Accra , Nov. 4, 2016 (GNA) – The Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu says Africa’s quest for breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency could only be achieved if it injects the spirit of entrepreneurship into its youthful population.
To this end, his Foundation has set up the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, which is a 10-year programme worth $ 100 million to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs, capable of changing the face of business across Africa.
In his keynote speech at the second TEF Entrepreneurship Forum 2016 held in Lagos, Nigeria where 1,000 beneficiaries from 54 African countries were trained and mentored, Mr Elumelu reaffirmed his commitment to the African youth.
After the Forum, each beneficiary entrepreneur is eligible to receive up to $ 10,000 to implement his or her business plan.
The Forum was also used to celebrate the 2016 cohort of Elumelu Entrepreneurs, selected from more than 45,000 applicants.
It was the annual highlight of the TonyElumelu Entrepreneurship Programme and saw the presence of leading policy makers and business leaders from across Africa giving their support to the Foundation.
“I salute those here, our ambition is that you become ambassadors for entrepreneurship in Africa – you are a generation of wealth creators, who share our commitment to the economic and social transformation of Africa, » Mr Elumelu stated at the forum.
Mr Elumelu challenged stakeholders from the public and private sectors, civil society, multilateral organisations and individuals who had invested in Africa’s economic development to join hands with the Foundation to support the wider African entrepreneurial community.
“We need to support our entrepreneurs because extreme poverty and economic opportunity rarely co-exist in the same place.”
He also announced partnerships with regional institutions the African Development Bank, ECOWAS, and others including Coca Cola, the International Trade Centre, Nigeria’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Entrepreneurship.
Applauding Tony Elumelu’s promise to not only empower entrepreneurs, but also to tackle the fundamental economic challenges confronting the African continent, Mr Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone called on others to emulate Elumelu.
“Even when we had Ebola in Sierra Leone, Tony was there. He is an example, which other successful Africans must follow.”
Focusing on the uniqueness of TEF’s approach to entrepreneurship development, President Koroma hailed the programme as “a genuinely innovative approach to philanthropy in Africa – African offering African solutions”.
The two-day forum buzzed with energy as entrepreneurs shared and gained knowledge, built cross-border partnerships, and connected with investors and policymakers, fulfilling the goal of fostering innovation and collaboration between entrepreneurs from across Africa.
On day one, attendees benefited from masterclasses on traditional and alternative means of financing, sales and marketing, as well as sector specific workshops and an in-depth session on Africapitalism – Elumelu’s economic philosophy that identifies the leading role of Africa’s private sector, including its entrepreneurs, in Africa’s transformation.
The day two of the forum featured a high-level panel dedicated to identifying policies to strengthen the enabling environment for entrepreneurs.
The panelists Mr Bai Koroma, President Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria, Former Prime Minister of Benin Republic, Lionel Zinsou, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture and Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, Vice Chair of Famfa Oil.