A Peek Into The Life of An Africapitalist by Bolanle Omisore
You can’t imagine where I’ve just come from.
I know you know I work for Tony Elumelu, and I know you know I travel with him often, spreading the word of Africapitalism, but I feel I have to tell you the details of what we did this past weekend; where we went and who we saw. I want to share because the things we saw were incredible; the people we met were outstanding and the things to come are amazing.
At 7am we arrived in Frankfurt, Germany for a business meeting; I can’t divulge what was discussed, but just know it was long and what was settled on was big.
At 6pm we landed in Prestwick, Scotland, and were received by cars sent by the Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and future King of England.
We were driven to a country cottage where we changed into black tie attire and then headed to Dumfries House, the 300-year-old house that the Prince invested in as a heritage investment project.
We toured the house with a group of about 10 other people — from Pakistani industrialist Hussain Dawood + his wife and son to Nikolaos and Tatiana, Prince and Princess of Greece and Denmark. After the tour, we chatted before Prince Charles joined in the conversation – the two talked about the potential for a collaboration between the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Prince’s Trust. After their chat, we sat for a formal dinner in a room still lit by candles. The dinner ended with the most amazing bag pipes performance. After dinner we dashed out and drove straight to the airport, headed for London.
The next morning, Mr. Elumelu spoke on a panel at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, where panel after panel of the world’s leading business and political minds — from Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi, to President Bill Clinton, who gave the closing address. Each of the speakers made impassioned calls for a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources; making a conscious effort to ensure that capitalism is more inclusive, more focused on creating social change and the wealth of nations are spread fairly. On his panel, Mr. Elumelu pointed out that both #InclusiveCapitalism & his own philosophy of #Africapitalism recognize the roles of the private & public sectors in creating economic prosperity.
Of course, one of the highlights of the trip for me, was listening as Mr. Elumelu told President Bill Clinton about the First Consultant hospital in Lagos, Nigeria that was Ground Zero for stopping Ebola in our country, and what has happened to it since then (stigma and looming bankruptcy). He then asked the President to join an effort to reach out; Mr. Clinton said yes.
During lunch Mr. Elumelu sat with one of the most illustrious gatherings of the world’s business elite that I have ever borne witness to. Mr. Elumelu sat with the patriarch of India’s most revered business dynasty, Ratan Tata; Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim Helu; Indra Nooyi; Sir Evelyn and Lady de Rothschild, the co-founder of the Inclusive Capitalism Coalition and a member of the Advisory Board of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. While I wasn’t privy to the conversation, the symbolism was clear: Africa was at the table and my boss was the one representing it. His was one of the minds working to ensure the distribution of wealth in our emerging nation and the rest of our continent.
The day ended with a private dinner hosted by President Clinton at Thomas Goode in central Mayfair. My colleagues and I took the opportunity to chat more with the President, take photos and relish in the experience.
In all, our time in Germany, Scotland, and England put all of our travels in Africa into perspective. From Ivory Coast to Congo Brazzaville to Zambia, Mr. Elumelu has spread the word of Africapitalism. Last week, the synergies (or similarities) between Africapitalism and Inclusive Capitalism became clear to me. It’s an honour and a privilege for me to watch as one of Africa’s greatest businessmen works to restore capitalism as an engine of broadly shared social and economic prosperitpy. What more could I ask for?