The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum hosted thousands of young African entrepreneurs last week in Lagos, Nigeria. Among the thousands that attended were delegates from Ethiopia for a chance to be mentored by some of the noted corporate leaders within the continent and get the much needed funds to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality.
With the mission of changing the narrative of the continent that has relied on foreign aid, the gathering highlighted entrepreneurship as a way to inspire new generations of Africans help take advantage of the changing landscape of the continent, now home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Held for the fourth year in a row, this year’s gathering featured a new concept, named TEFConnect, with the aim of connecting entrepreneurs, investors and the business community under a modern platform.
“Africa is riding a wave of rapid technological driven change in payment systems, education, agriculture and infrastructure and TEFConnect fulfills a critical role in linking entrepreneurs across the continent,” it said.
With a chance to take part in a nine-month practical training and a chance to be awarded up to USD 5,000 as seed money, the annual event has built much interest from thousands of people over the years, some 300,000 applying for the chance to attend this year’s event alone.
“Our Foundation and its unique approach to training, mentoring and funding has proven that entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking economic transformation of our continent. I believe so strongly that success can be democratized and if we can match ambition to opportunities, this extraordinary generation can achieve anything,” said Tony Elumelu. “With TEFConnect, we have created a tool that provides a digital platform to host ideas, champion success and demonstrate Africans ability to use the most advanced technologies to take charge of their economic destinies.”
A number of speakers including President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana spoke at the event.
“Nothing changes or develops on its own. People must get up, speak, have discussions, and change the dialogue,” he said highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship focused on eco-system.
The 55 year old Tony Elumelu – a noted Nigerian banker – is chairman of Heirs Holdings with business interests in areas such as agribusiness, energy and hospitality and is worth USD 700 million. He is known to coin the term – Africapitalism – based on his dream of having the African private sector become an architect of the transformation of the African continent.