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Tony Elumelu Foundation to pay out US$24.75million to African entrepreneurs as seed capital

296 Ugandan entrepreneurs are among the lucky beneficiaries

| THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda’s 296 entrepreneurs will each receive US$5,000 non-refundable seed capital as part of the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s initiative to empower African entrepreneurs across the continent.

The beneficiaries who include 212 female and 84 male are part of the 4,949 entrepreneurs selected across 54 African countries for its 2021 Entrepreneurship Programme.

The 2021 beneficiaries were selected from a pool of over 400,000 applications, based on their innovation, performance, and growth potential to create jobs and eradicate poverty on the continent.

Consisting of both new start-ups and existing small businesses, the 2021 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs have undergone world-class business training, mentorship and coaching and will have a life-time access to the Tony Elumelu Foundation alumni network.

Africa’s future is in your hands

Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony O. Elumelu said the young African entrepreneurs need to work hard, dream dreams, and be disciplined.

“You must continue to think of impact. The entrepreneurship journey is not linear – there are ups and downs, but by staying focused and resilient, ultimately success will come your way,” he said.

“The future of our continent is in your hands. What you do as entrepreneurs will go a long way in lifting Africa out of poverty. I am happy that our female entrepreneurs are doing very well, with 68% representation this year.”

He added: “To our African leaders – these young, intelligent, energetic hardworking, resilient Africans are ready to go. We need to keep creating the right enabling environment to enable our young ones to succeed. We must realise that their success is success for all of us on the continent. We must prioritise them because nations and continents that prioritise their people, succeed.

To my fellow business leaders, let us realise that in the 21st century and beyond, it is about impact, legacy and about how we work together to power people out of poverty. It is such a great feeling to see 5000 young Africans also commence their own entrepreneurial journeys today,” he added.

Koen Doens, the Director-General, International Cooperation and Development, European Commission, said he is glad that EU has been part of the journey and the support.

Ahunna Eziakonwa, United Nations Development Programme’s Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa said: “Our partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation on youth entrepreneurship is informed by our belief that Africa will only succeed when young Africans are given the opportunity to excel.  This is what has inspired us to invest more than $20 million in emerging African entrepreneurs since we entered into our partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”

She said UNDP’s joint ambition is to empower 100,000 young African entrepreneurs over the next ten years across Africa, recognising that entrepreneurship is the only way dreams can be realised.

Speaking on the panel with Elumelu, 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur, Hauwa Liman, Founder of Afrik Abaya, a clothing line company that specializes in African-inspired apparel, said she is proud to have been in the inaugural cohort of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme.

“I benefitted from this Programme in 2015, and it opened up lots of doors and opportunities. It is not just about the seed capital, but what really fascinates me about the Programme is the knowledge,” she said.

“I call it a mini-MBA programme, because from the ideation stage it teaches you how to really articulate your business, and it gave me my first business plan. The network, visibility and opportunities are endless.”

Liman said his company will start exporting soon courtesy of the Foundation.

“We now employ ten permanent staff and an additional eight staff on a commission basis,” she added.

Tony Elumelu Foundation CEO, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, revealed that they have trained ten times more young African entrepreneurs than they have trained from 2015 to 2019 combined.

Ugochukwu said TEF will be paying out a record US$24,750,000 directly to the hands of African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries in 2021.

Since its inception, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has now funded a total of 15,847 entrepreneurs who have created more than 400,000 direct and indirect jobs and counting.

Through TEFConnect, the Foundation’s proprietary digital platform, it has provided capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages, to over 1.5 million Africans.

Applications for the 2022 Tony Elumelu Foundation opens on January 1, 2022, on www.tefconnect.com.

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