Africa’s largest entrepreneurship gathering slated for July

Rwandans who benefited from previous TEF editions pose for a group photo in Kigali after meeting Tony Elumelu. / Courtesy

Nigeria’s billionaire, Tony Elumelu, will through his philanthropy organisation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, host the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs in Abuja capital Nigeria.

According to the statement from the Foundation’s office, the annual gathering is expected to take place on July 26 – 27 and will feature a presidential panel as the key highlight of the forum.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has for the past five years been at the forefront of championing entrepreneurship in Africa, training and investing in young entrepreneurs from across Africa.

Rwanda has been one of the beneficiaries of this initiative with entrepreneurs from agribusiness, ICT, healthcare and education, among others, participating in a series of organised business trainings and access to seed stage capital.

The two-day forum is the culmination of the annual Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, which this year mentored, trained and seeded over 3,000 young Africans, selected from over [216,000] applicants.

Twenty five Rwandan enterprises were among those selected this year to be part of the programme.

The event provides an opportunity for young enterprising Africans to meet, learn and network with the broader African and global entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation believes it is also a critical opportunity for political leaders and policy makers to meet, face to face, a new generation of African business leaders, who are transforming Africa’s economic trajectory.

Keynote speakers at the highly anticipated Forum include Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and President Macky Sall of Senegal, who will join Tony Elumelu, TEF Founder and Chairman of Heirs Holdings and the United Bank for Africa (UBA).

“The Presidential Convening is a highlight of the Forum, allowing the African entrepreneurs in attendance to closely engage with political leaders, to give first hand testimony of the important role government can play in catalysing growth and encouraging business ambition,” reads part of the statement.

The forum agenda includes masterclasses and panel discussions with leading speakers and sector experts, from Africa and globally, who will engage attendees in specialised training sessions.

It will also feature a pitching event, where select entrepreneurs will deliver presentations on the goods and services they provide to a judging panel.

It is the first time the forum will be hosted in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria and will bring together leading policymakers, business leaders, development agencies and the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Last year, a significant highlight was the launch of TEFConnect, the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs, which provides a unique digital hub for the African entrepreneurship, facilitating networking, mentorship and most importantly business beyond borders.

Previous forums have been headlined by African leaders, including President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, and former Prime Minister of Benin, among others.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s determination to bring change in scale, across Africa and its focus on entrepreneurship is rooted in the philosophy of Africapitalism, created by its Founder.

It recognises the importance of economically empowering Africa’s youth as a path to creating sustainable economic and social wealth, as one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.

In 2015, the Foundation committed $100 million to empower 10,000 entrepreneurs from across the continent, over the period of ten years.

Now in the 5th year, the Foundation has funded, mentored and provided business management training to over 7,500 start-ups and small businesses, from all 54 countries in Africa.

Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, the organisation’s chief executive said in a statement that the entrepreneurship forum will not just convene the most important stakeholders in the African entrepreneurship ecosystem, but also provide an opportunity for everyone to make a commitment to advance entrepreneurship.

“We believe that these (African) entrepreneurs are our future. Invest in them now and reap the Africa of our dreams tomorrow. This is what we are committed to,” she noted.