Young African entrepreneurs are being urged to see private investment as the key to unlocking their continent’s potential.
That was the message at the recent Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship forum in Abuja, Nigeria - which brought together thousands of would-be entrepreneurs and potential investors.
"People now know that what happens in Africa doesn't stay in Africa,” Elumelu told the forum. “What happens in Africa can happen in other places. That is why I say that poverty anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere. So the more we come together to provide solutions, to increase prosperity and make sure our young ones are engaged, the better for the world."
During exchanges with budding young CEOs, invited national leaders praised the initiative - and pledged to create the conditions for entrepreneurial success.
"We must have the capacity to feed our continent and that means developing agricultural entrepreneurship - especially with young people in mind,” said the President of Senegal Macky Sall in his address. “Because if agriculture is modernized, we’ll have hundreds of millions of young people who could be entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector, prospering and developing businesses."
Candidates can apply for non-refundable seed capital of €4500 from The Tony Elumelu Foundation, as well as access to mentors and training.
“My intention or initiative is to actually bring out the talent or the potential in every child that will make them become entrepreneurs and the world changers,” explains Korda Henry Kwame, the CEO of Financial Education at Basic Level. “So currently I am working on a centre, an education centre or a hub where I will recruit the children, or enroll them and then give them the training.
“I have on board mentors, trainers, entrepreneurs who are already successful in their various areas of life who will come and then motivate the children and inspire the potential out of them.”
“I found a trick to connect farmers to ready buyers who makes their grains more profitable, adding value to the chain and we reduce post harvest loss,” says the CEO of Farmatrix Nyifamu Ogechi Manzo.
The Foundation has pledged €90 million to empower 10,000 young entrepreneurs over ten years. There’ve been more than 216 000 applications this year alone. 7500 people have been accepted on the programme since it began four years ago.
"My message to all African entrepreneurs and in particular to TEF entrepreneurs is to say that there is no better time to be an entrepreneur than now,” says Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
“Governments, private sector, policy makers, development organizations, they are committed. We are committed to giving you all the support by way of training, capacity building, seed capital funding and second stage funding by creating an enabling environment. And so there is absolutely no barrier to your success except yourself."
In partnership with the foundation the government of Senegal is also putting up €900,000 of sponsorship capital over a three year period.
“Following the exchange of ideas and lessons learnt on how to push forward the development agenda in Africa using young entrepreneurs,” says Euronews Correspondent Elvis Boh. “It is now time to sit back and observe if the implementation process will achieve the desired results.”