Agribusiness entrepreneurs and innovators dominate Rwanda’s representation to this year’s Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Programme.
Of the 47 local entrepreneurs selected to join the 4th cohort of the programme, 25 have agriculture-related ventures and innovations, according the list of participants released by the organisers. This is twice the number selected last year. Other are from a diverse of sectors, including information and communication technology, healthcare, media, entertainment, construction, energy, and manufacturing.
A total of 1,250 African entrepreneurs have been selected for the 2018 TEF entrepreneurship programme from across the continent. The International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Indorama joins TEF, sponsoring an additional 250 entrepreneurs this year, including four Rwandans. The $100 million entrepreneurship support programme is largest African philanthropic initiative that seeks to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a period of 10 years. It also targets at creating a million jobs, as well as add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy. This year, more than 150,000 applications from across Africa and beyond were submitted, but only the most innovative and entrepreneurs, whose business ideas have high potential, were selected.
Jean Bosco Nzeyimana, one of the 4th cohort representatives, said the programme presents local innovators and entrepreneurs great opportunities to learn from continental peers and also make useful connections with like-minded people to promote the continent.
“This programme is very good, in terms of connecting with fellow pan-Africanists who are eager to take the continent to the next level. That is exactly what I am striving for,” he said. This is part of the organisation’s commitment to the Foundation to support 40 entrepreneurs from 11 countries.
The selected entrepreneurs and innovators will receive business training, mentorship, access to networking and funding of up to $10,000 in seed capital. Last year, only 22 Rwandan entrepreneurs participated compared to 15 the previous year. According to Frank Mugarura, the head of TEF Hub Rwanda, the increase in numbers is due to the awareness campaigns conducted during the application process in partnership with Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
“We worked with RDB to conduct campaigns focusing on agri-businesses, processing, fashion, tourism and fashion, including in rural areas because we believe they have amazing ideas,” he told The New Times.
He added that they supported applicants to ensure they submitted quality applications that would get a chance to be chosen.
“We will continue to mentor upcoming entrepreneurs so that more Rwandans benefit from this programme because we believe it is important for start-ups,” he noted.