• Friday, March 01, 2024
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Elumelu on developing future African entrepreneurs

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It is no longer news that Mr. Tony Elumelu, President, Heir Holdings and Founder, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) has taken the bold step to ensure that Africa produces future entrepreneurs that will harness] the hidden gold treasure that has been missing in the continent for decades.  Specifically, the Foundation demonstrated this commitment to African entrepreneurship by successfully hosting, at Otta, Ogun State, South-West Nigeria a gathering of 1,000 selected entrepreneurs from 51 countries of Africa and Nigeria’s 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) Booth Camp. The event was held at the serene Post-Graduate School Hall of the Covenant University, Otta, Ogun State.

According to TEEP, unveiling the 1,000 selected entrepreneurs was a statement that African future entrepreneurs are the ‘next big thing’ to explore in the global market place. Truly, with this bold step by TEEP, the continent may not be too far from experiencing the [re-emergent] emergence of another economic block in Africa similar to Asia’s ‘China Tigers’. Mr. Elumelu who was at the event could not hold back his joy at the sight of such an assemblage of young minds who, as it were, were on a business ‘pilgrimage’ for learning and mentorship under experienced businessmen and intellectuals who know and have what it takes to succeed in business.

The vision of the Elumelu Foundation is to have Africa developed by Africans in the spirit of trans-continental patriotism. Africans can only develop the logic here is that Africa by themselves without the help of foreign allies. Elumelu told the young, up-coming entrepreneurs, “My family and I decided that we should play an active part in the development of the African continent, especially in a manner that is sustainable. We are not doing this because we have so much, but because we, as Africans, know and believe that Africa is better developed by Africans. We do realize that private sector development is key to entrepreneurship. We therefore decided to pick [10,000] 1,000  entrepreneurs in the first instance after which the programme will be reviewed. We believe that this will not only help the young entrepreneurs play a positive role in the development of the continent but also will create employment in their various environments,” Elumelu said. He disclosed that TEEP used a high competitive selection process handled by Accenture to select the 1,000 entrepreneurs from over 20,000 applicants who responded to its advertised TEEP Booth Camp.

The entrepreneurship booth camp featured interactive sessions with successful entrepreneurs, political and business leaders, and an open session with the Foundation’s founder, Tony O. Elumelu CON. The Heir Holding President told the future African entrepreneurs that becoming a successful entrepreneur in Africa is challenging. To weather the storm, they will need to demonstrate their extreme technical ability.

He counseled them to develop the norm of succession business, adding that Steve Jobs is dead, but his legacy is Apple. If Mr. Jobs had taken the path of paid employment, he wouldn’t be remembered for what he is today; indeed, he might not be remembered at all. “When you make the bold step of becoming an entrepreneur” Mr. Elumelu admonished them, “you are creating an opportunity to leave a legacy behind. Legacy is not just in the name;[,] it is the wealth also [too]. Your children and the generations after them will be protected from the scourge of poverty simply because you chose to be bold enough to shun the paid employment and got established as an entrepreneur.

But don’t rush it Count the cost. Do your survey. Weigh your options Consider your strengths and your area of expertise; then leap! Who knows? You might end up the richest person in the world”.

“As a Foundation, we realize that for entrepreneurs to succeed, a lot has to happen. We try to create this awareness for advocacy in making sure that we approach issues from the right perspective, including sorting out issues that concern the challenge of difficult operating environment”, Mr. Elumelu explained.

Speaking on what he expects from the converged entrepreneurs, Mr. Elumelu said: “I want to go to Zambia when I am 80 years old and meet someone who shows me his or her manufacturing business or financial institution and tells me that it was built starting with the Ten thousand US dollars from Tony Elumelu. That’s what this is about and that’s what you owe me.” He continued, “The return I want from this $100 million investment is your success, because your success is Africa’s success.”

Mr. Elumelu’s admonition was reinforced by other facilitators who counseled  the participants to ensure that they do not go bankrupt, or run out of money for running their business.

After the booth camp, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme will focus on providing the seed capital and support for the entrepreneurs to enable them to put into practice the knowledge gained from the booth camp and the 12 weeks of training carried out prior to the event. It will also continue to foster increased collaboration between them and the rest of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Network as it seeks to promote cross-border trade within the continent.

The application portal will re-open on January 1, 2016 for emerging entrepreneurs across Africa to compete for places in the TEEP Class of 2016.

Speakers who graced the occasion included Parminder_Vir, OBE, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation; Mo Abudu, Founder/CEO of Ebony Life TV;  Nollywood screen icon, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde; Nimi Akinkugbe, CEO, Bestman Games; and Rasheed Olaoluwa, CEO of the Bank of Industry. Others were former SEC DG, Arunma Oteh; inspirational coach Lanre Olusola; Martin Eigbike, Accenture Development Partnerships;  governance expert Angela Aneke; playwright and producer Adewale_Ajadi; Sam Nwanze, the Heirs Holdings Director of Finance and Investments; and David Rice, Director of the Africapitalism Institute.

Testimonials

Gambian, Badje Modou Lamin, whose business is in the agricultural sector, said, “The booth camp has been a great experience. I have been able to exchange ideas with a number of entrepreneurs. This has really changed my perspective on Africa.”

Maalainine Mohamed Bouya, from Morocco, said: “The booth camp has been a blast! Right from our journey from the airport down to the boot camp, we have been discussing and sharing ideas among ourselves. Africa has huge potential.”

Nigerian, Obinna Chukwu, said: “The boot camp has been a wonderful experience – I have met people from all over Africa. It makes me proud of being a Nigerian. I thank Tony Elumelu and the Tony Elumelu Foundation for making this happen.”

A Minister from the Benin Republic, Mr Lionel Zinsou, observed that Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, stands the chance of leading the economic transformation of the continent. The arrival of Vice President Yemi Osunbajo and his entourage at the venue added colour to the booth camp as participants caught a glimpse of the second most powerful man in Nigeria. Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, commended Tony Elumelu, for engineering such a huge enterprise, adding that investing substantially in the development of self as the vision of Africa’s young entrepreneurs should be emulated by all. He said that Mr. Elumelu had, through the TEEP project, contributed immensely to the reduction of poverty and unemployment in Africa, which he said was a serious problem. He advised the beneficiaries to cultivate exemplary character and ensure respect for the rule of law while ensuring they discharged their civic duties promptly such as the prompt payment of taxes and other obligations.

The U.S. Acting Consular-General, Ms. Dehab Ghebreab, who represented President Barack Obama, said that Elumelu TEEP Booth Camp could address the unemployment plague in Africa.

MUNA ONUZO