Tony Elumelu marks 60th birthday in style as 60 TEF beneficiaries pay tribute to his service to humanity
March 22, 2023336 views0 comments
By Onome Amuge & Cynthia Ezekwe
Tony Elumelu is the founder of and chairman of Heirs Holdings, a private Investment firm with significant investments in various sectors across Africa, comprising financial services, power, oil and gas, real estate, hospitality and healthcare.
The astute business tycoon, who is also the chairman of pan-African financial services group, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), is one whose roles as an entrepreneur, investor, economist, champion of africapitalism, mentor,
Elumelu is not a stranger to remarkable success and honours some of which include, an inclusion in TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2020,the title of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CON) in 2022, amongst other numerous recognitions.
To mark his 60th birthday, a symposium titled “60 for 60”, was held in honour of his achievements especially on his empowerment of young entrepreneurs across various African countries, who had benefited from his brainchild- The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).
The event saw the Sexogenarian receive plaudits from sixty young beneficiaries of his incredible impacts across the continent which has seen him fulfill the foundation’s mission of creating jobs, alleviating poverty, and economically empowering women and other young people.
Temitayo Johnson Laleye, founder of TJ signature, a sustainability fashion accessory brand, while speaking on the impact of the non profit organisation, said: “Before I encountered the Tony Elumelu Foundation, I was a confused 17 years old uni student, who had just started a business, I didn’t really know why I was doing it, I just wanted to make extra cash while in school, and upon applying for the first time, I found it to be a really rigorous process, so I was not selected.”
Laleye noted that applying and partaking in the programme helped him to streamline and find his purpose in his business (TJ Signatures) which has recorded significant growth and is able to train over 2,000 young children and women in underserved communities.
“We have also been awarded the 25 under 25 awards, and we were the youngest recipient of the award because of our contribution to youth employment in Nigeria. Thanks to the training and the funding we received, we have expanded to countries outside Nigeria, to Ghana, to the United Kingdom, to the United States. We are selling and earning foreign investments in Nigeria,” Laleye added.
Monica Demingo, the CEO of Demetrius, a 2019 beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation seed capital,said the foundation helped her business gain investor confidence and signed new contracts,
The Zambia based entrepreneur added that her business is currently employing 21 young men and women, who are breadwinners, taking care of their families.
Sabic Badamasi, the CEO of So clean, a home laundry service in Benin Republic, said he started his business in 2019, with a capital he borrowed from his mother.
In his words; “At the time I started the So clean laundry service, I washed with my hands, had no washing machines, and no workers. In 2019, I first applied for the TEF programme, and was not selected. In 2020, I applied again, but due to COVID, it was postponed. I tried again in 2021 when I was selected.
I would like to emphasise that I had double luck that year, because I was selected with my brother that year. I would like to thank you because through the funding, I was able to get more materials, and employ people.
Thanks for the training wee received during the period, we were able to set up our strategies, and today, I am happy to tell you that our sales has tripled, and all this wouldn’t have been actualised without the foundation, and without you , Mr. Tony Elumelu, so I want to thank you for what you do for African youths; happy birthday sir, keep soaring higher.”
On her part, Linda Kimio the co-founder of Dial A Pad, a multifaceted platform that seeks to tackle sexual reproductive health issues in women and girls in Kenya, said prior to benefiting from the Tony Elumelu foundation, she and her sister who is also a co-founder, had no capital or business prototype, but only an idea of wanting to stop absenteeism of school girls, due to period poverty,
“In 2018, we applied for the TEF programme, and we got the seed capital of $5,000 with which we were able to come from an idea stage to a legally registered entity. We registered our limited liability company, we got our first prototype, we employed a mechanical engineer to make sure our designs were functional, and we could impact our girls and have the data to back it up.
Now we have impacted 35,000 school going girls that go to school every month without fail, due to this foundation that was just an idea, but the Tony Elumelu Foundation made it a reality. “
Kimio also stated that she got into the TEF women entrepreneurship programme for Africa, where she got elected as the accelerator at the growth stage and her business got funding of about $40,000. This, she said, has made her able to impact about 105,000 going girls, who will go to school and break that cycle of poverty.
“Our message from Dial A Pad is you have shown us what democratising wealth can do and wealth creation in Africa; you have gone before us, and we are going to trailblaze after you, and democratise access to quality education for every school going girl in Africa, and from the thousands of girls who sent me here with greetings, we want to say thank you so much,’’she added.
Delivering a good will message, Ama Harris, one of Elumelu professional alumni said: “About thirty years ago, I arrived in Nigeria as a Liberian refugee. Today I stand in front of you as a 2021 TEF alumni, and the director of the Root Cellar Steps Education Centre. We provide learning programmes and education for people and children in low income communities, underserved communities.”
Harris said the funding from TEF enabled her establishment to digitalise its educational programmes.
“Our students comes from homes where there is no electricity, no access to digital learning, so imagine how difficult it is for our teachers to help them understand learning concepts, we were stuck, but with our funding from TEF, we were able to get a generator, television, projector, and bring to Life, all of those things that brought you life learning to our students,” she said.
According to Harris, since the TEF funding, the Root Cellar Steps Education Centre has taught phonics to over 5,000 students from different communities, employed 25 teachers, and has been open for the past five years.
Delivering her concluding remarks, she said: “Thank you sir. Without you, this will not have been possible. You have changed the narrative for us, for who an African entrepreneur is, and have proven that a single individual through his philanthropic efforts can effect change.
Today is your birthday sir, some of us have come out of curiosity; we needed to see that person that would invest millions of his hard earned money on us to say thank you, for believing in us.
On behalf of all your TEF alumni, as you celebrate your 60th birthday, we want to assure you that as we leave this hall to our various countries, homes, offices, and communities, we leave with a new commitment to think Africapitalism, live Africapitalism, and act Africapitalism, because only in that way will we be giving you a present that will last long beyond your lifetime.’’