The Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu says Africa’s quest of breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency can only be achieved if it injects the spirit of entrepreneurship into its youthful population.
To this end, his foundation has set up the TEF entrepreneurship programme, which is a 10-year programme worth $100 million to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs, capable of changing the face of business across Africa.
In his keynote speech at the second TEF Entrepreneurship Forum 2016 held in Lagos, Nigeria where 1,000 women and men beneficiaries from 54 African countries were trained and mentored, Mr. Elumelu reaffirmed his commitment to the African youth.
After the forum, each beneficiary entrepreneur is eligible to receive up to $10,000 to implement his or her business plan.
The forum was also used to celebrate the 2016 cohort of Elumelu Entrepreneurs, selected from over 45,000 applicants.
It was the annual highlight of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme and saw the presence of leading policymakers and business leaders from across Africa, giving their support to the foundation and its promise to identify, train, mentor and seed 1,000 entrepreneurs in a decade-long $100 million commitment.
Mr. Elumelu stated at the forum being described as the largest gathering of African young entrepreneurs: “I salute those here, our ambition is that you become ambassadors for entrepreneurship in Africa – you are a generation of wealth creators, who share our commitment to the economic and social transformation of Africa.”
“Let me tell you about Momarr Mass Taal, the CEO of Tropingo Foods, who has turned his first $5,000 seed capital received from the foundation last year, into a $1.2 million revenue business. I want many more of these! However, as excited as I am about the 2,000 entrepreneurs that we have selected, this gathering is in some ways bittersweet, as I reflect on the 63,000 ideas we were unable to select – our commitment is to all entrepreneurs in Africa.”
Mr. Elumelu challenged all stakeholders from the public and private sectors, civil society, multilateral organisations and all individuals invested in Africa’s economic development to join hands with the foundation to support the wider African entrepreneurial community.
Applauding Tony Elumelu’s promise to not only empower entrepreneurs, but also to tackle the fundamental economic challenges confronting the African continent, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone called on others to emulate Elumelu. “Even when we had Ebola in Sierra Leone, Tony was there. His is an example which other successful Africans must follow.”
Focusing on the uniqueness of TEF’s approach to entrepreneurship development, President Koroma hailed the programme as “a genuinely innovative approach to philanthropy in Africa – an African offering African solutions”.
“What is unique about this programme is that it not only provides a platform for entrepreneurs to build connections, but they are also being taught how to build their businesses in a sustainable way. Other philanthropists will be inspired to support and promote this philosophy,” the President stated.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Mrs. Awele Elumelu, CEO Avon Medical, trustee of the foundation and wife of Founder, Mr. Elumelu, welcomed the entrepreneurs to Lagos and commended their drive and effort in finding solutions to some of the continent’s most pervasive challenges.