Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme hunts for Africa's next entrepreneur

by Tendai Dube 0

After a successful debut last year, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is inviting another 1 000 African entrepreneurs to participate in the 100 million dollar programme which strives to create millions in jobs and revenue for the continent annually over a decade.

Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) aims to identify 10,000 African start-ups and entrepreneurs with ideas that have the potential to succeed and then provide them with business skills training, mentorship, seed capital funding, information and access to a vast network of African entrepreneurs.

Success of TEEP 2015

“What was achieved was beyond our expectations, we received 20 000 applications from 52 African countries, we selected 1 000 and the 1 000 was selected based on our theme, which was ‘your idea can transform Africa’ – so they were selected for their transformative ideas,” said Parminder Vir, CEO of TEEP.  

TEEP is a 12 week training programme in Lagos where the entrepreneurs are mentored and network in a sort of entrepreneurial boot-camp. The selected thousand are funded 5 000 dollars each as seed capital said Vir, to allow them to develop their ideas and business plans.

“We achieved what we set out to do, which is to empower and train and mentor 1 000 entrepreneurs per year and we hit our target,” said Vir.

The second annual programme

As the year started they were opening up the portal for more applicants to replicate the same success as 2015.

“It just builds on the first one [2015 programme], so we already have 1 000 entrepreneurs who can now talk about their experiences on the programme.”

The response this year is reflected in the 19 000 applicants that have already registered.

“If this was a feature film, it would be up for an Oscar – that’s how big the Tony Elumelu Foundation has become and how much it has touched and brought Africa together as a continent,” said Vir. 

Private sector involvement

The programme also addresses issues faced between public sector and private sector interaction, in so far as what more can be done by both parties to make becoming a successful entrepreneur in Africa possible.

“We asked our entrepreneurs last year, what are the impediments to your growth, ‘what is it that stands in your way? What are some of the obstacles and who can alleviate those impediments? And we produced a report Unleashing Africa’s Entrepreneurs,” said Vir.

She adds that there is a lot government can do that doesn’t necessarily require money but they have to overcome things around regulation, infrastructure, access to capital and training.

“I as an entrepreneur should not have to spend my time going through the bureaucracy to just register my company; I should be focusing on developing the most innovative, creative product or service that I want to develop for a customer or a client,” she explains should be the priority of the entrepreneur.

How to get involved

“The application form can be found on our website – all the information that you required in filling out that application is there.”

Applications for the programme close on 29 February 2016.

“The thing about being a start-up is you know, you’re taking a huge risk – start-ups are already a huge risk by saying I’m not going to be a job seeker, I’m going to be a job creator, ” said the programme CEO.