Why Tony Elumelu started his foundation

There is no doubt that the secret of a successful man lies in his story. Though Tony Elumelu has since been exploring his successful and admirable lifestyle but not everyone knows about his humble beginning.

The Nigerian billionaire had taken to his Facebook page to share the story of his rise to stardom. This, according to the Heirs Holding Chairman, was a move aimed to inspire young entrepreneurs.

In the post, Elumelu said just like some other young Nigerian graduates, he started his career as a copier salesman who was young, hungry, and hardworking.

Elumelu didn’t fully buy into the popular opinion that hard work, resilience, a long-term vision is all one needs to be an accomplished person, as he credited luck in his journey of greatness.

“How did I get from there to where I am now? Of course, hard work, resilience, a long-term vision – but also luck.”

How the journey started

A year later after earning his Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Elumelu applied to join a new generation bank, Allstates Trust Bank.

At the time, the bank’s one-page newspaper advertisement demanded a minimum 2:1 degree (Second Class, upper division), but Elumelu still went ahead to apply. He submitted a cover letter and fill out the application with his 2:2 Economics degree (Second Class, lower division).

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Surprisingly for Elumelu, his application was reviewed by the Chairman/CEO, who carefully read his cover letter and was drawn to the confidence in his words; part of it reads

“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.”

According to Elumelu, the CEO read those words and took a chance on him. After being shortlisted, Elumelu had a place as an entry-level analyst of the company.

Within the period of 12 months of resuming his appointment, Elumelu who was 27-year-old went from being an analyst to become a branch manager. With this, Elumelu was the youngest bank branch manager at the time.

Elumelu confessed that the position of the branch manager was a solid platform which launched him into several top leadership roles.

Elumelu is committed to helping entrepreneurs

Fast-forward to 2010 when he left UBA as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to pursue other interests, Elumelu made a vow through his Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) to commit himself to institutionalising luck and at the same time, democratise access to opportunities for young Africans.

Elumelu said

“I promised to leverage the success I have enjoyed, to spread luck and hope, provide opportunities and to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs to succeed.

“Without luck in my early career, I would not be the man that I am today. I am a leader and philanthropist today because I encountered people who gave me a chance early in my career. It has been a lifetime goal to pay this forward in a transformative and impactful way.”

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