How Tony Elumelu Went from a 2.2 Degree, Bank Branch Manager to Owning one of the Biggest Banks in Africa

How Tony Elumelu Went from a 2.2 Degree, Bank Branch Manager to Owning one of the Biggest Banks in Africa

  • Tony Elumelu is a well known Nigerian entrepreneur who is helping other entrepreneurs in Africa with funding
  • He began humbly by applying for a position he was not qualified for in a bank and went to excel and became a branch manager at the bank at the age of 27 years old
  • Elumelu later became the CEO of of Nigeria's oldest banks, UBA after leading a merger team to take over the bank in 2005

Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu is an economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.

But before he became all that, Tony Elumelu once begged for a job he was not suitable for - and got it.

Tony Elumelu
Tony Elumelu Credit: Tony Elumelu
Source: Facebook

The humble beginning

In his letter asking for a job in an unnamed bank, Tony Elumelu said he asked the bank to overlook his less than desirable grade from Bendel State University, now Ambrose Ali University.

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In one of his posts, Tony Elumelu recalled that part of his cover letter asked the bank to disregard his grade and not see it as a measure of his intelligence and give him the job he applied for.

He said:

“I know I may not have met the qualifying criteria for the advertised roles, but I am intelligent, driven, ambitious and I will make the bank proud. My 2:2 degree does not demonstrate the full extent of my intelligence and ability, and I know I can do so much more.”

He said his application was examined by the CEO and he was shortlisted, interviewed and placed on entry-level.

Within a year, Elumelu proved himself and went on to become the youngest branch manager of the bank at 27 years old. That gave him a leeway into other leadership positions in the bank.

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According to the Delta-born entrepreneur, he worked hard, was energetic and gave priority to getting things done.

The limelight

Tony Elumelu came to the limelight when he led a team of investors to take over a nearly bankrupt Standard Trust Bank in Lagos, turned its fortunes around. He led a merger of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) which many see as more of an acquisition than a merger in 2005.

He chose to retain the name UBA but the logo is that of Standard Trust Bank.

In the next five years, Elumelu led the bank from being a single-country bank to establishing a presence in 19 African countries which has over 7 million customers.

Elumelu left his position as CEO of UBA in 2010 to found Heirs Holdings.

He started Heirs Holding, an investment company that cuts across power, financial services, oil and gas, hospitality, real estate, and healthcare.

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Extending a helping hand

He also founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) to help African entrepreneurs with pre-seed funding of over N2 million ($5,000).

According to him, TEF is not only democratising access to opportunities for African entrepreneurs, the foundation is creating a digital ecosystem where these entrepreneurs are mentored, trained and funded. The Foundation has funded thousands of entrepreneurs and continues to invite applications from entrepreneurs annually.

20-year-old Nigerian beside self with joy after meeting Elumelu

Meanwhile, reported that Emmanuel Nduka is the poster boy for the popular saying that dreams do come true.

The 20-year-old Nigerian undergraduate couldn't contain his joy after getting the rare invite from Tony Elumelu - a dream come true for him.

The Anambra indigene gives an insight from his rare physical meeting with the Nigerian billionaire.


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