Tony Elumelu Foundation celebrates 7 years of driving entrepreneurship across Africa

*Participants at The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum (TEEF) in group photograph with the founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr. Tony Elumelu (middle, in suit and tie) at the foundation’s entrepreneurship programme held in Lagos in October

Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr. Tony Elumelu has said that the Foundation’s current concern is its $100 million commitment to empowering 10,000 entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries over a 10-year period through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEFEP).

In a statement entitled ‘Seven Years – Creating A Legacy, Changing Mindsets, And Empowering a Generation’ to commemorate seven years anniversary of TEF, Elumelu said the empowerment would be in the form of provision of seed capital, training, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

“Our goal is to create over a million jobs and US$10billion of entrepreneurially driven wealth,” he said.

The TEF founder said the anniversary was aimed at creating “time to reflect on the speed in which we have institutionalised internally; begun to change narratives globally and championed entrepreneurship in Africa.”

He also said the event was meant to “to remain humble, knowing the scale of the challenges our continent faces; the numbers we could help if resources were limitless; and knowing the resilience and endurance that our entrepreneurs show in their own journeys.”

“Our work is rooted in our core philosophy of Africapitalism, which states that the private sector’s role is crucial for Africa’s development and that the private sector needs to create both social and economic wealth.

In seven years, he said “we have had direct impact on thousands of people, empowering individuals to create jobs, influencing policy and becoming the leading driver of entrepreneurship across Africa.”

When TEF was launched, Elumelu said “we wanted to change the narrative on African development. We wanted to reframe the agenda, so that economic development would no longer be centred on foreign aid. We would show that Africa’s transformation could and should be driven by Africans.”

He said TEF’s formative years explored the impact of supporting businesses at different stages of development, identifying where it could make the most impact and “we forged meaningful partnerships and ran successful programmes.”

As a young entrepreneur, he said he saw the potential of private sector investment to transform livelihoods.

“As we expanded the United Bank for Africa (UBA) to 19 countries across our continent, I saw our positive impact, measured not just in the bottom line, but in expanding access to finance, creating stable employment, breaking down trade barriers.

“I committed myself to empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs. Since 2010, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has been dedicated to resolving Africa’s most pressing social issues – empowering entrepreneurs and enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector,” he added.

He recalled how in October the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum (TEEF) played host to the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs ever.

Elumelu who described the cohort as “unprecedented in size and scope” said: “We hosted entrepreneurs from 54 African countries in Lagos, Nigeria and united ecosystem players, including investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders and policy makers.

“We signed strategic partnerships with UNDP and AFD to promote development activities that support entrepreneurship and to cover risk sharing to commercial banks in Africa for loans to entrepreneurs.”

In seven years, Elumelu said “we have had direct impact on thousands of people, empowering individuals to create jobs, influencing policy and becoming the leading driver of entrepreneurship across Africa.”

He applauded the contributions of the stakeholders, TEF’s trustees, and members of the advisory board for their guidance and endorsement of “our activities over the years.”

He urged them to reflect on how the Foundation had grown and how its ambition had risen to the challenges and now “moving towards achieving scale and continent-wide impact.”


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