As part of Tony Elumelu Foundation’s (TEF’s) $100 million commitment to empower African entrepreneurs, the 1,000 emerging entrepreneurs that had earlier been selected under the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) Class of 2015, converged on Sango Ota, Ogun State, for a two-day boot camp session.
The event, which took place at the weekend, brought together the emerging entrepreneurs selected from 51 African countries and from all of Africa’s geo-political regions – North, East, Southern, Central and West Africa – and major language blocs – Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone, and Arabic Africa – as well as every state in Nigeria. They were selected from a diversity of sectors that ranged from agriculture to education to energy, fashion and ICT.
Speaking at the event, the TEF/Holdings Chairman, Mr. Tony Elumelu, was quoted in a statement to have spoken on his life experiences and the principles that he learnt from mentors, such as Chief Ebitimi Banigo that he applied towards his own successful entrepreneurship journey. He answered an array of questions during a two-hour question-and-answer session, offering perspective on innovation, strategy, governance, financial management and decision-making.
He added: “Entrepreneurship is not a short-term journey and I am pleased that we can help these emerging leaders, as they seek to join me in transforming Africa. My commitment towards creating a thousand new entrepreneurs who can change Africa forever, has now become a reality. This is only the beginning.”
The Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was at the event, welcomed the entrepreneurs from across Africa and called on them to take advantage of the networks built in Ota to develop pan-African investment and trade networks.
According to Osinbajo: “This programme deserves all the commendation it is getting. Tony Elumelu has courageously put his money where his mouth is. Societies can’t develop without social entrepreneurs. I charge you to be little Elumelus and create opportunities for others.”
The Vice-President was joined by other senior political leaders including Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Nasir El Rufai, and the Prime Minister of Benin Republic, Lionel Zinsou.
Other speakers at the event were Parminder Vir, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation; Mo Abudu, Founder/CEO of Ebony Life TV; Nollywood screen icon Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde; Nimi Akinkugbe, CEO, Bestman Games; Rasheed Olaoluwa, CEO of the Bank of Industry; former SEC DG Arunma Oteh; inspirational coach Lanre Olusola; Martin Eigbike, Accenture Development Partnerships; governance expert Angela Aneke; playwright and producer Adewale Ajadi; Sam Nwanze, the Heirs Holdings Director of Finance and Investments; and David Rice, Director of the Africapitalism Institute.
In his goodwill message to the visiting Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs, President Muhammadu Buhari, wrote: “I am proud that Nigeria (and a Nigerian) is taking the lead in this effort to promote self-worth, encourage entrepreneurship, create jobs, build and promote networks for intra-African trade, business collaboration and investment. Our Administration is committed to unlocking all such opportunities to restore dignity to our people. This programme is one example I hope others will emulate and I commend Tony Elumelu and his Foundation for their endeavor and leadership in this area.“
As he closed the bootcamp, Mr Elumelu challenged all the entrepreneurs by saying, “I want to go to Zambia when I am 80 years old and meet someone who shows me their manufacturing business or financial institution and tells me that it was built starting with $10k from Tony Elumelu. That’s what this is about and that’s what you owe me.” he added.
“The return I want from this $100 million investment is your success, because your success is Africa’s success.”
After the bootcamp, the TEEP would focus on providing the seed capital and support for the entrepreneurs to put into practice the knowledge gained from the bootcamp and the 12 weeks of training carried out prior to the event, the statement explained.
Originally published in Thisday