Tony Elumelu: Lesson for Building a Billion-Dollar Empire
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Tony Elumelu: Lesson for Building a Billion-Dollar Empire

Nigerian entrepreneur and investor, Tony Elumelu has built a billion-dollar empire through his business sense and strategic vision. As the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, and Transcorp, Elumelu’s success story offers valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

From embracing an entrepreneurial mindset to fostering partnerships and empowering others, Elumelu advocates for incorporating social impact into business models. By examining Elumelu’s journey, entrepreneurs can gain insights into the fundamental principles contributing to building a thriving empire in today’s dynamic business landscape. Let’s dive in.

Provide solutions to continental problems

Elumelu has over the years been passionate about providing solutions to the problems bedevilling the African continent. This is reflected in his quote, “The transformation of Africa is not one man’s job. It is a job for all of us, and by empowering these entrepreneurs, we are helping to create more jobs and wealth on the continent.”

Recently, Elumelu launched a $3.5 million green entrepreneurship program to strengthen climate resilience and mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. The entrepreneurship program is to help Africa which bears the harshest effects of the climate crisis. Elumelu builds his billion-dollar empire by proffering solutions consistent with the problems of the continent. So, entrepreneurs looking to build an empire like his should be intentional about identifying continental problems and providing tenable solutions to them.

Prioritise the younger generation 

The Nigerian businessman at a meeting with the new and returning governors said, “Our country has a population of about 220 million people, the largest in Africa. Each state in Nigeria has different dynamics, but there is one constant, the great majority are young people. Success will mean prioritizing the largest stakeholder group in our states, our youth.” His statement once again highlights his interest in the younger generation.

One of the features of Elumelu’s billion-dollar empire is the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). His foundation which empowers women and men across the continent pays attention to the younger generation. Tony started out as a young man, so he is intentional about providing opportunities for other young people. It is no longer news that the younger generation are capable of birthing ideas that can transform Africa. So, entrepreneurs looking to build an empire like Elumelu’s should surround themselves with young minds. 

Secure your business space

Another important lesson to learn from the Former Bank Chief is the way he protects his business space. Elumelu is a serial entrepreneur that guards his business space jealously. The recent battle between him and Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola for Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) is a practical example of how intentional he can be with his business terrain. 

Otedola who earlier acquired a 6.3 per cent in the Lagos conglomerate, revealed that he offered to buy Transcorp Plc for N250 billion, but his offer was rejected. While we are not exactly sure why his offer was rejected, it could be seen as an attempt by Elumelu to protect his business space. Elumelu has since increased his stake in the conglomerate, solidifying his position as the largest shareholder.

Diversify your interests

Elumelu’s interest spans different sectors. He has investments in strategic sectors of the African economy, including financial service, hospitality, power, energy, technology and healthcare. His billion-dollar empire continues to broaden its reach with every diversification attempt. Young entrepreneurs are encouraged not to be stereotyped. They should stay open to maximising opportunities in different sectors.

Embrace partnership and networking opportunities 

Elumelu once said, “Changing Africa is our collective responsibility. Every one of us must realize that we need an improved Africa. The world is moving and evolving, and we face a huge risk of further widening the developmental gap if we do nothing.” With this understanding, Tony has partnered with several individuals and international organisations to advance his goals. 

His foundation is partnering with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Generation Unlimited, and IKEA Foundation to establish the green entrepreneurship program.

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