Entrepreneurial Fair: UBA Market Young African Entrepreneurs To The World

  By  Stephen Ubanna

 The United Bank For Africa, UBA,  and Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, two-day Market place, fair, tagged Entrepreneurial has come and gone.  A Statement  by the Bank reveals that no fewer  than  5,000 participants and 60 speakers across  Africa, Europe and Asia, had converged at the event, described as the largest gathering of African  entrepreneurs The Statement further confirmed that  150  Small and Medium Scale .  Enterprises, SME, across twenty  African countries including Nigeria, exhibited their products at the world class fair.

The initial confirmation by members of the Organising Committee for the UBA/TEF , Entrepreneurial Fair, was that Presidents  Paul Kgame, Macky Saall and  Felix Tshsisekedi the  of Rwanda, Senegal and  Democratic  of Congo, DRC, respective,  had given their words to participate  in the Fair. The mere mention of the three Progressive African Presidents may have encouraged many of the SMEs investors  across the African Continent  to  rush to book space at the fair ground at Hilton Hotel Abuja, the Federal Capital Teriitory. FCT, exhibit their products ostensibly  to reach out  to them  in order to facilitate investing in their countries.  Some of the SMEs investors may have got it right as they were given generous incentives  which  they could not resist  that could not be resisted to encourage them to invest in their respective countries. 

 But  at the last count  The Value News learnt   that  Yemi Osinbajo  Vice President ,  and the country’s National Economic Council Chairman,   at the instance of Muhammadu Buhari, and the President Rushakana, the Prime minister of    Uganda who was said to have represented  Yoweri Museveni, were also at the event.  Aisha Buhari, the first Lady, and  Keita  Aminata,  wife of the the President of Mali were said to have participate in the entreneurship programme. Djena Kaba Conde, the First Lady of Guinea ,  Gilles  Carbonnier, President ,National Committeee of the Red Cross, ICRC, and Dr. Tedros .M. Ghebreyesus  Director General, World Health ORganisation, WHO, were said to have also made it to the the UBA/TEF, two-day programme.

Other  notable  players in  the world economy that were at  event as well were  Dr. Sidi Tah, Director General , Arab Bank For Economic Development in Africa,  Koen Doens,  Deputy  Director,  International Cooperation  and Development Commission, Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank, ADB,   Benedict Oramah, a Professor and President,  Africa Export Bank among others.

The gathering of the  Afrcan leaders and global business leaders  may have given Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of UBA and founder of Tony Elumelu foundation to    draw their  attention to the urgency  of creating jobs in the African Continent to catlyse development.  He may have won the  heart of the African leaders at the  Entrepreneurship fair when he said that ‘’ extremism  is a product  of poverty and joblessness’’, noting  that  that  poverty  everywhere  is a threat  to everyone  everywhere’’ . According  to him,  if the African leaders  can understand  the reason  and rationale  for the youths in their respective countries to succeed, they would do everything within their powers in the formulation of policies that would support them and not make things difficult  for them.

Elumelu, Adesina And Others At The Fair

Elumely who is the arrowhead of the transformation of  UBA to a world class Bank and the drive for empowering young African Entrepreneurs through  the Tony Elumelu Foundation, also stressed on the important role which  technology could play  in accelerating development in the Continent . He cited  the TEF Connect , a digital platform  for African entrepreneurs , which was launched by the Foundation in 2018.. At present , the TEF Connect, according to the Foundation Authority has over 500,000 registered users,  giving the African entreneurs the opportunity to  ntwork  and forge business partnership regardless of country of location. Osinbajo, the Vice President key note address, may have been used as a working document  by the discussion panel in one of the sessions.   The Vice President had enumerated the impact of TEF on the economy ,  arguing that it had compelled the  Buhari Administration  to focus more on really what the Youths could do on their own to achieve their life time dreams. Given an insider information, he said the ‘’message of TEF to African emerging economic giant  was a clear one: how and what can you  contribute  to empowering  the next generation  in order to help them realize their own dreams.

The two day event which had no dull moment, was said to have ended  on a happy note  as Participants  were taken round the UBA  market place exhibition stands where the entrepreneurs had opportunity of interacting of interacting with the African Presidents and global business leaders  and to showcase their products to them..  Given the intense Competition   among the African entrepreneurs  to manufacture products that could compete  with similar products in other part of the world ,  the  Management of UBA and TEF, had set a standard ,which must  be fulfilled by the young entrepreneurs  to show that they were in for business.  This year’s Marketplace Fair , the winner was said   to have be given a $5,000  grant by , the Kennedy Uzoka   controlled Bank to force others to sit up in order to win the monetary grant next year. The importance attached to the yearly event may have informed why  it was given adequate coverage by the  United States based, Cable Network News, CNN,  as one of its presenters  Fareed  Zakaria, was on ground to see things himself  on the invitation of the Organising Committee.  It was aired worldwide, further popularing the UBA/TEF Entrepreneurship Fair.

 Many believe that the  given the success achieved in organizing this year’s Fair, that of next year would be much  better  as more African entrepreneurs  would want to participate because of the immense gains . Take for  instance the 5,00 grant for the entrepreneur whose product are judged o to be of world standard  and could compete favourably with similar products  in other parts of the world. As they may may want to put in more efforts to win the amount.

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