Since the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) began the Entrepreneurship Programme back in 2015, people have asked numerous questions about the goals, work and impact of the programme so far. Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions:
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is driving innovation and creativity through its investment in the Pan-African start-ups and SMEs. The selected entrepreneurs receive business development training through our 12-week Start-up Enterprise Toolkit, supported by Mentors selected from around the world, business plan reviews by Accenture, followed by the disbursement of a $5 million direct seed capital to the qualifying TEF entrepreneurs across 54 African countries. This is innovation.
In over four years, we have increased the number of women business owners from just 24% in 2015 to 35% selected in 2018.
We have invested in entrepreneurs across the agriculture, ICT, fashion, manufacturing, media and entertainment, education, and training sectors who are all developing sophisticated marketing and revenue models while driving innovation and creativity through their products and services. Many have successfully leveraged their association with the Foundation to win awards, access new funding, business support services, training and cross border trade across Africa and the world; generating revenue and creating jobs. The Foundation has built an investible pipeline of 4,470 entrepreneurs who are a viable investment opportunity for African and global business across the high growth sectors.
Technology, innovation and exchange are important drivers for entrepreneurship in Africa. As such, we have built proprietary robust, scalable and cloud-based multilingual technology platforms for Applications, Mentor Learning Programme, Documents Management and Alumni Engagement. These platforms are the Foundation’s greatest assets, facilitating knowledge exchange, product promotion, networking and enabling the Foundation connect with African entrepreneurs across the continent.
Since 2015, we have built a database of over 300,000 African entrepreneurs from 54 African countries which is set to grow and serve as the foundation for TEF Research Publications.
The importance of government in establishing and maintaining a healthy and competitive enabling business environment cannot be over stated. The economic ecosystem is determined by the policies and functionality of government. Therefore, their effectiveness is critical to the success of SMEs.
Over the past four years, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has played its part in helping African governments see that innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth are inextricably linked. For example, Rwanda has streamlined its business registration procedures by such a significant margin, that it takes just six (6) hours for an entrepreneur to register a business and be ready for operation. Kenya’s economy has also been transformed through entrepreneurship. The Ghanaian government’s Youth Enterprise Support initiative provides young entrepreneurs and innovators with opportunities to grow their businesses from idea to implementation to scale. Enterprise Uganda, is a programme of the Ugandan government which offers young entrepreneurs training and financial literacy aid as well as a credit facilitation service that provides guidance around available sources of financing.
These few examples are proof that steps have been taken to create entrepreneurial ecosystems that encourage and promote business development. While establishing a quality business environment is important; from our engagement with thousands of African entrepreneurs, we believe it is important for the governments to also address the broader issues: affordable power, reliable infrastructure, cross border business and access to credit.
The Foundation continues to engage with government policy makers and leaders. At the 4th edition of the TEF Forum held in October 2018, we welcomed the President of Ghana, HE Nana Akufo-Addo and President of Kenya, HE Uhuru Kenyatta to engage in an interactive dialogue with the TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu CON. In July 2018, we welcomed President Macron of France to engage with over 2000 TEF Entrepreneurs shaping Africa. Back in 2016, we welcomed the President of Sierra Leone to the TEF Forum. Also, the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo joined the Form in 2015 and 2017 to name but a few.
The Foundation participates in and supports high-profile Pan-African and international business conferences, summits and forums to highlight the economic value of entrepreneurship to policy makers, promote entrepreneurship as good career choice and support the development of an entrepreneurial culture across the continent.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation has established Research and Advocacy division to strengthen the African entrepreneurship ecosystem by producing relevant research and impactful advocacy that informs policy makers, empowers entrepreneurs, and equips corporations, institutions and individuals with incisive analysis and timely information. Leveraging our extensive data base of over 300,000 African entrepreneurs across the 54 African countries, the Foundation has produced number of ground-breaking policy reports which have been shared with policy makers and government leaders as they develop their respective strategies and policies for entrepreneurship. I will mention two in particular: Unleashing Africa’s Entrepreneurs: Improving the Enabling Environment for Start-ups and Improving the Enabling Environment for Agriculture entrepreneurs.