President Emmanuel Macron of France, who visited Nigeria recently, interacted with more than 2,000 entrepreneurs and alumni of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) from Africa.
According to a statement from the United Bank for Africa (UBA) office in Liberia, the historic session provides a platform where participants networked and forged partnerships with French and African business leaders as well as policymakers who attended the event.
The historic session highlighted Macron’s visit to the country and was chaired by UBA chairman and founder of TEF, Mr. Tony Elumelu. It gave African entrepreneurs a platform to closely engage with President Macron, and garner ideas from his wealth of experience as one of the youngest Heads of State in recent times.
Mr. Elumelu said the collaboration between the French President and TEF is a result of President Macron’s acknowledgement that African entrepreneurs remain the key to Africa’s economic transformation, and his desire to connect with and elevate the voices of future leaders.
“We welcome President Macron of France to meet our entrepreneurs, over 2,000 of them from across Africa,” Elumelu said. “Macron is a new kind of leader. He brings the discipline of the private sector and understands the social obligations of the state. He speaks to Africa as a strategic partner and most importantly, he is a champion of entrepreneurship.
“It is a pleasure to introduce him to our Africa; the Africa of innovation, determination and opportunity. We share a somewhat similar background with the French president being a banker, who became a visionary, and is bringing a new mindset to politics and business,” Elumelu said.
The event, held on Wednesday, July 4, granted the French president the opportunity to interact, one on one, with Africa’s young entrepreneurs and explore partnership possibilities.
“I, alongside President Macron, will engage with these entrepreneurs in an interactive session, where we will discuss challenges of business in the private sector and solutions to create more benefits for the success of entrepreneurship. It promises to be an inspirational session,” Elumelu added.
Macron spoke at a vibrant, no-holds barred interactive session, in front of nearly 2,000 alumni of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, who sought advice from the youthful President on how to grow their businesses, reach European markets amidst rising nationalism and emerging trade wars and the secrets of his political success.
Macron’s experience as an outsider, who transformed French politics and spoke directly to and not at the audience, electrified the room.
“To young African entrepreneurs: never listen to people who are telling you to wait,” Macron said. “If you believe in your projects: just do it. Our role is to help the new generation to seize opportunities and rise to the challenge. This is what underpins a new, balanced relationship. The French President recognizes the critical importance of African entrepreneurs to sustainable economic development on the continent – he knows the African narrative is changing and will change. His voice is refreshing and welcome,” he said. “We want France and the rest of the world to realize that Africa is a continent of opportunities.”
Established in 2010, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is the leading philanthropy in Africa, championing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs across the continent. The Foundation’s long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is emblematic of Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent. The Foundation’s flagship initiative, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, is a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train mentors and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs, capable of changing the face of business across Africa.