- November 18, 2021
The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the leading philanthropy empowering African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, has selected 4,949 entrepreneurs from across Africa for its 2021 Entrepreneurship Programme.
The 2021 beneficiaries were selected from a pool of over 400,000 applications, based on their innovation, performance, and growth potential to create jobs and eradicate poverty on the continent. Consisting of both new start-ups and existing small businesses, the 2021 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs have undergone world-class business training, mentorship and coaching, and will have lifetime access to the Tony Elumelu Foundation alumni network.
Qazini, an online media platform based in Kenya, was one of this year’s beneficiaries in the innovation category.
Founded by Damaris Agweyu in 2018, Qazini seeks to transform the African narrative by creating and publishing content that aims to drive systemic change in societies through empowering storytelling from and about the African continent.
Speaking after the announcement, Ms. Agweyu said, “The journey has not been easy, but it’s been worth it. This recognition by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, affirms our mission and gives us the impetus to forge ahead with renewed energy and firm resolve.”
Watch the congratulatory message from the programme’s founder, Tony Elumelu:
Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr. Tony O. Elumelu shared, “To our African leaders – these young, intelligent, energetic, hardworking, resilient Africans are ready to go. We need to keep creating the right enabling environment to enable our young ones to succeed. We must realise that their success is success for all of us on the continent. We must prioritise them because nations and continents that prioritise their people, succeed. To my fellow business leaders, let us realise that in the 21st century and beyond, it is about impact, legacy, and about how we work together to power people out of poverty. It is such a great feeling to see 5000 young Africans also commence their own entrepreneurial journeys today.”
Speaking at the event, Director-General, International Cooperation and Development, European Commission, Mr. Koen Doens stated: “I remember very well, a few years ago in Brussels when I first met Tony Elumelu at one of the events his Foundation was organising. Both of us were struck by how there was such a clear match between his vision on how he could support African entrepreneurship and the European Union’s own vision on how we wanted to support African entrepreneurship. Ever since, our partnership has embodied this same spirit that ultimately African growth cannot neglect the huge potential, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit that harbours so many Africans, especially young people and women. I am extremely glad our partnership is moving into this active stage, and I am very glad that over 2400 women will benefit from the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s training programme, and will get seed capital to support their ideas. I am extremely happy that at the European Union, we are able to be part of this great endeavour and to support it.”
Also speaking at the event, Assistant Administrator, UNDP/Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa stated: “Our partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation on youth entrepreneurship is informed by our belief that Africa will only succeed when young Africans are given the opportunity to excel. This is what has inspired us to invest more than $20 million in emerging African entrepreneurs since we entered into our partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Our joint ambition is to empower 100,000 young African entrepreneurs over the next ten years across Africa, recognising that entrepreneurship is the only way dreams can be realised.”
Secretary-General, OACPS, H.E. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti stated: “On behalf of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), I would like to heartily commend the Tony Elumelu Foundation for this extraordinary achievement. We are proud to have partnered with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and our longstanding partner, the European Union to unlock the potential of 2420 young African women through this TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, providing mentorship and funding, to grow and sustain these small businesses.”
Tony Elumelu Foundation CEO, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, concluded the event stating: “Today, we have trained ten times more young African entrepreneurs than we have trained from 2015 to 2019 combined. Today in 2021, we will be paying out a record US$24,750,000 directly to the hands of African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries. This is impact.”
Since its inception, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has now funded a total of 15,847 entrepreneurs who have created more than 400,000 direct and indirect jobs and counting. Through TEFConnect, the Foundation’s proprietary digital platform, it has provided capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages, to over 1.5 million Africans.
Applications for the 2022 Tony Elumelu Foundation open on January 1, 2022, on www.tefconnect.com.