TIME has named one of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists- Tony O. Elumelu, chairman of the United Bank for Africa Plc and Transcorp Plc, among three Nigerians in the 2020 edition of its annual list of 100 most influential people in the world.
The list, now in its 17th year, recognises the activism, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.
Elumelu, one of only four Africans on the 2020 list, is recognised for his track record of business turnaround, value creation, and economic empowerment of young Africans.
The other Nigerians are Tomi Adeyemi, a novelist, Lagos-based Nigerian cardiologist, and leader of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee- Dr. Tunji Funsho, for his work to eradicate polio, having played an essential role in ensuring Africa’s certification as wild polio-free in August of 2020.
Elumelu is the Founder and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, his family owned investment company, committed to improving lives and transforming Africa, through long-term investments in strategic sectors of the African economy, including financial services, hospitality, power, energy and healthcare.
In 2010, he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the philanthropy that empowers a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation across all 54 African countries.
Since inception, the Foundation has funded just under 10,000 entrepreneurs and created a digital ecosystem of over one million as part of its ten year, US$100m commitment through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.
Heirs Holdings, which serves as a corporate role model for African businesses, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation will both celebrate 10 years of impact in November. Their mission continues to be inspired by Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.
Commenting on his recognition, Dr. Funsho said it felt honoured for his role “in ensuring that no child in Africa will ever again be paralyzed by wild polio, a disease that once disabled 75,000 African children every single year.
“Eradicating the wild poliovirus in Africa was a team effort that required the cooperation and dedication of governments, partners, Rotary members, hundreds of thousands of health workers, and countless parents who chose to have their children vaccinated against polio.”