Elumelu Preaches Entrepreneurship, Says It’s Path to Independence, Sustainability


Crusoe Osagie

Continuing with its quest to create thousands of entrepreneurs on the African continent and create a path for sustainable development and independence, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) recently hosted nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs from 54 African countries during the second TEF Entrepreneurship Forum – the largest annual gathering of African businessmen and women.

The forum celebrated the 2016 gathering of Elumelu entrepreneurs, selected from over 45,000 applicants. It was the highlight of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme and brought together leading policy makers and business leaders in support of the Foundation’s $100 million commitment to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs in 10 years.

Speaking at the event, the President of Sierra Leone, Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma, hailed the programme as a “genuinely innovative approach to philanthropy in Africa – an African offering African solutions”.

“Other philanthropists will be inspired to support and promote this philosophy. Even when we had Ebola in Sierra Leone, Tony (Elumelu) was there. His is an example which other successful Africans must follow,” he added.

In his keynote speech, TEF founder, Mr. Tony O. Elumelu, saluted those present, stating: “Our ambition is that you become ambassadors for entrepreneurship in Africa. You are a generation of wealth creators who share our commitment to the transformation of Africa.”

Speaking on one of the programme’s stellar participants, Elumelu informed his audience that Mr. Momar Mass-Taal had turned his first $5,000 seed capital from the Foundation into a $1.2 million revenue business. “We will have many more of these,” he added.

The two-day forum buzzed with energy as entrepreneurs shared and gained knowledge, built cross-border partnerships, and connected with investors and policymakers, fostering intra-African innovation and collaboration.

The first day featured master classes, sector specific workshops, and an in-depth session on Africapitalism, while the second day featured high-level panels to identify policies for strengthening the enabling environment for entrepreneurs.

Moderated by BBC News correspondent Lerato Mbele, the panel featured the Sierra Leonean president, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Prime Minister of Benin Republic, Mr. Lionel Zinsou, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and Vice Chair of Famfa Oil, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija.

Obasanjo congratulated Elumelu for the initiative, stating: “By every means, God has made His face to shine upon you. You are not the only one, but unlike you, others do not have the idea of empowering the next generation of Africans in the manner and scale that you are doing.”

In his remarks, Zinsou also reminded the participants that what Elumelu was doing to encourage and support entrepreneurship on the continent was the exception, not the norm.