UNDP partners with Elumelu Foundation to empower 100,000 entrepreneurs in Africa

L-R: Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP regional director for Africa, and Tony Elumelu, founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, at the signing of the TEF-UNDP Sahel youth entrepreneurship programme partnership at the AU Summit in Niamey, Niger. / Courtesy

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the global development network of the United Nations, has partnered with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) to train, mentor and financially support 100,000 young entrepreneurs in Africa over a period of 10 years.

TEF is a philanthropy foundation created by Nigeria’s business magnate Tony Elumelu.

The foundation has previously had partnership with UNDP.

This particular partnership targets entrepreneurs from the Sahel region, which for a long time has been a centre of conflicts.

The TEF-UNDP Sahel Youth Entrepreneurship Programme is expected to mobilise support for businesses with a long-term target to generate millions of new jobs and contribute at least $10 billion in new annual revenues across Africa.

This was announced during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU).

The President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou joined UNDP and TEF to launch the programme.

According to the statement from the foundation, the partnership will target young Africans in under-served communities, starting with the Sahel.

The TEF-UNDP Programme will be implemented through TEF’s flagship Entrepreneurship Programme, which has already benefited 7,520 local entrepreneurs across 54 African countries in just five years of existence.

Similarly, the programme builds on UNDP’s YouthConnekt initiative.

“The aim is to increase job creation through dynamic entrepreneurship and create sustainable economic growth that anchors the development of communities and states, “ reads the statement in part.

Ahunna Eziakonwa, the Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP regional director for Africa said that they see the Sahel as a land of many opportunities and that investing in the youth is a pre-condition to “stabilising the region.”


“The youth should be at the heart of any development agenda. We need to invest in their potential, talent, energy, and enthusiasm and create the opportunity for them to fully realise their dreams, “she noted.

She added that UNDP is co-creating development solutions by investing in entrepreneurship models to promote inclusive growth.

Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Chief Executive, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu said that the partnership will directly assist entrepreneurial success in a number of fragile areas and is a “testament to the validated approach to philanthropy we have pioneered.”

She insisted that Africa needs partners that do not only believe in the potential of its private sector to champion economic development, but backs this with commitment.

“With this agreement, UNDP has proven to be a true partner to Africa’s entrepreneurs and has demonstrated its commitment to work with us to scale up the impact of this initiative and eliminate poverty on the continent.”


The TEF-UNDP programme is fully aligned with the 1 Million by 2021 Initiative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Launched in April at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, the 1 Million by 2021 Initiative aims to reach 1 million African youth from across the continent with opportunities and interventions in the key areas of Education, Entrepreneurship, Employment and Engagement (4Es) to accelerate Africa’s socio-economic development.

Through the TEF-UNDP partnership, the selected applicants will each receive a maximum of $5,000 non-refundable seed capital, access to mentors, a 12-week business training and networking opportunities.

They will join the previously announced 3,051 beneficiaries of the 2019 cohort of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.



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