Tony O. Elumelu, Mentors SME owners in Lagos

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The Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) hosted the Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N., during a mentoring session with Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) business leaders, as part of its 2012 SME Conference. The one-hour (?) session saw Mr. Elumelu answering questions from the audience related to entrepreneurship and business development. The EDC was set up by the Pan-African University in 2003 as a direct response to providing a holistic business development and support service to SMEs in Nigeria.

Now holding for the third consecutive year, the conference’s theme was, “Expanding Market Frontiers—Restructuring for Growth,” and Mr. Elumelu shared his thoughts at a special interactive session called “Conversation with Tony”. Mr. Elumelu’s corporate reputation is founded on his role in transforming United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) into a pan-African financial services institution, serving over 7 million customers in 19 African countries, Europe and the United States. He retired as Group Chief Executive Officer of UBA in July 2010, and is now the Chairman of Heirs Holdings.

Members of the EDC – business owners and managers – engaged Mr. Elumelu in an intense, in depth interactive session where they asked incisive questions on a variety of issues that ran the breadth of the entrepreneurial experience—from the value of human capital to the power of branding, and the role of government in creating an enabling environment for businesses through policy.

In his usual down-to-earth approach, Mr. Elumelu provided practical answers and suggestions, drawing from his own personal experiences navigating the difficulties of doing business in an emerging economy. He expressed his dedication to providing solutions for enhancing the competitiveness and growth of the African private sector, while also addressing systemic challenges that inhibit African entrepreneurs. TEF, which Mr. Elumelu founded in 2010, is an Africa-based and African-funded not-for-profit institution dedicated to the promotion and celebration of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship across Africa.

“When leading your company,” he said, responding to a participant’s question. “Define your intent from the start and know your goals. You will run into seemingly insurmountable difficulties, but in the end, your investments will pay off if you think long-term and have the discipline to follow through.”

Commenting on Mr. Elumelu’s session, Peter Bamkole, the Director of EDC, said, “As the rapid expansion of Nigeria’s economy continues, and the impact of SMEs becomes increasingly central to that growth, ensuring that SMEs understand their business environment is of utmost importance. This session with Tony Elumelu provided these entrepreneurs with invaluable knowledge to growing businesses with his breadth of experience, and his session passed along practical and sound business tips that form the bedrock of necessary information that are useful in guiding entrepreneurs through tough decisions.”

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a leader in supporting small and mid-sized enterprises as they build capacity and vie for customers. TEF provides start-up funding and supports business development services to help entrepreneurs hone their ideas into bankable projects. The Foundation also pushes for government reforms that lower barriers of entry to business, and helps businesses deal with market inefficiencies, supply chains, and promotes alliances that pave the way for new industry.

About The Tony Elumelu Foundation
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an African based and funded not-for-profit institution, dedicated to the promotion and celebration of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship across Africa. As a 21st century catalytic philanthropy, the Foundation is committed to driving the continent’s economic growth from within by proving the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development.

Founded in 2010 by Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N., the Foundation identifies and grooms business students, young entrepreneurs and CEOs of African corporations at various stages of their development. It seeks to use African capital and leadership to create a pipeline of entrepreneurs, while also supporting imaginative business leaders whose ideas can create sustainable employment and foster regional partnerships.

Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Pan-African University
Since it was established in 2003, the focus of the EDC has been professionalising and equipping managers of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) with the skills needed to achieve and sustain success in their entrepreneurial endeavours. Its flagship programme is the Certificate programme in Entrepreneurial Management (CEM) through which it trains and supports over 150 new business owners every year.

EDC operates as a membership club and offers the following support services to its members: Advisory Services (Expert-In- Residence), Professional Services, Network Meeting Dinner/Lunch, Consulting amongst others.