The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) says it has selected almost 5,000 entrepreneurs from across Africa for its 2021 Entrepreneurship Programme.
The Foundation, a leading champion of entrepreneurship in Africa, said about 68 percent of this year’s beneficiaries are women entrepreneurs.
The 2021 beneficiaries were selected from a pool of over 400,000 applications out of which 4,949 were selected based on their innovation, performance, and growth potential to create jobs and eradicate poverty on the continent.
Consisting of both new start-ups and existing small businesses, the Foundation said the 2021 Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs have undergone world-class business training, mentorship and coaching and will have lifetime access to its alumni network.
Tony O. Elumelu, the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, said, “To you, young African entrepreneurs — work hard, dream dreams, and be very disciplined. You must continue to think of the impact. The entrepreneurship journey is not linear — there are ups and downs, but by staying focused and resilient, ultimately, success will come your way.
“The future of our continent is in your hands. What you do as entrepreneur will go a long way in lifting Africa out of poverty. I am happy that our female entrepreneurs are doing very well, with 68% representation this year.”
“To our African leaders – these young, intelligent, energetic hardworking, resilient Africans are ready to go. We need to keep creating the right enabling environment to enable our young ones to succeed. We must realise that their success is success for all of us on the continent.
“We must prioritise them because nations and continents that prioritise their people succeed. To my fellow business leaders, let us realise that in the 21st century and beyond, it is about impact, legacy and about how we work together to power people out of poverty. It is such a great feeling to see 5000 young Africans also commence their entrepreneurial journeys today.”
Speaking at the event, Koen Doens, director-general, International Cooperation and Development, European Commission, stated, “I remember very well, a few years ago in Brussels when I first met Tony Elumelu at one of the events his Foundation was organising. Both of us were struck by how there was such a clear match between his vision on how he could support African entrepreneurship and the European Union’s vision on how we wanted to support African entrepreneurship.
“Ever since, our partnership has embodied this same spirit that ultimately African growth cannot neglect the huge potential, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit that harbours so many Africans, especially young people and women.
“I am extremely glad our partnership is moving into this active stage, and I am very glad that over 2400 women will benefit from the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s training programme, and will get seed capital to support their ideas. I am extremely happy that at the European Union, we are able to be part of this great endeavour and to support it.”
Also speaking at the event, Ahunna Eziakonwa, assistant administrator, UNDP/Director, UNDP regional bureau for Africa, said, “Our partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation on youth entrepreneurship is informed by our belief that Africa will only succeed when young Africans are given the opportunity to excel.
“This is what has inspired us to invest more than $20 million in emerging African entrepreneurs since we entered into our partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Our joint ambition is to empower 100,000 young African entrepreneurs over the next ten years across Africa, recognising that entrepreneurship is the only way dreams can be realised.”
Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, secretary-general, OACPS, said, “On behalf of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), I would like to heartily commend the Tony Elumelu Foundation for this extraordinary achievement.
“We are proud to have partnered with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and our longstanding partner, the European Union to unlock the potential of 2420 young African women through this TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, providing mentorship and funding, to grow and sustain these small businesses.”
Speaking on the panel with Elumelu, a 2015 Tony Elumelu entrepreneur and Founder of Afrik Abaya, Hauwa Liman, shared: “I am always proud to say that I am from the inaugural cohort of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme. My business is located in Kaduna, Nigeria. I benefitted from this Programme in 2015, and it opened up lots of doors and opportunities. It is not just about the seed capital, but what fascinates me about the Programme is the knowledge.
“I call it a mini-MBA programme because from the ideation stage it teaches you how to articulate your business, and it gave me my first business plan. The network, visibility and opportunities are endless. My entrepreneurship experience cannot be complete without the Tony Elumelu Foundation. I will start exporting soon courtesy of the Foundation. We now employ ten permanent staff and an additional eight staff on a commission basis.”
Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, Tony Elumelu Foundation CEO, concluded the event stating: “Today, we have trained ten times more young African entrepreneurs than we have trained from 2015 to 2019 combined. Today in 2021, we will be paying out a record US$24,750,000 directly to the hands of African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries. This is impact.”
Since its inception, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has funded a total of 15,847 entrepreneurs who have created more than 400,000 direct and indirect jobs and counting. Through TEFConnect, the Foundation’s proprietary digital platform, it has provided capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages to over 1.5 million Africans.
The Foundation said the applications for the 2022 programme will open on January 1, 2022, via www.tefconnect.com.
For a list of the selected 2021 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs, visit here.