By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged why the Management of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, popular, TEF, founded by Tony Elumelu ,a Philanthropic businessman and Group Chairman, United Bank For Africa, UBA, plc, a Pan African Bank postponed the 10th Year anniversary of the Foundation.
The erudite business had omitted $100 million into the Foundation which was dispensed in giving grants to Small and MEDIUM Scale Enterprises, across Africa between 2010 and 2020. As at the last count, 9,631 young Entrepreneurs from 54 African countries including the oil –rich Nigeria had benefited from the Foundation grant.
.The postponed of the well publicized eevent both within and outside the country was said to have been informed by the Wuhan Town of the Hei-Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, Covid 19, which had ravaged over 200 member countries of the United Nations. Note that the Flagship yearly programme, described as the largest gathering of African Entrepreneurs in the Continent , brings together the beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, across the 54 African countries and other alumni of its Entrepreneurship programme to rub mind.
Officials of the Foundation and the Organising Committee were said to have made adequate preparation for the event before the pandemic broke out in the country last March, forcing the government to join other countries to declare a lockdown to stop the spread of the disease. The lockdown which had lasted four months in the country may have started easing up which may have informed why the Management of the Foundation had said that the event would hold on a later date this year.
This is a good news for the TEF sponsored African Entrepreneurs who had looked forward to the yearly event because of the immense opportunities it provides . Notwithstanding the postponement of the Entrepreneurship programme this is 2020, Ifeanyinwa Ugochukwu, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of TEF, had assured the alumni of the Foundation Entreneurship programme that ‘’ it will continue to support them with expert –led masterclasses on its digital networking TEFConnect’’.
She was said to have taken advantage of the International Youth Day Celebration on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, to broke the cheery news to the African Entrepreneurs of TEF continuous support . Mrs. Ugochukwu, the TEF, CEO, who could not hide her feelings had drawn the attention of the participants at the World Youth Day event ‘’ of the plight of startup African Entrepreneurs since the outbreak of the pandemic’’ , stressing the importance of the SMEs , to the developing economies in this trying times.
She was said to have told those that cares to listen that the SMEs are the major contributors to the African economies as a way of encouraging the Entrepreneurs in order to be serious with their business like their Counterparts in the developed economies.
The TEF CEO, lamented ‘’the level of Corruption and uncertainty that young people the world over had faced as a result of COVID 19 pandemic’’. Aggrieved Mrs. Ugochukwu, was very emphatic on these Challenges faced by the Youths all over the world. ‘’We must not underestimate the challenges’’, she had said This may have informed why she said ‘’ young people must be empowered to be able tackle the menace of poverty on the Continent’’.
An insisder told The Value News that the Foundation had prepared well for the International Youth Day Celebrations as it had engaged Pan African Entrepreneurs from the Development sector to speak on the Theme, ‘Investing in Africa’s Future: Youth Empowerment through Entrepreneurship’’.
The African Entrepreneurs were said to have listened with rapt attention to the experts who were said to have laid much emphaisise on the Youth Engagement for Global Action Agenda and the role of the Entrepreneurs in pushing for Sustainable Development’’ in their presentations. They were said to have also examined ‘’ the critical role of the Youths in igniting their potential, population, and influence to create mechanisms of Sustainable Development across the Continent’’.
Vambul Gichuri, the Vice President , African Development Bank, ADB, Agriculture, Human and Social Development , who was one of the expert speakers at the UBA, organised World Youth Day Celebration in Nigeria noted that ‘’Entrepreneurship is an essential part of Africa’s employment challenges, stating ‘’it is where we have to put our focus as a multilateral bank’’. Appealing to African Union, AU,member countries, Gichuri, the ADB, top official declared’’ we need to do whatever it takes to empower our Youth because they are the Future hope of the Continent’’.
Martha.T.M. Phiri, a Director, Human, Youth and Social Development, in ADB, may have gladdened the heart of the African Entrepreneurs, when she stated that the $5million partnership between the Multilateral Bank and TEF, in 2019 should , be used to empower additional African Entrepreneurs in order to create more jobs on the Continent
.Describing the partnership with TEF, as an exciting one, she declared’’ we fell this should be the way forward if we are going to create jobs on the Continent’’. As a result of the disruptions of the economy due to COVID 19, President Muhammadu Buhari had Committed N2.3 billion to support the SMEs. The money, according to Presidency sources is to be dispensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as soft loan to the SMEs and startups, across the country. This is because they are the worst hit by the COVID 19, according a report by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI.
Shoroke .H. Zedan, Chairman, World Youth Skills, Egypt, asserted that ‘’it is important that African Leaders start looking at Entrepreneurship as a fundamental core topic that needs to be integrated into the educational system’’.
Speaking on incorporating the Youths in Africa into policy making decisions , Alexander Robinson, President , AISEC, ‘’advocated for any policy that involves the Youths as Co-owners of the policymaking process’’. He reasoned,, ‘’I believe that when young people are given Co-ownership of the table , not just being invited by someone else’s, they would be able to contribute meaningfully contributions to the discussions’’.
Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola, Founder , Weycyclers Nigeria and a Fellow of the Tony Tony Elumelu Foundation, recalled when she got accepted into the Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme in 2012 and what happened.
In her narration, she disclosed, ‘’when I was invited to the Foundation to pitch my idea, I was very fortunate to pitch directly to Elumelu, the Founder. Given an insight to what happened a couple days after, she said,’’ I was surprised, we got the TEF , grant’’ which was very important for Weyclers’’.
Another beneficiary of the TEF soft loan, Leroy Mwasaru, Founder Greenpact, Kenya and an alumumnus of thee Foundation ‘s Flagship Entrepreneurship Programme was said to have highlighted the need for transparency in the Management of Funds to attract more Entrepreneurs in Africa. ‘’it is as a result of sharing information of what we have been doing over the last ten years that we hope there are less failures and more successes’’, he remarked.