At the recently concluded 5th edition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum, five African Presidents and thousands of young African entrepreneurs converged at the most influential gathering in the African entrepreneurship ecosystem. Job creation and youth empowerment were the key themes tackled at the Forum.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation, which has been at the forefront of advocating for entrepreneurship as the catalyst for the economic transformation of Africa, convened the two-day Forum from July 26-27, 2019 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of government.
The event, according a release, convened over 5,000 participants from 54 African countries, including representatives of the 7,521 beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program.
More than 60 global speakers from the public and private sectors across three continents participated in interactive masterclasses, plenary sessions, and debates geared towards generating ideas and defining concrete steps Africa must take to empower its youth and accelerate the continent’s development.
Guests interacted directly with young budding entrepreneurs from across the 20 African United Bank for Africa (UBA)-present countries, who exhibited their innovative products and solutions at the Bank’s Marketplace, powered by Africa’s global bank, the UBA.
Moderated by an American journalist and host of CNN’s show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, the Presidential Debates, which formed the highlight of the two-day event, focused on charting the way forward to eradicate poverty in Africa through job creation.
The public sector leaders on the panel include Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; Macky Sall, President, Republic of Senegal; Félix Tshisekedi, President, the Democratic Republic of Congo; Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; and Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda, representing President Yoweri Museveni.
Healthcare played a dominant role in the conversations as its leaders in the public and private sectors tackled the theme on the plenary session, “The Role of Healthcare in Economic Transformation.”
Speakers on the panel include Dr. Awele Elumelu, Trustee, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Founder/CEO, Avon Medical Practice; Mrs. Aisha Buhari, First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Djena Kaba Condé, First Lady of Guinea; Keïta Aminata Maiga, First Lady, Mali; Gilles Carbonnier, Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director at UN Women Central and West Africa; and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation.
At the Forum, Tony O. Elumelu, (CON), Founder of the Tony Elumelu, reiterated the urgency in creating jobs on the continent to catalyze Africa’s development.
He added, “Extremism is a product of poverty and joblessness, because poverty anywhere is a threat to everyone everywhere.”
“If our leaders understand the reason and rationale for our youths to succeed, they will do everything they can to support them.” Elumelu also reiterated the role of technology as a key enabler in accelerating development, citing TEFConnect, the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs, launched by the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2018,” the release said.
With over 500,000 registered users, the hub provides a platform for entrepreneurs to network and forge business partnerships regardless of their location.
In his keynote speech, VP Yemi Osinbajo commented on the impact of the Tony Elumelu Foundation: “By birthing this particular intervention, Tony Elumelu has compelled us to focus on what really matters, our youth and their dreams.”
The message to Africa’s emerging business giants is a clear one: How and what can you contribute, like Tony Elumelu, to empowering the next generation, helping them to realize their own dreams?” The forum ended with a tour of the UBA Marketplace, where entrepreneurs across the continent exhibited their products, as a pitching competition saw the winner walk away with a US$5,000 grant from the UBA.