interests in hospitality, energy, and power. Heirs holding has a collection of investments across quite a lot of sectors.

He also established the Tony Elumelu foundation in that same year. Tony Elumelu Foundation is an Africa-based foundation supporting entrepreneurship across Africa. It offers grants annually to entrepreneurs across Africa.


In 2015, Tony Elumelu single-handedly committed $100 million to create 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa over the next ten (10) years. This he did through his foundation – Tony Elumelu Foundation. He believes that the role of the private sector is very important to the development of Africa. He does this annually through training, funding, and mentoring upcoming entrepreneurs.


He has received a lot of awards in recognition of his massive contributions to business and entrepreneurship. The awards received so far include:

  •  Title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the Federal Government of Nigeria (2003).
  • National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) for his service in promoting private enterprise (2012).
  • A Nigerian man of the year by Daily Times (2016)
  • Philanthropist of the Year by All-Africa Business Leaders Awards (2018 and 2019)
  • Honorary Doctor of Business degree by Bayero University Kano (2019)
  • National Productivity Order of Merit Award (2019)
  • 100 Most Influential People of 2020 by Times Magazines.

Chinonye Ikebaku

This article was written by Chinonye Ikebuaku.