2019: Elumelu Foundation Unveil Finalists As Aisha Buhari Tasks The private Sector operators To Sit Up

By Stephen Ubanna

Aisha Buhari, the First Lady,  appears to have identified with the five year -old Tony Elumelu Foundation which has become a source of pride to African  Entrepreneurs who had received direct funding and financial support from it to grow  their business.

This  is evident going by what transpired at Transcorp Hotel, Hotel , Abuja, on Friday, March 22, 2019, when Tony Alumelu , Chairman, United Bank For Africa, UBA,  unveiled  the 2019,   selected  3,050 Applicants of the over 216,000 Applicants, that  had applied for direct funding and financial support from the Foundation.  Indeed,It was a day of joy for Elumelu and the Foundation Staff including the UBA  Staff, as well as  friends and Associates of Elumelu who had turned up to identify with the great African Entreppreneur and motivator.

A report from the Foundation  shows that 1,000 of the 3,050 selected Applicants would be funded directly from the Foundation while 2,350  would receive financial support to further boost their business.  Going by the 10 yea, time lag set for the Foundation by the promoter, Elumelu, when it was launched in 2010, $100 million was said to have been injected into the Foundation  to fund entrepreneurs of African origin  in the drive for the  development of the African Continent.

 The unveiling of the  selected beneficiaries of the Foundation  this year gives an insight to the prudent management of the funds by past and present Management of the Foundation.   Elumelu who could not hide his joy  that the Entrepreneurship programme which he started five years ago has produced thousands of small and medium scale Entrepreneurs in Africa and supported many other businesses  which were at  the verge of collapse to succeed has promised to do more.

He is optimistic that the Foundation would continue to do what which it had started in Africa for the next five years. As he moved about exchanging pleasantries with dignitaries at the Foundation organised event in Abuja recetly, he looked fulfilled as one who has made his own contribution to African development through industrialisation.Many believe that the Foundation has succeeded in its Entrepreneurship programme because of the commitment and transparency   of the promoter and the officials.

Tony Elumelu : Chairman, UBA

  The last Friday event, according to an eyewitness account was a day of joy for the selected one thousand Applicants who  were given $500 or 1.805 million cheque, each , going by the current official exchange rate of N361.00 to a dollar. The  other 2,050 selected Applicants were said to have been given undisclosed amount each in order to support their business or bail it out from imminent collapse.

 The Value News learnt that Dupe Olusola, Group Head , Marketing for UBA, was among the 100  most aspiring  Nigerian business women who benefited from the Foundation cohort this year. Those who have come in contact with the woman described her’ as a great motivator who have made huge impact in their lives. ”She provides visionary leadership  with the aim of  development and delivery of integrated  strategy  for all UBA  Group Bank  and non -Bank subsidiaries”.   UBA, officials, however, described her as a caring person who is ”passionate about women Affairs  and Empowerment , Economic development of under-developed countries and financial inclusion of  for the disadvantaged in the society”.

As a private sector operator before joining the Bank, she was said to have spearheaded  a partnership arrangement  with Coca-Cola Plc to produce Five Alive  Pulpy Orange Fruit Juice as Chief Executive officer of Teragro, thus making the company  the sole local raw material source  for the juice.

 The list includes Abisoye Ajayi -Akinfolarin. She was also said to be the founder of Pearls Africa Youth Foundation, a non governmental organisation, NGO, aimed at educating  young girls  in under-served  areas in the country with technology skills. Recall that in 2018, going by her immense help to the less privilaged in the society,  Abisoye , was named  one of the CNN Heroes of the year. She was  also recently named as one of the BBC’S 100   women

  Note that the 100 women who were selected this year to benefit from the Elumelu Foundation which includes Olusola, a UBA Staff,   were drawn from different  business backgrounds and sectors of the economy. The successful applicants were  said   to have stood out in their respective businesses  and most importantly  ”deliberately impacting their world and their local communities  through the power of their strength of ideas and achievements”.

   Leading Ladies Africa, founded by Francesca Uriri,and founded with funds from the Foundation, according to an insider, are already  making giant  strides  in the world of business, politics, advocacy, governance and enterprise.  ”It’s  perhaps our most  diverse  list yet”, Uriri had said.   

A UBA source disclosed  that in the last five years,  the Foundation has  funded   directly over four thousand  African Entrepreneurs . This is in addition to the financial support given to 470 others. The good news was  the money  given to the African Entrepreneurs are non refundable  which appear to have removed much of the financial burden of running the small and the medium scale industries on the Entrepreneurs.

Given the demands on the Foundation , iFenyinwa Ugochukwu, the Chief Executive Officer , CEO,  has stressed the need for collaboration with other partners and philanthropists to share the responsibility  to create ”economic prosperity for all in the African continent”.Mrs. Ugochukwu,  who is happy at the increased participation of women entrepreneurs in the 2019 programme, urged potential women entrepreneurs in the north to take a cue from their counterparts in the southern part of the country to apply for direct funding  or financial support from the Foundation. She revealed that there had been ”tremendous transformation of the Foundation  since the past five years” which should touch many others.

Aisha, who spoke at the unveiling  of the Elumelu Foundation cohort gave kudos to Elumelu and his Foundation over his contribution to African development, described as emerging economies, through its financial support to small and medium scale industries. She maintained that it would go a long way to foster development in the African continent.

 She  further said that the training and mentorship programme initiated to support  the business enterprises would promote social and economic change in the continent. She insists that the ”African  private sector must begin  to play a more active role  in advancing the economic development of the Continent’  through the various dynamic programmes  initiated by the Elumelu Foundation  to provide  both Capital  and human Resources  which are helping budding African Entrepreneurs”.

The First Lady  may have used the Elumelu Foundation event as an opportunity  to speak  also about the visions  of the office of the First lady , as wife of President Muhammadu Buhari. According to her, the office is active  in the drive  to reduce  the rate of maternal  and newborn mortality in the country.

  ”We are active  stakeholders  in this sector’ to contribute to the acceleration  of efforts  to end preventable  maternal , newborn  and child deaths through  advocacy and the strengthening  of accountability  mechanism   in order to enhance  the peace and development of Nigeria”, she had said.

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