The founder and chairman of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Tony O. Elumelu, reiterated his commitment to championing Africa’s economic development by supporting and training a new generation of entrepreneurs whose successes can transform the continent, delivering opportunity, job creation and social impact.

At the 4th annual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum held at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, which had over 5,000 African entrepreneurs, private and public sector leaders and the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem, Elumelu restated his firm conviction that entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking Africa’s economic transformation and that Africa’s future is in the hands of Africans.

The annual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, which is the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs in the world, is a unique opportunity for bringing together young business talents, creating dynamic networks and transmitting the message to policymakers that a vibrant and responsible private sector will deliver economic transformation.

“Our Foundation and its unique approach of training, mentoring and funding has proven that entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking economic transformation of our continent,” Elumelu said. “I believe so strongly that success can be democratized and if we can match ambition to opportunities, this extraordinary generation can achieve anything.”

Now in its fourth year, the Forum marked the graduation of the 2018 cohort of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, following a rigorous nine-month period of training, mentorship and funding, bringing the total number of beneficiaries of the programme to 4,470, with over 300,000 applications received to date.

One of the highlights of this year’s Forum was the unveiling of TEFConnect, a revolutionary digital community that brings together the complete entrepreneurship ecosystem across Africa and beyond, including entrepreneurs, investors and the broader business community on one platform, connecting them digitally with three vital elements for success – capital, market and business tools. Africa is riding a wave of rapid technology-driven change in payment systems, education, agriculture and infrastructure and TEFConnect fulfils a critical role in linking entrepreneurs across the continent.

“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,” Elumelu said.

Commencing with a series of goodwill messages from key stakeholders in the investment, governmental and development communities, the event featured a pitching competition, panel discussions, as well as a vibrant interactive session between Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and the entrepreneurs, moderated by Tony Elumelu.

The Forum also featured a session on the role of the private sector in Africa’s economic development with Dr. Awele Elumelu, TEF trustee, founder, Avon Medical, and Gavi Champion for Immunisation in Africa, moderated by Eleni Giokos, CNNMoney Africa Correspondent.

Parminder Vir, CEO, Tony Elumelu Foundation, also unveiled the TEF Impact Documentary featuring success stories of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs.

President Akudo-Addo underlined the importance of galvanizing the broad entrepreneurship ecosystem, calling on public sector representatives to encourage, support and replicate the work of the Tony Elumelu Foundation in their respective regions.

“Nothing is changed or developed on its own. People must get up, speak, have discussions and change the dialogue,” Akufo-Addo said.

Other prominent attendees at this year’s Forum include Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Bagudu, Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar, former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, Nike Akande, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry,  among others.

Since its inception, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has empowered African entrepreneurs across the continent with a $5,000 non-refundable seed grant, a bespoke training programme designed specifically for the African environment, and access to a dedicated group of mentors, significantly contributing to economic growth, job creation and revenue generation.

Source: Business Day