Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The $100 Million Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme

Lagos, Nigeria, January 1st 2015 – The $100 Million Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme – an annual programme of training, funding and mentoring, designed to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs – is now open for entries through its application portal 
The flagship entrepreneurship programme from the Tony Elumelu Foundation opens its application portal for entries at 12:01am WAT on January 1st 2015 and will continue to accept applications until midnight WAT on March 1st 2015. In order to submit an application, entrepreneurs must complete the online application form with questions on their background, experience and business idea, plans for growth and proposed pan-African impact.
“Since the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme was announced, we have been enthused by the level of interest and excitement from entrepreneurs across Africa. We are looking forward to reviewing the entries and identifying the first cohort of the continent’s next generation of business leaders,” said Parminder Vir OBE, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
The $100 million programme, announced at the Tony Elumelu Foundation headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, on December 1st 2014, will identify and support 1,000 entrepreneurs from across the continent each year over the next decade. The 10,000 start-ups and young businesses selected from across Africa will ultimately create one million new jobs and add $10 billion in annual revenues to Africa’s economy.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is open to citizens and legal residents of all 54 African countries. Applications can be made by any for-profit business based in Africa in existence for less than three years, including new business ideas.  The application portal is available in English, French and Portuguese and applications will be accepted in these three languages.
At the launch, Tony O. Elumelu CON, the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, spoke of his personal commitment to empowering African entrepreneurship, saying, “This programme is far more than a funding initiative or networking opportunity. It is an act of faith in our entrepreneurs and our young people to transform our continent; to be the engine for the creation of both economic and social wealth, putting into practice what I have called Africapitalism.”
Applications for the programme close on March 1st 2015 when they will be reviewed by the Selection Committee, whose members include:
- Ory Okolloh, Director of Investments, Omidyar Network’s Government
  Transparency Initiative in Africa
- Amadou Hott, CEO, Senegal's Sovereign Wealth Fund
- Ayodeji Adewunmi, CEO and Co-Founder, Jobberman
- Dr Vera Songwe, Country Director, World Bank Group for Senegal, Cape Verde,  
  Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania
- Opunimi Akinkugbe, CEO, Bestman Games Ltd
- Dr Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Founder, First Atlantic Semi-Conductors & Microelectronics
- Sam Nwanze, Chief Investment Officer, Heirs Holdings
- Monica Musonda, CEO, Java Food in Zambia
- Angelle Kwemo, Managing Director & CEO, Rimsom Strategies
- Mariéme Jamme, CEO, Spotone Global Solutions
- Dr Wiebe Boer, CEO, The Tony Elumelu Foundation
The first cohort of successful applicants from across Africa will be announced on March 22nd, 2015. The 1,000 selected applicants will continue through the programme cycle for the course of the year. This includes an intensive online training curriculum and participation in an entrepreneurship boot camp.
To stay informed about The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, including the 2015 selection of African Entrepreneurs, follow @TonyElumeluFDN on Twitter and join the conversation #TEEP #AfricanEntrepreneurs
Media Contact: Toyin Awesu
Tel – +234-1-277 4641-5
Application Enquires: Onajite Emerhor
Tel +234-1-277 4641-5
About the Tony Elumelu Foundation
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an African-based, African-funded philanthropic organisation, founded in 2010 by African business leader and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu, CON; who is committed to driving African economic growth, through empowering African entrepreneurship.
The $100 million Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is the flagship entrepreneurship initiative from the Foundation and will support 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next decade, creating one million new jobs adding $10 billion in annual revenues to Africa’s economy.

Friday, 19 December 2014


As a TEEP start-up, you will go through the 12 week training, have rapport with your mentor, and build your business over the months of the programme and may be wondering, come December, what next?

 TEEP will definitely not leave you out in the cold – the alumni network is where you can continue to connect with mentors, and fellow TEEP start-ups, access the vast online resource library and be kept totally in the loop with TEEP.

The TEEP Alumni Network fosters a spirit of loyalty, comradery and dedication to give back to the programme, thereby promoting the general welfare of the programme and all those it has impacted.

Who qualifies as Alumni?
Past beneficiaries of TEEP, mentors and stakeholders who are enthusiastic  and willing to take on the programme’s initiative, eager to engage and participate in the Alumni’s activities, and to tell of the impact of the programme.

For more information, visit our website



In reality, all the training, mentorship and support can get you very far, but lack of capital is one of the fundamental reasons African businesses can’t grow.  TEEP has designed a two-part seed capital funding scheme, providing a total of $10,000 each for our start-ups to really get your business off the ground.

The first phase is non-returnable seed capital investment of $5,000 awarded on completion of draft business plan and training, available to all entrepreneurs in our programme.  The money will be dispersed immediately following the 2-day boot-camp and Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum.

The second phase is a returnable $5,000 investment, following the conclusion of that cycle year.  Our start-ups will also be in a great position to attract investors having learned and perfected their business models.

For more information, visit our website

Thursday, 18 December 2014


At the end of the 12 week training programme, all selected start-ups will be invited to the boot-camp, which ends with the annual Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum.

The forum will showcase the 1,000 African start-ups on the programme to a global audience of entrepreneurs, incubators, business, corporations, government, investors, academia and foundations, and exhibit the innovation and entrepreneurial potential that exists in all of Africa. It will be a time of engagement, networking, learning and inspiration for start-ups as they conclude their TEEP tenure, and a chance to hear from world renowned executives, scholars and entrepreneurs.
At the closing ceremony of the forum, the graduates from the programme will be presented with $5,000 seed funding and invited to become an Alumni member.

For more information, visit our website


This is an intensive two-day live action training event for the selected entrepreneurs with focus on equipping them with further business development skills and tool kits, and enhancing what was captured during the 12 week business skills training programme.
Entrepreneurs are expected to have improved on their initial business ideas and milestones by the end of the training.  This will be immediately followed by the Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum.

All selected start-ups will be expected to attend this boot-camp (see Terms andConditions).

For more information, visit our website

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


TEEP start-ups, alumni and mentors will have access to our vast library of entrepreneurship and business development related resources via the online portal.  All course content and training materials used at the boot camp will also be accessible on the online resource centre.
Other relevant materials like articles, case studies, videos, research reports etc. that will enhance the competitiveness of TEEP start-ups in various locations across Africa will also be accessible through this channel and updated regularly.
Through the online resource centre, start-ups can schedule discussions forums/webinars/hangouts between themselves, mentors and world entrepreneur personalities to inspire them and share their experiences.
For more information, visit our website

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Mentorship is one of the core pillars in our 7 PILLARS framework and will be online-based with a task-orientated approach to guide personal learning of the start-ups.


You have decided to pursue your passion and become an ENTREPRENEUR. There’s no ‘boss’ any more to turn to for advice or direction, perhaps no employees yet.

So you need someone with extensive experience who would serve as a trusted confidante over a prolonged period of time.  With the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), you have access to world class talent and renowned entrepreneurs who faced similar challenges and can steer you and support you along this tumultuous path.

From the onset, TEEP start-ups are assigned a TEEP mentor who will dedicate time and share their business experiences, listen to your their mentee’s goals and expectations, provide guidance and support throughout the 12 week learning programme, be an inspirational role model and ultimately give candid feedback and follow-ups to help start-ups build a business with a solid foundation.

TEEP mentors also benefit from collaborative learning and by helping start-ups improve their business skills, mentors may improve their own skills. They may be inspired with new ideas, meet new contacts and learn new business strategies from their mentees.

Monday, 15 December 2014


The 7 Pillars of TEEP is the core framework of the 12-month programme.  Our approach to entrepreneurship is holistic, and provides well-rounded support to ensure the success of our selected start-ups.

In TEEP we believe that entrepreneurship and business skills are teachable and learnable, which is why we have devised a 12 week start-up enterprise toolkit training programme – a new, effective means of teaching start-ups the skills required to establish and grow new businesses. 
This kicks off in April once the 1000 selected applicants are enrolled onto the TEEP online portal.
The programme will be a mix of online and face to face instruction, with support from your mentor throughout. It will cover topics including how to start a business, how to design great products and services, how to implement cost-effective marketing strategies, how to build effective management teams and how to scale a business safely.
For more information, visit our website

Friday, 12 December 2014

TEEP Annual Programme Cycle


The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) is a holistic 12 month programme that will occur every year, for the next decade.  This means that for the next 10 years, our #AfricanEntrepreneurs stand a chance at making their ideas for transforming Africa come to fruition!

Each programme cycle begins with APPLICATIONS from January 1st until March 1st.  The application portal opens and ushers in a new year for the programme and for our prospective start-ups.

We will accept applications from all across the continent, from various sectors including but not limited to;


Our terms and conditions can give you an idea of what businesses are NOT eligible to apply.

Selection of TEEP start-ups takes place in the month of March.  From thousands of applications, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, along with our independent expert Selection Committee will select the 1000 BEST applicants to join the programme as certified #TEEP Start-ups. 

Now the 'fun' begins! (actually the work begins)

In April all 1000 of our start-ups will log into the online mentoring and learning portal to begin the 12 week Start-up Enterprise Tool-kit training course.  Start-ups will also be assigned a mentor from day one who will guide and support them throughout the 12-week course, and for the duration of this programme cycle!  Start-ups will have access to a vast array of business resources, articles, videos, case studies and more in our curated Online Resources Library also hosted on this portal.

The Boot-camp and Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum will take place annually in July.  This will be an opportunity for expedition, live-learning of soft skills, and interaction between the 1000 start-ups, mentors, investors and other stakeholders in the entrepreneurship space.

Start-ups receive their first round of non-returnable $5,000 seed capital investment at the end of the Boot-camp and Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum.

From August to December, the start-ups will work with their mentors, the $5,000 seed capital, and all the online resources at their disposal to complete and solidify their business plans, in order to qualify for follow up funding from us - in form of a returnable $5,000 investment.

Start-ups will also be in the position to attract investors given that they have not only been 'TEEP certified' and displayed on the world stage, but they have viable business plans and truly transformative and implementable ideas!

Now you know all that goes into this 12 month programme, we only have one question…

5-STEP TEEP APPLICATION QUICK GUIDE - (5) Once you have submitted your application

Successful applicants will be informed on the 22nd of March by the email address you gave us.

If your application is successful, you will be asked to provide supporting documentation to be finally accepted to the programme.  These include:
  • a self-declaration form
  • proof of valid ID
  • personal bank statement for the immediate past 6 months
  • statement of current personal debts
  • reference from an employer, bank and/or academic institutions, not older than 6 months
  • business bank account details
You will also need to sign an MOU with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

When you are accepted into the programme, you will be asked to submit data about your business from time to time.

This data helps us understand the impact that our programme has on our entrepreneurs businesses and the larger pan-African economy.

Don't forget to visit our website and read the complete terms & conditions and FAQs to guide you!

Applications open at midnight on January 1st 2015 - We can't wait! 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

5-STEP TEEP APPLICATION QUICK GUIDE – (4) Application Day! Completing the application form

Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.  Here’s some sound advice to help you:

  • There are 10 sections in the application form; ranging from Personal contact information, Education and professional background, Business plan, Pan-Africa impact and more. Make sure you answer ALL applicable questions to the best of your ability. 

  • Answer all the questions openly and honestly from the start. Embellishing information or not being truthful does not help us to help you. 
  • There are no right or wrong answers, we need valid information to ensure that the programme is right for your business to help you succeed.

  • Some questions will ask for you to write an explanation of up to 250 words.  Please make this as compelling, detailed yet ‘straight-to the point’ as possible (this is a great skill to have!).

  • Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, complete the form YOURSELF.

The Application portal opens at midnight on the 1st of January, and closes on the 1st of March!
From January 1st the APPLY NOW button on the website homepage becomes live, and when clicked, will transport you straight to the application portal to sign in and begin answering the questions.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

5-STEP TEEP APPLICATION QUICK GUIDE – (3) Application Day! Before you begin your application

Fast forward to January 1st, it’s now time to fill in your application form...but wait!
Before you begin, you need to do the following:
  • Ensure that you do not have any distractions, and you can focus completely on this life-changing event!

  • Make sure you have read and understood the terms and conditions! (We won’t stop saying it till you DO it!) TEEP T&Cs

  • Set aside enough time to complete the form! You may stop, save and re-start until you submit the application.

  • Make sure you have good internet connectivity.  We advise that you save as you go on, and save a copy of your application for your files.
The Application portal opens at midnight on the 1st of January, and closes on the 1st of March!
From January 1st the APPLY NOW button on the website homepage becomes live, and when clicked, will transport you straight to the application portal to sign in and begin answering the questions.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

5-STEP TEEP APPLICATION QUICK GUIDE – (2) Preparing for portal opening day

With less than a month to go, there’s a lot you can do to prepare for the launch of the application portal on January 1st!

For one thing, you should set your alarm!
The portal opens at midnight on January 1st – just think, you can usher in the New Year with a new lease on life AND the chance to become successful #AfricanEntrepreneurs!

Here are some tips from TEEP to get you prepped:

·       Read the TERMS & CONDITIONS! They may be long and dull (sorry) but they contain invaluable information about the programme do’s and don’ts, who can apply, what the programme entails, and help to solidify your decision to apply!

·       Get your ducks in a row! Get all the necessary documents – business registration (if applicable), personal information, education information, and all the good stuff. See the T&Cs for details of what you’ll need to submit .

·       INTERNET! Don’t be stuck in the year 2000 – we suggest you beg, borrow or buy your way into the future and make sure your internet connection is up to it.

·       Tell your friends! Tell your colleagues! Tell your cousins! Tell everyone you know (but maybe not your boss just yet). No good keeping this opportunity to yourself!
The Application portal opens at midnight on the 1st of January, and closes on the 1st of March!
From January 1st the APPLY NOW button on the website homepage becomes live, and when clicked, will transport you straight to the application portal to sign in and begin answering the questions.

Lessons for #AfricanEntrepreneurs: Mupuya’s story touches on key issues

·        Pricing – set the right price and be flexible to adjust.

·        Customer relationships – build and retain loyal clients and customers by delivery, pricing and quality.

·        Market – understand the market for your product. Mupuya now owns 5% of the market.

·        Delivery – be on time!

·        Quality – attention to quality of the product

·        Staffing – put in place an effective management team – finance director and business development manager

·        Competitive Edge – know your competitor and develop your own competitive edge

·        Distribution Network – building an effective distribution network for his products in the local market.

·        Branding – he built the YELI Paper Bags brand in Uganda

·        Market Expansion – Rwanda is the only country on the continent which is completely plastic free.

·        Production – balance between mass production, bespoke and innovation.

·        Payments – finding customers and clients who will pay on time.

·        Capital – bank loans have high interest rates and short time in which to repay from the revenues generated by the business.
·        Starting – start now!

TEEP meets Andrew Mupuya Founder of Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments & Tony Elumelu Prize in Business Award winner for The Future Awards Africa 2014

Photo Credit: The Tony Elumelu Foundation
When at age 16 Mupuya Andrew moved to Kampala to attend high school, we wonder if he had any idea that he would be starting a transformative business venture in a few months’ time.
Following a ban on polythene and plastic bags by the Ugandan government, paper bags were in high demand by the public, who ordinarily consumed a whopping 90 tonnes of plastic bags weekly.  Imported paper bags where nowhere near enough to meet demand, and local suppliers were often unaffordable.  Mupuya saw a gap in the market and devised a means to fill it – YELI (Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments) paper bags ltd.
His first task was to learn how exactly the paper bags were made.  He bought some paper locally and watching YouTube videos, he taught himself how to make paper carrier bags and envelopes.  He started with a small team and went into production, selling directly to local food and commodity sellers.
His first big break slipped through his fingers, when he approached a supermarket owner who ordered for 10,000 bags in 24 hours!  Despite his best efforts and two sleepless nights, late delivery meant that he lost out – but learned a valuable lesson. 
People expect immediate growth and profit, but what has helped me is patience
said Mupuya, when he discussed the difficulties for people to penetrate his market, and their inability to poach his customers, even during his down-times.
What has differentiated Mupuya from the rest is his attention to detail.  He worked hard to ensure his products were of a high quality, comparable to the imported plastic bags people habitually purchased.  To him, his direct competitors weren’t the local market infiltrators, his direct competitor is Mafuco, the leading east African paper bag manufacturer and exporter based in Kenya. 
Although there are still some doubts about paper bags, as they are perceived more expensive than plastic bags, Mupuya continues to build client relationships and market share by pricing affordably, offering credit sales and producing high quality, also investing in manufacturing more sturdy bags which are reusable.  One thing is clear for YELI paper bags – they aren’t lacking in customers.  In fact, Mupuya often has to decline contracts, until he can scale up to meet high demand for his product.
He didn’t go to business school – yet, but he credits his entrepreneurial skills to some training he received while in high-school, as well as some short entrepreneurship courses offered by the International Labour Organization and African Leadership Academy. 
At age 23, with 22 staff and plans for expansion, Mupuya is running a successful enterprise, meeting a direct need in a sustainable and socially responsible way.  TEEP had the pleasure of meeting this young entrepreneur who we know will inspire all of our #AfricanEntrepreneurs…and hopefully speak at our Boot-Camp in July!
Photo credit: Jessica Ellis CNN

Friday, 5 December 2014


Are you eligible for TEEP?

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is a Pan-African programme, open to applicants from all of the 54 countries in Africa. 

There are, however, some exclusionary criteria for those hoping to apply for the programme.  To name a few:

·         Applicants MUST be resident in Africa

·         The business MUST also be based in Africa

·         Applicants MUST be 18 years old and above

·         Applicants MUST apply with only ONE business

·         The business MUST NOT be older than 3 years

·         The business MUST be for profit

Please read the TERMS &CONDITIONS and FAQs for more information about eligibility.

The Application portal opens at midnight on the 1st of January, and closes on the 1st of March!
From January 1st the APPLY NOW button on the website homepage becomes live, and when clicked, will transport you straight to the application portal to sign in and begin answering the questions.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Tony Elumelu consacre 100 millions de dollars au soutien de l'entrepreneuriat africain

Tony Elumelu, l'une des premières fortunes du Nigeria et promoteur de l'Africapitalisme, a annoncé le 1er décembre à Lagos le lancement d'un programme sur dix ans afin de former, financer et accompagner "la nouvelle génération d'entrepreneurs" dans les 54 pays du continent.

Tony Elumelu joint les actes à la parole. Au siège de son holding d'investissement Heirs Holdings, à Lagos, l'homme d'affaires nigérian promoteur de l'Africapitalisme a annoncé le 1er decembre le lancement du "Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP)". Ce programme pluri-annuel permettra de consacrer 100 millions de dollars pour former, financer et accompagner "10 000 startups et jeunes entreprises de toute l'Afrique, avec l'objectif de créer 1 million de nouveaux emplois et 10 milliards de dollars de revenus annuels", a souligné la fondation Tony Elumelu dans un communiqué de presse.

Une échelle "jamais vue" en Afrique

"Ce programme offrira une opportunité structurée et pluri-annuelle permettant d'accèder au financement, à la connaissance et, ce qui est sans doute encore plus important, à du mentorat, à une échelle jamais vue auparavant en Afrique. Voici notre opportunité de faire monter en puissance une génération", a souligné Tony Elumelu.

Cravate rouge, chaussette rouge, chemise blanche et costume noir, comme il a désormais l'habitude de s'habiller (en référence aux couleurs de Heirs Holdings, son holding d'investissement, et de United Bank for Africa, la banque qu'il a longtemps dirigée et dont il est toujours actionnaire), le patron nigérian a souligné devant une cinquantaine de journalistes du continent que "l'Afrique doit créer 10 millions d'emplois par an" et que "les gouvernements et les grandes entreprises ne peuvent pas le faire seuls", soulignant le rôle fondamental des petites entreprises dans la création de richesse et la transformation économique des l'Afrique.

Le round de sélection de TEEP pour 2015 s'ouvrira le 1er janvier et s'achèvera deux mois plus tard, le 1er mars. Il se déroulera entièrement en ligne (sur le site de la fondation :, dans trois langues : anglais, français et portugais.

Le programme est en effet ouvert aux entrepreneurs des 54 pays du continent, mais pas à ceux créant à l'étranger des entreprises consacrées à l'Afrique. "Vous devez travailler, respirer, croître en Afrique", a insisté Parminder Vir, directrice du TEEP, à l'occasion du lancement officiel. Tous les secteurs sont concernés à l'exception des institutions de recherche, des organisations religieuses, des négociants, des sous-traitants auprès de gouvernements. Les entreprises doivent avoir moins de trois ans.

Un comité de sélection choisira les 1000 entreprises les plus prometteuses. Il est composé notamment de Tony Elumelu, Ory Okolloh (directrice des investissements d'Omidyar Network en Afrique), Ayodeji Adewunmi (co-fondateur du site d'emploi Jobberman), Vera Songwe (directrice pour le Sénégal, le Cap Vert, la Gambie, la Guinée Bissau et la Mauritanie à la Banque mondiale), Opunimi Akinkugbe, dirigeante de la société panafricaine de jeux Bestman Games...


Les 1 000 entreprises sélectionnées profiteront ensuite de formation et tutorat en ligne pendant 12 semaines. Un bootcamp ainsi qu'un grand forum (le Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum, qui aura ensuite lieu tous les ans en tant que rassemblement africain de la création d'entreprises) sera organisé en juillet et août 2015.

Les startups compléteront ensuite leurs business plans fin 2015 et celles qui auront achevé avec succès le programme bénéficieront de deux tours de financements : un premier investissement au capital de 5000 dollars puis, selon les cas, un second (dette ou capital) du même montant en cas de progrès suffisant dans la réalisation des business plans.

Wiebe Boer, ancien directeur associé de la Fondation Rockefeller en Afrique et désormais dirigeant de la Fondation Tony Elumelu, a insisté sur le caractère très "historique" du programme annoncé le 1er decembre : "Je suis diplômé d'histoire africaine et je peux vous dire que ceux qui étudieront ce même sujet verront ce moment comme historique. C'est l'initiative du genre la plus importante en Afrique et le plus grand investissement fait par un philanthrope africain", a-t-il souligné lors du lancement officiel.

Active depuis quatre ans, la fondation Tony Elumelu a déjà mis en place par le passé des programmes d'aide aux entrepreneurs mais de moindre ampleur : le Elumelu professionals program, The Nigeria 50 ainsi qu'un partenariat avec le Co-Creation Hub Nigeria afin de fournir des aides à des jeunes pousses nigérianes.

‘EMPOWERING THE NEXT GENERATION OF AFRICAN LEADERS’ by Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N., founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation at the launch of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, December 1, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this joyous occasion.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome you here today as my life’s story, in business, comes full circle. My name is Tony O. Elumelu. I was born, raised, educated and have worked all my life in Africa. I am also an entrepreneur, and one who has enjoyed a lot of success in my chosen pursuits. 

You might say that I was made in Africa, and I made it in Africa.

And that means so much to me. 

To be able to make it at home, on a continent handicapped by narratives of hopelessness, the fact that entrepreneurs from humble beginning, like myself, like Ayodeji Adewunmi the Co-Founder of the Nigeria job search site Jobberman,  like Monica Musonda, the CEO of Java Food in Zambia, like Strive Masiyiwa of Econet in South Africa, not only speaks to the potential for success in our homeland, but it gives hope to other budding African entrepreneurs, wherever they may be, that success is possible; that they can help build the African we want to live in.

But I didn’t do it all by myself.

I believe that one of the key reasons why I made it in business is because, early on in my career in Nigeria, I benefitted from the mentorship of Chief Ebitimi Emmanuel Banigo at AllStates Bank. 

Chief Banigo helped me to develop my strategic thinking and to channel my ideas into concrete actions, so that when the opportune moment arrived, at the age of 34, I had the self-belief to gather a small group together to take over and revive a failing bank through innovations in our services. 

And there was a lady too- Rose Ada Okwechime who bought into our vision by investing in us at the critical early stage when very few had confidence in us because there was little or no track record. Yet, my team and I held onto our bigger dream of becoming a pan-African bank, that serves the whole continent. This dream lead us into a merger with UBA Group, and expansion of the new bank into 19 African countries.

Over the past twenty years plus I’ve spent as a banker, I had the opportunity to  meet hundreds of entrepreneurs, like me, all across Africa, many of them young people, with incredible dreams and business ideas but without the experience or the access to mentoring and support required in order to build a bankable business plan. Without these critical resources, these ideas often never make it out of the dream world and into the reality of African soil.

I’ve also met entrepreneurs who are already running home-grown businesses and have deep insights into local consumer demand. They can spot unique gaps in the market for specific products and services. They can tap into strong networks and often exhibit a burning drive to create innovative, often disruptive, solutions to complex challenges. These are the people who can fuel our future, but who often lack the capital, the training or the support to take their strong small business to national or regional scale.   

I believe we can’t afford to waste this talent.

Demographic trends show that we need to create 10 million jobs a year, to sustain Africa’s young population, who can spell an economic boom or doom for the continent. Governments and big corporates alone cannot provide the number of jobs that are required by the millions of young Africans entering the job market every year. But I believe African entrepreneurs can.

Entrepreneurship is how we take ownership and demonstrate leadership in our continent’s affairs – it’s not up to anyone else to develop Africa but us. Entrepreneurship means you no longer have to wait to see who will give you a job, you can seize the opportunity to secure your future and in the process, create jobs and livelihoods for others. Entrepreneurship will allow our young people to take charge of their futures, instead of letting the future happen to them. Entrepreneurship is how we become masters of our destiny and tackle the serious risk that poverty and mass unemployment pose to the stability of our societies and economies.

There is no more important or urgent, a task before us.

I believe that in business, “Opportunity” is the great equalizer. African entrepreneurs need opportunity in the form of mentorship, capital and business ecosystems that favour their success. In other words, we need to “institutionalize” the luck or good fortune that I benefitted from early in my career.

This is why I have invited you here today.

My life has come full-circle, because today, I the lucky entrepreneur, will today embark on the journey of giving back to the continent that has given so much to me, and doing it at an unprecedented level. Through the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, I am committing $100 million to support the next generation of African entrepreneurs- the next Dangotes, the next, Mosepe, the next Jumias, the next Nandos/MTNs, the next UBAs.

The Programme represents a decade long commitment to support 10,000 African entrepreneurs and start-ups. The programme is open to entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries. Over the next 10 years, our goal is to create 10,000 African-owned businesses, generating 1,000,000 jobs and contributing $10 billion to revenues across Africa.

The Programme will seek out and support the growth of African Entrepreneurs in any sector or field. We are building an ecosystem to identify and cross-pollinate grassroots innovation across Africa, sparking intra-African trade and accelerating success.The Programme will also promote the role of African entrepreneurs within the global supply chain and put African innovators front and centre on the global stage.  

This is far more than a funding initiative or networking opportunity. It is an act of faith in our entrepreneurs and our young people to transform our continent; to be the engine for the creation of both economic and social wealth, in line with the principles of Africapitalism!

Because business isn’t just about money.  It’s about, vision values, plans, drive, community and development.

My new dream is that at the end of this “decade of entrepreneurship,” we will have laid the groundwork for thousands of businesses to grow and flourish across the continent, creating new partnerships and trade routes both within Africa and internationally.

This is how we will transform the lives of our people across Africa. This is the way we will transform our societies and economies. It is up to us.

And you the media can help by sharing information on this opportunity to reach the entrepreneurs among us, by tracking the progress of entrepreneurs, by telling the stories of their business growth, and most importantly, holding us accountable for this promise of reaching 10,000 entrepreneurs in 10 years.

Thank you again for joining us and I look forward to your questions.