ENTREPRENEURSHIP: THE CORNERSTONE TO AFRICA’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND PROSPERITY



Following the great success of the first Forum, last year, we are really excited to be welcoming the 2nd cohort of 1000 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs from across the 54 African countries to the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum 28-29th October 2016, in Lagos, Nigeria.  Over the past six months, they have completed an intensive online training programme with mentoring support and submitted their business plans for review by Accenture.

The TEF Entrepreneurship Forum is the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs, showcasing the innovation and entrepreneurial potential that exists in Africa - the next generation of African Business Titans. Held over two days, this dynamic platform allows the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs to form networks, share knowledge, build cross border business partnerships, and connect with investors, link with corporate supply chains, influence policy makers and business leaders participating in the Forum.

Tony Elumelu, Founder, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is a firm believer that entrepreneurship is the cornerstone to economic development and that African entrepreneurship is central to Africa’s future prosperity. The biggest opportunities in the coming decade will be created by Africans who start businesses, generate jobs and wealth, and capture growth opportunities.

There are many advantages of supporting home-grown businesses across Africa. They have deep insights into consumer demand and can spot gaps in the market for specific products and services. They can tap into strong networks and often exhibit a burning drive to create innovative, often disruptive, solutions to complex challenges. These are the people who are fueling Africa’s future. They have truly brilliant ideas but often lack the capital, the training or the support to structure their savvy commercial instincts into a scalable business plan and then execute it. Tony Elumelu believes we can’t afford to waste this talent.

That is why in December 2014, he launched the one hundred million dollar Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs. Providing ten thousand dollars to one thousand entrepreneurs, every year for the next ten years. Over the next 10 years, our goal is to create 10,000 African-owned businesses, generating 1,000,000 jobs and contributing $10 billion to revenues across Africa.

The programme provides participants with the tools that they need to be successful entrepreneurs on the African continent: 12-week online business development training; mentor support, access to online resources, peer to peer network across 54 African countries and seed capital investment. In 2015 and 2016, the Foundation received over 65,000 applications from across the 54 African economies. We have developed 2000 African innovators in both technology and physical business and helped to put African entrepreneurs in front and centre on the global stage. Through our ground breaking programme we are democratising opportunity, laying the Foundation for many businesses to grow and flourish across the continent, creating new partnerships and trade routes both within Africa and internationally.

For those of you who want to know more about what it takes to be an entrepreneur I invite you to watch the Foundations documentary Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs Transforming Africa: on YouTube.  It is the captivating story of Tony Elumelu’s vision to harness and unleash the ingenuity and creativity of Africa's entrepreneurs and spur innovation and economic development on the continent.  Experience how the Foundation developed a programme to institutionalize luck and give entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed.

We are fortunate to be working with UBA as our principal sponsor with shared values and complimentary visions. United Bank for Africa is committed to serving businesses and individuals across the continent with a footprint in19 countries across the geographic regions. UBA has a long association of being the preferred financial institution of SMEs. These are the very same entrepreneurs that we at TEF are training, mentoring and investing in.

Africa is at a crossroads: by 2030 it will be home to the world’s largest working age population. Moreover, Africa have swathes of arable land that has yet to be optimally utilized and its natural resources remain plentiful. However, without dynamic entrepreneurs, creating value in the production chain all of these natural endowments and the physical advantage of having a young working population will be lost. My hope and aim is that the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum and all of the activities we have anchored on unleashing African entrepreneurs will not only succeed but exceed our expectations.

 By: Parminder Vir, OBE – CEO Tony Elumelu Foundation
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