TEF: Discovering The Hidden Entrepreneurs

By Stephen Ubanna

Until the launching of Tony Elumelu, Chairman , United Bank For Africa, UBA, Foundation, i 2018, not  many people knew that there were several hidden young entrepreneurs scattered all over Africa waiting to get little financial support to explode their business and   contribute to the economic transformation of their country through job creation.

The opportunity to bridge came in 2014, with the launching of the Elumelu Foundation in Lagos, Nigeria. The target of the Foundation, according to an insider was to empower one thousand Entrepreneurs  yearly from Nigerian and other African countries. Each of the beneficiaries, the source confirmed  receives  $500 or N1.805  00, going by the current official exchange rate of N361.00 to a dollar.

The good news was that the loan advanced to the benefiting entrepreneurs are non refundable which removes the burden of servicing the loan from them. According to the source, the benefitting entrepreneurs which are scattered all over Africa,  are also exposed to established business mentors to guide them.

 To further prepare t heir as entrepreneurs, it was learnt that the Foundation  organises a three month training programme  which exposes them to new opportunities  on how to promote their business to the global audience.  Many of them were said to have taken advantage of the training programme to make new contacts  which had be very rewarding to their business.

A Statement by the Foundation shows  that applicants to its entrepreneural financial support receive  access to ”TEFCONNECT, Africa’s digital entrepreneurial  hub”. The hub, the Statement , reveals  provide access to networks, training , further capital sources and business opportunities”.

For this year’s award to selected entrepreneurs, the Foundation has set Friday, March 22, 2019, for the event.  This year’s selection announcement may appear unique , going by the programme released as it will  feature  the Nigerian TEC Alumni Meet and an interactive dialogue  with the founder, Elumelu,, an accomplished and successful business man known the world over.

Investigation by The value News show that  that over 215,000 entrepreneurs from Nigeria and other African countries  had applied to be considered by the selection Board to benefit  from the $100 million or N3.61 billion  fund of the Foundation , going by the current official exchange rate of N 361.00 to the dollar. Iwas gathered that that the selection Board  are currently  ”reviewing  and finalising the applications”, in readiness to make the announcement on March 22, 2019.

Recall, that last year, the Foundation had received 151,000 applications. The female population of the applicants was put at about 62, 000. The sensitisation by the Foundation officials to encourage more female participation in the world of business may have encouraged more female applications to the Fund. The figure was said to have gone up to 90,000 this year.

Mrs. Ifeanyinwa Ugochukwu: TEF CEO.

The rising figure of women to become entrepreneurs, the Foundation said  ” demonstrate  the burning  desire of the African entrepreneur  to develop the African continent”. It is not surprising why the Foundation  has urgently converted the passion  into viable businesses to develop the continent.

There is no gain saying the fact that the Elumelu Foundation has produced many successful entrepreneurs who are employers of labour in the last five years.  The  story painted by  Osato Noah, West Africa Lead, Acenture Development Partnership, about the Foundation speaks volume.

”We have worked  with the Tony Elumelu Foundation  since the inception of  the entrepreneurship programme and in 2015 during the first round  of the programme  which had 20,000 applications for the Foundation”. He confirmed that this year , the Consulting firm had reviewed 215,00 applications, an indication of the growing awareness of people wishing to go into private business about the existence of the Foundation which gives non refundable loans to potential entrepreneurs and other assistance to succeed in the business venture.

Giving kudos to the Elumelu Foundation over its commitment  to the transparency of the programme, Noah  said , they are proud  to partner with the Foundation  in the delivery  of its Pan-African pet project: Africa  entrepreneur ship programme”.

Business analysts, disclosed that  in the last five years  since the Foundation launched its entrepreneurship programme, it has empowered  over 4,000 African entrepreneurs directly . This is in addition to the financial support to 470 others. Only recently, the Foundation appointed one  Ifeanyinwa Ugochukwu, as the Cheif Executive officer of the Foundation to further strengthen it. She succeeds Parminder Vir, OBE, who the Foundation officials believe  would continue to lend her  experience and expertise  as a member of the Foundation Advisory Board.

Mrs. Ugochukwu, the new Chie Executive officer, of the Elumelu Foundation , has told those that care to listen that they must look beyond   the yearly commitment  of empowering only 1000 entrepreneurs. This is good news for those who have never benefited over the years because of the limited figure.

As a prelude to empowering more African entrepreneurs, the Foundation , sources said   are looking forward   to working with other  partners to collaborate with  it to scale the platform  and process that had already been created. ” Empowering  African entrepreneurs  must be a shared responsibility to ecreate  economic prosperity for all’, she had said’.

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