The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has reiterated its commitment to continue to empower entrepreneurs across the continent. Chief Executive Officer of TEF, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, who gave the assurance at a virtual press conference to herald the opening for entries for the 2021 edition of the Foundation’s programme for African entrepreneurs last Friday, disclosed that even as it is committed to realizing the objective it set for itself in 2015 – supporting 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a 10-year period – TEF plans to empower one million entrepreneurs on the continent by 2030. Ugochukwu said: “As you all know, the TEF was founded in 2010 and in 2015, our founder, Mr. Tony Elumelu, launched a $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries, over 10 years.
“The programme is here to stay even beyond the 10 years. Our plan over the next 10 years is to empower one million African entrepreneurs. What the African entrepreneur wants more than ever is capital,” she added. According to the TEF CEO, over 9,000 entrepreneurs from 54 African countries have, so far, been assisted through the programme, which she emphasized, is open to new start-ups and existing young businesses, operating in any sector.
She disclosed that about 3,000 entrepreneurs will be selected to receive business training, mentorship and funding in 2021, which marks the seventh edition of the TEF entrepreneurship programme.
Ugochukwu stated that although the 2020 edition of the programme could not hold due to disruptions occasioned by COVID-19 outbreak, 1,000 entrepreneurs out of over 230,000 applicants that applied last year will be selected by the Foundation to benefit from the programme. She said that the 2021 entrepreneurship programme is significant, given that it is focused on the economic recovery of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs, which, according to her, have been particularly hard-hit by the impact of COVID-19.
On changes made to the modality for applying for the programme this year, Ugochukwu said: “Previously when you apply for the TEF entrepreneurship programme, once you apply, you put in your business plan within the application and those selected will be trained and funded.
“But, this year, just as we did last year, we want to train a lot more than we would fund, primarily because the feedback we have got from our entrepreneurs is that trainings been critical to the success of their businesses.” The application window for the programme, according to the TEF CEO, closes on March 31. She also disclosed that PricewaterhouseCoopers had completed an impact assessment report on the entrepreneurship programme, which would be released in the first quarter of this year.