Chairman, Heirs Holdings and Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony O. Elumelu, CON joined global private sector leaders at the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 24 2017 to discuss ways to achieve economic diversification in dynamic economies. The conference was organised by the Public Investment Fund.
Speaking on the distinguished panel of speakers including Mary Erdoes, CEO, JPMorgan Asset Management, USA; Oh Joon Kwon, Chairman, POSCO, South Korea; Frédéric Oudéa, CEO, Société Générale, France; Harvey Schwartz, President & Co-COO, Goldman Sachs, USA; and Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman & CEO, DP World, UAE, Elumelu cited entrepreneurship and gender equality as two critical areas that need urgent attention to drive the inclusive growth and economic diversification in emerging continents like Africa.
Of achieving gender equality, Elumelu pointed out the importance of supporting women-run businesses to achieve inclusive growth stating that these businesses empower a critical population of the economy. “Female businesses create more benefits for the society,” he said.
An advocate of a new model for entrepreneurship in Africa, through his philosophy, Africapitalism, Elumelu spoke on the role Africapitalism plays in powering Africa out of poverty. “Africapitalism is the intersection between prosperity and social wealth – doing good while making profit. It is a realisation that the private sector has a role to play in the social and economic diversification. We need to prioritise the young ones and prioritise SMEs if we are to achieve the much spoke about economic diversification,” he said.
Also speaking on the topic, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem identified entrepreneurship as a key driver of today’s economy. “When we encourage entrepreneurship we encourage ideas,” he said.
Elumelu has demonstrated the potential of his Africapitalism model through his Foundation’s flagship Programme―The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme―where he endowed 10,000 African entrepreneurs with $100million over a 10-year period with the goal of achieving 10million jobs within the period. Already, the Programme has celebrated its 3rd cohort of Fellows bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 3,000 since its inception in 2015, creating an impact will significantly transform the African continent.
“Entrepreneurship is a bottom-up approach to economic diversification. It is about trying to encourage our youths to be more enterprising, ultimately realising that they will drive the diversification process,” Elumelu said.