Growth, Gratitude, and Impact.

Today is about impact, reflection, and gratitude.

In 2015, Awele and I made a commitment to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, over 10 years, through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme.

I recall vividly that full room, as I shared my dreams of changing the lives of young Africans. I remembered the chances and opportunities that I had, the luck that made fundamental changes to my career and success.  I wanted to pay back and create impact – impact at scale, impact commensurate with the needs of our continent.

Today’s announcement of the 2024 cohort of Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs is another important milestone in a remarkable journey. This journey began with a vision to democratise luck and transform lives across Africa. It began long ago, when someone gave me that hand up, that foot in the door, that transformed me and is transforming others.

Reaching entrepreneurs from all African countries, our Programme embodies TEF’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. What started as a commitment to fund 10,000 entrepreneurs over a decade, quickly surpassed expectations, empowering double that – over 20,000 entrepreneurs in 10 years.

TEF’s impact goes beyond financial support:

  • With this latest cohort, over 20,000 entrepreneurs have received funding, mentoring, and capacity-building support from the Foundation.
  • US$100,000,000, plus training, mentoring, and networking has reached young African entrepreneurs, who have, in turn, created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs, contributing significantly to Africa’s economic growth and development.
  • 46% of our beneficiaries are women, reiterating our commitment to gender inclusion and equity. We have launched green programmes and targeted fragile states, reached those most exposed to climate change, migration, and extremism.
  • We started alone, but now we collaborate with partners who have amplified our own commitment, translating to an increased number of beneficiaries. I want to thank all – including our largest partners UNDP, ICRC, GIZ, AfDB, the European Commission, Seme City, USADF, Google and DEG.  It is a testament to our insitutionlisation, that we work as an equal partner with these global institutions.
  • We have hosted leaders, governments, and public sector leaders across the world, in Africa and beyond, where we advocated for entrepreneurship and the extraordinary returns in economic and social good, that comes from empowering young people.
  • TEFConnect, the foundation’s digital capacity-building platform, has emerged as a vibrant online community for African entrepreneurs. With millions of users, it serves as a hub for networking, resource-sharing, and collaboration — evidence of the power of technology in driving social change.
  • At the heart of TEF’s mission lies Africapitalism, the private sector playing its vital part in transforming Africa — a vision that has been validated time and time again through the success stories of TEF entrepreneurs.

Reflecting on my journey with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, I am reminded of the countless lives touched and transformed.

Each entrepreneur’s story is a testament to the power of opportunity, resilience, and hard work. And as we look towards the future, I am filled with hope and optimism for what lies ahead.

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