• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Meet the Amazons at Tony Elumelu Foundation


…How Awele, Somachi provide direction for young entrepreneurs

When Tony Elumelu recently said that redistribution of wealth was the overarching mission of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), not many people across the continent of Africa knew there were two strong pillars behind the serial entrepreneur.

That Friday, March 24, Elumelu was a year older, and it was a day the Group was announcing the selection of the 2024 TEF entrepreneurship beneficiaries.

Awele, wife of Tony Elumelu, was physically present at the event and was highly elated. She is the co-founder of TEF.

Awele told the packed crowd that TEF was working in tandem with its vision, which was to “democratise luck and eliminate poverty.”

Another important female personality was also in attendance was the chief executive officer of TEF, Somachi Chris-Asoluka.

Awele and Somachi are amazons breathing life into several thousands of African young entrepreneurs.

Like the scriptural expression where Apostle Paul said: “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase,” it is safe to say that “Tony Elumelu and Awele have planted, Somachi waters, and God is giving the increase.” The increase is being felt in all nations of Africa.

Today, the success story of the TEF cannot just be weaved around the serial entrepreneur and the visioner, Tony; plaudits must also be given to the two amazons for their gargantuan contributions.

Who are these women anyways?

It must be stated right away that these amazons are not “lean-on-me” kind of individuals; they can hold their own any day, anywhere by virtue of their exposures- academic-wise, entrepreneurship, boardroom, management, deep private sector experience, name it!

Awele Elumelu

In every gathering she has the opportunity of presenting a paper, she has always rallied private sector operators to see the need to raise more entrepreneurs.

On one occasion, she said: “We are witnessing the transformative power of the private sector in changing the lives of individuals and the face of communities across Africa”

That was way back in 2017, when she was declaring open the year’s TEF Entrepreneurship Forum.

Awele Elumelu’s speeches at such events have always reflected the TEF’s journey as she challenges entrepreneurs to reach for success.

She is a leading voice in African healthcare. Awele is focused on expanding and improving access to quality healthcare in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

She is the chairperson of Avon Healthcare Limited, Nigeria’s leading health insurance provider, and the Founder/CEO of Avon Medical Practice, a growing network of full-service clinics and onsite facilities with corporate institutions.

Having identified poor health infrastructure, absence of medical equipment and poor healthcare coverage as some of the challenges facing healthcare delivery in Nigeria, she established the two organisations to provide affordable medical insurance and services to Nigerians from all walks of life. This is helping to improve access to adequate and effective healthcare services in Nigeria.

In January 2018, she was appointed as Private Sector Champion for Immunisation in Africa by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. In this role, she leverages her knowledge, corporate networks, and expertise from the healthcare and business sectors to champion vaccination and immunisation in Africa, where almost 10 million children are yet to be fully immunised.

She is particularly passionate about and advocates extensively for the rights of Africans, women and children. In line with her commitment to the economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which calls on the African private sector to lead the charge in developing the continent, she continues to work to bring together public and private players to deliver economic opportunity, social good, and greater health and opportunity to all Africans.

Awele serves as a Director on the Board of Heirs Holdings, a family-owned investment company committed to improving lives and transforming Africa and is a Trustee of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

She holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree from the University of Benin. Her experience as a medical doctor includes medicine, surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology and emergency medicine. She has worked with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, in Nigeria, and with Grantham and District Hospital, Grantham in the United Kingdom.

Somachi Chris-Asoluka

Somachi did not leave anyone in doubt about what she was going to do as TEF CEO on the day of her appointment. Accepting the offer, she had said: “I am honoured to be appointed to lead the Foundation, particularly at a time when we will be launching a new Coalition for African Entrepreneurship. This Coalition will bring together global and African partners to significantly increase the impact created by TEF’s unique platform for identifying, mentoring, training and funding young African entrepreneurs. I look forward to working with the team, our partners, and all stakeholders to achieve our common goal of a strong, confident, self-reliant Africa. I am honoured to build on Ifeyinwa’s (her predecessor) legacy and launch the Tony Elumelu Foundation into its next phase of impact.”

She is the chief executive officer, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Nigeria’s leading philanthropy empowering young African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries.

Prior to becoming the Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Somachi served as Director of Partnerships and Communications for the Foundation. Under her leadership, the Foundation is increasingly sharing its unique ability to identify, train, mentor, and fund young entrepreneurs across

Africa, through partnerships with institutions such as the European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), US Government via the US African Development Foundation (USADF), The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), DEG, GIZ, African Development Bank (AfDB), and Google.

She is a Board Director of WINGS, a global network of over 190 philanthropy development and support organisations in more than 50 countries, committed to ensuring philanthropy reaches its fullest potential as a catalyst for social progress. She also serves as Treasurer and Chairperson of the Finance Board Committee of WINGS. She sits on the Advisory Board of the Michigan State University Alliance for African Partnership. She is a Deputy Champion of the World Economic Forum EDISON Alliance, and a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon (National Economics Honor Society, USA).

She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Saint Mary’s College of California with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Mathematics, and received the Adam Smith Award, given to the highest performing graduating student in Economics. She also has a Master’s in International and Development Economics from Yale University.

Announcement of new cohort

Last month, the Tony Elumelu Foundation announced the successful entrepreneurs in its tenth selection for the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.

This new cohort brings to 20,000, the number of young African entrepreneurs who have received funding, mentoring, and capacity-building support from the Foundation, double the initial commitment. The Tony Elumelu Foundation has disbursed US$100,000,000 directly to young African entrepreneurs, who have created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs, contributing significantly to Africa’s economic growth and development. 45percent of these beneficiaries are women, reiterating the Foundation’s commitment to gender inclusion and equity.