Ahead of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs, scheduled for Lagos this weekend, Chairman of UBA Plc and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu, has made a call to international community to embrace “structured philanthropy” in support of rising entrepreneurs “with great potential, as a means to achieving sustainable development in Africa.”
The forum is expected to celebrate the 2016 cohort of Elumelu Entrepreneurs, selected from over 45,000 applicants in 54 African countries.
Elumelu made the call to the French business community, global stakeholders and influential Africans in the development world to embrace during a live interview conducted by Serge Michel, Editor-in-Chief at Le Monde Afrique, to an audience of high level political and business leaders, including the French Development Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives of international organisations, such as the World Bank, and the IMF, as well as representatives of civil society and selected journalists.
Elumelu spoke in Le Club de l’Economie in Paris, France, on Monday.
Elumelu explained that “the biggest obstacles to development in Africa are a lack of an enabling environment, infrastructure and access to electricity. Imagine a young entrepreneur having to provide power access for a growing business.”
Proffering solutions to some of the obstacles, he said “it is important that Africans increasingly embrace ‘structured giving’ because it helps us, assist worthy individuals who are not part of our families, or neighbourhoods, but who have great need and potential.”
Drawing from the achievements of the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme as an example of how Africans can solve their own problems via entrepreneurship and better governance, Elumelu said Africapitalism is one of the key to solving the African challenges.
“Better governance will solve our problems. We can’t afford to ignore entrepreneurship. We need to do both. We need government to realise that the success of entrepreneurs will lead to more success for government. Government can’t create all the employment opportunities needed in the economy. Only the private sector can do this. Government must create an enabling environment to allow businesses to thrive,” he said.
Bill Gates, a co-panelist at the event, buttressed this point during his session, saying: “states can no longer fund themselves their development, by giving back; we tap into the best part of ourselves. Everything significant we’ve done was through partnerships.”
Elumelu urged French investors to connect with local partners, while also calling on both the public and private sector to invest back into the continent by focusing on entrepreneurship.
Meanwhile, the second cohort of the Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs will congregate for the second annual Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum, between on Friday and Saturday, this weekend.
This will be a gathering of the entire African entrepreneurship ecosystem, the event organisers said.
The forum, according to organisers, will feature interactive learning sessions between the African entrepreneurs on one hand and thought leaders, investors and veteran entrepreneurs on the other.
Young entrepreneurs from across 54 countries in Africa are expected to interact with 500 business leaders, 32 speakers, as well as several established entrepreneurs and policymakers to forge partnerships, share insights and fashion Africa-made solutions to accelerate the transformation of Africa.