The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) recently brought together leading stakeholders in the development finance sector, at a case study session in Belgium.
The meeting was held at a time when Europe’s relationship with Africa has been high on foreign policy and developmental agenda and with the European Union beginning to deliver on its 2017 External Investment Plan, targeted at attracting investment and job creation in Africa.
The gathering also demonstrated that Africa has solutions to bring to the table and showcased the Foundation’s unique approach to catalysing entrepreneurship in scale across the continent.
Themed “A Convening on Africa’s Economic Transformation: A Case Study of the Tony Elumelu Foundation,” the event according to a statement, presented the results of the first five years of the Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme a unique programme, which has trained, mentored and seeded 4,470 African entrepreneurs with 3,050 newly announced to receive seed funding, and drawn over 200,000 applications to its 2019 cycle. “Tony Elumelu’s $100 million investment in entrepreneurial philanthropy was held up as an example of how vital capital could be targeted efficiently and effectively, at African businesses best able to create significant economic and developmental impact,” the statement added.
Speaking at the event, the Deputy Director General, DEVCO, EU, Mr. Koen Doens said: “Africa needs to create jobs by the millions to match the needs of its exponentially growing population. It will achieve this only if it unleashes a generation of empowered entrepreneurs.
“The Tony Elumelu Foundation contributes to this massively. The European Union wants to play its part and contribute to this endeavour.”
Responding to questions at the forum, the Founder of TEF, Mr. Tony Elumelu highlighted the growing interest in the Foundation and its unique approach, while welcoming a new type of intervention in Africa.
“We very much believe in collaboration, mutual respect and a shared commitment to transform Africa. Africa is ready but we need to do this through the right sustainable manner, that enables our people to become self-reliant, and independent, instead of perpetuating dependency.
“We need to implement practical solutions on ground through entrepreneurship, which empower people economically and addresses issues of extremism, migration, and insecurity.”
On the Foundation’s future plans, Elumelu said: “We want to make sure that we impact more, reach more, touch more lives and get more women involved. We want to see more Northern Africa participation.
“We would like to reach 10,000 a year, with support from partners to empower additional entrepreneurs. We want to eradicate poverty and create wealth in a sustainable way. Ultimately, we want a larger and broader entrepreneurship ecosystem, that supports young Africans, and we want to deepen our engagement with government to create the enabling environment to support these Africans to succeed – the right investment climate, training, education, access to capital and most importantly creating the right investment culture.”
On his part, the Minister for Digital Agenda, Telecommunications and Post, Belgium, Phillippe De Backer, said: “There is an increasing desire in Europe to engage Africa, including its grassroots in a structure and targeted approach with the right processes. The Tony Elumelu Foundation offers this platform.”