Nearly a thousand entrepreneurs from all the 54 African countries on the continent, including Rwanda, this weekend met in Lagos, Nigeria for the second edition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum, the biggest entrepreneurial gathering on the continent.
The two-day forum, which started on October 28, is connecting African entrepreneurs from all walks of life, who prior to the Forum had an intensive 12-week online training.
Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum is the flagship programme of Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu, a 10 year, $100 million commitment to create and empower 10,000 start-ups.
“We are here to witness the dynamism of the event, meet the great entrepreneurs from all corners of the African continent, and share ideas and experiences that can create the next generation of entrepreneurs on our continent,” said Denise Uwineza, one of the entrepreneurs from Rwanda.
Yvette Ishimwe, another Rwandan entrepreneur, said the forum links them with other Africans and be able to create new networks that can, in the long run, help them through their business ecosystem.
Like Uwineza and Ishimwe, all the people who are gathering here are passionate African entrepreneurs who have an ambition to change the way how business is run in Africa, promote entrepreneurship as well as sustainable growth and development.
Entrepreneurs here are getting access to mentorship, seed capital and network of investors from different parts of the world. Agriculture, fashion, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are the leading sectors of this year’s forum, among others.
The forum also allows entrepreneurs to share and gain knowledge, build cross border partnerships, and connect with investors and policymakers. The first day featured plenary panels, master classes, TED-style talks and sector specific networking opportunities.
The second day is a policy-led gathering, focused on improving an enabling environment for business.
According to the organisers, the aim of the forum is to create businesses that can generate one million new jobs on the African continent which can contribute up to $10 billion in revenues across the continent.
“We are so excited to be here today with people from different parts of the continent. What we are doing is leading by example. Imagine if we are having 100 other Tony Elumelus on this continent, creating a million new jobs in Africa,” noted Parminder Vir OBA, the chief executive of Tony Elumelu Foundation.
OBA said that the Foundation wants to unleash and transform the potential that Africans have and promote and empower entrepreneurs from the continent.
The forum also opened with a call to embrace Africapitalism, which according to Tony Elumelu is a new philosophy that seeks to position Africa’s private sector, and, most importantly, entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for social and economic development of the continent.
This year, there were some 45,000 applications, twice more than last year when they received 20,000. Those who were selected represent 36 per cent of women, a significant increase to last year’s 24 per cent.