By Stephen Ubanna
Barely one month that the Tony Elumelu Foundation , TEF, opened its application portal, www.tefconnect.com, for, feelers from the Foundation shows that thousands of African Entrepreneurs have besieged the portal to apply.
Investigations by The Value News shows that the rush by African Entrepreneurs to apply for the Entrepreneurship Programme this time around may not be unconnected to the fact that it is the final lap of the cohort.
Recall that Elumelu, the Founder of the Foundation and Chairman, United Bank of Africa, plc, described as one of the most solid banks in the country because of its strong financial base had committed $100 million for the African Entrepreneurship programme in 2000. His target was to spend $10 million for a 10-year period to sponsor at least 10,000 African Entrepreneurs , on the average of 1,000 Annually. From 2000 and now, it has been a success story.
Insiders told the Magazine that the yearly number of applicants far outstrip the 1,000 target This may have forced the Foundation had made provisions to accommodate as many other applicants to furthher enhance the African Continent Economic growth. Take for instance in 19 19, no fewer than 3,050, African Entrepreneurs were said to have benefited from the programme. The Foundation Managers were said to have accommodated the large number without blinking.
Note that the essence of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, according to sources is to startup Entrepreneurs, with innovative business ideas or businesses that have been in existence for less than 3 years, in any sector of the economy, from across the African Continent.
Described as the UBA Chairman, ‘’African Capitalism philosophy’’, in business circles, business analysts opined that that Elumelu singular effort has positioned the ‘’ private sector as the catalyst for the Continent’s economic transformation, and an investment approach that values the creation of both social and economic wealth’’.
At the launch of the 2020 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, last month, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Foundation, had said that the ‘’transformation of Africa begins with empoweringyoung African entrepreneurs’’.
She noted that with the recent enhancements made to the Programme and the growing list of partners, particular, African Development Bank, ADB, led by Nigerian, Adesina Akinwumi, a former minister of Agriculture and Rural Development , who revolutionalised the country’s agricultural sector, TEF, has significantly made appreciable impact across the continent.
Only recently, the Foundation started the disbursement of the $2.5 million seed capital to the sponsored beneficiaries of the 2019 African Entrepreneurship Programme. The ADB Financial Commitment may have informed why the officials of TEF, could take as many applications as its Funds could accommodate in 2019.
The disbursement of the Funds, the Magazine gathered, was part of the $8.5 million FinancialCommitment by the AfDB, from the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, to sponsor 2,648 Entrepreneurs in the Sahel region and Africa in general.
Akinwumi, was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that the AfDB Financial support to TEF, would further enhance its efforts in the empowerment of the African Entrepreneurs and thus, the economic advancement of the Continent which the Foundation had started over the years.
There is no gain saying the fact that with the Foundation Commitment to strengthen Small and Medium Scale Enterprises , SMEs, which had encouraged AfDB, to join the growing list of global development Financial Institutions that is benefitting from the TEF, unique model of ‘’identifying, training, mentoring and funding of young African Entrepreneurs, African countries economic growth may be fast-tracked.
An appreciative Elumelu, had said that the partnershipbetween TEF and AfDB, demonstrates ‘’the implementation of the Bank’s ten-year job creation for Youths in Africa strategy’’ which was said to have to have been launched in 2016. The target of the AfDB project going by a document made available to the Magazine was to support the creation of 25 million jobs across Africa.
Many believe that the Foundation ‘s willingness to share its structure and technical know-how with other Institutions which share the same vision with it to empower young African Entrepreneurs and create millions of job in the Continent as well as generating billions of revenue , to catalyse economic growth across the Continent is a welcome development.
The good work and transparency in the disbursement of the Funds by the Foundation by UBA plc, may have informed why the United States International Development, USAID, one of the foremost Development agencies in the world with a yearly budget of $36 billion agreed to partner with the pan African in order to channel its Development Funds through it to further enhance the economic growth of the African Continent.
Going by the terms of the working agreement between the two parties as contained in Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed, it is a two-way Trade and Investment between the United States and African nations.
The North American country is expected to boost the agreement by ensuring that all business transactions conducted in both sides of the Atlantic are equipped with basic financial and technical tools in order to succeed. President Donald Trump may have thrown his weight behind the deal because of the current trade war between the Unites States and the Asian giant, China, which appear to have taken over the African countries market.
Perhaps to ensure a robust relationship with African nations, USAID, was said to have insisted that African nations enter into a newTrading and Investment relationship with the US, to be able to enjoy its technical assistance and advisory services through its prospective businesses Trade and Investment Hubs.
The good news is that the agency will connect the pan African Bank, with various Trade groups working across the e country. It is instructive to note that the MOU, between the USAID and UBA, gives the Nigerian Bank, , the only censed Sub-saharan Financial Institution allowed to operate in the US, to expand access its reach and extend financing to American based Companies looking to do business with African nations.
Analysts believe that the partnership between USAID and UBA, will go a long way to strengthen the US economy which is threatened by the Chinese rising economy as well as grow African economies , and create millions of job in the US and African nations. African nations business men are looking up to the Kingsley Oloka, led Bank to restore Africa back to its lost hope by using the Opportunity provided for the Continental to ensure its complete economic transformation. ‘’The deal is as good as done’’, a Nigerian businessman remarked.