By Dipo Olowookere
Group Chairman of United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, has emerged winner of the prestigious Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Entrepreneurship Award.
With this, Mr Elumelu becomes first African to receive the coveted award.
The award was presented to the Nigerian business mogul by the Business council for International Understanding (BCIU), a non-profit US Business association dedicated to forging relationships and promoting dialogue between business and government communities across the globe.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Entrepreneurship Award was given to both Mr Elumelu and Bill Marriott, Chairman, Marriott International Inc.
It was conferred on the Nigerian in recognition of his outstanding work in promoting entrepreneurship on the continent of Africa and across the globe.
Mr Elumelu, who himself is a serial entrepreneur, through his Tony Elumelu Foundation, has funded over 3,000 African entrepreneurs to date with his $100 million commitment to 10,000 entrepreneurs over a period of 10 years.
These entrepreneurs are expected to create a million new jobs and over $10 billion in revenue as a result of the initiative of Mr Elumelu’s Foundation.
At the award’s gala, former American President, Mr George W. Bush, acknowledged the efforts of the African entrepreneur saying, “I am impressed with Tony’s philanthropic initiatives which are powering job creation and entrepreneurship in a region (Africa) that is very dear to Laura and me.
“To receive an award founded by President Eisenhower has added meaning. Eisenhower provided example in leadership, which we can all learn from.
“Additionally, his belief in promoting international understanding is a vitally important responsibility.”
Speaking on the reason why Mr Elumelu was selected as the recipient of this prestigious award, Peter Tichansky, the CEO of BCIU said “Mr Elumelu’s bold approach and can-do mindset are exemplary characteristics of a visionary entrepreneur.
“He embodies the idea that companies must take the lead in bringing business and society together. His advocacy is proving that businesses, acting as businesses and not charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing social challenges and economic development.”
Indeed this is the philosophy of Mr Elumelu, founder of the concept of Africapitalism, which essentially states that Africa’s private sector must play a leading role in the development and growth of the continent as both governments and the private sector come together to make this happen.
Mr Elumelu, who was presented his award by Kip Forbes and Anne Eisenhower (the granddaughter of President Eisenhower), in his acceptance speech, stated that, “President Eisenhower was a man of many dimensions and most important is his leadership.
“Being recognized today as a recipient of the inaugural global entrepreneurship award is an honour that resonates with so many people in Africa. What our entrepreneurs in Africa need is powerful leadership to further energise, encourage and motivate them to transform the continent.’ He went on to say.
“I hope this will further spur on other Africans and friends of Africa, to make sure we work together for an inclusive prosperity.”
Mr Elumelu dedicated his award to his wife and children as well as the staff of UBA, Transcorp, Heirs Holdings, the Tony Elumelu Foundation and all the other companies within his group of companies. “He thanked BCIU on behalf of entrepreneurs in Africa saying, “On behalf of the over 3000 entrepreneurs who have benefitted from the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship programme, I say thank you very much.”
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