•Commends Elumelu’s $100m support for SMEs, startups
•Sanwo-Olu harps on enhancing scale of impact to deepen inclusion, equity, fairness
•UBA Chairman seeks business leaders’ support to propel Africa’s transformation
Chiemelie Ezeobi in New York, Nume Ekeghe and Oluchi Chibuzor in Lagos
President Bola Tinubu has challenged Africans, including its political and business leaders, to look inwards instead of undue reliance on international donor funds.
He made the call at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Generation Unlimited (GENU) Breakfast Roundtable meeting, a side event at the ongoing 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, yesterday.
Also, at a separate session, Elumelu, who is the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa Plc, issued a call to action to successful individuals of African descent and global leaders to actively participate in shaping Africa’s development. He made the appeal during one of the sessions on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) while participating in a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative 2023 meeting.
The TEF and UNICEF event also served as a forum for the launch of the Foundation’s Impact Report titled, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme: A Decade of Impact.”
Tinubu, who was represented by the Minister for Trade and Industry, Doris Uzoka-Anite, also stressed the need for local solutions to economic growth and unemployment, while offering incentives to willing investors
The president said, “I don’t think we are doing enough as Africans for Africa. We need to do a lot more. Tony Elumelu has been the major person driving investments in supporting the youths and start-ups.
“We need to challenge ourselves a bit more further. Africa has some of the richest people on the planet. We have a resource-rich continent with huge population of young people.
“We need to take up the challenge upon ourselves as Africans to support one another. It is about time we stopped looking for international organisations for donor funding. We need to go out of that mentality.
“We will rather have donor funds coming in to support what we have on ground already and not then coming to give us a seed or showing us the way.
“We actually know how to do things. In Africa, we have a rich culture and if we go back to our tradition, there is a whole lot we can learn from each other.”
On the importance of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), he said they were the engines of Nigerian and African economic growth, adding that they contributed almost half of national GDP, and more than 80 percent of employment.
While wooing potential investors with promises of right infrastructure provision such as regulations, property rights, access to justice, protection from unfair competition, power, as well as roads to market and ports, he said: “We must organise the disorganised SME market, and enable greater organisation and formalisation.
“We must invest in SMEs. Governments and the private sector have important roles to play in this regard. Our investing must be coordinated, targeted, and generous. This is where the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation is a worthy role model for all.
“We must create and expand pathways for our SMEs to export their products and services and integrate into global value chains.”
The president commended Elumelu for the impact his foundation has had on young people and SMEs in the country and beyond since 2010.
In his speech, Elumelu said the event was to highlight the significant contribution of the TEF’s flagship $100 million Entrepreneurship Programme in advancing Africa’s socio-economic development.
He noted that 13 years ago, the foundation took a bold step to rewrite and change Africa by enhancing entrepreneurship development to galvanise African solutions.
Stressing the seed capital, training and mentoring and networking provided by TEF, he added “we have lit a beacon, and we need the beacon to shine brighter and better. To do this, we need the support and collaboration of everyone.
“$100 million is a drop of water in the ocean compared to what we need in Africa. Young Africans need economic support. We’ve seen the devastating effect of climate change, how our young ones due to hopelessness are migrating and living in difficult situations. We want to put a stop to that.”
To achieve that, Elumelu called for collaboration to prioritise young Africans, bring more women to economic activities and alleviate poverty, adding that, “poverty anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere.”
Sharing the Lagos experience at the gathering, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said TEF’s work aligns with Lagos State programmes on economic empowerment and poverty reduction.
Sanwo-Olu said collaborative efforts must be evolved to enhance the scale of impact to deepen inclusion, equity and fairness.
Also speaking, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa (UNDP), Ahunna Eziakonwa, said they partnered TEF due to similar belief in galvanising development across Africa and globally, adding that Africa’s wealth was its population, which constitutes 70 per cent of young, vibrant and innovative Africans.
“It is our loss if we don’t invest in them because that is the future of prosperity,” she said, just as she called for enhanced collaboration and investment to strengthen economic development of African youths.
Earlier, TEF’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Somachi Chris-Asoluka, said the organisation was the partner of choice for all development agencies across the world who want to transform the way they give to Africa, who want to have a more catalytic, impactful partnership with the African continent.
She said: “The Tony Elumelu foundation is a leading philanthropy in Africa empowering young African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries.
“We launched our flagship program, the Tony Elumelu foundation Entrepreneurship programme in 2015 with a $100 million commitment by Mr Elumelu and his family.
“We have funded 18,000 entrepreneurs, disbursing over a $100 million dollars directly as seed capital to these entrepreneurs and they have gone on to create over 400 thousand jobs across all African countries.”
Meanwhile, Elumelu, yesterday, issued a call to action to successful individuals of African descent and global leaders to actively participate in shaping Africa’s development.
He made the appeal during one of the sessions on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) while participating in a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative 2023 meeting. The panel’s theme was “Shifting the Power: How New Philanthropic Approaches Can Transform the World of Social Impact.”
Elumelu highlighted the evolution of the TEF foundation, which began as a family-funded initiative but has now expanded to encompass partnerships with influential organizations such as the United Nations Development Program, the IKEA Foundation (the second-largest foundation globally), the European Commission, and more.
Emphasising the need to address poverty collectively, especially considering Africa’s youthful population, Elumelu said: “So 13 years ago, my wife and I decided that we needed to create the opportunity that we experienced.
“We need to play our own role in helping to democratise luck to play our own role in helping to empower a generation of entrepreneurs, our young ones our young males and females, and women on the continent who would help to develop and transform Africa. That is the underpinning of Africapitalism.”
He added: “That is the genesis of Africapitalism; a call on the private sector, African private sector, global private sector, and government development agencies, for us to work together collaboratively in the 21st century, to help develop Africa, to help create people who are self-reliant, people who are not going to be perpetually dependent on donor funding, to help people to be able to train their own children and not to depend on someone to train their children for them.
“To help people afford when they need it. That is Africa Capitalism and that we believe would come through private sector investment in critical sectors that help to transform humanity.”
He added: “What started as a family-funded endeavor, the TEF and the entrepreneurship program, today is bigger than that.”
He added: “Africa has close to 1.3 billion people. Over 65 per cent of these people are under the age of 30. This can be a demographic dividend. It can also be a curse for all of us.
“So, realising that poverty was a threat to all of us everywhere, we believe that it’s not the amount of money we have in our bank balances that counts, what counts is the impact that collective we make in helping to make this world a better place.”