By Edwin Muhumuza
The Tony Elumelu Foundation(TEF),Africa’s leading philanthropy dedicated to empowering African entrepreneurs, opened applications on its TEFConnect digital platform.(www.tefconnect.com) on January 1,2021.
According to the foundation, the move is geared towards prioritizing the economic recovery of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and young African entrepreneurs, including 3,000 SMEs led by female entrepreneurs following the Covid-19 disruption to economic activities.
A recent rapid survey of businesses by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in Uganda reveals that three-quarters of the surveyed businesses have laid off employees due to the risks presented by COVID-19 and subsequent containment measures.
Additionally micro and small businesses experienced a larger decline in businesses activity compared to medium and large firms—an unsurprising finding since most of the country’s micro and small businesses halted operations due to their inability to implement preventative health measures such as provision of on-site lodging for employees, and sanitizers and hand washing equipment for customers.
These preventive measures have resulted in an increase in operating expenses for businesses that continued to stay open. Consequently, a majority of micro and small businesses, particularly in the service sector, predict they will have to close if the pandemic persists and current restrictions are maintained.
‘To address the unique challenges arising from the pandemic, lift millions out of poverty and create
Sustainable employment across the continent, the Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme will
empower 1,000 young African entrepreneurs, selected from the 2020 cohort.
The Foundation will also open applications to an additional 2,400 young entrepreneurs in 2021, in collaboration
with global partners, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu said.
‘The pandemic has created challenges across the continent, but we know that with the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s tried and tested Programme, we can execute the largest Covid-19 economic recovery plan for African SMEs and break the cycle of poverty in Africa.’ Ugochukwu noted.
Successful applicants receive a world-class business training, mentorship, non-refundable seed capital up to $5,000, and global networking opportunities. The Programme is open to entrepreneurs across Africa, both new start-ups and existing young businesses, operating in any sector.