The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has announced a list of 1,000 African entrepreneurs for 2017 edition of the TEF funding programme for entrepreneurs. Applications were received from over 93,000 entrepreneurs across 55 African countries – over 100% increase from 2016, and nearly quadruple of the 2015 application numbers.
Proving that African youth are indeed interested in feeding the continent, Agriculture led the pack with nearly 1 in 3 successful applicants. The next most popular sector was ICT (11%) and then manufacturing (9%), evidence of a paradigm shift away from extractives to a more sustainable mindset that embraces industrialization and diversification. Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, is home to 50% of the 2017 cohort, with regional powerhouses Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon following respectively.
The successful entrepreneurs will benefit from the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme’s 7 Pillars – a toolkit of support including business training, mentoring, access to networks and funding of up to $10,000 – as they develop their business concepts to contribute to the transformation of the continent. As Founder, Tony Elumelu CON, is often quoted as stating, “No one but us Africans will develop Africa.”
The Foundation’s long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is emblematic of Mr. Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector – and most importantly entrepreneurs – as catalysts for the economic renaissance of the continent.
Despite the Foundation’s considerable commitment (its $100m commitment is the largest African entrepreneurship-focused endowment), Founder Tony Elumelu wants to do more. “Standing here today to announce the successful applicants is bittersweet. There are 92,000 aspiring entrepreneurs who have been unsuccessful. These young African men and women have demonstrated passion and creativity in their applications and we should not relent until we help them realize their aspirations. I call on other successful Africans, and friends of Africa, to support us to do more.”
Speaking on the Foundation’s impact in 3 short years, CEO, Parminder Vir OBE, revealed: “We recently sampled 600 of our existing 2,000 entrepreneurs to understand the extent of our Programme’s impact. We discovered they have turned our investment into real returns with 1,297 jobs created so far.”