Davos Diaries: Chairman, UBA Plc, Tony O. Elumelu reflects on WEF, Davos 2017

The 2017 World Economic Forum is off to a great start!
The world’s most influential leaders (across the private and public sectors, academia, and civil society) have converged in Davos to discuss matters that affect the entire globe. In the 21st century, development is no longer the responsibility of national governments and development organizations alone. To eliminate poverty in our lifetime, all hands must be on deck. All stakeholders must be responsive to the responsibility of creating a more equal and just world. It was no surprise then bumping into Jianlin Wang, Chairman, Dalian Wanda Group (and richest man in China), on Day 1 at the Forum. Business leaders across the world are beginning to realize that you can do well and do good – do well for your business and do good for society. I call it the “genius of and! As Africapitalism asserts, you can accomplish both at the same time.

Chatting with Jianlin, his team and mine
Forging Africa-China Partnership

It has always been my hope that conversations at Davos build momentum post WEF, and snowball into sustained action that impacts millions all over the world. This is what I define as moving the needle and what will distinguish us as “People of action”, more than words and good diction.
In 2017, it is my hope that after WEF, we will pursue partnerships and contribute to collaborations that enable us build more efficient mechanisms to build a more inclusive and more equal world. This is responsive leadership. Leadership with a conscience and leadership that understands its responsibilities. We look forward to scaling the Tony Elumelu Foundation to empower even more African entrepreneurs, working side by side with reputable institutions like GAVI and Red Cross who have worked assiduously for decades to make the world a more progressive place. Together, we will invest in new companies, empower entrepreneurs and build businesses that will launch Africa’s 21st century economic transformation.

Brainstorming session between the TEF and Red Cross delegations led by its President Peter Maurer
Sharing laughs with Seth Berkley, GAVI CEO

It was a pleasure to meet with the President of Mauritius, H.E. Amina Gurib. I love to interact with African Presidents who value Entrepreneurs and how they can transform societies. HE Amina Gurib was impressive in encouraging me and my Heirs Holdings Group to visit and invest in her country across a range of important sectors. Unsurprisingly, I discovered that Her Excellency was once an entrepreneur! She graciously invited our Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurs in Mauritius to a meetup session in the next few months. She fully understands the importance of encouragement to small business owners; she recognizes the power of her presence in inspiring these young entrepreneurs to never give up. This is responsible leadership. This is what it takes to be a role model leader.

Looking ahead with HE Amina Gurib, President of Mauritius

What a backdrop!

In between, I found time to catch up with the UBA Group CEO, Kennedy Uzoka, who continues to redefine what cool is – I call him Ken-Cool! It’s fulfilling to watch up close KU’s passion and commitment towards improving banking services in 20 African countries where UBA operates, so that more people have access to financial products and services that enable them to save for the future, start new businesses, and forge closer regional integration with partners across the continent.

With Ken-Cool!

Finally, I wrapped up the day with a couple of interviews with media houses from South Africa, Nigeria and Germany. Using these powerful platforms, I called on other successful Africans, friends of Africa, development institutions and multinationals to join hands with the Foundation to spread even more prosperity on the African continent. We have received over 65,000 applications but can only support 2,000 due to limited resources. I am concerned about the fate of these entrepreneurs we are unable to fund and urge others to work with us to give hope to these young ones. As usual, I will share these interviews with you when they’re published.

For Channels TV Nigeria...
For eNCA, South Africa…

For Deutsche Welle, Germany..

What a day! I look forward to sharing with you even more exciting behind-the-scenes updates tomorrow, and for the rest of the week. Stay tuned!
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About Note To Self


  1. Thanks for the Davos recap and best wishes with the new cohort of the TEF Africa entrepreneurs in their Africapitalism journey.

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