The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the leading African philanthropy committed to empowering African entrepreneurs, has announced that 3,050 African entrepreneurs drawn from all 54 African countries have been selected to join the 5th cycle of its $100 million TEF Entrepreneurship Program.
Out of that number 12 Liberian entrepreneurs were selected for the 2019 cohort of the Foundation’s flagship Entrepreneurship Program.
Those selected were, Mark Allen Gbalazeh, ICT; Evon K. Jackson, Commercial and Retailer; Aaron Decontee Johnson, ICT; Albert Hassan Kemokai, Commercial and Retailer; Stephen Kerkula, Waste Management; Jeff King, Transporter; Charles G. Garmodeh Kpan, Jr., ICT; Loila Alison Pewu, Commercial and Retailer; Jallah Deconktee Musulyn Striker, Consulting; Roland Seh Washington, ICT; Joseph Charles White, Transportation; and Armstrong Zourpeawon, Education and Training.
The announcement was made at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja, following a presentation of the selection process by Accenture Development Partners.
This year, over 216,000 applications were received, an increase from last year’s 151,000. Nearly 90,000 were submitted by female entrepreneurs, an increase of 45%, illustrating the Foundation’s strategy to achieve greater gender balance.
The selected Entrepreneurs will each receive non-refundable $5,000 of seed capital, access to mentors, and a 12-week business training program, directly focused on the needs of African entrepreneurs. On July 26–27, 2019, they will gather at the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem on the continent.
TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, said: “Every year, we face an almost impossible task – to select 1,000 entrepreneurs, from the hundreds of thousands that apply. Our entrepreneurs are hungry to effect change. We know we are only scratching the surface, we see the depth of entrepreneurial talent, that all of us — government, business, indeed African society, must harness to transform our economies and livelihoods. We must rally together to empower them and accelerate the change we want on the continent.”
In her speech, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, commended the Program’s impact on the continent, charging the selected entrepreneurs to contribute to the advancement of the African continent.
“Indeed, I am confident that these Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs will inspire deep confidence and be of immense value not just to Nigeria, but to the entire continent,” she said.
Speaking on the announcement, the incoming CEO, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, said, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program has successfully empowered 7,520 entrepreneurs in its first five years of the 10- year program. Marking the fifth anniversary of the 10-year program, this year’s selection includes 2,050 entrepreneurs, supported by the Foundation’s partners in addition to the Foundation’s annual commitment of 1,000, bringing the total number of entrepreneurs empowered by the Foundation to date to 7,520.
Last year, “We launched TEFConnect – the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs and open to all – to further democratize the access to opportunities for the thousands of entrepreneurs that cannot directly benefit from our Entrepreneurship Program. This further demonstrates our commitment to empowering our entrepreneurs and our belief that entrepreneurship holds the key to unleashing the true potential of the African continent,” she said.
The Foundation’s growing list of partners includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Federal Republic of Benin (Seme City), the Anambra State Government, Indorama, the Government of Botswana and the African Development Bank (AfDB), according to a release.