Tony Elumelu rewrites Africa’s entrepreneurial experience with TEEP
By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
HEIRS Holdings Chairman, Mr. Tony Elumelu, rewrites the experiences of entrepreneurs in Africa, from collapsing and closing stores in the first three years, to creating jobs, wealth and improving of general welfare on the African continent with the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP).
The African entrepreneurship space has seen a massive upsurge over the past two decades, with businesses, especially Nigerian startups, becoming the toast of foreign investors.
However, despite the huge leap forward in entrepreneurial activity, Africa has earned the unfortunate nickname of ‘the graveyard of new ventures’. For every company that survived infancy and rose to prominence, the scores must have dropped in passing.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, 8 out of 10 (80%) entrepreneurs in Nigeria who start a business fail within the first 18 months. The same, according to the findings of Business Hallmark, applies to other African countries.
The high failure rate of start-ups and SMEs has been attributed to a myriad of challenges, including the right skills to grow their businesses, lack of adequate funding, and harsh government policies.
Worried about the sector’s inability to reach its potential to significantly contribute to job creation, economic growth and poverty reduction on the continent, Elumelu had stepped in to change the narrative with the creation of the entrepreneurship Tony Elumelu (TEEP) in 2015 with the sole objective of nurturing the best entrepreneurs in Africa.
The TEF Entrepreneurship Program is based on seven pillars designed primarily to ensure the success of an African entrepreneur.
The pillars include mentorship; Knowledge resources on TEF Connect.net; 12-week business management training; Met ; Annual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum; Seed capital funding and TEF entrepreneurship program alumni network.
According to Elumelu, the African private sector can and must play a leading role in the development of the continent.
TEEP was pioneered by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) which was established in 2010 as a private sector-led African philanthropic organization in Africa to champion entrepreneurship and the growth of entrepreneurs across the continent.
The foundation didn’t get off to a full start until 2011, when it launched the Elumelu Professionals Program, an internship program for graduate MBA students.
This was followed by the launch of the Tony and Awele Elumelu Award, a program focused on promoting academic excellence and entrepreneurship.
Although TEF has tracked several programs, including providing seed funding for 20 technology companies through CC Hub in 2012; the launch of the Tony Elumelu
The Entrepreneurship Program, a $100 million commitment to identify and initially empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs with a $5,000 grant, create 1 million jobs and add $10 billion in revenue to the African economy over 10 years in 2014, was the last piece of the puzzle.
The program was officially launched in 2015 and in less than seven years after its inception, TEF has catalyzed the biggest entrepreneurial revolution the continent has ever seen.
Realizing the positive impacts the program will have on the continent, development partners around the world are rushing to partner with the foundation. The partnership had made it possible to extend to 5,000 the support initially planned by TEF for 1,000 entrepreneurs each year.
Additionally, instead of the 10-year timeline set for the program, it will now continue for as long as needed.
Despite several challenges in its path, especially the COVID-19 pandemic which had continued to disrupt events around the world, the foundation is not discouraged from pursuing its established goals and objectives.
At the height of the Covid19 pandemic in 2021, the foundation disbursed $24.75 million to 5,000 African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for the TEF 2021 program.
As of June 2022, the foundation has funded a total of 15,847 entrepreneurs in 54 African countries who, in turn, have created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Grantees also received capacity building support, advice and business connections with over 1.5 million Africans through the foundation’s proprietary digital platform,
The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program is open to entrepreneurs across Africa: new start-ups and existing start-ups.
In January 2022, the foundation launched the registration process which will give young African entrepreneurs the opportunity to earn seed capital of $5,000 each within a year.
Application is open to Africans from all 54 African countries with scalable business ideas or an operational business for less than five years. However, applicants must be 18+ and have business ideas or near-stage business 0-5 years old.
Successful entrepreneurs are required to complete TEF training content called the Business Startup Toolkit, a program designed to support dynamic young entrepreneurs throughout their business journey with a focus on good execution of their business plans and ideas.
The training is adapted to the pace of each entrepreneur, which allows participants the flexibility to take the training while continuing their usual activities.
While the training phase of the program lasts 12 weeks, some intervention programs are modified to last four weeks or six weeks. Some of the beneficiaries praised the intervention, describing it as a lifeline.
A Nigerian entrepreneur specializing in providing professional accounting and related services to entrepreneurs,
Emmanuel Olabisi, said: “I am very excited because this is what young Nigerians and Africans have been waiting for a long time – someone who will attract young people and follow them with training and all the other resources necessary to grow a .
“In fact, this is a very fantastic opportunity for young Nigerians. They trained us for twelve weeks on various business processes and how to run a successful business.
“They always support us with a start-up capital of $5,000. Other than that, the networking opportunity they gave us was great,” he said.
Another TEF beneficiary, Lungile Marhungane, CEO of Jesu Puro Water, said, “Before the TEF entrepreneurship program, my water company suffered financial setbacks. Since TEF’s support, I have purchased new machines and impacted more communities to facilitate the water purification process.
“I deliver drinking water to villages that do not have access to drinking water at an affordable price. The TEF scholarship was a dream come true for a great opportunity and me. More people should participate, it is the most innovative platform in Africa.
Additionally, a 2015 TEEF grantee, Hauwa Liman, Founder of Afrik Abaya, said, “I am still proud to say that I am part of the inaugural cohort of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program.
“My company is located in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria. I benefited from this program in 2015, and it opened many doors and opportunities for me.
“It’s not just about the seed capital, but what really fascinates me about the program is the knowledge.
“I call it a mini-MBA program because right from the ideation stage, it teaches you how to really articulate your business, and it gave me my first business plan.
“The network, the visibility and the opportunities are endless. My entrepreneurial experience cannot be complete without the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
“I will soon start exporting to other countries thanks to the Foundation. We now employ ten permanent employees and eight other commission-based employees. »
Founding Trustee of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Dr. AV Elumelu said, “Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program, we seek to democratize luck.
“Hard work plays an undeniably important role in success, but the role of luck should not be overlooked – someone willing to take a chance on you or your business idea by empowering you through training , mentoring or funding.
“Our hope is that through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program, we would help the next business leader or captain of industry to be who they are meant to be.
“It’s our own way of giving back and also empowering the generation that comes behind us so they can go even further than us.
“As a parent, we want your children to do better than you do, so you will provide the resources and materials they need to ensure they get far in life. Likewise, at the Foundation, we equip the next generation with the tools they need to succeed,” she said.