A glimpse into the future
This is 2053 and the 37th Tony Elumelu Foundation Grants Award has become an international summit of world leaders and young African entrepreneurs, under a warming air of fulfillment and hope in the limitless possibilities and capabilities of the human-race when pivoted on a wholesome dream.
Africa has become the wonder of the world, and its epicenter of rapid economic growth and global prosperity. This year over 10,000 young African entrepreneurs will get their shots at creating their own story of the TEF Revolution. In the 100,000 capacity UBA International Conference Centre, the heart of the 5000-hectares TEF Africa Industrial and Incubation City, several dozens of special guests of honour, now Africa’s biggest political and business leaders are seated, themselves, past recipients of the TEF Fund. They are a perfect image of the future these new beneficiaries will create.
These ones have gone ahead to create over 30million jobs across the continent and are now investing their time in grooming leaders that will join in the now-glorious mission to change Africa’s socio-economic fortune, as diligently driven by Tony Elumelu and the UBA Group.
Tony the man who knows tomorrow, Elumelu
This 2053 picture of Africa does not cut any less of what is achievable for one of Nigeria’s biggest dreamers, a man blessed with the ability to see tomorrow and the grit to paint every detail thereof to reality. Tony Onyeamachi Elumelu has lived all his life not only mastering this art, but instantiating new classes of young Africans with such deduced skillset and character.
After spending the first 23years of his midlife midwifing the Heirs Holding mission, which holds to credit, highly successful babies like Africa’s banking pride, the UBA Group, TOE as he is fondly called, has toed the part of middle-ages and the 17th Century leaders, whose copious dreams, sheer hard-work and voracious passion for the development of humankind, created the systems and structures the world thrives on today.
For a charismatic achiever investing time and money in young people across the African continent, through the famed Tony Elumelu Foundation, is a perfect medium for prophesying the future of Africa. It takes great vision to see beyond the human native scope of avarice, self-aggrandizement and relish-living in the assortment of a person’s several dreams and allotment of resources alike; even more so when you have built an empire that puts the globe at your call.
TOE takes this desolate path in African cultural context for a chase at an ‘African Dream’ pregnant with the possibilities of the entire continent, such that the greatest past only paid lip-singing attention to. Here’s a mission to build and empower the continent’s largest demographic set and most potent force!
TEF takes the lead, matching every foresight with actionable insight and just within 7 years, 10,000 young Africans have been instantiated and cued towards the Ideal African Future. The TEF programme, beyond handing $5,000 funding to these 10,000 young innovative, enterprising business founders, have also operated a curated nest on TEFconnect.com, where one million young African entrepreneurs are being raised to the exponential values of collective geniuses and quality mentoring. In a single swipe the highly important and powerful goals of Shared Value creation, inter-regional trade and integration, peer-to-peer development and common vision and values are crystalizing into an affirmative cure for the continent’s inherent problems.
Extrapolating the results, even in linear projections and the 2053 story as painted by Freelanews wouldn’t be the least short of a deserving reality, when Africa will be back to its rightful place of contributing to global prosperity in a manner comparable to her immense potentials.
Why TEF is a revolution and an African dream boomer
Change they say, is the most constant thing in the world. But Africa, despite her rich diversity (a precipitant for change), has only bulged to the physicality of human progressive change and forged against the veracity of foundational paradigms. Instead of adopting capacities for innovation, Africa leads the consumption of innovated products. Pop culture was successfully sold to Africans, (changed fashion, style and music), but without the underlying paradigm of self-determinism and the potentials of a human will at liberty. Africans adopted the Westerners’ consumerism but not her archetype of capitalism. Change in Africa is to the extent of its reward and not its work.
As it’s evidently seen around, Africa grapples with the sort of human problems other continents of the world have mutated over – mindless unending wars, state corruption, election fraud and underemployment of the factors of production, leading to poverty and despair. Majority of Africans are contributing only a very minute percentage of their potentials to economic activities. Limited by knowledge, capital and dysfunctional business environment, businesses that should create platforms for milling the capacities of the people progressively into economic production, are themselves very morbid.
Here’s why the TEF programme bears the power to re-write the African economic story! It sells a strategic African Dream to the youth population and powers a collective effort at its realization.
With 60% of Africa being a vibrant youth population, against 15.1% of Europe’s and 13% of the US’, Africa bears the economic future of the world on its shoulder – a critical mass of energy that can transform the entire world if strategically deployed. The inhibitors of this momentum have been the absence of a well-articulated and well-communicated African Dream, potent enough to break poverty inertia and remove boundaries of location, social and religious biases. Such dream that zooms out of the fickleness of immediate gratification and background constructs, to embrace the limitless power of seeing Africa as a vehicle to world dominance.
TEF is encouraging the teeming youth population to create, structure and scale businesses that serve material interest of the continent, backing them up with much required capital and knowledge transfer, and linking the dreamers all together to leverage strengths and tradeoff weaknesses. All this being done at an enormous scale that is turning into a fierce economic revolution across the continent. Armed with a big dream, capital and support system, a potential set of 720million people can lead the transformation of the world!
Majority of the beneficiaries of the TEF Internship are young Small Business owners, and SMEs are the most important players in any economy. For instance, in Nigeria, SMEs contribute about 48% of National GDP, account for 96% of businesses and 84% of employment.
According to the SMEDAN National Survey of 2017, there are around 41.5 million SMEs in Nigeria. SMEs are businesses with less than N100 million in annual turnover and have less than 300 employees.
A recent report shows that the SMEs in Nigeria have created up to 84 percent of the jobs in Nigeria. It is no secret that small businesses are usually the backbone of strong economies. If Africa is ever to build a strong and formidable economy, more small businesses must be created and sustained.
Research shows that over 50 out of every 100 of SMEs fail in their first year of operation. The study goes further to tell us that only 5 out of every 100 of SMEs survive the five-year mark.
Therefore the TEF programme is a critical mission for Africa’s future. It answers the questions of source of capital, path-to-market and business incubation, which are crucial to the success and survival of a small business.
TEF is not just another brainwave of some relevance seeking politician, or half-baked PR idea of a lily-livered business explorer. In Freelanews’ view, backed by robust analyses, TEF programme is an achiever’s itch to transload himself into millions of young Africans, after experiencing firsthand that with an adequate dose of grit and networks, dreams come true even in the most limiting environment like ours. Tony’s rise from the doubts and ascension to the pinnacle of success must have left the curiosity of what Africa and indeed the world can become, if he can replicate himself. An enlarged perspective insight would be to imagine merely 10% of the 10,000 TEF alumni going on to create their own UBA Group. That will be:
• 1000 x 20,000 jobs
• 1000 x $19.2billion assets
• 1000 x $1.2million funding to youth enterprises every year
• 1000 x 1000 business locations across the world
Beyond the capital, Tony’s over 3 decades of experience in wealth and value creation is an invaluable asset that has now become accessible to millions of young African dreamers.
A little history of the achiever
Back in 1990, Tony Elumelu was a 32-year old banking protégée of Prince Banigo, who had a dream bigger than the fulfillment of being a banker. With just a few resources to his name, he went after a bogus dream of mopping up technically insolvent banks. Alongside his friends, Albert and Chuka, Tony incorporated the Banc Garanti Limited (BGL), as a vehicle to achieve their goal of conquering the financial sector, raising funds from select family and friends. BGL quickly started making money by helping technically insolvent banks to facilitate mergers and acquisitions, and soon went on to acquire a distressed bank named Merchant Bank of Commerce (MBCOM), which they later renamed as Continental Trust Bank.
With the new bank, Elumelu had the financial muscle to purchase yet another distressed bank, Crystal Bank, pulling all the strings possible to make it possible.
The magic stroke in the takeover of what would later become Standard Trust Bank was Tony’s brazen ability to convince the largest depositors of Crystal Bank to convert their deposits into a stake in the new bank. It was quite a pull for the 34-year-old at the time.
He initiated the strategic movement of opening branches across all state capitals, a move that only started yielding results over 6years later, when democracy returned to Nigeria and states needed banking for their fiscal activity.
Elumelu also was famed for driving his team with vision, zeal and aggressive marketing. Battles he often chiefly led. An instance was how he personally sold 50% of STB’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 1 billion. His core team called ‘marines’ were groomed to get things done regardless of the circumstances.
In 2004, TOE led the team on their biggest acquisition yet – 35% of the shares of one of the top three banks in Nigeria at the time. In a move earlier mocked even by trusted staff, the biblical story of Moses’ serpent swallowing up the bigger ones of the charmers was again relived.
The new UBA under the leadership of Tony have grown to become a continental financial giant.
From the foregoing, it doesn’t take a seer to acknowledge that Tony Onyeamachi Elumelu is indeed the father of Africa’s sustainable economic revolution in the nearest future.
As the name connotes in Igbo, Onyeamachi (who knows tomorrow) is not only just a name, happy birthday to a man who indeed visualizes the future.