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Date Published: 08/14/11

Tony Elumelu meets Kenyan Business Leaders, Propagates the Concept of Africapitalism


 NAIROBI, Kenya (August 12, 2011) – Tony O. Elumelu, MFR, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), has called on entrepreneurs and business leaders in the continent to embrace the concept of Africapitalism. Speaking at several engagements in Kenya during the week, Elumelu stated the much needed growth and development of Africa can best be achieved though Africapitalism - a private sector commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through investments that generate economic and social wealth. He argued that the growth and improved economic wellbeing of Africans can only be achieved by the private sector stating that the public sector cannot bring about development but concentrate on providing the enabling environment for businesses to flourish.

 This was the focus of his address  titled “Building a Pan-African Business”  at the Strathmore Business School, East Africa’s pre-eminent management school. Speaking before a capacity crowd of business leaders, entrepreneurs, young professionals and business students at the auditorium of Strathmore University, Elumelu drew on his extensive experience from building the United Bank for Africa from a single country bank to a pan-African financial services giant operating in 20 African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda from the East African region and Europe, the Middle East and the United States.  According to him UBA has impacted positively on Africa and if five similar companies like UBA can emerge every year Africa will be better for it.

 “Kenya is brimming with talent and innovation as well as hope for the future, and African business and political leaders have an abiding responsibility to learn from one another if we are to establish successful trade relationships and build world-class economies,” Elumelu said. “It’s critically important for Africans to work with Africans if they are to solve Africa’s most pressing problems. Also, companies in Nigeria and Kenya have the potential to compete with multinationals if they are willing to capitalize on their knowledge of local and regional markets.”

 He said he would like to see lessons from “Silicon Savannah,” Kenya’s booming information and communications technology (ICT) sector, to spur further innovations in Nigeria’s ICT industry.  The now famous M-PESA mobile money platform in Kenya has spread across the continent, including Nigeria, where U-Mo, a mobile money system has been launched. 

 Recognizing Kenya’s place as East Africa’s business hub, TEF included Kenya in the Foundation’s initiative to create a talent pipeline of business talent for Africa’s fast growing companies. Nairobi served as one of three host cities – and the first outside of West Africa – for the African Markets Internship Programme (AMIP), the Foundation’s innovative internship programme for MBA students from top business schools both in Africa and abroad. Strathmore is one of the Foundation’s partner schools and their students will join the internship program in 2012.

 Elumelu is no stranger to Kenya. Under his leadership in 2009, United Bank for Africa Plc launched operations in Kenya and the East African region.

Dr. Wiebe Boer, CEO of TEF, has deep familiarity with Kenya as well. “I lived in Kenya for three years before returning to Nigeria to work with Mr. Elumelu to build Africa’s pre-eminent philanthropic institution,” he said. “There was so much I learned in Kenya that I was able to call upon in my work in Nigeria, and now I am excited to see Mr. Elumelu coming this way to talk to Kenya’s business and entrepreneurial elite about lessons Kenya can learn from his success in Nigeria and across the continent. These are the kinds of inter-regional interactions that will transform Africa from within.”

 Among such interactions are TEF’s and Heir Holdings’s  investment in Mtanga Farms, a farming operation at the heart of Tanzania’s national initiative to combat food insecurity. The deal recognizes East Africa’s advanced farming operations, something West African agricultural businesses can learn from. It also marks the first time an Africa-based philanthropy has engaged in impact investing,  an approach that, unlike traditional grant making, uses for-profit methods to solve intractable social and environmental problems.

 “With 12 million people facing famine in the Horn of Africa, the private sector must work harder to solve East Africa’s food security – by investing more funds in production and distribution networks and opening access to finance,” Boer said.

 After his Strathmore engagement, Elumelu attended a UBA Directors’ annual training session involving directors from UBA country operations across East & Southern Africa where he delivered a lecture onFormulating Strategic Business Direction. He  retired as Group CEO of UBA in August 2010.

 To conclude his daylong visit, Elumelu was joined by private/public sector business leaders from across East Africa including Kenya’s Vice President, H.E. Kalonzo Musyoka, Honourable Peter Kenneth, Assistant Minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, Stella Kilonzo, the CEO of the Capital Markets Authority, and Linus Gitahi, Group CEO of Nation Media Group. The reception was hosted by UBA Kenya and also included an array of dignitaries from the business, development and public sector communities.  The regional IT sector was particularly well represented and included Tanzania’s Ali Mufuruki of Infotech and Nick Hughes of Signal Point Partners who played a leading role in the development and deployment of M-PESA. 

“The outlook for Kenya’s economy as a regional powerhouse is promising.  By identifying opportunities to link Kenyan businesses with Nigerian markets, and vice versa, we can make great progress in African driven economic transformation” Elumelu noted.

For more information about The Tony Elumelu Foundation, please visit .

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