Elumelu Foundation Names 2,100 Finalists In First TEF-UNDP Programme

Private-sector-led philanthropy focused on empowering African entrepreneurs, Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), on Monday, released a final list of 2,100 beneficiaries of its inaugural TEF-UNDP programme targeted at small business owners in rural communities across the 7 Sahel countries of Africa.

The TEF-UNDP Entrepreneurship Programme is a partnership between the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to empower 100,000 entrepreneurs over a 10-year period across Africa.

The beneficiaries, who are from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon, emerged from a total of 81,000 applicants, through an intensive business training administered online and across select communities in each country.

They will each receive seed funding of between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on the size of their business initiative, will join the alumni network of the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s flagship entrepreneurship programme.

This year’s edition, the statement continued, has as mission, the economic empowerment of young African entrepreneurs, while in the process creating millions of jobs and revenue for the continent. In this way, the continent will be enabled to break the cycle of poverty, the central focus of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

The selection process of the TEF-UNDP Entrepreneurship Programme, which commenced with a call for applications in July 2019, ended with a pitching competition in various communities across the seven countries, which was powered by the United Bank for Africa Plc, while the selection process was coordinated by Deloitte.

Speaking on the announcement, Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Africa Regional Head, noted the critical role of youth employment and economic empowerment in the socio-economic transformation of the Sahel region.

The number of applications attracted by the programme, she noted, “demonstrates an urgent need to scale up.  The regeneration of the Sahel is a key priority for UNDP.  We will continue to prioritise initiatives that break down barriers to attaining the full potential of the Sahel – and bring closer to home, the hope for productive lives for Africa’s youth”.

For Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, “creating opportunities and giving young Africans hope for a brighter future will reduce poverty, extremism and illegal emigration in Africa. This is why at the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we forge partnerships to enable us to reach more youths and scale our impact to convert the impending demographic doom to the economic boom on the continent”.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation will begin accepting applications for its flagship Entrepreneurship Programme on January 1, 2020.

Photo caption: Tony Elumelu, Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation (sitting right) and Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Regional Director for Africa, signing the TEF-UNDP Entrepreneurship Programme in Niger.