By Aloysious Kasoma
Nigerian billionaire and philanthropist Tony Elumelu Wednesday shared his success story with Ugandans at Makerere University Main Hall.
The Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc and the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) revealed that that as much as capital is needed in starting up and sustaining a business, it is not the most important factor for an entrepreneur to successfully carry out a business.
Elumelu also emphasized the need for mentorship and training for young entrepreneurs in Uganda if they are to sustain businesses beyond the first year.
“The young entrepreneurs need to be mentored and trained on entrepreneurship; no matter how much capital you have, if you are not trained and mentored, the business will never be successful,” Elumelu said.
Under the theme, “Africapitalisation and Entrepreneurship”, the fully packed event was attended by entrepreneurs, university students, policy makers and leading private and public sector players.
Elumelu added that ideas are more important than capital.
“What I consider the most important is ideas; what an entrepreneur needs is the opportunity to prove their ideas,” he said.
Elumelu, who is in Uganda on an official two-day visit said that most Africans lack financial discipline hence the failure of almost 80% of businesses started.
“You need financial discipline to have a successful enterprise. Learn to save as much as you can. For each dollar made, make sure you save half of it. Your saving and spending culture are very important,” he said.
He further advised the young entrepreneurs to consider merging businesses but make sure that the two mergers have aligning interests so that there are no conflicts.
“Merging is important, but only if it is done properly. Before merging businesses, make sure that you discuss issues upfront and do not wait to solve them in the future,” he lectured to the attentive audience.
Elumelu was received by the Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, who thanked him for offering to lecture students about entrepreneurship, saying it’s the only way Uganda will get out of poverty.
Elumelu has been crucial in training African young entrepreneurs. His $100m entrepreneurship program under the TEF foundation trains 1,000 entrepreneurs every year from across African countries.
According to Elumelu, about 9,250 beneficiaries with 120 Ugandans have benefitted from the Foundation.
He also warned budding entrepreneurs of repeating same mistakes.
“What is important is after a mistake, I try not to repeat the same mistake. Some businesses are successful, others are not, but the fact remain; make right decisions and make sure you follow certain instincts. Some mistakes are beyond control,” he said.
He concluded: “Think long term not short term success and saving should be a discipline if you master to save.”
Before the public lecture, he first met with President Yoweri Museveni and discussed topics relating to entrepreneurship in Africa, infrastructure financing and promoting regional economic growth.