$100m Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship fund open for Rwandans applicants

Tony Elumelu is a Nigerian billionaire and philanthropist. Courtesy photo.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation opened the applications for the fifth cycle of its $100 million entrepreneurship programme last week. Rwandans with innovative ideas and businesses can apply for the programme.

Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme is arguably Africa’s leading entrepreneurship programme that seeks to empower African entrepreneurs. It is a brainchild of Tony Elumelu, Nigeria’s billionaire and Chairman of United Bank for Africa.

The programme is a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs with an aim of generating at least a million new jobs and create at least $10 billion in new business revenue across Africa.

Each year, the Foundation selects about 1,000 entrepreneurs from different parts of Africa to under-go a 12-week intensive online training.

Now in its 5th year, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme has empowered 4,470 entrepreneurs, including Rwandans.

“Outstanding African entrepreneurs running existing start-ups with high growth potential and aspiring business owners with transformative ideas are invited to apply,” reads a statement from the Foundation.

Last year, a number of Rwandan enterprising businesses and innovators who participated in the programme increased to 47 from 22 selected in 2017.

Frank Mugarura, one of the previous beneficiaries and the head of TEF Hub in Rwanda, told this paper that there is currently a database of over 100 Rwandan beneficiaries since the start of the programme.

“Last year we established a database of Rwandans who have benefitted from the programme and we now have about 107 enterprising Rwandans. We also started facilitating more Rwandans to apply and this year that tradition will continue,” he said.

According to him, 80 per cent of the beneficiaries now have their businesses fully running with physical offices, indicating that the owners of these offices will facilitate other Rwandans willing to apply.

Inspired by Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of ‘Africapitalism’ and his vision to institutionalise luck and democratise opportunity for a new generation of African entrepreneurs, the foundation has implemented one of the most ambitious entrepreneurship programmes globally.

According to the Foundation, selected entrepreneurs from previous years have transformed their businesses and their communities. They receive $5,000 in seed capital, business development training, mentorship, access to a network of African entrepreneurs and can have a chance to participate at the annual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest convening of the African entrepreneurs.

Elumelu said in a statement this week that the private sector must be the core driver of Africa’s economic transformation, calling on policymakers, business leaders and development agencies to actively commit to creating a better future for young Africans who have demonstrated intellect, skill, and passion, to empower them to succeed.

“The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is by far the most impactful project of my life and represents my commitment to transforming Africa through entrepreneurship,” Elumelu noted.

The Foundation, which has recently hosted President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana in dynamic interactive sessions with young African entrepreneurs, is committed to supporting the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is open to citizens and legal residents of all African countries, who run for-profit businesses based in Africa that are no older than three years. The deadline for applications submission is March 1, 2019.

Applications will be judged based on criteria including feasibility, scalability and potential for growth of the product or service, market opportunity for the idea or business, financial understanding, leadership potential and entrepreneurial skills.

Applicants can apply on TEFConnect – www.tefconnect.com.