Tony Elumelu (Chairman Heirs Holdings Limited) Biography

Tony Elumelu

Tony Elumelu

Tony Elumelu is an entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist who is passionate about Africa’s economic development. He is known for his significant contribution to entrepreneurship in Africa. In 2010, he founded The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), which has committed $100m in a 10-year programme to fund, mentor and train 10,000 African entrepreneurs. The foundation was created to empower women and men across the African continent, catalyse economic growth, drive poverty eradication and ensure job creation.

He is the Founder and Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, an African proprietary investment company, with interests in power, oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate, and healthcare, present in twenty African countries. 

Tony Elumelu Background and Education

Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu, CON, MFR was born on 22 March 1963 in Jos, Plateau, Nigeria to Suzanne and Dominic Elumelu from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. He has four siblings one of whom is Ndudi Elumelu, a minority leader in the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives. Tony Elumelu, in 1993, married Awele Vivien Elumelu, a medical doctor. They have seven children.

He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics at Bendel State University (now Ambrose Alli University). Thereafter, he proceeded to the University of Lagos where he obtained a Master of Science degree in Economics. He has taken part in Advanced Management Program at IMD Lausanne and is an Alumnus of the Advanced Management programme of the Harvard Business School.

Tony Elumelu Career

In 1985, Tony Elumelu Elumelu as a Youth Corp member of the National Youth Service Corps worked in the Union Bank of Nigeria before starting his career as a copier salesman. He led a small group of investors to take over a struggling Crystal Bank (later renamed Standard Trust Bank) and turned it profitable within a few years.

Elumelu, in 2005, led one of the largest mergers in the banking sector in Sub-Saharan Africa by acquiring United Bank for Africa (UBA). After the merger of Standard Trust Bank and United Bank for Africa in 2005, Elumelu led the company as Group Managing Director. He successfully led the company from a single-country banking group to a pan-African bank with subsidiaries in 20 African countries, France, the U.S, and the U.K. He stepped down as the Managing Director in 2010.

Tony Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) after he left UBA as the managing director in 2010. The Tony Elumelu Foundation promotes entrepreneurship in Africa. The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s belief that the private sector’s role is critical for Africa’s development is hinged on the economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which was introduced by Elumelu; "that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.

In 2015, Elumelu committed $100 million to create 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa over the next 10 years through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme - a Pan-African entrepreneurship initiative designed to empower African entrepreneurs through a multi-year programme of training, funding and mentoring.

Through Heirs Holdings, Elumelu holds a controlling interest in Transnational Corporation, a diversified conglomerate with business interests in Power, Hospitality, and Energy. In January 2021, Heirs Holdings through its affiliates – Heirs Oil & Gas and Transnational Corporation announced its acquisition of a 45% operating stake in a permit known as Oil Mining Lease 17 from Shell, Total, and ENI in a deal worth more than $1 billion. 

Elumelu was officially handed the Certificate of Discharge of the iconic hospitality facility on April 14, 2021. The National Council on Privatization (NCP), which is chaired by the Vice President of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, handed over full ownership of Transcorp Hotels to the Chairman after fulfilling all privatization conditions attached to the sale of the property in 2005.

Tony Elumelu Memberships

Tony Elumelu sits on numerous public and social sector boards, including the global advisory board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL) and USAID’s Private Capital Group Partners Forum (PCG).

He is the Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute’s Global Food Security Working Group. 

Tony serves on the international advisory board of the Washington DC-based think tank- the Wilson Center.


He is a member of the Global Advisory Council of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Centre for Public Leadership. 

He is also a member of the World Economic Forum Community of Chairmen.

Tony Elumelu Awards and Recognitions

In 2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria granted Elumelu the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic MFR, a national honour.

In 2008, Tony Elumelu was a recipient of the African Banker of the year by African Banker magazine, and the African Business leader of the year by Africa Investor magazine.

In 2012, he was awarded the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger CON for his service in promoting private enterprise. He was also recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People” in the same year.

Elumelu also got the 2013 Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the AAI.

In 2015, he was cited by Forbes as one of Africa’s top richest with an approximate net worth of $700 million.

He was awarded the Daily Times, Nigerian man of the year in 2016. Elumelu also bagged the CGECI Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

In 2018 and 2019 he was awarded the All-Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) Philanthropist of the Year Award.

Bayero University Kano (BUK) - Honorary Doctor of Business degree in 2019.

He was honored with the National Productivity Order of Merit Award in 2019.

Tony Elumelu was named on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2020.