UNGA78: Tony Elumelu x Clinton Global Initiative; “Shifting the Power: How New Philanthropic Approaches Can Transform the World of Social Impact”

Yesterday, on the sidelines of #UNGA78, I participated in the Clinton Global Initiative panel on Philanthropy, alongside co-panelist Dr. Carmen Rojas, President of the Marguerite Casey Foundation and moderated by Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post and MSNBC.

I underscored the critical role of Africapitalism in transforming Africa, both socially and economically. Africapitalism is my belief that the African private sector has the power to transform our continent, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.

I referenced my personal life story – I was born in Africa, educated in Africa, I live in Africa, and I have created wealth in Africa. I see every day on our continent, young talented, energetic, intelligent, ambitious young men and women who want to succeed and transform Africa, but lack the capital, training, and networking.

I didn’t start from the top. However, with luck – being at the right place at the right time, unmatched mentoring, dedication, and hard work, I am who I am today, and I have seen firsthand how success in entrepreneurship can help address many of Africa’s societal needs.

In 2013, my wife and I decided to recreate the opportunity that we experienced, it was time to play our part in helping to democratize luck and empower a generation of African entrepreneurs, who will help to develop and transform Africa. We founded TEF, committing $100 million dollars to the Foundation, to play our own role in economic transformation. This is Africapitalism. It is a call on the African private sector to invest in critical sectors that will help to transform humanity.

I shared with the global leaders present – the significant impact TEF has made in the last 10 years – impact documented in our just launched independent impact report. What started as a family funded endeavor, has grown bigger than we could have imagined. Today, we have empowered over 18,000 young entrepreneurs, each with $5,000 non-refundable seed capital, equipped them with modern-day business training, and world class mentorship to enable them scale up their businesses and succeed.

However, we do not do this alone, we have partners – the UNDP, the European Commission, and important others, and we just announced our partnership with the IKEA Foundation to join us in empowering innovative African entrepreneurs whose ideas can solve Africa’s climate issues. Collectively, we can do so much more!

Africa has an estimated 1.6 billion people, and over 65% are below 30. If this population is economically engaged, it can yield a significant demographic dividend for our continent and all of us in the world. If they are not, the consequences are frankly catastrophic.

It is in our self-enlightened interest to create wealth and prosperity around us, otherwise the future will be bleak for all of us.

I charged everyone in the room to become Africapitalists.

We all as private sector leaders, governments, development agencies, and members of the philanthropic community must work together collaboratively to help empower people in a self-reliant way, not just about donor funding, but to become self-sufficient and able to raise their own children, afford medical services and live well. This is how we play our part in creating a sustainable future for generations to come.


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