Opening Remarks delivered by Tony O. Elumelu, CFR Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation at the TEF-UNDP-UNICEF GEN-U ROUNDTABLE Unveiling the 2023 TEF Impact Report.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

14 years ago, we set out to change Africa.

We wanted African solutions – not selfishly or ideologically – but because we knew instinctively, they would work.

In 2015, we focused our efforts entirely on entrepreneurs – launching a 10-year programme to touch millions and fund thousands.

We knew a generation of young entrepreneurs could change a continent.

As an entrepreneur myself, this was an instinctive, natural reaction – I wanted to ensure many received the opportunity – and yes luck – that created my success.

We identified three crucial factors that young Africans lacked – capital – training – networks – and systematically worked to address them.

But instinct is not enough – we needed data, we needed validation, we needed independent assessment.

Philanthropy is investment – it seeks a return on that investment – in many ways the Foundation is my most important investment. I want to see the highest ROI!

So, I am particularly proud today to launch this Impact Report – it shows what we got right – it highlights areas where we could – and will – do better – but fundamentally it shows our instinct was correct – and our solution is working.

But we are not complacent – what was a family funded endeavour – is now a partnership – with extraordinary partners – here today and globally.

In many ways, our work is only beginning – we have documented enormous success stories – not unicorns, but the everyday successes, the incremental changes that can fundamentally alter a direction of a continent. Small farmers, stall holders, mechanics, artisans – and yes tech, fashion and media. Women – may women I am glad to say! Green entrepreneurs. Those operating in fragile states.

Frankly, the world has not changed for the better since we started – every day in Africa we see the impact of climate, of lack of opportunity, breeding exile and fanaticism – all of us are aware of the demographics.

We lit a beacon – we need that beacon to shine far brighter and far longer.

Read our report, interrogate our colleagues – and join us as we embark on the next stages of our journey.

Thank you.


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