Tony Elumelu, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, has tasked companies in the private sector in Africa to contribute meaningfully and play a leadership role in the transformation of the continent’s economic fortunes.
Addressing business leaders in Washington D.C, Elumelu said, “We are now the world’s fastest growing region. There is a social and economic impact to be derived, but it needs to be done with the right approach – with African leadership and with the private sector, rather than from a charitable orientation.”
He introduced the audience to Africapitalism, an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth.
“Investment in Africa needs a different perspective. For Africa’s economic growth, the private sector needs to take the lead, invest long term, and focus on making both economic and social gains. In my experience, we have made great profits, but we have also touched lives,” he said.
Elumelu argued that old assumptions about how Africa would develop were changing quickly, with headlines about the continent becoming more positive.
He described for the audience consisting mostly of global philanthropic leaders how the Tony Elumelu Foundation saw the need to partner with the private and public sectors to achieve the catalytic economic transformation it was seeking.
Using his past experience as a banker as an example, Mr. Elumelu said, “We wanted to democratise banking – at the time, it was an economic, not a social act. But we learned quickly that as we enhanced access to banking, the communities prospered.
“And as the communities prospered, we also did. The lesson for us is that, indeed, corporations can do well and do good simultaneously. If you integrate both, it can create even more wealth.”