Sunday Ehigiator writes that the crux of the recently held 2018 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum, the fourth of its series, was targeted at empowering young budding entrepreneurs
Undoubtedly, the importance of entrepreneurship cannot be understated. This was again re-emphasised at the recently held Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum, a gathering of over 5,000 African youths in Lagos.
The 2018 entrepreneurship forum, the largest gathering of young African entrepreneurs, and the launch of TEF Connect, the world’s largest digital platform for African Entrepreneurs, was organised by The Tony Elumelu Foundation in Lagos on a certain Thursday.
The Entrepreneurship Forum
The renowned entrepreneurship forum, event which is the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs in the world, is a unique opportunity for bringing together young business talent, creating dynamic networks and transmitting the message to policymakers that a vibrant and responsible private sector will deliver economic transformation.
Now in its fourth year, the forum marked the graduation of the 2018 cohort of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, following a rigorous nine-month period of training, mentorship and funding, which brought the total number of beneficiaries of the programme to 4,470, with over 300,000 applications received to date.
Since its inception, the TEF has empowered African entrepreneurs across the continent with a 5,000 dollars non-refundable seed grant, a bespoke training programme designed specifically for the African environment and access to a dedicated group of mentors, significantly contributing to economic growth, job creation and revenue generation.
For this year, one of the highlights was the unveiling of TEFConnect, a revolutionary digital community that brings together the complete entrepreneurshipecosystem across Africa and beyond, including entrepreneurs, investors and the broader business community on one platform, connecting them digitally with three vital elements for success – capital, market and business tools. Africa is riding a wave of rapid technological driven change in payment systems, education, agriculture and infrastructure and TEFConnect fulfills a critical role in linking entrepreneurs across the continent.
Commencing with a series of goodwill messages from key stakeholders in the investment, governmental and development communities, the event featured a pitching competition, panel discussions, as well as a vibrant interactive session between His Excellency, President Nana Akufo-Addo and the entrepreneurs, moderated by TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu. It also featured a session on the role of the private sector in the economic development of Africa with Dr. Awele Elumelu, TEF Trustee, Founder, Avon Medical and Gavi Champion for Immunisation in Africa; moderated by CNNMoney Africa Correspondent, Eleni Giokos.
Parminder Vir, CEO, Tony Elumelu Foundation also unveiled the TEF Impact Documentary, featuring success stories of the Tony Elumeluu Entrepreneurs.
The forum was attended by key players in the private and public sector including Governor, Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Mohammed Abdulahi Abubakar; President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nike Akande; Former Governor, Cross River State, HE Donald Duke and Former Governor of Anambra State, HE Peter Obi, among others.
The Founder’s Commitment
For the founder, Elumelu, the reason for keeping faith annually is not far-fetched. According to him, entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking economic development on our continent. Speaking to the 5,000 African entrepreneurs, private and public sector leaders and the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem, who convened in Lagos on a certain Thursday for TEF, he reiterated his commitment to championing Africa’s economic development by supporting and training a new generation of entrepreneurs, whose successes can transform the continent, delivering opportunity, job creation and social impact.
He said: “Africa’s future is in African hands. Our foundation and its unique approach of training, mentoring and funding has proven that entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking economic transformation of our continent.
“I believe so strongly that success can be democratised and if we can match ambition to opportunities, this extraordinary generation can achieve anything. With TEFConnect, we have created a tool, that provides a digital platform to host ideas, champion success and demonstrate Africans ability to use the most advanced technologies to take charge of their economic destinies.”
Ghana President’s Call
Ghanaian president in his speech , underlined the importance of galvanising the broad entrepreneurship eco-system, calling on public sector representatives to encourage, support and replicate the work of the Tony Elumelu Foundation in their respective regions.
Speaking on the importance of putting the right policies in place, he said: “Nothing is changed or developed on its own. People must get up, speak, have discussions and change the dialogue.”
Established in 2010, the Tony ELumelu Foundation (TEF) is the leading philanthropy in Africa championing Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurs across the continent. The foundation’s long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is emblematic of Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.
In 2015, TEF consolidated its various programmes and initiatives and made investing in Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders a priority. The future of the Tony Elumelu Foundation centers on the provision of structured, robust, and multifaceted support to entrepreneurs around Africa through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship
The vision for the foundation is to unlock the obstacles that Africa’s entrepreneurs face as they grow their start-ups into small to medium enterprises (SMEs), their SMEs into national growth companies, and their national growth companies into African multinationals.