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The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program
Tony Elumelu, the Nigerian entrepreneur and chairman of Heirs Holdings, speaks to AFP in an interview on October 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. Elumelu has promised to invest $2.5 billion in the "Power Africa" initiative of US President Barack Obama which aims to expand energy in sub-Saharan Africa, where some two-thirds of people lack regular power. But a complementary effort in the US Congress has hit a snag in a dispute over requirements that certain US-backed projects be low in carbon emissions blamed for climate change. AFP PHOTO SHAUN TANDON (Photo credit should read SHAUN TANDON/AFP/Getty Images)

Entrepreneurship in Africa is most challenging. Entrepreneurs contend with a lack of funding, very little support, and a harsh operating environment. In fact most African countries record a failure rate of above 75% for small businesses within the first five years. These statistics are quite disgraceful. Africa’s teeming population need to establish small businesses to boost the economy.

So what are some of the major reasons entrepreneurs fail in Africa?

1, Many small business owners have no formal business training to manage business;

2. The ability to manage all aspects of the business is lacking;

3. Lack of government support to help SMEs thrive in Africa;

4. Business planning is virtually non-existent; and

5. The harsh operating environment is not conducive for business growth and expansion.

What can be done to reverse this trend?

Governments definitely need to do more in this regard. The onus is on political leaders to come up with policies and solutions to turn the situation around. Many countries, sadly continue to pay lip-service to equipping their citizens to succeed in business.

While government policies continue to falter several successful entrepreneurs have taken it upon themselves to fill the gap. These entrepreneurs have staked their own resources to help other Africans succeed just as they have. One of the most commendable efforts has to be that of Tony Elumelu, one of Nigeria’s top serial entrepreneurs.

Who is Tony Elumelu?

According to wikipedia.org, Anthony Onyemaechi Elumelu (born 22 March 1963) is a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He chairs Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa and Transcorp. He also founded The Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Elumelu holds the Nigerian national honours, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). Recognised as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” by Forbes magazine, his networth was estimated at around $700 million in 2015.

Establishment of the Tony Elumelu Foundation

Tony established the Tony Elumelu Foundation upon retirement from the board of United Bank of Africa in 2010. This foundation is the philiantrophic arm of his investment firm Heirs Holdings. This guiding philosophy is based on Tony’s desire to empower a generation of successful for-profit entrepreneurs who will drive Africa’s economic and social transformation. The foundation believes that the private sector holds the key to unlocking Africa’s potential.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program

The flagship program in the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s efforts to impact entrepreneurs is the Entrepreneurship program. Without a doubt it is certainly a program in a class of it’s own across Africa. Now there are  loads of philiantrophic efforts across Africa but none comes close to this program in touching lives and fostering entrepreneurship.

This program is “the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship.” It represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs. create a million jobs, and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.

What I find most intriguing about this program is the fact that it’s open to all Africans.  Successful candidates must go through a rigorous online application process. Successful candidates gain access to start-up toolkits, online mentoring, resources, forums, alumni network.

In addition successful entrepreneurs receive seed capital of $10,000 paid in 2 tranches to help grow their businesses. Candidates must develop articulate business plans with proper timelines for implementation to access this funding.

As a result of this one thousand entrepreneurs from across Africa converge in Nigeria to be trained for 12 weeks. Trainees are mentored before they can access the first tranche of $5,000. The foundation has currently empowered 2,000 entrepreneurs and is currently working with the third batch of 1,000.

I identify strongly with Mr. Elumelu’s vision of empowering African citizens. Language, religion, race or colour is no barrier. Furthermore the foundation seeks workable business ideas that are profitable.

The application process for the next batch of applicants is likely to be in 2018. The online portal will be open for everyone to apply. Consequently communication will be done online and offline.

In conclusion

Finally, please visit the foundation’s website for full details. This opportunity therefore is an avenue for those seeking capital to launch their businesses. Much as many challenges exist in Africa, Tony Elumelu Foundation seeks to remove funding from the equation.

Rather than giving up on your dreams one can push forward with help. There is therefore now no excuse if you have a brilliant business idea. While looking for funding you can pitch your ideas to the foundation. This is because their objectives are laudable and commendable. I encourage you that it’s either you make it or you make it.  Certainly success is possible in Africa.

 

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