• The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is accepting applications for the 2017 edition of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP).

    In its third cohort since it was launched in 2014, TEEP will select 1,000 entrepreneurs from across Africa with transformative ideas.

    During its launch, the foundation pledged to invest US$100 million to support initiatives for ten years.

    Selected participants will go through a 12-week intensive training session, mentoring and receive non-returnable seed capital of $5,000.

    “Our program is a deliberate effort to institutionalize luck and provide the essentials for business growth to Africa’s next generation of business leaders. It is a demonstration of my faith in this generation’s ability to transform the African narrative, from the single story of disease and poverty, to one of enterprise and opportunity. Spread the word; we need Africa’s best and brightest entrepreneurs. Their ideas will transform Africa,” said TEF founder Tony Elumelu.

    An eye-opening opportunity

    For the past two years, 2,000 entrepreneurs have already benefited from the program. These are the kind of success stories that encourage other entrepreneurs across the continent and the rest of the world.

    According to Etiobhio Samuel, a past beneficiary from Nigeria, TEEP was an eye-opening experience that taught him a lot in the business world.

    “I learned how to pitch better, which has helped me so much,” the fine artist entrepreneur and a medical doctor said. “I learned better ways of rebranding, packaging and most importantly keeping my clients. The title ‘Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur’ opened business doors for me,” he added.

    Creating job opportunities for young Africans

    For Muhire Louis-Antoine from Rwanda, TEEP was a stepping stone to enable him to solve a solution as well as create job opportunities for the “massive African youth graduating in ICT.”

    Muhire, a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur, received funding to develop his project which enables Rwandans in Diaspora to prepay relatives’ basic needs in Rwanda, via mobile apps and a website. The FinTech accelerator program has since grown to have transactions from more than 21 countries and 5 different currencies.

    Networking opportunity

    For Byenda Nkwanda a Zambian fashion designer TEEP “brought her business to life.” She joined the program with just an idea, but from TEEP she got resources, the knowledge and confidence to transform it into a business.

    “As an individual, TEF Entrepreneurship Programme changed me entirely. I now have an eye for opportunities; I seek solutions before I register a complaint in any way. I am more confident now. The most important thing I have learned since I joined the foundation is not to take failure so personally. It is my biggest motivation now.”

    She notes that the program helped her to connect with fellow entrepreneurs from different parts of the continent, which is a great thing for business. Moreover, being associated with the Foundation has given us great credibility as individuals and as a business too.”

    Creating a better life for the community

    After working with her family business for a while, Nassima Hofra (Algeria) decided to start her own company to manufacture plastic packaging, designed for household detergents and auto maintenance products.

    In addition to manufacturing the products, Tepropack also trains by the practice of crafts such as plumbing, welding, electricity, tanning, and milling.

    Commenting on TEEP, the entrepreneur said that the “program opened my eyes to Africa’s potential in developing enterprises and the opportunities that can make a better life for our families, continent and the world at large.”

    Tackling vulnerabilities

    When Belema Alagun received news about her nomination to participate in TEEP, she had just quit her job. She had forgotten about the application, so this was a good surprise for her.

    “I was feeling very vulnerable, and honestly, I had even forgotten I even applied for the program. As you can imagine, I just started crying tears of joy upon hearing Mr. Elumelu announce my nomination,” said the entrepreneur whose business focuses on the production of healthy foods for health-conscious clients.

    Like many TEEP beneficiaries, Belema has partnered with the local community to promote them, fulfilling one of TEEP's objectives.

    You too can transform your idea into a business through TEEP. Your business must be based in Africa. Must be a profit-making venture, and is less than three years old.

    Applicants must be at least 18 years and legal residents or citizens of an African country.

    Female applicants and applications from French, Arabic and Portuguese speakers are particularly encouraged.

    To submit your application, visit their platform. Applications are made on a rolling basis so make an early submission.

    Image credit: Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program