Tony Elumelu Foundation Celebrates International Youth Day

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) said it joined the United Nations and other global organisations to mark the International Youth Day on August 12, 2020, with a line-up of pan-African speakers discussing the theme, “Investing in Africa’s Future: Youth Empowerment through Entrepreneurship.”

According to a statement, the event emphasised the, “Youth Engagement for Global Action,” agenda and the role of African entrepreneurs in pushing for sustainable development. It also examined the critical role of the youth in igniting their potential, population, and influence to create mechanisms for sustainable development across the continent.

Moderated by TEF CEO, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, the event featured a line-up of pan-African entrepreneurs and speakers from the development sector.

Addressing the audience, Ugochukwu drew attention to the plight of start-ups in Africa during the pandemic while highlighting the importance of SMEs.

“The SMEs are the major contributors to African economies. We must not underestimate the level of disruption and uncertainty that young people all over the world have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.”

She emphasised the need to empower the youth to tackle the menace of poverty on the continent.

Also, the acting Vice President, Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, African Development Bank, Wambui Gichuri, was quoted to have said: “Entrepreneurship is an essential part of Africa’s employment challenge and it is where we have to put our focus as a multilateral development bank”.

She added: “We need to do whatever it takes to empower our youth because they are the future of the continent”.

The Director, Human, Youth and Social Development, African Development Bank, Martha T.M. Phiri, stated that the $5 million partnership between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2019 to empower additional young African entrepreneurs, was a step in the right direction to create jobs on the continent.

The Chairman, World Youth Skills, Egypt, Shoroke H. Zedan, said: “It is important that governments start looking at entrepreneurship as a fundamental core topic that needs to be integrated into the educational system.”

Speaking on incorporating the youth into policymaking decisions, the Global President, AISEC, Alexandra Robinson stated: “I advocate for any policy that involves young people as co-owners of the policymaking process. I really believe that when young people are given co-ownership of the table, not just invited to someone else’s, they are able to have those meaningful conversations”.

Founder, Wecyclers Nigeria and past fellow of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, recalled the moment when she got accepted into the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, saying: “In 2012, when I was invited to the Tony Elumelu Foundation to pitch my idea, I was very fortunate to pitch directly to Mr. Elumelu and I was surprised a couple of days after, we got the grant. That grant was very important for Wecyclers”.