Nigeria’s Top 10 Champions of Youth Empowerment – Tony Elumelu

Mr. Tony Elumelu is the founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF),a youth development and philanthropic platform, which has empowered thousands of entrepreneurial young Africans. The foundation’s youth empowerment programmes include an annual TEF Forum, one of the largest gatherings of entrepreneurs in Africa and TEF Connect, which is a digital hub for Africa’s entrepreneurs.

The foundation leverages its strong relationships in the public and private sectors to drive its mission of creating prosperity for all. Its overriding purpose is to enable Africa to harness fully the potential of its demographic shift to a dominant youthful population.

TEF provides a deliberate, comprehensive effort needed to create millions of new jobs or other forms of gainful employment that give the youth a large space to participate in the economy. This is in recognition that increasing youth population means a greater influx of labour workforce, which presents the most pressing short-term challenge in Nigeria and Africa.

Government has been unable to absorb the millions of young workers who enter the labour force each year. Out of this challenge, TEF came out with an intervention to turn the potential in an increasing population in human capital into a great opportunity to create new industries and expand economies of Africa.

Making this happen is the central purpose of the foundation – setting the pace for Africa’s public and private sectors to partner to turn the continent’s demographic into a rising and energetic generation that can be used to transform the continent for the better.

At the rate at which the youth enter the job market in Africa, it is projected that up to 10 million formal jobs need to be created in the continent annually. Creating the capacity to meet this challenge is the mission that TEF has set out to accomplish.

“The only way we can achieve the objective of actively engaging most of Africa’s youth as well as the ultimate goal of a more inclusive society is by unleashing the potential of Africa’s entrepreneurs to take the initiative and build the kind of companies that will rise to meet the increasing needs of Africa’s young and growing population”, Elumelu declared.

The foundation launched the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015 with a $100 Million endowment in its quest to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs over 10 years. The success of the programme has led to its partnership with institutions such as the United Nations Development Programme, the African Development Bank, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and United Bank for Africa Plc, to create meaningful and permanent impacts across Africa.

By TEF’s latest records, it has trained, mentored and funded 15,847 young African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries through its entrepreneurship programmes. Also, it has reached over one million Africans through its digital networking platform, TEF Connect for capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages. The programmes have impacted societies through the multiplier effects of over 400,000 direct and indirect employment created.

Entrepreneurship is the instrument of change the foundation has found quite effective in impacting millions of Africans. It is convinced that rapid and massive entrepreneurship development across Africa holds the keys to unlocking the continent’s economic potential.

The foundation also ensures that entrepreneurship development goes hand in hand with improving the conditions in which people are struggling to bring their ideas to life. “As an entrepreneur myself, I understand what it feels like to yearn for a lifeline, to hope for a big break, to look forward to enjoying some luck”, Elumelu said.

Matching entrepreneurship development with improvements in the operating environment is designed to increase the chances of success in business and also encourage even more people to take the leap to self-empowerment through entrepreneurship.

The foundation therefore seeks to enhance the capacity of African businesses by supporting and driving policies that promote competitiveness, deploying financial capital through impactful investments and educating public and private sector actors through rigorous research.

TEF creates and connects beneficiaries to competent networks of entrepreneurs and decision makers, displaying various creative capacities widely. It offers great curriculum intended to provide valuable answers to problems, overcome challenges and strengthen individual entrepreneurial journeys.

TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is open to all African youth of 18 years and above and nominations must be for a business idea or for-profit venture, focused on a single area of ​​business and must be the original idea of ​​the nominee.

The programme involves twelve weeks of business management training that opens access to experienced mentors and membership to Africa’s largest entrepreneurial ecosystem. The training programme was designed to segment entrepreneurs based on demonstrated abilities and knowledge.

It meets the need to educate and encourage people to start or grow their businesses and to overcome challenges faced by entrepreneurs across the African continent. The programme focuses on hands-on, interactive learning that is useful even long after the training period.

The training programme precedes moving to the stage of submitting and reviewing business plans, participating in the pitching competition and receiving the foundation’s seed capital.