Kunle Aderinokun in Lusaka, Zambia
Hope has come alive for 83,000 budding entrepreneurs across Africa, desirous of pursuing their dreams, as the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other development partners have pledged to assist them to access requisite seed capital for their endeavours.
The buddy entrepreneurs got a respite following the positive response of AfDB to the passionate plea by President of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr. Tony Elumelu, who painted a gloomy picture of the future of African youths in the area of employment, at the bank’s ongoing annual meetings in Lusaka, Zambia.
The 83,000 youth entrepreneurs were the unsuccessful ones out of the 85,000, who participated in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) in the last two years.
TEEP, which earmarked $100 million to assist 10,000 African entrepreneurs within 10 years in such a way that 1,000 youths are provided $10 million seed capital annually, and the Foundation has empowered 2,000 businesses within two years of operation. The aim is to enhance job creation.
According to Elumelu, finance remained the bane of youth entrepreneurship across the continent. He pointed out that, it was a misconception to think that only governments, established companies and corporates, had the capacity to solve the burgeoning unemployment rate within Africa.
In his words: “Over the years we have missed the point by depending on government and big companies to provide employment for our youths. What we need now in meeting the urgent unemployment rate to support the entrepreneurial spirit of African youths by providing the needed seed capital to jump start pockets of SMEs across the continent.
“Tony Elumelu Foundation capacity in carrying out this mission is limited to $100 million and that is why we are at the AfDB AGM to solicit support of development partners.”
Elumelu, who is also the chairman of UBA, described the AfDB offer to assist those who could not benefit from TEEP as commendable and fulfilling. “We whole heartedly accept the offer of AfDB and other development partners participating at the meeting. All we hope to do is to transfer the list from Accenture to them.
“As a person, I am fulfilled again, as many stakeholders continue to buy into our project of developing proactive and viable SMEs across Africa. Our belief, which has been verified is that only SMEs, in the value chain of economic transformation can help Africa meet the challenges of sustainable development, especially in the provision of jobs.”