Tony Elumelu Foundation unveils 1,104 beneficiaries for 2024 entrepreneurship programme

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In a testament to its unwavering dedication to empowering African entrepreneurs, the Tony Elumelu Foundation on Friday announced the selection of 1,104 beneficiaries from 54 African countries for its 2024 edition of its annual entrepreneurship programme.

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It was gathered that the 1,104 beneficiaries will each receive a non-refundable $5,000 grant from the foundation.

The beneficiaries emerged from over 100,000 applicants and a selection process conducted by renowned accounting firm, Ernst & Young.

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A breakdown of the beneficiaries revealed that Nigeria had the most selected applicants with 509 shortlisted candidates, followed by Benin Republic with 109 and the rest of Africa 405 put together.

Speaking on the criteria for the selection, Damilola Aloba of Ernst & Young disclosed that there are five basic requirements: Feasibility, Market Opportunity, Financial Understanding, Scalability, and Leadership and Entrepreneurship Skills.

Meanwhile, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme since its inception in 2014 has disbursed $100 million to over 20,000 beneficiaries who in turn have generated 400,000 jobs and revenue of more than $2.5 billion.

Giving a keynote address at the unveiling ceremony held in Lagos, which coincided with his birthday, TEF Founder and Chairman of UBA Plc, Tony Elumelu, expressed satisfaction with the impact of the programme, adding that it is about spreading prosperity and eradicating poverty.

Elumelu said: “We believe in spreading luck, we believe in democratising luck, we believe in prosperity, and we think that the easiest way to spread prosperity in Africa is by identifying our young ones, encouraging them and helping them to start their own businesses.

“This is why we have done this.

“Till date, over 20,000 young men and women from across Africa have received over $100 million in support of their programme.

“We are happy to see our young ones progressing.

“We are happy that what we started alone as Tony Elumelu foundation will have been able to identify and partner with other global institutions.

“So, today is a day of impact, a day of gratitude, and most importantly, a day of reflection for me because God has been kind in so many ways.

“My family and I do what we do, not from the abundance of wealth, but just a realisation that poverty anywhere is a threat to us everywhere, and that we cannot live alone in prosperity.

“So, I’m happy that today, we continue to spread that prosperity – not just in Nigeria, not just in our family, but in all 54 African countries.

“I am indeed happy that in our lifetime, we are able to impact the next generation.”

Speaking about the previous beneficiaries of the foundation programme, Elumelu said: “We track how the beneficiaries are succeeding and how they are impacting humanity, society, and their communities.

“They have generated over $1.2 billion in revenue in their businesses.

“All have not succeeded, but we did tell ourselves from the onset that it is not about 100 percent success.

“Even if 40, 50 percent of our beneficiaries succeed, let us through them help to eradicate poverty, but more importantly, show others, because we are trying to crowd in others into this space of entrepreneurship, we’re trying to encourage other successful Africans and global institutions and citizens that in the 21st century, there is a better way to develop Africa than just aid.”

The TEF Founder expressed the desire to expand the impact of the programme, adding that the TEF will seek to create a bigger coalition for African entrepreneurs as the foundation’s programme could only accept a limited number of people.

Elumelu added: “We aspire to magnify our scale and impact, we want to do more.

“And we are thinking of forming a coalition of African entrepreneurs that will touch more lives.

“We are thinking of launching a coalition, a global coalition, to prioritise young Africans.”

On her part, Co-Founder of TEF, Dr. Awele Elumelu, said: “To today’s 10th cohorts, I want to say as you embark on the next phase of your journey.

“Know that you’re a part of a network of entrepreneurs, a big network of entrepreneurs.

“And I want to say that you have all our support here – all of us here, we’re here to support you, to cheer you, to celebrate you, to pray for you, as the chairman has very nicely said.

“But to those who were not selected, let me also assure you that your journey is far from over.”

It is pertinent to note that TEF, to date, has disbursed a remarkable $100 million directly to young African entrepreneurs, catalysing the creation of over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs and making substantial contributions to Africa’s economic development.

Furthermore, the foundation’s digital entrepreneurship-support platform, Reconnect, has extended capacity building support, advisory services, and market linkages to over 1.5 million Africans.

The selection of the 2024 cohort not only celebrates the achievements of budding entrepreneurs, but also marks a significant milestone in the foundation’s ongoing efforts to foster a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa.

 

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