• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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How Elumelu Foundation redistributes wealth, spreads opportunities across Africa


…Empowers 20,000 entrepreneurs with $100m seed capital

…Beneficiaries create 400,000 jobs

Tony Elumelu, founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation and group chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), has said that the Foundation was aimed to spread prosperity across Africa.

Elumelu, who also said redistribution of wealth was the Foundation’s overarching mission, was elated recently by the impact the programme has made in the lives of beneficiaries across Africa, over the years.

Read also: Tony Elumelu Foundation empowers 20,000 African entrepreneurs with $100m seed capital

He spoke during the selection announcement of the 10th Cohorts of Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme held at the UBA House, Marina, Lagos.

“We believe in spreading prosperity. We think the easiest way to spread prosperity in Africa is by identifying young ones, encouraging them, and helping them to start their own businesses,” he said.

Since 2015, Elumelu has used his birthday anniversary to touch lives.

On Friday, March 22, he shared the significance of this achievement, aligning it with his personal birthday celebration.

“Today I am plus one, and my family and I believe there’s no better way to celebrate than by announcing the selection of the 2024 TEF entrepreneurship beneficiaries,” he said.

In the same vein, Awele Elumelu, co-founder of TEF and spouse of the CEO, summarised the vision of the Foundation, saying, it was to “democratise luck and eliminate poverty.”

She expressed happiness over the Foundation’s accomplishments and encouraged beneficiaries to seize the opportunity to shape Africa’s future.

Reflecting on the journey, Awele emphasized the initial goal of eradicating poverty and empowering African individuals. She extended gratitude to all participants since the programme’s inception in 2015.

In line with its mission rooted in Africapitalism, the Foundation has emphasized that the private sector is the engine of the economy, and that, most importantly, entrepreneurs are the catalysts for the social and economic development of the African continent.

Since the birth of the philanthropic gesture, a decade ago, the Foundation has empowered about 20,000 African entrepreneurs with a total of $100 million in non-refundable seed capital.

Reflecting on the journey of the Foundation over the past decade, Elumelu expressed gratitude for the progress made and the partnerships forged along the way.

“We sought to democratise luck and improve lives.

Today, over 20,000 young men and women from across Africa have received over $100 million in support of their programmes,” Elumelu announced.

Elumelu and his team have more dreams for the future for the African young entrepreneurs as they plan global coalition of entrepreneurs to eradicate poverty across the continent.

Emphasising the importance of collaboration in driving sustainable development in Africa, Elumelu said: “There is a better way to give; a better way to develop Africa. Collectively, all of us can help develop Africa in a manner that is truly sustainable in the 21st century.”

BusinessDay Sunday gathered that beneficiaries of the programme have collectively created over 400,000 jobs and generated $1.2 billion in revenue through their businesses.

“These statistics serve as a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the ripple effect it has on communities and economies across the continent,” a report said.

The impact of the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s support extends far beyond financial assistance. Through targeted mentorship, capacity-building programmes, and access to networks, the Foundation equips entrepreneurs with the tools and resources necessary to succeed in today’s competitive business landscape.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation as a leading philanthropy, is empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalysing job creation across all 54 African countries, and increasing women economic empowerment.

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, it was gathered that the Foundation has trained over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub called TEFConnect.

On individual exploits, some of the entrepreneurs selected across Africa shared their success stories:

Stella Sigana

Stella Sigana, founder of Alternative Waste Technologies from Kenya, produces fuel briquettes by converting organic and charcoal waste from slum settlements, and dedicates a portion of the revenues to providing education, skills training, and job placement for adolescent girls and young women aged 18-24. Since her selection, Stella has created 12 jobs, generated over $79,000 in revenue, and recycled over 500 tons of waste into fuel briquettes for cooking. Her business model has also empowered hundreds of women entrepreneurs in slum settlements in Kenya, enabling them to build businesses by selling her products directly to their communities, thus significantly increasing household income and well being.

Vital Sounouvou

Vital Sounouvou from Benin is the founder of Exportunity, an e-commerce platform that promotes export opportunities for Africans by connecting producers with traders. Through Exportunity, Sounouvou has engaged over 750 clients, and built a database of 85,000 companies trading with Africa. He has employed 32 people.

Nora Chaynane

Nora Chaynane is a Moroccan entrepreneur, and founder of Shine Space, a socio-educational initiative aimed at bridging the knowledge gap and guiding students toward the right career path, helps young Moroccans develop technical and interpersonal skills beyond school curriculum requirements. Through Shine Space, Nora has upskilled and capacitised over 2,500 young Moroccans.

Since inception in 2010, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has pioneered an innovative approach to seeding, capacitising and networking young entrepreneurs across Africa. Drawing directly from Elumelu’s entrepreneurial journey, the Foundation democratises luck, spreads opportunity, in a sector agnostic approach, and has developed a bespoke infrastructure that reaches every country in Africa.

Over the years, the commitment of the Foundation towards the Africapitalism philosophy has drawn the attention of global institution.

Institutions such as the European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the US Government via the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) and the Organisation of Africa (AU) have entered into partnerships with the Foundation at various levels.

Others are Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), the French Development Agency (AFD), the German Development Finance Institution (DEG), the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the African Development Bank (AfDB), Sèmè City Development Agency, and Google, with bespoke programmes including targeting female empowerment and growth in fragile states.

A report had it that Tony Elumelu Foundation would fund an additional 100 young entrepreneurs from Benin Republic in 2024, building on its existing partnership with Sèmè City Development Agency.

Speaking on the Foundation’s work in the last 10 years, Elumelu said: “As we mark a decade of impact, I am immensely proud of the incredible journey we have embarked on. Our entrepreneurs represent the driving force behind Africa’s economic transformation, and their resilience, determination, and innovation continue to inspire us all. The future of our continent is brighter because of their efforts.”

The Foundation’s latest initiative sees 1,104 entrepreneurs from 54 African countries selected to receive a non-refundable $5,000 seed capital each. This diverse cohort represents a wide array of industries and sectors, reflecting the Foundation’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurship at all levels and across various geographies on the continent.

Nkem Okocha, a 2015 beneficiary of TEF and the founder of Mama Moni, conveyed appreciation for the Foundation’s opportunity and its transformative impact across Africa.

“As the Tony Elumelu Foundation continues to expand its reach and impact, it remains a beacon of hope for aspiring entrepreneurs across Africa, demonstrating the profound possibilities that arise when access to capital, mentorship, and support converge to unlock the continent’s entrepreneurial potential,” an observer said.

A female banker, who spoke to BusinessDay Sunday on condition of anonymity, said that other business moguls and billionaire Nigerians should emulate the good work that Elumelu is doing.

“I must commend Tony Elumelu, his wife and the entire Group for their large-heartedness. I am not sure the Tony Elumelu Foundation is the richest Foundation in Nigeria, but the Group has shown that it takes a large-heart to be a philanthropist. I want to challenge other wealthy Nigerians to emulate TEF. If for instance, another Foundation had caught that vision, a lot more young entrepreneurs across Africa would have benefited. It is not late, though. They can begin, even today. Once again, it is thumbs up for TEF,” she said.

Elumelu owns a controlling interest in Transcorp, a publicly traded Nigerian conglomerate with interests in hospitality, agriculture, oil production and power generation.

He came into the limelight in 1997 when he led a small group of investors to take over a small, floundering commercial bank in Lagos.

He turned it profitable within a few years and in 2005 he merged it with the United Bank for Africa.

The banking group now has subsidiaries in 20 African countries and in the United States and United Kingdom.

Elumelu also owns extensive real estate across Nigeria and a minority stake in mobile telecom firm MTN Nigeria, among other assets.