The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has selected 3,050 African promising entrepreneurs, drawn from all 54 African countries, its $100 million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, the fifth in the series.
The announcement was made at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, during the selection process by Accenture Development Partners. Latest figure released by TEF shows about 50% increase from the over 1400 that made it in 2018. This year, over 216,000 applications were received, an increase from last year’s 151,000. Nearly 90,000 were submitted by female entrepreneurs, an increase of 45 per cent, illustrating the Foundation’s strategy to achieve greater gender balance.
The selected entrepreneurs will each receive non- refundable $5,000 of seed capital, access to mentors, and a 12-week business training programme, directly focused on the needs of African entrepreneurs. On July 26 – 27 2019, they will gather at the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem on the continent.
TEF visioneer, Tony O. Elumelu, said “every year, we face an almost impossible task – to select 1,000 entrepreneurs, from the hundreds of thousands that apply. Our entrepreneurs are hungry to effect change. We know we are only scratching the surface, we see the depth of entrepreneurial talent, that all of us – government, business indeed African society, must harness to transform our economies and livelihoods. We must rally together to empower them and accelerate the change we want on the continent.”
Elumelu stated further, “Poverty anywhere is a threat to people everywhere. If you limit it to Nigeria, and your neighbours in the African countries are hungry, it won’t work.”
Speaking at the event, wife of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, commended the initiative for its economic impact on the continent, charging the selected entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunity and transform the continent.
“Indeed, I am confident that these Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs will inspire deep confidence and be of immense value not just to Nigeria but to the entire continent,” she said.
Speaking on the announcement, the incoming CEO, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, said, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme has successfully empowered 7,520 entrepreneurs in its first five years of the 10- year programme.
Marking the fifth anniversary of the 10-year programme, this year’s selection includes 2,050 entrepreneurs, supported by the Foundation’s partners in addition to the Foundation’s annual commitment of 1,000, bringing the total number of entrepreneurs empowered by the Foundation to date to 7,520.
Last year, we launched TEFConnect – the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs and open to all – to further democratize the access to opportunities for the thousands of entrepreneurs that cannot directly benefit from our Entrepreneurship Programme. This further demonstrates our commitment to empowering our entrepreneurs and our belief that entrepreneurship holds the key to unleashing the true potential of the African continent”, she said.
The Foundation’s growing list of partners includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Federal Republic of Benin (Seme City), the Anambra State Government, Indorama, the Government of Botswana and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Header image credit - Africa Leadership