Good evening all, and it’s great to be in Washington. It’s great to be in America, and it’s great for Africa to be in Washington. We are looking forward to a truly transformative week.
I want to say a big thank you to President Biden, and to the administration. And to the Secretary of State, well done, thank you.
Earlier this year in April during a visit to the US, I had conversations here in DC with policy makers, and my message to US was to reimagine your relationship with Africa away from it and to focus on empowerment of youth and support for sustainable private sector institutions. My subsequent op’ed in The Hill called for a new U.S engagement with Africa.
The fact that we are gathered here in Washington this week, shows to a large extent, a genuine interest to re-engage in a manner that prioritizes mutual benefit and self-reliance. We see this as a genuine and substantive desire to re-engage with Africa and to re-engage on a basis that benefits us all. The key words are mutual respect, mutual opportunity, and mutual objectives. We appreciate, particularly, the focus on the private sector.
I am a businessman and I’m happy to say that I’ve done well. I’m proud to say that we have done good too. I envisioned and created a bank that is in 20 African countries, in Dubai, in Paris, and in London. We are the only African bank regulated by the OCC and operates in America. My objective was to drive savings, channel capital, fund trade, most importantly, to democratize financial services. To give everyone the ability to save, prosper, and to trade, to grow businesses, and to create value in Africa. But I’m also a philanthropist, I’m a businessman. For me, the distinction is not much. We do business to do good. And the good we do, builds better, stronger, sustainable businesses. I also created a foundation- The Tony Elumelu Foundation. We support entrepreneurs. Not just in 20 African countries that we do business in, but across all 54 African countries.
I am an entrepreneur. I know the transformative power of entrepreneurship. I pledged in 2015 100million U.S dollars on behalf of our family. We have created a unique platform that identifies, trains, and networks young entrepreneurs. Now, we have started partnerships with the UNDP, the ICRC, and the EU and most recently with U.S ADF. Travis, thank you.
To date, we have disbursed over 85 million U.S dollars to over 18,000 young men and women. Each with a non-refundable seed capital of 5,000 dollars. And our digital platform connects millions. We have trained over 1.5 million young African men and women on business education so that when they receive capital, they know how to apply, and use capital to grow. We have delivered programs for women for fragile states and are now working on climate change. We are in the process soon of announcing our intervention in green energy and green economy. But we know we can do more. We know we can do much more. We are bringing together a coalition, an alliance to catalyse entrepreneurship across our continent. We want to do this because we remember the Marshall Plan and we know that Africa needs one right now so that we can move our people out of poverty.
We have a growing population that’s over 1.6 billion people. And of this 1.6 billion, those under the age of 30 represent over 60 percent of this population. We must create jobs for them. We must give economic hope to them. We must have our women economically empowered, otherwise, we will be creating problems for mankind. So, this is an auspicious time. As you said, it is a time for Africa and our youth in particular.
Today, those who were in the hall, listened to two out of our promising 18,000 people who we have empowered in Africa. In due course, you will also meet our other young men and women who exemplify success made in and on the African continent. We believe in partnership. Partnerships of mutual respect. In a world plighted by forced emigration, extremism, visible and tangible environmental degradation, poverty, food insecurity, we want to create a beacon of hope. A bedrock of sustainable entrepreneurs, who will like me help to also do well and do good.
I want to thank the President of U.S, and the Secretary of State. I have friends in the administration and the agencies. U.S ADF, USAID, Prosper Africa, and the list goes on. We look forward to collaborating, working more together so that we can make a meaningful, sustainable, and different impact on the African continent. We believe that in the 21st century, it is indeed a move away from aid and a move to self-reliance, self-independence, and sustainable progress. That to a large extent, will help us engage our young ones and help us transform Africa. Thank you for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to having a nice meeting.