AfDB, TEF partner to empower 2,000 entrepreneurs

Leveraging on a soon to be signed partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Tony Elumelu Foundation will, through its Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), soon start to train 2,000 entrepreneurs in Africa.

Chairman, Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group, Tony Elumelu disclosed this at the recently concluded forum which celebrated the 2016 cohort of his $100 million empowerment programme.

Elumelu, who announced partnerships with other regional institutions such as ECOWAS, and others including Coca Cola, the International Trade Centre, Nigerian Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Entrepreneurship, said his foundation is in talks with the AfDB to meet it half-way in selecting 1,000 more African entrepreneurs for empowerment in the subsequent editions.

Although he did not disclose the financials in terms of what the AfDB is bringing to the table, Elumelu did say he is happy at the prospects that more entrepreneurs may access such opportunities given to previous cohorts.

This potential partnership is based on Elumelu’s quest to provide “as much opportunities” as possible for African entrepreneurs to help develop the continent.

“As excited as I am about the 2,000 entrepreneurs that we have selected to benefit from the program in its first two years, this gathering is in some ways bittersweet for me. Because my heart still carries with me the entrepreneurs behind the 63,000 ideas we couldn’t select,” he said.

He then called on other billionaires and philanthropists, friends of Africa and other development agencies as well as African governments to collaborate with him in empowering African entrepreneurs because, as he put it “we can’t just wait for the luck to send us the calibre of political leaders as we’ve seen on stage today.”

Earlier, Elumelu said Microsoft was providing $300 million worth of business software to help the TEF entrepreneurs manage their businesses in a systematic and sustainable way.

He added that the Nigerian government has accepted the TEF challenge and was committed to working “with us to improve the enabling environment for entrepreneurs in the much-neglected, yet growing, creative industries.

According to him, the government of Cote D’Ivoire has adopted the TEF model to identify, train mentor and seed thousands more aspiring Ivorien entrepreneurs.

“ECOWAS will partner with the Foundation to develop a regional strategy to promote entrepreneurship and Africapitalism in the West African region. The International Trade Center in Geneva and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council will work with us to achieve their goal of helping to connect one million female entrepreneurs to global markets.

“I am overwhelmed by the level of response, by what is possible when you are taken seriously and it is clear that, with the success of our entrepreneurship programme, policymakers and key stakeholders take us seriously!” he said.