By Edwin Muhumuza
Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Tony Elumelu has reiterated his commitment to championing Africa’s economic development by supporting and training a new generation of entrepreneurs, whose successes can transform the continent, delivering opportunity, job creation and social impact.
‘Africa’s future is in African hands’ he stated.Our Foundation and its unique approach of training, mentoring and funding has proven that entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking economic transformation of our continent. I believe so strongly that success can be democratized and if we can match ambition to opportunities, this extraordinary generation can achieve anything,” said Tony Elumelu.
He made the remarks as 5,000 African entrepreneurs, private and public sector leaders and the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem convened in Lagos, Nigeria for the annual Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum. The event which is the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs in the world, is a unique opportunity for bringing together young business talent, creating dynamic networks and transmitting the message to policymakers that a vibrant and responsible private sector will deliver economic transformation.
One of the highlights was the unveiling of TEF Connect, a revolutionary digital community that brings together the complete entrepreneurship ecosystem across Africa and beyond, including entrepreneurs, investors and the broader business community on one platform, connecting them digitally with three vital elements for success – capital, market and business tools.
“With TEF Connect, we have created a tool, that provides a digital platform to host ideas, champion success and demonstrate Africans ability to use the most advanced technologies to take charge of their economic destinies.” Elumelu noted.
As Africa rides on a wave of rapid technological driven change in payment systems, education, agriculture and infrastructure ,TEFConnect is expected to link entrepreneurs across the continent.
In keeping with the foundation’s track record of bringing politicians face to face with African entrepreneurs,most recently President Emmanuel Macro of France,the forum held an interactive session with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, moderated by TEF founder Tony Elumelu.
Now in its fourth year, the Forum marked the graduation of the 2018 cohort of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, following a rigorous nine-month period of training, mentor-ship and funding, which brought the total number of beneficiaries of the Programme to 4,470, with over 300,000 applications received to date. Uganda this year had 126 successful applicants.
President Nana Akudo-Addo of Ghana, underlined the importance of galvanizing the broad entrepreneurship eco-system, calling on public sector representatives to encourage, support and replicate the work of the Tony Elumelu Foundation in their respective regions.
Since its inception, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has empowered African entrepreneurs across the continent with a $5,000 non-refundable seed grant, a bespoke training programme designed specifically for the African environment and access to a dedicated group of mentors, significantly contributing to economic growth, job creation and revenue generation. Over 300 budding Ugandan entrepreneurs have benefitted from the programme.