When Tony Elumelu, the founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) launched the foundation in 2015, the vision was simple: to produce ten thousand African entrepreneurs in ten years; create over one million jobs in ten years through these young Africans and adding ten billion dollars to the African economy through a business grant of one hundred million dollars to these individuals.
Some dreams seem vague until they start manifesting. On Thursday, October 25, 2018, I was a guest of the Tony Elumelu Foundation as it rolled out the drums to celebrate its new batch of entrepreneurs who just joined the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) family across the 54 African Nations.
Seated amidst thousands of other attendees at the Balmoral Hall of the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, officials of the Foundation took turns to give an account of its impact, success and other exploits.
The TEF Forum 2018 provided a practical look at what Elumelu meant by his ‘Africapitalism philosophy’ which he defined as the development of Africa by African entrepreneurs as TEEP is Africapitalism in action. Apart from Nigerians, more than three hundred individuals have won the TEEP grants from Ghana while one hundred and sixty individuals have won the grants from Kenya, among others.
To show how enterprising Africans are, over three hundred thousand individuals applied for the TEEP grants in 2018 which shows the burning passion for entrepreneurship in Africans. While giving his speech at the TEF Forum, Elumelu stated that the foundation has been able to do a lot in a short time but they have not been able to do so much more as the resources are limited compared to the number of bright Africans applying for the TEEP grant.
As Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo rightly said at the Forum, Africa cannot continue to rely on aid and donors for development. The time has come for Africa to develop itself and start lending to other nations of the world. Achieving this is what Elumelu is practising by investing in the future of these young Africans.
This should serve as a clarion call on other African entrepreneurs to invest in young Africans to further secure the future of the continent.