COVID 19: Why TEF Postponed Its 10th Year Anniversary, Mark UN, World Youth Day

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.

Mrs. Ifenyinwa Ugochuchukwu: CEO, TEF

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.   

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