By Obinna Chima
The founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr. Tony Elumelu, has described entrepreneurship as a vital tool for eradicating poverty in Africa.
More importantly, he stressed that entrepreneurship would get youths in the continent busy and keep them out of social vices as well as create employment opportunities in the continent.
Elumelu, who is also the chairman of Heirs Holdings, said this in an interview monitored on CNBC, on the sidelines of the just concluded World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
According to him, Africa’s development requires massive private global capital to fire and power investments in the area of infrastructure, to create employment and eradicate poverty.
“I came to Davos to interact with global leaders who have control capital and that to me is important for the development of our continent. When you come here you meet global philanthropists, development partners, people who are interested in supporting Africa and will begin to change the narrative and the conversation, we begin to let them know that what we need now more than ever before is how to empower young Africans to entrepreneurship. That we are achieving, so when we come here, we think this year’s has been quite exciting,” Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa explained.
Responding to a question on how to attract global private capital to the continent, he pointed out that capital goes to where it is most welcome, or where the investment destination is more hospitable.
“For us as Africans, the issue is not about attracting private global capital, they are ready and willing to come to Africa, but we need to work with our political leaders to ensure that we create the enabling environment that will attract and retain the capital we need in Africa.
“I speak as someone who invests in other African countries. In fact, we have investments in 23 African countries and I know that there is a lot of investment opportunities, what we need to do more of in Africa is to ensure that the enabling environment is good,” he added.
Elumelu said the TEF has been quite phenomenal in terms of trying to lift young Africans out of poverty and to help create massive employment in the continent.
“What the TEF is doing is trying to democratise luck and trying to improve access to economic opportunities, remembering our own story – trying to ensure that we are able to support those who have ideas. Unfortunately, we are not able to support everyone, it’s a $100,000 commitment. We have supported over 4,000 and this year, we will be supporting another 1,000.
“We see successes, and we hear stories of how these young men and women from Africa are succeeding. And when I hear their stories I tell myself that indeed the future of Africa is in these young ones.
“I tell my friends that there is the need to partner to do more. – wealth for one is not enough, we should democratise access to wealth, we should make sure that Africa, like I always say, is the next frontier, and that our young ones are prioritised and are given hope and opportunity, so that they do not go into extremism,” he said.