Ndubuisi Francis and James Emejo in Abuja
The wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari has commended the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) for its contribution to the growth of entrepreneurship through the provision of training, mentorship and funding to small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) within Nigeria and across the African continent.
Her commendation followed the Foundation’s announcement of a total package of $15.25 million for 3,050 successful applicants of its 5th successive edition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme held over the weekend in Abuja.
Speaking as the guest of onour at the occasion, she said: “ Now, more than ever, amid a slow recovery of the world economy, the contribution of entrepreneurship through small and medium-scale enterprises cannot be overemphasised, particularly in emerging economies. “
The first lady, who stated that the importance of entrepreneurship cannot be over-emphasised, noted that the economic empowerment provided by TEF would, among others, help in curbing the rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria and other African countries.
Expressing delight that the foundation will surely foster entrepreneurship development across the continent by providing much-needed funds, training and mentorship to commercial enterprises that promote social and economic change, she urged youths from the northern part of Nigeria to embrace TEF’s entrepreneurship scheme by applying for its annual programme.She added that its initiative whereby successful beneficiaries are each provided with a $5,000 start-up funds- will further support growing African businesses through dynamic programmes that provide capital and human resources to budding entrepreneurs.
She expressed satisfaction that the foundation had been able to record progressive increase in female participation in its programme over the years with 41.6 per cent female representation in 2019.
She said: “This is proof of the fact that women have continued to prove their strength and competence in our societies in all spheres even in male dominated professions.”
Buhari, specifically encouraged Nigerian women from the northern part of the country to apply to the foundation’s empowerment programme.
With progressive percentage of females who annually emerge successful among the applicants for the entrepreneurship programme, the first lady said it was her wish that such high representation of the womenfolk could be reflected in the next federal cabinet
She said: “Indeed, I am confident that these Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurs will grow to inspire deep confidence in both local and foreign markets and be a source of immense value not just to the Nigerian real sector, but to the entire African continent.”
TEF, is the leading African philanthropy committed to empowering African entrepreneurs via its Africapitalism mantra.
The 2019 successful entrepreneurs were drawn from all 54 African countries and selected to join the 5th cycle of its $100 million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.
Over 216,000 applications were received for 2019, an increase from last year’s 151,000.
Nearly 90,000 were submitted by female entrepreneurs, an increase of 45 per cent, indicating 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
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.
TEF Founder, 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”.
He also said disclosure that going forward, mechanism will be put in place to take stock of its activities over the years, with a view to gauging the impact of its intervention programmes on SMEs.
TEF has continued to incressingly draw the support of development partners, including the African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)and the Intetnational Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as well as countries, state governments and corporate bodies.