The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has selected 3,050 African entrepreneurs, drawn from all 54 African countries, to join the 5th cycle of its $100 million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme this year.
The announcement was made in Abuja last weekend following a presentation of the selection process by Accenture Development Partners.
In a statement, TEF noted that over 216,000 applications were received this year, topping the 151,000 applications received last year. It added that nearly 90,000 were submitted by female entrepreneurs, an increase of 45 per cent over the previous year, 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,” the statement added.
At the event, TEF founder, 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.”
In her speech, the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, commended the Programme’s impact on the continent, charging the selected entrepreneurs to contribute to the advancement of the African continent.
She stated: “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.”
Chief Executive Officer, TEF, 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 democratise 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.”
The Foundation’s list of partners includes International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Federal Republic of Benin (Seme City), Anambra State Government, Indorama, Government of Botswana and African Development Bank (AfDB).