The Tony Elumelu Foundation in Lagos, Nigeria, has announced a $100 million initiative to provide training, funding, and mentoring to the next generation of African entrepreneurs.
Over the next ten years, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme will identify and support the growth of ten thousand startups across the African continent, with the dual goal of creating a million new jobs and $10 billion in annual revenues. To that end, every year for the next decade a thousand entrepreneurs selected by a committee of African business leaders — including Ory Okolloh, director of investments at the Omidyar Network's Government Transparency initiative in Africa; Vera Songwe, the World Bank Group's country director for Senegal, Cape Verde, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritania; and Ndubuisi Ekekwe, founder of technology company First Atlantic Semiconductors & Microelectronics — will participate in a customized business skills training course, an entrepreneurship "boot camp," and an annual Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum, and will also receive seed funding, mentoring, and automatic membership in the initiative's alumni network.
The first initiative of its kind to be launched by a philanthropic organization on the continent, the effort is inspired by three guiding principles: an inclusive economic philosophy based on the belief that a vibrant African-led private sector is the key to unlocking Africa's economic and social potential; a commitment to empowering African entrepreneurs; and a mission to "institutionalize luck" by creating an environment in which African entrepreneurs receive critical support in the early stages of their careers.
"Whether you're in Lagos, Accra, Johannesburg, Nairobi, or Dakar, Africa is buzzing with entrepreneurs who need a platform that enables them to take their business or idea to the next level," said Parminder Vir, director of entrepreneurship at the Elumelu Foundation. "The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme has been designed to provide that mechanism."
"This program brings together my own entrepreneurial experience and my fundamental belief that entrepreneurs – women and men across Africa — will lead Africa's development and transform our futures," said Elumelu. "The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme will offer a structured, multiyear opportunity to access funding, knowledge, and, perhaps most importantly, mentoring, on a scale that is unprecedented in Africa — it is our opportunity to empower a generation."