BusinessDay

Tony Elumelu Foundation, Google announce fellowship for African entrepreneurs

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and Google have launched a fellowship to provide one million Africans with access to TEFConnect platform, as part of the Foundation’s mission to empower young African entrepreneurs.

The Foundation will be employing the expertise of nine full-time Google employees, including software engineers, UI/UX researchers, and policy experts, who will work to design and build an updated version of the platform. TEFConnect is already home to over one million African entrepreneurs, providing customised tools, market partnerships, coaches and investor access for small businesses, according to a press statement.

The fellowship will build on an earlier $3 million grant by Google.org to support the 2021 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, empowering an additional 500 African women to start or scale their businesses. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a US$ 100million initiative that has supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs.

“Before the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, my water company suffered financial setbacks. Since TEF support, I have purchased new machines and impacted more communities to ease the water purification process,” Lungile Marhungane, TEF Beneficiary and CEO, Jesu Puro Water shared. “The Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant was a dream come true for me and a great opportunity. More people should partake, this is the most innovative platform in Africa.”

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation, one of the leading philanthropies in Africa, is said to have disbursed over $85 million in seed capital to date to support small business growth across Africa.

“We are pleased to continue to share our unique ability and platform to identify, train, mentor, and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa with like-minded institutions like Google.org who share in our commitment to empower young African entrepreneurs,” said Awele V. Elumelu, co-founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. “It will be exciting to see the ways in which the refreshed TEFConnect platform will continue to provide a space for growth, personal development, and meaningful exchange for African entrepreneurs.”

Jen Carter, global head of technology at Google.org, while expressing delight at the partnership, said, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation does so much to empower African entrepreneurs, and we are thrilled to be able to lend the expertise of Googlers to expand the reach of the TEFConnect platform to an additional 1 million entrepreneurs.”

Carter noted that as Africa’s digital economy grows, African entrepreneurs are in a prime position to establish a powerful digital footprint, and this fellowship is one step closer to transforming the landscape.