Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen in Kingston, Jamaica.
Good evening to you all from Lagos, Nigeria.
Allow me to recognise my dear brother and friend The most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Let me also recognise the other Prime Ministers of Caribbean states present here today
Our chief host and friend, Dr. Marlene Forrest-Street for organising this event which is the premiere investment and capital markets conference in the region.
I thank Dr. Forrest-Street for inviting me to speak at this event and for inviting me to Jamaica, a country I admire a lot and would like to visit.
I would like to begin by apologising for not being physically present with you all in Jamaica due to increasing health concerns caused by the pandemic and the increasing variants to the virus.
However, I have resolved to travel to Jamaica in Q1 2022 to physically visit the Prime Minister and you all to further explore ways in which we can further accelerate cooperation between Africa, the Caribbean, and the black diaspora. We share so much, in terms of history and opportunity!
Having travelled widely across the world, I know firsthand the importance of collaboration in trying to achieve goals and objectives
My name is Tony Elumelu, I am an African, born and bred.
I have worked in Africa all my life, invested in the continent and I have created businesses and institutions that have helped transform the lives of Africans and their communities.
Importance of Capital Markets
I have often said that the capital market is the engine of capitalism.
A well regulated, responsible capital market is of positive benefit to an economy. Properly run, it can democratise wealth and sustain growth.
Whilst acknowledging the role of the state to provide an enabling environment, as we all know now, private sector prosperity leads to wealth creation for all.
Wealth creation for social benefit for all.
In what I do, this is what I call Africapitalism.
Africapitalism positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent. Business needs to do well and to do good.
This is why we must commend Dr. Forrest-Street and her team for the impressive work they have done in raising the profile of the Jamaican Stock Exchange.
They have helped over 80 companies raise capital through the Exchange and have a Stock Exchange valued at over USD16 billion.
They have helped develop entrepreneurs and their businesses.
I speak today as an entrepreneur that has benefitted from the capital markets, the Nigerian stock exchange to be precise.
- When we started, we needed money for our growth
- Money to prove our concept
- Short STB story on accessing the capital markets for growth
About Tony O. Elumelu (TOE)
Today, I sit as the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, my family-owned investment management firm that has interests in the financial services, power, oil & gas; real estate & hospitality; and of course healthcare.
We are long-term investors in the key strategic sectors of the African economy.
Our objective is to improve lives and transform Africa – to be role models, in business, in governance and in philanthropy.
The Financial Services Investments we have made is huge
- Chair the Group Board of the leading pan-African financial institution, the United Bank for Africa (UBA).
- UBA is present in 20 African countries, and in key financial centres of New York, Paris, London, Grand Cayman Island and most recently, Dubai.
- UBA is the only Africa bank with a deposit taking license in the USA – having scaled the most stringent regulatory requirements of the US financial services regulators.
- We have a customer base in excess of 25 million customers and counting across the world.
- We are not yet in the Caribbean, but this is something that we will explore when I come to Jamaica physically with the CEO of our UBA America’s operations.
Power, Oil & Gas Investments is another area of our interests.
Power, robust, plentiful and accessible is key to our economy. I invest in the sector for financial and social reasons. Our portfolio includes:
- Transcorp Power with 2 power plants with installed capacity to generate 2000 Megawatts of electricity.
- Heirs Oil and Gas; has significant interest in the oil sector, we produce over 50,000 barrels of oil daily and 2P reserves of 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
- Tenoil a further oil production business that is vastly rich in gas.
Our Healthcare Investments
- Avon HMO
- Avon Medical
Our Real Estate & Hospitality investments
- Transcorp Hotels Plc, for those who have been to Abuja, you probably stayed at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel during your stay.
- Afriland properties Plc, helps to anchor our end-to-end real estate development company.
In the beginning
When I started my own entrepreneurial journey long ago, the Nigerian banking system was not what it was today.
We had over 100 banks all fighting for supremacy in a regulatory environment that was not as capacitised as it is today.
I took a bank that was distressed and immediately set out 3 bold and audacious strategic intents in our turnaround strategy.
Our number 1 intent at the time was to become financially viable because we were a distressed bank.
Our number 2 intent was to become one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria, and we fixed timeframes to achieve this.
Number 3 – and then to become one of the top 3 banks in Nigeria.
These strategic intents helped to shape our activities and actions and accomplishments.
I dare say we were bold but disciplined.
We were laser focused on these intents and from time to time, we gathered to appraise our journey.
When you are small institution, there is a tendency to overlook things such as corporate governance as a fanciful thing reserved for large corporates but that is not true.
Often the foundations built at the early stages of a business determine the trajectory of that company and this is a message to all entrepreneurs.
Ensure you get your corporate governance right; it is most important to address these issues when you are small as opposed to when you are a larger organisation.
In due time we took the distressed bank and merged with a historically significant Nigeria bank to become todays UBA, a truly pan-African institution.
This was something that had never been done.
To turn around a financial institution in distress and then merge with a systemically important bank.
If we were not bold and audacious back then, I daresay, the Nigerian banking sector would look very different today.
Turning Point – Impact and TEF
Having achieved success in turning around a distressed financial institution into a systemically important Bank – And grown other businesses.
2010 became a turning point in my life.
I thought it was the time to think about impact, sustainability and legacy as well as improving lives and playing my own part in towards the transformation of Africa.
That is why, in 2010, I founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the leading philanthropy that empowers young African entrepreneurs from across the 54 countries on the African continent.
I ceded USD100m from my family wealth through Heirs Holdings to the Foundation.
In 2015, we began the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, an audacious 10-year programme to empower 1,000 young entrepreneurs annually from across the 54 countries in Africa.
Our TEF Entrepreneurship Programme beneficiaries receive:
- $5,000 non-refundable seed capital for their nascent business ideas. We need to encourage these young entrepreneurs who have outstanding business ideas but lack the financing to prove their concepts.
- Business training in the form of an intensive 12-week mini-MBA. MBA in a box we call it.
- Business mentoring from professionals and leaders across the globe.
- Learning first-hand from professionals and senior entrepreneurs is crucial for young business leaders.
- Especially when these mentors are invested in the success of the young ones they are mentoring.
- We create market access and foster linkages using our online proprietary digital entrepreneurship hub, TEFConnect.
- TEFConnect is the African entrepreneurship hub connecting over 1 million users with each other to trade and collaborate across borders.
- Indeed, our entire programme from application to training, mentoring and seed capital disbursement occur on TEFConnect.
- Please find time to check out the website TEFConnect.com to see the impressive work of the Foundation.
Through the programme we have supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs to scale their businesses
We are incredibly proud of the programme, we have empowered entrepreneurs across multiple sectors, and are a truly sector agnostic programme.
We have young and vibrant entrepreneurs who operate in the fashion, healthcare, agriculture, education, power, and they all leverage technology to deliver services and transform their communities.
We understood the need for partnerships early on when we saw that hundreds of thousands of young Africans were applying for the Programme and our commitment was only 1000 entrepreneurs annually.
Such is the demand on the continent, there is no shortage of people with ideas, just a lack of capital willing to give them a chance.
Today through partnerships with global development organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the European Union, the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), and the African Development Bank, we have been able to increase the number of young entrepreneurs we support across the continent.
In November, for our 2021 cohort, we were proud to announce that 5,000 young African entrepreneurs were selected as beneficiaries to receive the non-refundable seed capital, mentorship, and business training of the Foundation.
We were equally pleased to see that 70% of those selected in 2021 were women driving gender inclusivity.
Our partners have seen the components of our holistic programme and decided to work with us towards a shared vision of a more prosperous Africa.
An Africa that is able to better utilise its resources for the benefit of the continent.
Our most important resource is our people so we must constantly encourage and support them . And this is true for Jamaica and the Caribbean.
This way, we reduce the vices associated with unemployment and large youth populations, e.g., terrorism, illegal migration, violence, and all forms of extremism.
Once we agree that these ills are caused by a lack of economic opportunity, the solution becomes clearer.
Empower youths and entrepreneurs and watch them create jobs and reduce poverty.
Conclusion – Building the link between Africa and the Caribbean
As an entrepreneur, wealth creation for me came from following my philosophy of Africapitalism ▪ We invested long-term in strategic sectors of the economy.
In essence we created wealth but also social good.
Africapitalism is all about doing good and doing well.
This is what we must preach across Africa and also in the Caribbean.
For too long we have failed to remember the teachings of great black men before us.
Men like Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican, and true pan-Africanist who preached unity between Africans and the African diaspora.
Pan-Africanists like Marcus Garvey understood the need for close ties between Africa and the diaspora.
That is not the case today, we need to re-forge these links stronger than they have been in the past.
We are in a digital age where we can easily achieve this through focused efforts.
We must not relent or give up.
We must continue to find ways to collaborate and strengthen opportunities for our people.
I call on the public sector to put this collaboration as a key action point from this great conference.
A key tenet of Africapitalism is the importance of the public sector in supporting the private sector’s efforts through the creation of the enabling environment that will support entrepreneurs and their businesses.
We must all ensure that the cultural linkages that connect Africa and the diaspora are strengthened not weakened.
In the words of Emperor Hailie Selassie said on his visit to Jamaica more than 50 years ago:
The people of African origin have immigrated to many parts of the world. Some of them have come to Jamaica, others to other parts of the world. But wherever they maybe they have similar historical experiences and the problems that await them depend on sympathy, and this can be used by all of us as the basis for the establishment of greater cooperation which will be for our mutual benefit.Emperor Hailie Selassie
We have so much to learn from one another, our experiences and knowledge must be harnessed for the upliftment of Africa, the Caribbean, and the diaspora everywhere and anywhere ▪ To conclude, my message to the audience here is this.
We must foster collaboration among the African diaspora, no one will develop our communities but us.
I want to see close linkages between entrepreneurs in Africa and the Caribbean.
I offer myself as one of the private sector leaders of Africa-Caribbean in this pursuit. Brothers and sisters, let us join hands to create sustainable wealth and prosperity for all.
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”
You know who said this, Jamaica’s very own Bob Marley.
As Marcus Garvey said: "The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity"
Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, I look forward to being in Jamaica in person!
Tony O. Elumelu, CON
Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA)
Chairman. Heirs Holdings Limited
Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation