The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) on Friday announced 3,050 African entrepreneurs as winners of its 2019 entrepreneurship programme.
Drawn from all 54 African countries, each of the awardees in the 5th cycle will earn $5,000 of seed capital, access to mentors, and a 12-week business training programme directly focused on the needs of African entrepreneurs.
The seed capital is non-refundable.
The announcement was made at theTranscorp Hilton Abuja, following a presentation of the selection process by Accenture Development Partners.
This year, over 216,000 applications were received, an increase from last year’s 151,000.
Nearly 90,000 were submitted by female entrepreneurs, an increase of 45 per cent, illustrating the Foundation’s strategy to achieve greater gender balance.
On July 26 and 27, 2019, they will gather at the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem on the continent.
TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, whose birthday coincided with the announcement on Friday said: “Every year, we face an almost impossible task – to select 1,000 entrepreneurs, from the hundreds of thousands that apply. Our entrepreneurs are hungry to effect change.
“We know we are only scratching the surface, we see the depth of entrepreneurial talent, that all of us – government, business indeed African society, must harness to transform our economies and livelihoods.
“We must rally together to empower them and accelerate the change we want on the continent.”
In her speech, wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President commended the programme’s impact on the continent, charging the selected entrepreneurs to contribute to the advancement of the African continent.
“Indeed, I am confident that these Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs will inspire deep confidence and be of immense value not just to Nigeria but to the entire continent,” she said.
Speaking on the announcement, the incoming CEO, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, said: “The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme has successfully empowered 7,520 entrepreneurs in its first five years of the 10- year programme.
“Marking the fifth anniversary of the 10-year programme, this year’s selection includes 2,050 entrepreneurs, supported by the Foundation’s partners in addition to the Foundation’s annual commitment of 1,000, bringing the total number of entrepreneurs empowered by the Foundation to date to 7,520.
“Last year, we launched TEFConnect – the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs and open to all – to further democratise the access to opportunities for the thousands of entrepreneurs that cannot directly benefit from our Entrepreneurship Programme.
“This further demonstrates our commitment to empowering our entrepreneurs and our belief that entrepreneurship holds the key to unleashing the true potential of the African continent”, she said.
The Foundation’s growing list of partners includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Federal Republic of Benin (Seme City), the Anambra State Government, Indorama, the Government of Botswana and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
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