Young and determined African entrepreneurs from all sectors from across the 54 countries in Africa have gathered in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, for the 2nd annual Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum.
The TEF forum hosted at the Nigerian Law School is an event with interactive learning sessions, workshops, plenary sessions, product launches and more. It is the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs across the 54 African countries.
Founded in 2010 by Tony O. Elumelu CON, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is a foremost African philanthropic organisation. It believes that the private sector holds the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential.
It was in 2015 that the foundation launched the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEFEP) designed to train, empower and mentor 10, 000 young African entrepreneurs in the next 10 years. 2000 entrepreneurs have already benefited from the programme. The foundation founded by one of Nigeria’s richest entrepreneurs, has committed a sum of $US100M to implement this entrepreneurship programme.
Welcoming the delegates, Perminder Vir, chief executive officer (CEO) of the foundation, said the foundation is committed to serving the purpose for which it was founded in 2010.
She commended the founder Tony Elumelu for conceiving the idea of the foundation to better support African entrepreneurs to advance the development of the continent.
The forum, she went on, is very important for entrepreneurs as it will avail them the rare opportunity to network, interact and share ideas with fellow entrepreneurs from across Africa.
According to TEF CEO, the foundation is partnering with different bodies in their different endeavours.
“Entrepreneurs do not always need funding but they need resources to enable them thrive and that is what TEF stands to provide for entrepreneurs,” she told the forum.
Ms Perminder maintained that entrepreneurs are the real agent of change in their various countries.
“26% of our entrepreneurs are agro entrepreneurs. They will feed Africa and the world. As African entrepreneurs, you should know that the key to transform Africa lies in your hands.”
To the entrepreneurs, she advised them to deliver high quality cutting edge content for their business as African entrepreneurs.
Dr. Awele Elumelu is the CEO of Avon Medical Services Limited and oversees the healthcare investments of the Heirs Holdings group. “I stand here today, a professional, a mother of 7 and entrepreneur. If I can do it, so can you,” Dr Awele, who is also the wife of Tony Elumelu told the forum participants.
Somachi Chris-Asoluka of the foundation, who spoke on transforming Africa through Africapitalism, stressed the need to transform Africa though Africapitalism.
“With Africapitalism such a transformation is possible but it requires courage and conscience, vision and new mindset from the continent’s entrepreneurs, business and leaders.”
He went on: “Africa’s entrepreneurs are the very answer to the debt challenge in our continent that aid can’t ever fix.”
There were several goodwill messages to the entrepreneurs from imminent personalities, among them Ms Clare Ekamanzi, special adviser to Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda.
While thanking Elumelu for inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs, Ms Ekamanzi underscored the importance of entrepreneurs in job creation.
The selected journalists covering the convergence were hosted to a Media Mixer, where officials from the United Bank for Africa Group had a session with them.
According to the officials, the bank has been existing for 70 years now and has made a name for itself in the banking sector on the continent.
Started in Nigeria and a true pan-African bank now, the bank creates a platform to bring and connect all the countries in Africa. The bank is located in 19 countries and plans are underway to operate more branches in other African countries.
Quizzed as to what the bank is doing to have an edge over fellow competitors, bank officials told journalists that they are committed to the welfare of their customers.
“If you don’t have customers you don’t have a company. UBA is going to lead the market by identifying the needs of the customers,” said the Bank’s MD Kennedy Uzoka, adding that the institution is the foremost in funding agricultural projects.
by Alieu Ceesay
back from Lagos, Nigeria